About Me

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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


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

House Judiciary Committee Hearing Will Focus on Obamacare, Touch on Immigration

National Journal
By Elahe Izadi
November 26, 2013

Get ready for another Obamacare hearing, folks.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday titled "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws," focusing mostly on the employer-mandate delay, the one-year administrative fix on canceled health plans, and the contraceptive mandate.

But the hearing, which has been in the works for some time, will also touch on enforcement of immigration and drug laws by the administration, according to a committee aide. It will come a week after an immigration speech by President Obama was interrupted by a heckler yelling, "You have the power to stop all deportations!"

The president responded, "Actually, I don't."

Obama went on to say that taking unilateral executive action to stop all deportations would "violate our laws" and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Some advocates within the immigration movement think he does have that authority, and have called upon the administration to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to adults and the parents of undocumented children. Under the program announced last year, legal action against certain undocumented young people can be deferred for two years.

Over the summer, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Safe Act, which makes unlawful presence in the U.S. a federal crime.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Behind Obama's Immigration Push

Wall Street Journal
By Jason L. Riley
November 26, 2013

President Obama is pressuring House Republicans to move immigration legislation this year. And while it's probably in the GOP's interest to get past this contentious issue, don't hold your breath.

"When it comes to immigration reform, we have to have the confidence to believe we can get this done, and we should get it done," Mr. Obama said Monday. "The only thing standing in our way right now is the unwillingness of certain Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country."

A survey out this week shows what such surveys have shown for years, which is that a large majority of the country favors comprehensive immigration reform that includes offering citizenship to people who are here illegally. Some 63 percent of respondents, including 60 percent of Republicans, expressed support for a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens. A bill that included such a path was co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and passed the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this year. But the House has refused to vote on it.

Last week, Mr. Obama said that he was open to a so-called "piece-meal" approach that House Republicans prefer, which involves passing separate bills for border security, employer mandates, high-skill immigrants, farm workers and so forth. But no progress has been made on the piece that really matters: what to do with the 11 million or so illegal immigrants already here. The president says legalizing them must be part of any package. House Republicans say that legalizing them is amnesty, which they oppose. And notwithstanding the national polls, many of these GOP restrictionists come from safe districts where their position is popular.

In any case, House Republican leaders from John Boehner to Eric Cantor to Kevin McCarthy have said that immigration reform is dead this year. But reaching a compromise in 2014 won't be any easier. This is an issue that's easy to demagogue, and the midterm elections will be looming. The president's base is upset over the record number of deportations and five years of inaction on comprehensive reform, but the White House remains confident that voters who care most about this issue won't abandon the Democratic Party so long as Republicans are giving off an "anti-immigrant vibe," as one White House official put it.

The GOP understandably wants to keep the focus on the disastrous ObamaCare rollout and not give the president a political victory on immigration. Republicans also remain concerned that amnesty will only create a large bloc of new Democratic voters. Still, the demographic trends suggest that delay probably hurts Republicans more than Democrats in the long run. We still tend to associate immigration with Latinos, which Mr. Obama won, 71 percent to 27 percent, in 2012. But today's new arrivals are mostly Asians, and Mr. Obama won 73 percent of that vote as well, according to exit polls. Some Republicans are eager to concede these groups to Democrats, but they can't afford to for much longer.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Obama Said He Can't Stop Deportations of Immigrants, but Maybe He Can

By Leigh Ann Caldwell
November 26, 2013

Washington (CNN) -- A heckler standing just behind Barack Obama in San Francisco this week yelled to the President that he "has the power to stop deportation."

A clearly irritated Obama interrupted his speech and shot back that he doesn't have that authority, saying the United States is "a nation of laws."

So, who's right?

Federal immigration law provides for the deportation, or removal, of an individual under several circumstances -- including being in the country illegally, overstaying a legal visa, violation of criminal statutes or a number of other offenses — after a judicial process.

But the administration has latitude in how to enforce those laws, though legal experts say exercising that discretion too broadly is fraught with political and legal land mines.

