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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, December 23, 2010

ICE Agents May Be Sued Over Immigration Raid

Courthouse News: Illegal immigrants can sue the government for constitutional rights violations stemming from a predawn raid, a Connecticut federal judge ruled. Four teams of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents invaded homes in New Haven, Conn.,
without probable cause or arrest warrants. They detained 11 people for between 3 and 27 days before they were released. The 11 plaintiffs sued the federal government, immigration agents who conducted the raid, and the agents' supervisors for violating their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, as well as negligent supervision and hiring. U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill upheld the Fifth Amendment equal protection claims and the Fourth Amendment charges against four of the supervisors. "The plaintiffs have alleged that the defendant officers targeted a primarily Latino neighborhood, arrested people who appeared Latino, detained one plaintiff solely because he spoke Spanish and appeared Latino, and taunted one plaintiff's girlfriend by saying the plaintiffs were being taken to see Mexican singer Juan Gabriel," Underhill wrote. "That is enough to plausibly allege that the defendants were motivated by a discriminatory purpose." The plaintiffs can also obtain additional discovery to support their claims for negligent training and supervision, the judge ruled.

Obama, Latino Lawmakers Take Pragmatic View On Immigration

A path to legal status for illegal residents might not happen soon, the president agrees in a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But he says he's not giving up.

Los Angeles Times: President Obama and Latino lawmakers greed Tuesday that chances are dimming for passage of an immigration overhaul that would provide a path to legal status for millions of illegal residents, according to people familiar with the private session. Instead, the president and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus concurred that, until after the 2012 election, a more realistic goal would be to stave off legislation targeting illegal immigrants. That said, Obama told the group, he was not giving up on an immigration overhaul, which he promised to accomplish during his 2008 presidential campaign. He said he would mention the issue in his State of the Union address next month, a move that Democrats hope might pressure Republicans into accommodating the fast-growing Latino voting bloc. "The reality is, we're no longer on the House side in charge of the agenda,'' said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D- Texas), who attended the meeting. "We would never have had a vote on the Dream Act if the Republicans were in charge. So we need to understand that.''

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Immigration Rights Activists to Press On

TIME: Emboldened by months of phone calls to lawmakers, hunger strikes and sit-ins, a group of college students and graduates in Los Angeles say they plan to take their fight for immigrant rights to the states and the 2012 election after Senate Republicans blocked a key piece of legislation. But it won't be easy. The Senate vote Saturday to toss the proposal that would have granted young illegal immigrants a route to legal status dealt a harsh blow to student activists who will face an even steeper uphill battle in the next Congress. Immigrants see rough times ahead in the next two years, with many Republicans vowing to push for tougher immigration enforcement, but they also say Latino voters are getting fed up with lawmakers at a time when they are accruing greater political clout. "This is a movement," said Nancy Meza, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant and college graduate who wore a University of California, Los Angeles sweatshirt as she watched the televised vote. "We don't have lobbyists and paid staff. It's a movement by students." In the hours after the vote, Meza and about 50 other student activists who had gathered at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center said they would remind Latinos who stood by them — and those who did not — in the next election cycle. They will push for access to financial aid and drivers' licenses in states more friendly to immigrants like California.

Agent's Death a Reminder of U.S. - Mexican Border Violence

U.S.A. Today: A U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot and killed along the Southwestern border last week, marking the second time in as many years that an agent was gunned down along the border with Mexico. The shooting prompted politicians from both parties, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to emphasize the dangers faced by the 20,000 Border Patrol agents and thousands of other law enforcement officers who patrol the border. Records from a police memorial group and the federal government paint a clearer picture of how violent the border truly is. Fourteen Border Patrol agents have died since 2006, and records obtained by USA TODAY show that agents shot and killed 20 people in that time. CONFIRMATION: Napolitano says gang killed border agent in battle

Lt. Jeff Palmer, who founded the Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office border crime section, said they face armed smugglers, constant assaults by immigrants throwing rocks and a rugged terrain that makes apprehending people, and defending yourself, extremely hard.
"It's a violent, violent place out there, and people are utilizing whatever means they can to avoid apprehension," Palmer said. Christian Ramirez of American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that tracks border violence, said the blame lies on both sides of the border. Ramirez said smuggling cartels trying to push their goods into the U.S. are clashing with an ever-expanding collection of law enforcement officers on the U.S. side, leaving illegal immigrants simply looking for work caught in the crossfire.

