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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Border Governors Meeting Set for September 19 - 20 in New Mexico

Associated Press reported that: U.S. and Mexican border governors will gather in New Mexico in late September, but Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday it's not a protest over the event's cancellation in Arizona because of that state's immigration enforcement law. Richardson announced that the rescheduled meeting will be held Sept. 19-20 and will focus on border security, economic development and energy. The governor said earlier this month the event would be held in New Mexico, but the dates had not been decided. "There has never been a greater necessity for dialogue on border issues, not only among border states, but also with our respective federal governments," Richardson said in a letter inviting the governors of six Mexican states — Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Baja California. Richardson and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will co-host the event in Santa Fe. The governors of Arizona and Texas have said they will not attend.

Justice Says Judge Ruled Correctly in Arizona Case

Associated Press: The Justice Department said Wednesday that a judge ruled correctly in blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law. "States can and do play a role in cooperating with the federal government in its enforcement of the immigration laws, but they must do so within our constitutional framework," department spokeswoman Hannah August said in a statement. She added that "while we understand the frustration of Arizonans with the broken immigration system, a patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement and would ultimately be counterproductive." The department says it will continue to work toward smarter and more effective enforcement while pressing for a comprehensive approach that provides "true security and strengthens accountability and responsibility in the immigration system at the national level."

Showdown in Arizona

New York Times EDITORIAL: The federal judge who ruled on Arizona’s tragic, noxious new immigration law on Wednesday did not stop all of it from taking effect Thursday, but she preliminarily halted the worst of it. And although appeals are certain, Judge Susan Bolton offered clear and well-reasoned arguments affirming the federal government’s final authority over immigration enforcement. We hope this is the beginning of the end of the misbegotten Arizona rules and what they represent. Arizona’s law is not a case of a state helping the federal government do a job it neglected. It is a radical upending of immigration priorities, part of a spiteful crusade to force a mass exodus of illegal immigrants.

Judge Delays Injunction in Nebraska Immigration Suits

Associated Press: A judge says she's not sure whether lawsuits filed to block a Nebraska city's ban on hiring and renting to illegal immigrants should be heard in federal or state court. U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp on Wednesday gave attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund two weeks to submit briefs explaining why their suits belong in federal court. The move delays any ruling about whether to block the city of Fremont's voter-approved ban. But it still won't go into effect this week. The City Council has temporarily suspended the ordinance until the lawsuits are resolved. Some in Fremont say the ordinance makes up for what they call lax federal law enforcement. Others argue it could fuel discrimination.

Democrats Press for Border Funds, Weigh Immigration Bills

National Journal reported that: The thorny issue of immigration reform and border security was thrust back into the spotlight Wednesday, as House Democrats put an emergency spending bill on the fast track for floor action and Senate leaders talked of moving pared down immigration measures. Democrats seemed to be trying to gain the upper hand on Republicans heading into the fall elections by advancing targeted immigration and border security bills that GOP lawmakers will be hard pressed to oppose. But Republicans countered that they support beefed up border security but insisted the spending must be offset and not be tacked onto the nation's debt. The emergency spending bill, introduced by a group of House Democrats, would provide $701 million for increased border security measures along the Mexican border. The funding had been part of the House version of the FY10 supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was dropped in the Senate amid Republican objections about spending that was not offset. The funding also was sought by President Obama. Democrats behind the border security supplemental said they were left with no choice but to move a stand-alone bill. It was brought to the House floor late Wednesday for debate under suspension of the rules, with a vote expected today.

What We're Doing to Secure the Border

WALL STREET JOURNAL (by Alan D. Bersin and John Morton): Yesterday, after months of heated rhetoric and debate about Arizona's controversial new immigration law, federal Judge Susan Bolton blocked most of SB 1070 from taking effect. The move served as an important affirmation of the federal government's responsibility in enforcing our nation's immigration laws. But regardless of what happened with this case, this administration will continue to enforce the law, just as we have been doing for the past 18 months: with unprecedented resources and a clear commitment to serious, smart and effective enforcement that has yielded important results. We are career prosecutors who lead the two main border and immigration enforcement agencies in the United States—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We know the paramount importance of enforcing the law and we understand the federal government's responsibilities. And what we have seen on the border, at workplaces, and in communities across America in the past 18 months represents the most serious approach to enforcement we have witnessed in our careers.