Ju Hong, the 24-year old heckler, is a University of California, Berkeley graduate and a member of Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights Through Education, ASPIRE.

After the event on Monday at a community center, the group insisted the President can use his executive authority to halt deportations.

Hong and his group want Obama to stop all deportations, which they say creates a culture of fear among undocumented immigrants and breaks up families.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest pushed back, saying the President does not have that authority.

"As I think the President said rather definitively, there is also not an executive action that would address all of the concerns that that young man had raised," said Earnest Tuesday from Los Angeles.

But that doesn't convince May Liang, an organizer for ASPIRE. She told CNN Tuesday that she still thinks Obama "blatantly lied" when he said he didn't have the power to stop deportations. In a statement Monday, the group asked him for his "legal analysis" of why he can't stop deportations.

Obama, however, stood firm.

"The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws," Obama told Hong Monday.

"And what I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done," he said.

Obama told Univision In January that he's "required to follow the law," which makes it a misdemeanor to be in the country illegally. Those found guilty can be deported.

But the President has exercised discretion on deportations in the past.

In 2012, he announced that the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not going to deport Dreamers, children of undocumented immigrants.

And in August, he announced that parents would not deport parents caring for children.

But still, he has been aggressive on that front. Obama has deported more people than any other president. For instance, 410,000 people were deported in 2012 compared to 116,000 in 2001.

Obama has shifted the type of immigrants targeted for deportation. While the administration of President George W. Bush targeted working immigrants by raiding workplaces, Obama is focusing on convicted criminals and "egregious" immigration violators, including recent border crossers and illegal re-entrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 55% of people deported last year were convicted criminals.

Richard A. Boswell, immigration law professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, said the President is "partially correct."

It's called prosecutorial discretion. The executive branch has the "inherent power to choose which cases to act on," Boswell said.

Think of the police. They can theoretically give someone driving four miles over the speed limit a ticket, but the police officer also has the ability to use discretion to give a warning instead.

That's the validation Obama used in his decision to halt deportations of youth and parents.

But Philip Schrag, professor of public interest law at Georgetown Law School, said the President's position is that putting an end to all deportations would "abuse" his discretion.

Immigration law attorney Austin Gragomen said he thinks Obama "has an obligation to enforce the law" even if he chooses how and to what extent to enforce it.

Boswell disagreed. He said the President can use his discretion to hold deportations.

The President is "making a tactical political move to force Congress to act. He could just as easily told Congress that he would withhold deportations on broad categories of cases pending their action," Boswell wrote in an e-mail.

The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year, which includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

The legislation has been stalled in the House and is unlikely to be taken up before the end of the year.

The issue of deportations hasn't just upset immigration advocates. The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, announced he would hold a hearing on the issue to investigate the President's decision to not deport some people.

The hearing is titled, "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws."

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

Biden Visits Immigration Advocates Fasting on National Mall

Los Angeles Times
By Lisa Mascaro
November 22, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit Friday to immigration advocates who have been fasting on the National Mall, lending White House support to the push for House Speaker John A. Boehner to take up the proposed immigration law overhaul now stalled in the House.

"As my father would say, come hell or high water, we're going to win this," Biden told the group, according to organizers of the fast, now in its 11th day.

Boehner insisted this week that Republicans in the House are committed to considering immigration legislation, but he declined to say when they would take up the issue. Advocates had urged him to bring the bill to a vote by the end of 2013, but that now seems increasingly unlikely.

The immigration issue deeply divides the GOP, and Republican lawmakers are split over what advocates call the cornerstone of any reform effort -- a route to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status.

Advocates are pushing House Republicans to act before Congress recesses for the holidays. Boehner has allowed a bipartisan Senate-passed immigration overhaul to stall, and advocates delivered immigrant-processed turkeys to GOP leaders on the Hill this week and held a vigil outside Boehner¹s Capitol Hill townhouse.