Congress Displeases on DREAM

Politico: As the death rattle of the 111th Congress approaches its rheumy end, we admit that there are some actions our lawmakers have taken that do not displease us. (Why we are talking like Queen Victoria, we do not know.) We are happy that a tax deal that enriched everybody from the ultra-deserving middle class to the scoundrel rich also will continue benefits to the unemployed. We are pleased with the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” making it possible for gays and lesbians to openly risk their lives in our military adventures like everyone else. And it is also to be hoped that an arms reduction treaty with Russia will be ratified, as we think we already have a sufficiency of nuclear warheads to incinerate the globe and everything on it an ample number of times. Our displeasure was acute, however, with the failure of the Senate to pass the DREAM Act, which stands, we are assured, for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. To put it simply — and we prefer to put things simply so that members of Congress will understand us — if you were a small child smuggled in your mother’s arms across the border into the United States but now you have graduated from high school without seriously running afoul of the law and have attended two years of college, or if you wanted to serve your country in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, you could get on the pathway to citizenship under this act. (Some journalists, with whom we spend company as rarely as possible and think about even less, have written that the DREAM Act would bestow citizenship. It would not. It would give recipients a green card, making them resident aliens who could apply for citizenship in five years if they maintained high moral character, something somewhat difficult to do in this country if the shows we see on our television receiver are to be believed.)

EDITORIAL: DREAM Musn't Die

Immigration policy is complicated, but passage of the DREAM Act should have been easy. Supporters must continue to press their cause.

Los Angeles Times: Bernard Pastor of Ohio, brought to this country at age 3, is fighting an order of deportation to Guatemala. Hector Lopez of Oregon is in detention after being deported to Mexico and trying to return to his family in the United States, his home since the age of 6 weeks. What Pastor and Lopez have in common is that they grew up pledging allegiance to the United States, have never lived anywhere else and for all intents and purposes are American. They and thousands like them would have been assisted by the DREAM Act, which offered a conditional pathway to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who attend college or serve in the military. Unfortunately — worse than that, immorally and cruelly — the Senate failed to pass the bill. Although polls showed that the public supported it, and the Congressional Budget Office calculated that its passage would add $2 billion in new tax revenue annually, and a majority of senators were ready to vote "aye," as had their colleagues in the House, a Republican minority and a handful of Democrats blocked the bill from coming to a vote. This is a sad moment for young people like Pastor and Lopez, who were hoping for a reprieve. To secure a future in the United States, undocumented students outed themselves online, in news stories, on their college campuses. University graduates told of working as waitresses and dishwashers even though they hold advanced degrees. They demonstrated at senators' offices and fasted in the tradition of Cesar Chavez. Saturday morning, they cried in the corridors of Congress.

Monday, December 20, 2010

California Republicans Are Split On Possible Anti-Illegal Immigration Measure

Opponents of the measure, similar to Arizona's suspended law, fear alienating the fastest-growing voting bloc and further hampering the party's ability to win elections in the state.

Los Angeles Times: A nascent California ballot measure that seeks to replicate Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants is dividing the state's Republicans, with a number of prominent strategists and leaders fearing that it could further harm their party's already fraught relationship with Latinos — the fastest-growing segment of the electorate. It's unclear whether the ballot's backers will have the financial resources to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the 2012 ballot. Several Republicans said that even the effort to do so has the potential to increase the chasm between the party's candidates and the voting bloc whose record-breaking turnout tilted races in November and delivered a clean Democratic statewide sweep in a year in which Republicans celebrated major victories in the rest of the nation. They equated it to 1994's Proposition 187, which would have stopped illegal immigrants from receiving any state services had it not been largely voided by the courts. "It's completely counterproductive to the future of the party as well as counterproductive to the immigration debate and coming to a real solution," said Rob Stutzman, a GOP strategist who advised failed gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman. "It allows those who make a living off the demagoguing of immigrants to continue to do so." Supporters of the measure counter that the party's nominees suffered deep losses because the party has no clear message on immigration. "I think a greater damage to the future of the party in this state is that we have no position or message on immigration," said Mike Spence, a conservative Republican activist. "That to me is the bigger problem. I don't see how we can be damaged more than we already are."