Ruling Against Arizona Is a Warning for Other States

New York Times: A federal judge in Arizona on Wednesday broadly vindicated the Obama administration’s high-stakes move to challenge that state’s tough immigration law and to assert the primary authority of the federal government over state lawmakers in immigration matters. The ruling by Judge Susan R. Bolton, in a lawsuit against Arizona brought on July 6 by the Justice Department, blocked central provisions of the law from taking effect while she finishes hearing the case. But in taking the forceful step of holding up a statute even before it was put into practice, Judge Bolton previewed her opinions on the case, indicating that the federal government was likely to win in the end on the main points.

New Tactic Floated on Immigration

CQ reported that: Hispanic groups, in a last-ditch bid to move immigration legislation before the session ends, are lobbying for a scaled-back approach they describe as “a down payment” on a comprehensive bill — a change of strategy that has some high-level support on Capitol Hill, but also poses political risks The effort reflects anger from grass-roots groups over Congress’ failure to move any immigration bills this session, as well as frustration over the approach of lawmakers and Washington lobbying groups that have pushed hard for, but failed to deliver, a broad measure for five years running. Their lobbying comes amid a national clamor over an Arizona immigration law, parts of which a federal judge stayed on Wednesday, concluding that the law’s provisions intrude on federal responsibilities Led by the National Latino Congreso, an organization of dozens of groups such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, the latest strategy seeks passage this year of two bills: the DREAM Act (HR 1751,S 729) and AgJOBS (HR 2414, S 1038), both of which have been repeatedly introduced. The DREAM Act, which is popular among college activists, is aimed at young people whose parents brought them to the United States illegally. It would give them conditional legal status if they went to college or joined the military and met certain criteria, such as having come to this country before the age of 16, having lived here at least five years and being of “good moral character.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mexico Sends Human Rights Inspectors to Border

Associated Press: Mexico's National Human Rights Commission said Monday it is sending inspectors to U.S. border crossings to monitor deportations that might result if Arizona's new immigration law goes into effect as planned Thursday. The law is being challenged by the U.S. government in court, but the federal judge hearing the case hasn't indicated whether she might agree to the challenge's request that the measure be put on hold.


The government's rights commission said monitors will be stationed at border gates in Tijuana across from California, Nogales next to Arizona and Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa across from Texas to ensure migrants are treated properly. "The implementation of the Arizona Law SB1070 represents a threat to migrants' full exercise of their human rights," the commission said in a statement. "The law violates the principles of nondiscrimination, equality before the law and freedom from arbitrary arrest." Arizona officials say the law contains safeguards against discriminatory actions in getting tough with illegal immigrants.

UFW Members Prepare To Challenge Immigration Law

KCBA reported that: Monday night is last minute preperations for five United Farm Worker Members, also known as UFW. They are heading to Salinas to rent a car and get on the road for the 600 mile trek to challenge the immigration law that goes into effect in Arizona on Thursday. "I'm not going to carry anything just my drivers license because I need to drive, but that's the only thing I'm going to take," said UFW member Juan Moran. UFW member Juan Moran wants to make something clear, that the Arizona government doesn't have the right to stop someone who appears to be an illegal immigrant. On Thursday, he and four others will do just that by challenging officers to arrest them for not having any proof of citizenship on hand. "I'm frustrated and angry because I'm pretty sure they are going to discriminate all Latino people. I have citizenship, but they don't know," said Moran.

Immigrant Groups Criticize Fingerprint Initiative

Associated Press: The federal government is rapidly expanding a program to identify illegal immigrants using fingerprints from arrests, drawing opposition from local authorities and advocates who argue the initiative amounts to an excessive dragnet. The program has gotten less attention than Arizona's new immigration law, but it may end up having a bigger impact because of its potential to round up and deport so many immigrants nationwide. The San Francisco sheriff wanted nothing to do with the program, and the City Council in Washington, D.C., blocked use of the fingerprint plan in the nation's capital. Colorado is the latest to debate the program, called Secure Communities, and immigrant groups have begun to speak up, telling the governor in a letter last week that the initiative will make crime victims reluctant to cooperate with police "due to fear of being drawn into the immigration regime."