The vice president's visit to the protesters on the Mall follows similar visits from other administration officials and lawmakers.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez visited the group, as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and two California Republican congressmen, Jeff Denham and David Valadao, who both support an immigration overhaul.

Among those fasting is a top labor leader, Eliseo Medina, the former secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, who called Biden's visit "inspiring."

"I was humbled and strengthened by his words and commitment to immigration reform," the 67-year-old longtime immigrant advocate said. "He gives me more hope that we can finally address this moral crisis."

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

In Immigration Battle, Advocates for Overhaul Single Out Republicans

New York Times
By Ashley Parker
November 23, 2013

PUEBLO, Colo. — Representative Scott Tipton, Republican of Colorado, entered his town hall meeting and quickly began greeting the assembled crowd, including those who did not necessarily share his political views.

He shook the hands of a group of Hispanic teenagers sitting in the front row, welcoming them like old friends. The teenagers, who had been brought to the country illegally by their parents as young children, had come the day before to lobby Mr. Tipton to support a broad immigration overhaul.

“You were there yesterday!” he said to one of the teenagers, who were dressed in red and had already attended several other events in his district. “Well, thanks for taking the time. Did you have a good drive?” He turned to another member of the group. “I have not got you to smile once,” he said, offering a smile of his own, before moving to the front of the room to start his meeting.

Mr. Tipton has come to know the immigration advocates in his district — and their issue — well. As House Republicans have all but ruled out the possibility of passing any sweeping legislation before the end of the year, immigration advocates are operating with an increased sense of urgency. Their goal is to pressure lawmakers like Mr. Tipton to support an overhaul, creating a call for action from Republican House members that they hope Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team will find impossible to ignore.

But persuading Mr. Tipton, a two-term lawmaker who rode into office on the Tea Party wave in 2010, to support any broad immigration legislation will be a tough sell.

In an interview at his Pueblo office, he said he was “calling for immigration reform a long time ago,” but has yet to make up his mind on the crux of the debate: what to do with the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally.

“We’ve got some that were looking for a better life, but they broke the laws to this country,” he said. “That can’t be without penalty.”

Mr. Tipton has shown some willingness to compromise on the question of the young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought here by their parents as young children. He said he would handle their plight “compassionately.”

Democrats, perhaps optimistically, hope to get Mr. Tipton to sign on to the broad bill they recently introduced, which includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. Immigration advocacy groups hope to show him that there could be political consequences if he does not take steps to help overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

According to the most recent census, Mr. Tipton’s district, which covers nearly the entire western half of the state as well as part of its southern border with New Mexico, is 24 percent Hispanic. Combined with the large agricultural businesses on the Western Slope, the demographic forces alone would seem to compel Mr. Tipton to support some form of immigration overhaul. President Obama won the state narrowly in both 2008 and 2012, and Mr. Tipton won re-election last year with 53 percent of the vote.

This month, a coalition of immigration advocates, as well as labor and religious groups, inaugurated the “Cost of Inaction,” a voter education and outreach campaign that targets nine House Republicans, Mr. Tipton included, to push for a vote on an immigration overhaul before the end of the year. Though the Senate passed its own broad immigration bill in June with bipartisan support, immigration advocates have become increasingly frustrated with the House, which has made little progress on legislation of its own and is unlikely to take a vote this year.

“We feel that to move them, we have to awaken the electoral vulnerability that Republicans face, both specific Republicans that have large and growing immigrant electorates and also the party as a national party,” said Tom Snyder, the immigration campaign director for the A.F.L.-C.I.O., one of the groups behind the campaign. “It’s very hard to think about them winning a presidential election with an immigrant electorate that’s growing and overwhelmingly hostile to the party.”

Mr. Tipton said that as a former businessman, he favored a “step by step” approach to the problem, with smaller bills dealing with border security and a guest worker program coming first. “If we’ve got border security and, in virtual tandem, a good viable guest worker program,” he said, “this is going to first of all address national security concerns.”

He is also worried about the potential immigrants still in their home countries, who have been waiting, sometimes for years, to try to enter the United States through legal channels. “Do we want to treat them fairly as well?” he asked. “We can’t put anyone in front of them.”