High Court Ruling on Arizona Act Could Shape Immigration Law

The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act cracks down on employers who hire illegal workers, but the Obama administration says it conflicts with the federal government's authority to enforce immigration laws.

Los Angeles Times: President Obama once favored a "crackdown on employers" who hired illegal immigrants, and as a candidate called for "much tougher enforcement standards" for companies that employed illegal workers. But this week, Obama's top courtroom lawyer will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in urging the Supreme Court to strike down an Arizona law that goes after employers who hire illegal workers. The administration also seeks to void a part of the state's law that tells employers they must check the federal government's E-Verify database to make sure their new hires are authorized to work in the United States. The move sets the stage for a high court ruling on the most disputed issue in immigration law: Can states and cities enforce their own laws against illegal immigrants, or must they wait for federal authorities to act? The administration found itself in an awkward spot in part because the Legal Arizona Workers Act was signed into law in 2007 by then- Gov. Janet Napolitano. She said it would impose the "business death penalty" on employers caught a second time hiring illegal workers, and blamed "the flow of illegal immigration into our state … [on] the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Governor Pardons Six Immigrants Facing Deportation Over Old Crimes

New York Times: Gov. David A. Paterson announced pardons on Monday for six immigrants facing deportation because of old criminal convictions, including a financial administrator at the City University of New York. The governor said the pardons addressed “shortcomings in our federal immigration laws relating to deportation.” Mr. Paterson began a special clemency process in the spring with the principal aim of helping permanent legal residents — green card holders — who were at risk of deportation because of long-ago or minor convictions. “Federal immigration laws,” he said, “are often inflexible, arbitrarily applied and excessively harsh, resulting in the deportation of individuals who have paid the price for their crimes and are now making positive contributions to our society. These pardons represent an attempt to achieve fairness and justice.” Mr. Paterson convened a so-called pardon panel last May. In the past several weeks, its five members have been sifting through about 1,100 petitions for clemency, referring promising cases to the governor’s Executive Clemency Committee, which has recommended cases to the governor for final determination. Officials say the governor may issue another batch of pardons before his term ends this month. The administrator who was pardoned, Mario Benitez, 58, is a Dominican immigrant and the current assistant director of finance for CUNY’s Graduate School and University Center. He pleaded guilty to selling a controlled substance in 1988 and served three years in prison, according to a statement from the governor’s office. The statement praised Mr. Benitez’s achievements since his release, particularly his rise “to jobs with higher levels of responsibility” and his community activities in the Bronx, including mentoring.

Lawsuit Filed in Prison Death of Illegal Immigrant

Washington Post: Family members of an illegal immigrant found dead in a federal prison filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Texas facility, where inmates took hostages and set fires during a riot after the man's body was carried out. The 96-page federal lawsuit revives attention on the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, about 175 miles east of El Paso. The prison came under scrutiny in 2008, following the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo and two riots just six weeks apart that caused an estimated $1 million in damage. Galindo died in December 2008 after the 32-year-old had an epileptic seizure while placed in solitary confinement, his family's attorneys said. The lawsuit accuses the facility of being indifferent to prisoners' medical needs and using solitary confinement to punish inmates who complained of being sick. The defendants named in the lawsuit include Reeves County and the Geo Group Inc., which runs the prison. Geo Group is the nation's second-largest private prison contractor and operates 14 prisons in Texas. "They bear legal and moral responsibility for this preventable death," said Lisa Graybill, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is helping the family with the suit. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the Geo Group, said the company couldn't comment on pending litigation. Phone calls to the county attorney's office in Reeves County went unanswered.