Fate of New Immigration Laws Still In Play

USA Today reported that: After months of protest marches, federal lawsuits, economic boycotts and support rallies, two controversial immigration laws in Arizona and Nebraska are scheduled to take effect on Thursday. Yet both laws could still be derailed before then, leaving government officials, lawyers and hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in limbo. María Pabón López, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, said if both laws survive these initial tests, they will "unleash more copycat legislation." If they are struck down, it will take the "wind out of the sails" of a growing number of local government efforts to pass immigration laws. "These are going to be monumental decisions," López said. "A lot of people are holding their breath." In Arizona, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is considering some of the seven lawsuits filed to halt the state's law. It would require police officers to question the immigration status of suspects stopped for another offense if there is a "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally.

Nebraska Town May Halt Immigration Law to Save Money

Associated Press: Faced with expensive legal challenges, officials in the eastern Nebraska town of Fremont are considering suspending a voter-approved ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants until the lawsuits are resolved. The City Council narrowly rejected the ban in 2008, prompting supporters to gather enough signatures for the ballot measure. The ordinance, which was approved by voters last month, has divided the community. Supporters say it was necessary to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement and opponents argue that it could fuel discrimination. But the council's president, Scott Getzschman, insisted the elected body was concerned about money, not about any lack of support for the ordinance. The City Council is scheduled to vote on suspending the ban on Tuesday night, a day before the city goes to court over the measure. The city faces lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. City officials have estimated that Fremont's costs of implementing the ordinance — including legal fees, employee overtime and improved computer software — would average $1 million a year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Increases Under Obama Administration

Washington Post: In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office. The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous. Obama is drawing flak from those who contend the administration is weak on border security and from those who are disappointed he has not done more to fulfill his campaign promise to help the country's estimated 11 million illegal residents. Trying to thread a needle, the president contends enforcement -- including the deployment of fresh troops to the Mexico border -- is a necessary but insufficient solution.

Arizona Girds for Immigration Law

Wall Street Journal: It's high noon for Arizona's new immigration law, and those on the front lines are anxiously preparing to face their new reality. A group of deputy sheriffs gathered the other day in this dusty desert town to watch a video lesson on the intricacies of their sensitive new mission: nabbing illegal immigrants while writing tickets for routine infractions such as making a wrong turn. Fifty miles away on the outskirts of Phoenix, Hispanic parishioners filed into St. Margaret Catholic Church to watch skits in Spanish dramatizing ways to dodge police questions about their immigration status. Among the advice they got: Give someone power of attorney lest they are suddenly separated from their children. Amid the passions gripping the country about illegal immigration, the cram sessions are bringing what is a largely theoretical issue for many Americans to a visceral level here.

Mexico Braces for Effects of Arizona Immigration Law

USA Today reported that: The other side of the border is also preparing for the implementation of Arizona's new immigration law, which could lead to a surge of deportees back to Mexico. Migrant shelters along the border in Mexico say they're bracing for new arrivals after the law goes into effect Thursday. Mexico's government has added more workers to its consulate in Phoenix to assist detained Mexicans. Migrants who have been deported say they're watching to see how the law is enforced before deciding whether to try again to cross the border illegally into Arizona. "On the plane, everybody was talking about the law," said Ernesto González, a deportee who arrived here last week on a U.S. government flight from Tucson. "Everybody knows it's coming." In Nogales, Sonora, the state shelter for migrant children added 50 beds to the 100 it already had, Director Maria Isabel Arvizu said. The San Juan Bosco shelter in Nogales also is expecting more migrants, Director Francisco Loureiro said.

Report Details Plight of Mentally Ill Detainees

The Washington Post reported that: Thousands of mentally disabled immigrants are entangled in deportation proceedings each year with little or no legal help, leaving them distraught, defenseless and detained as their fates are decided. Their plight is detailed in a report issued Sunday by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, who exhort federal authorities to do better. Shortcomings outlined by the two groups include no right to appointed counsel, inflexible detention policies, insufficient guidance for judges on handling people with mental disabilities, and inadequately coordinated services to aid detainees while in custody. "No one knows what to do with detainees with mental disabilities, so every part of the immigration system has abdicated responsibility," said Sarah Mehta, the report's lead author. "The result is people languishing in detention for years while their legal files - and their lives - are transferred around or put on indefinite hold." The report, "Deportation by Default," documents cases of non-citizens who could not understand questions, were delusional, couldn't tell the date or time, and didn't understand the concept of deportation - for example, saying they wanted to be deported to New York.