Immigration advocates are hoping that Colorado is particularly primed to be on the forefront of their push in Congress.

“There is not a part of our state, from the agriculture economy to the tourism economy to the high-tech economy, that is not reliant on our having a functioning immigration system and is not compromised by the broken system we have today,” said Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, who was part of the group that drafted the Senate’s immigration bill. “What puzzles me about this issue is why it becomes partisan when it’s in Washington, D.C. It’s not partisan in Colorado.”

One challenge for Mr. Tipton, said someone who has talked to him about the issue, is that he was first elected with the support of the Tea Party, a group that largely scorns a broad immigration overhaul as an amnesty, and he is hesitant to alienate this core constituency.

John Harold, a vegetable farmer in Olathe and a Democrat, said an immigration overhaul was so crucial to his business that he had told his Democratic friends that if Mr. Tipton were to face a primary challenge from the right because of his support for a broad immigration measure, “we would have to support his candidacy.”

“Agriculture as we know it is in jeopardy without immigration reform,” said Mr. Harold, who added that he had a hard time finding local workers to pick his corn, which can total 1.25 million ears each day during the high season. “The types of crops we grow and the methods we use are reliant on a good labor force.”

Of Mr. Tipton, he added: “I don’t know that he’s going to come around. I don’t know if there’s a chance for him.”

The goal for advocates is not only to prod Republican lawmakers like Mr. Tipton to “come around,” but also to urge those who are already on board to become more vocal, pressuring their leadership to put a broad immigration bill on the House floor before the end of the year.

“There’s a lot of Republicans who have indicated some general support for immigration reform, and a lot of groups right now are trying to translate that support into action,” said Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, which is pushing for an overhaul.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

In Report, 63% Back Way to Get Citizenship

New York Times
By Julia Preston
November 25, 2013

A consistent and solid majority of Americans — 63 percent — crossing party and religious lines favors legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally, while only 14 percent support legal residency with no option for citizenship, according a report published Monday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.

Those surveyed expressed strong support for citizenship for 11.7 million immigrants in the country without documents just as Congress appears to be shifting away from that approach, with Republican leaders in the House working on measures that would offer legal status without a direct path to naturalization.

Sixty percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats favor a pathway to citizenship, according to the report. Majorities of Protestants, Catholics and Americans with no religious affiliation also support that plan.

The institute found that there is slightly less support for limiting the immigrants to legal residency than there is for a tough enforcement strategy of identifying and deporting them, a policy favored by 18 percent.

The report is based on results from four national surveys, one in Ohio and focus groups in Arizona, Florida and Ohio. It compares results from a national poll in March with a similar bilingual telephone survey that was conducted nationwide in English and Spanish from Nov. 6 to 10 among 1,005 adults, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The nonprofit research institute conducts surveys on public policy issues and religious values.

Support for citizenship has not changed significantly since March, the institute found.

The group drilled down into that issue, creating subgroups for the November survey who were asked questions with differing levels of detail about the requirements immigrants should have to meet to become citizens. When there was no mention of requirements, 59 percent supported an option for citizenship. When the question specified that immigrants would have to pay back taxes, learn English and pass background checks, support increased to 71 percent.

The requirements were “most important for Republicans,” the report said. When the question did not mention requirements, only about four in 10 Republicans supported citizenship. When the requirements were described in more detail, Republican support increased to 62 percent.

In June, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan bill with a 13-year pathway to citizenship that includes the hurdles mentioned in the poll: paying back taxes and passing English tests and criminal background checks. House leaders have said they will not take up that measure, but will address immigration issues in smaller bills. Several House Republican leaders have said they are drafting measures that would provide “lawful status” for many unauthorized immigrants but no “special path” to citizenship.

According to the report, nearly seven in 10 Americans believe the 13-year wait for citizenship under the Senate bill is too long, while 24 percent said it was just right.