Benefits of ICE Program Questioned

Washington Post: Ask Sheriff Stan G. Barry (D) about Secure Communities, an initiative to identify illegal immigrants with criminal records, and he will say it is successful. Others, however, say the program's success is misleading and comes at a high price. On Nov. 30, Barry outlined the program and its effects on Fairfax County as part of "Ask Fairfax!," an online forum in which county staff members engage in discussions with constituents about key Fairfax County topics. Administered and paid for by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the program cross-checks anyone booked into the county jail with federal databases for criminal records and immigration status. If an immigration violation is matched to a suspect, ICE requests that local law enforcement detain a suspect after incarceration, or exoneration if charges are dropped, to determine whether federal action, such as deportation, is required. The decision takes into consideration the immigration status of the illegal immigrant and his or her criminal history, according to ICE. "I agree that this program is great for removing very dangerous criminals," said John Liss, director of the Virginia New Majority, an Alexandria-based political action group with ties to labor unions that takes up many immigrant causes. "But the truth is that Secure Communities is not being used exclusively for that purpose. If someone is deported, relationships and families can be torn apart for an offense potentially as innocuous as jaywalking. It is a grossly disproportional punishment that massively impacts our sense of community in Northern Virginia."

Jeb Bush Says Arizona Law Is "Wrong Approach" on Immigration

Miami Herald reported that: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has expressed opposition to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, saying his children might look suspicious to police, according to news reports. A similar bill has been proposed here by Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, but Bennett says his version is different than its Arizona counterpart. “My bill is not a racial profiling bill. I do not like the Arizona bill, and don’t think we should use racial profiling -- that we’re in agreement on,” Bennett said Tuesday when told of reports outlining the former governor’s comments last weekend before a National League of Cities convention in Denver. Bennett said he had not been contacted by Bush, the brother and son of former Republican presidents. Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba, was born in Mexico and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. His children are half-Latino. The former Florida governor quipped that it was obvious he was not running for office, noting that his views differed from most of his Republican colleagues, The Denver Post reported last weekend. While he is sympathetic to the plight of Arizona officials forced to deal with all the problems linked to a porous frontier, he believes there are solutions other than a law criminalizing illegals, The Post reported. “It’s the wrong approach,” Bush was quoted as saying. “The net result is not much has been done.”

Some Unlicensed Drivers Risk More Than a Fine

New York Times: It was just another suburban fender-bender. A car zoomed into an intersection and braked too late to stop at a red light. The Georgia woman driving it, an American citizen, left with a wrecked auto, a sore neck and a traffic fine. But for Felipa Leonor Valencia, the Mexican woman who was driving the Jeep that was hit that day in March, the damage went far beyond a battered bumper. The crash led Ms. Valencia, an illegal immigrant who did not have a valid driver’s license, to 12 days in detention and the start of deportation proceedings — after 17 years of living in Georgia. Like Ms. Valencia, an estimated 4.5 million illegal immigrants nationwide are driving regularly, most without licenses, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Only three states — New Mexico, Utah and Washington — currently issue licenses without proof of legal residence in the United States. Many states have adopted tough new laws to prevent illegal immigrants from driving, while expanding immigration enforcement by the state and local police. As a result, at least 30,000 illegal immigrants who were stopped for common traffic violations in the last three years have ended up in deportation, Department of Homeland Security figures show. The numbers are rapidly increasing, aggravating tensions in the national debate over immigration.

DREAM Act Merits McCain, Kyl Help

Arizona Republic: Those who want to make children responsible for their parents' actions might also consider bringing back debtors prison. Both concepts are anachronistic, unfair and colossally counterproductive. This kind of thinking keeps the Dream Act from becoming law. That and politics. In the ugly world of immigration politics, turning kids into collateral damage is all in a day's work. But in the real world, rejecting the Dream Act is a betrayal of the future. It is unjust to innocent children. It robs the nation of the talents of eager, young people. It perpetuates the folly that all those who are in the U.S. illegally can be deported or made to disappear. Arizona's senators should reject such narrow, limited thinking, and provide leadership to get the Dream Act through the Senate. Doing so means bucking their party. Republicans pledge a hard line against a bill that Democrats are pushing for their own political purposes. The Dream Act should pass for practical, not political, reasons.