Arizona Immigration Law Tints Neighborhood Dispute

The fatal shooting of a Phoenix resident becomes a hate-crime case even as police and activists downplay the incident's racial overtones.

Los Angeles Times: Had Arizona's governor not just signed the toughest law against illegal immigrants in the nation, the killing of Juan Varela probably would have been written off as just a tragic neighborhood dispute. The 44-year-old U.S. citizen was watering chile plants in his front yard when a neighbor confronted him and shot him to death, according to police documents. Varela's brother, Antonio, told police that the neighbor, Gary Kelley, who is white, called Juan Varela by an ethnic slur and said he had to "go back to Mexico" now that Gov. Jan Brewer had signed SB 1070. The family campaigned to publicize the death, culminating with the county prosecutor's decision last month to add a hate-crime allegation to the second-degree murder charges filed against Kelley. But Kelley's Latino tenant and neighbors say he displayed no racial animus and had criticized the new law as unfair. Most immigrant rights activists have shied away from the case, skeptical that the killing was racially motivated. To some Arizonans, it's an illustration of how incidents in the state now get interpreted through the prism of the new law.

Friday, July 16, 2010

All 10,000 Crime Victim Visas Issued for This Year

Associated Press reported that: The government has issued all 10,000 visas available this year for immigrant crime victims who help authorities investigate and prosecute perpetrators. The last of this fiscal year's supply of the visas, known as U visas, was approved Thursday morning, marking the first time the government has hit the statutory U visa limit since the program became active two years ago. The visas were created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. They are given to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other crimes in exchange for cooperation with law enforcement. In 2007, attorneys for immigrants who had been victims of crime sued the government for failing to issue any visas. Only 52 were issued in 2008. About 6,000 applications were approved last fiscal year. Alejandro Mayorkas, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that an increased focus on U visa processing, as well as increased outreach and resources to crime victims groups and law enforcement, contributed to increased applications. Forty-five staffers are now working on U visas, compared with four in 2008, spokesman Bill Wright said.

Friday, July 02, 2010

EDITORIAL: Mr. Obama’s Immigration Promise

New York Times: President Obama’s first major speech on immigration had the eloquence and clarity we have come to expect when he engages a wrenching national debate. In declaring the welcome of strangers a core American value, in placing immigrants at the center of the nation’s success and future, Mr. Obama’s exhortation was worthy of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, whose memory he respectfully summoned on Thursday. “Anybody can help us write the next great chapter in our history,” he said, regardless of blood or birth. Mr. Obama was just as clear on why the immigration system is failing and how to fix it. Our nation “has the right and obligation to control its borders,” he said, but sealing off that vast space with troops and fences alone is a fantasy. And no amount of security at the border does anything about the undocumented 11 million who have already crossed it. Mr. Obama called for enabling these potential Americans to “get right with the law,” and for fixing the system of legal immigration, which is too inefficient for the country’s own good.

Bloomberg Seeks to Ease U.S. Immigration Policies

Associated Press reported that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the country is "giving shortshrift to immigration" and that economic problems will worsen until America sends out a more welcoming message. Bloomberg says the U.S. is "pushing people that other countries want away from our shores." He said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that an overly restrictive immigration policy discourages people who can create work with an entrepreneurial spirit. Speaking a day after President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass an immigration reform bill, Bloomberg said policymakers "should give a green card to anybody around the world who wants to come here." He also said a way must be found to give citizenship to the roughly 11 million people who are in the United States illegally.

Should the DREAM immigration reform act be passed?

Los Angeles Times: In a Times editorial Tuesday we call for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors legislation, or DREAM Act. The bill would give undocumented young adults the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency (which can eventually lead to legal permanent residency and then citizenship) if they graduate from U.S. high schools, have been in the states continuously for at least five years before the bill's enactment, and meet certain postsecondary educational or military service requirements. There is a Times article about those students who face deportation back to the countries they left as small children.