The institute found that Americans living in Ohio — the home state of Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican — are significantly more likely than those in Arizona and Florida to say “things have gotten worse” in the country over all and to hold negative views of immigrants. Nevertheless, the surveys found similarly broad agreement in all three states on a pathway to citizenship, with 60 percent of Ohio residents favoring that approach.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans — 65 percent — say the United States’ immigration system is either completely or mostly broken. Those who say it is “completely broken” have increased to 34 percent from 23 percent in March, according to the report.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Veteran Union Activist Fasts to Support Rights for Illegal Immigrants

New York Times
By Julia Preston
November 22, 2013

WASHINGTON — As a teenage grape picker, Eliseo Medina learned political action at the feet of Cesar Chavez. In 1968, he watched Mr. Chavez hold a 25-day water-only fast that helped transform the farm workers’ union into a nationally known force.

Since then, Mr. Medina has been at the center of debates over immigrants’ rights, arguing successfully that unions should embrace unauthorized foreign workers rather than shun them as job stealers. The tactics he learned from Mr. Chavez have stayed with him.

So there Mr. Medina was on Friday, now 67 years old, in a white tent just below the Capitol on the National Mall in the 11th day of a water-only fast he hopes will “touch the heart” of the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and make him act on immigration.

Saying he will fast until his body gives out, Mr. Medina has lost 16 pounds; his face, sprouting a sparse beard, looks sunken and gray. But he perks up when he talks about the millions of immigrants — including many members of his organization, the Service Employees International Union, and a few of his own relatives — who are living in the country without legal papers.

“Whatever little sacrifice I am making doesn’t compare with the sacrifice these immigrants made when they came to this country for a better life and find themselves living in the shadows and being exploited,” Mr. Medina said, in cadences echoing Mr. Chavez. He wears a brown sweatshirt with the slogan “Act. Fast.” and spends his days in a padded lawn chair, quelling hunger by praying, napping, plotting political strategy and receiving a parade of visitors — including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday morning.

But inside the Capitol, where Republican leaders in the House say an immigration overhaul is not on the agenda this year, the surly partisan mood contrasts sharply with the idealism from another era in Mr. Medina’s tent.

“I don’t think anybody in Congress is going to pay any attention to that,” said Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who is a blunt-spoken opponent of legalization for those who entered the country illegally. “There are plenty of Americans who are un- or underemployed. Those hungry Americans are going to look at these open-border left liberals going hungry and they will have less sympathy, not more.”

The Senate passed a broad immigration bill in June, but the issue has fallen to the wayside in the House as lawmakers feud over health care and the budget. While Mr. Boehner insisted Thursday that immigration is “absolutely not” dead in the House, he gave no indication that he planned votes anytime soon.

“When all the traditional activities have been attempted, Eliseo believes sometimes an individual act of moral conscience can refocus the discussion at a different level,” said Andrew L. Stern, a former president of Mr. Medina’s union.

It has worked for Mr. Medina in the past. In 1974, he fasted for 14 days to press a supermarket chain in Cleveland to stop stocking produce picked by nonunion laborers, in a campaign the United Farm Workers eventually won.

And in 2006, Mr. Medina held another fast to support striking janitors at the University of Miami who were organized by the service workers’ union, which he joined in 1986. He suspended that fast after 11 days when the janitors won their contract.

“I’ve seen in my lifetime that change is possible,” Mr. Medina said. As he did in those episodes, he turned to fasting this time after other tactics failed to advance his goals.

Over the past two decades, Mr. Medina, who rose to become the second-highest official in the union, has campaigned on behalf of immigrant workers, within organized labor and in Congress.

In the 1990s, he was at the center of hard-fought debates with labor chiefs who viewed unauthorized immigrants as strikebreakers and competitors for American jobs.

Mr. Medina became an early champion of a strategy of organizing immigrants regardless of their status. His union’s membership swelled.

“Eliseo is one of the reasons why the catechism now in the labor movement is: We wish all workers would be like immigrants and join unions,” said Janice R. Fine, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers.