Graham, Who Helped Immigrant, Sees No Conflict with Current Stand

Miami Herald: Six years ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a rare type of bill that blocked the U.S. government from punishing an South Carolina high school girl for a crime her mother had committed long ago by smuggling her across the Mexico border. Seven months ago, Griselda Lopez Negrete graduated from the University of South Carolina with an honors degree in business administration - and as a permanent legal resident of the United States on a path toward citizenship. Graham, though, has trod a different path. Three years after promoting a landmark immigration reform bill, Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is now joining hard-liners in opposing a measure that would grant the same protections to children of illegal immigrants that he provided Negrete in 2004. Graham sees no contradiction between his past support for immigration overhauls - branded as "amnesty" by his fellow South Carolina Republican, Sen. Jim DeMint - and his current stance against a measure to create a conditional route to citizenship for as many as 500,000 children of illegal immigrants. The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act - Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors - late Wednesday, and the Senate is expected to vote on it next week. "I'm not saying the DREAM Act is bad," Graham told McClatchy Thursday. "I'm saying that the DREAM Act done by itself is a formula for disaster because you're inviting people to come here illegally."

Poll: Slim Majority Supports DREAM Act

Politico reported that: As the DREAM Act remains stalled in the Senate, a small majority of Americans say they support the path to legal status for people brought illegally to the United States as children. In a Gallup Poll released Friday, 54 percent of Americans said they would vote for a law that would create a route to citizenship for immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. Forty-two percent said they would vote against the bill. Support broke down along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 66 percent said they would vote for the DREAM Act, while 31 percent said they would vote against it. Thirty-four percent of Republicans said they support the bill, while 63 percent said they were opposed to it. Nearly 60 percent of independents said they would vote for the law. Gallup surveyed 1,003 adults by phone between Dec. 3 and Dec. 6. The error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Rare Immigration Bills Pass Congress

Associated Press: Congress has taken the unusual step of waiving immigration restrictions for two Japanese citizens fighting to live in the United States.The private immigration bills passed by the House on Wednesday - they had already been passed by the Senate - are the first to be approved in more than five years. The measures now go to President Barack Obama for his signature. One bill would clear the way for the granting of legal status to the widow of a Tennessee Marine who gave birth to their son after he was killed in Iraq in 2008. Another would provide relief to a Japanese man living in California whose mother was killed in a car crash when he was a teenager and who was never legally adopted. "I have always seen myself as part of this whole American society, and I am American, just like my friends but without the status or papers," said the man, Shigeru Yamada, now 28. "For me to finally become, or have the potential to become a permanent resident, it means a great deal to me, it really does. I can't really express how happy I am." Congress can vote to let individual immigrants in exceptional cases live in the country legally but hasn't done so since the 108th Congress, in 2003-04. Immigrant advocates see such bills as a last resort when other efforts to obtain a green card have failed.

Immigration to U.S., After Dip, Is Back Up

New York Times: The flow of immigrants to the United States has resumed, after falling to the lowest level in decades during the recession, a new study finds. The number of immigrants in the United States was estimated to have risen by about half a million in the year that ended in 2009, a jump from the previous year, when immigration stopped almost completely during the recession, according the study, which was conducted by the Brookings Institution and is being released on Thursday. The rise pointed to an increase in demand for immigrant labor in the economy, said Audrey Singer, a demographer and co-author of the report. However, the number is still far below the increases of more than a million a year that took place earlier in the decade. The flow reached a peak in 2006, with a 1.8 million increase in the foreign born population. "It’s an uptick in opportunity," Ms. Singer said. "Immigrants are very mobile in responding to economic changes." In 1980, the foreign-born population in the United States was about 4.5 million. By 2000, it had reached 11.3 million, bringing the foreign-born population to about 13 percent of the total. In the early 20th century, after the last big wave of immigration to the United States, immigrants had reached 15 percent of the population.