In no small part because of Mr. Medina, the main federations of the labor movement, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win, are now broadly united behind the effort for a comprehensive overhaul with a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States illegally.

Mr. Medina expanded his reach to immigrant advocacy groups, helping them lobby Congress and organize growing protests in the country. He also devised an effort to naturalize and turn out Latino voters. His voter drives in states like Nevada and Colorado contributed significantly to President Obama’s re-election victory in 2012.

In August, Mr. Medina was arrested in an immigration demonstration on Capitol Hill. The next month, he resigned as secretary-treasurer of the service workers’ union, saying he wanted to devote his full time to winning immigration legislation.

But none of that has worked to get a House vote. Mr. Medina and other advocates argue that a bill similar to the Senate’s could pass the House, but mainly with votes from Democrats. Mr. Boehner says any legislation must have a Republican majority.

Mr. Medina is not fasting entirely alone. Since the first day he has been joined by Cristian Avila, a 23-year-old student from Phoenix, and Dae Joong Yoon, 43, executive director of Nakasec,   a Korean-American group in Los Angeles. Other union leaders and volunteers have fasted with him for a few days. Mr. Medina has been joined by two daughters, a niece and a granddaughter with shorter fasts.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson stopped by the tent this week, put on a brown sweatshirt and promised to fast for three days. About 3,000 people have reported on Mr. Medina’s website that they are fasting.

Late Tuesday night, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, arrived from California with 30 other evangelical pastors. He also looked gaunt, since he has been fasting since Nov. 4.

He takes broth once a day, but he has also kept up a full work schedule.

With Mr. Medina, a Catholic, they all went to their knees, praying for Mr. Boehner to allow a vote.

“We all have parents, relatives, friends who are impacted by this system,” Mr. Medina said. “It’s personal to us. Waiting and waiting is not an option.”

On Friday, Mr. Medina’s voice had faded to a whisper and a nurse was monitoring his vital signs.

House lawmakers were leaving town for the Thanksgiving break.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Feminist Call For Immigration Reform, As Momentum Stalls in Congress

By Maya Rhodan
November 20, 2013

The women’s rights community is not giving up on immigration reform.

Though the bill that hurtled the Senate is likely dead in the water in the House, women’s groups took to the National Press Club on Tuesday to focus attention on the impact immigrant laws have on women—using the star power of feminist activist and author Gloria Steinem to propel them forward.

“A vote against immigration reform, or inaction on this issue,” said Pramila Jayapal, the co-chair of the women’s immigration group We Belong Together, “is really a vote against women, children, and families.”

Women make up about 51% of the immigrant population, according to the Census.“The truth of the matter is,” Steinem said Tuesday, “there is an unrealistic portrayal of who immigrants really are.”

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Congressman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) were also among Tuesday’s speakers. Hirono said a number of women’s issues aren’t taken into account in reform legislation. Though there are provisions geared directly at easing citizenship for those employed in the science, technology and agriculture fields, there are no protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are women.

“Our new immigration system is inadvertently disadvantaging women,” said Sen. Hirono, who voted in favor of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Act in June. Royal-Allard, on the other hand, just wants an opportunity to vote on the bill. “Let’s at least get a vote,” she said. “If we get a change to vote in the House, it will pass.”

Last week, however, Speaker of the House John Boehner told reporters that he doesn’t intend to go to conference on the Senate’s immigration reform bill and he will not allow any House-passed legislation to blend with the Senate version. President Obama said on Tuesday that he is optimistic that reform will pass, adding that he is open to dealing with immigration reform in bites at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference. ”If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces,” President Obama said.  ”As long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like as long as it’s actually delivering on those core values that we talk about.” At the same event, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said there is not enough time to take up immigration reform during this session.

Gloria Steinem told TIME, however, that even without a vote the movement to bring women to the forefront of conversations surrounding immigration reform will continue. If a vote doesn’t happen, Steinem said, “It means danger. It means insecurity. And it means we have to take care of each other by other means.”

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com