About Me

My photo
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, January 06, 2016

Obama’s Delicate Dance on Immigration

National Journal
By Rebecca Nelson
January 5, 2016

Fed­er­al agents took 121 un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants in­to cus­tody in a series of raids this week­end in Geor­gia, Texas, and North Car­o­lina, send­ing a com­plic­ated mes­sage to those on both sides of the is­sue—and re­veal­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s del­ic­ate dance on im­mig­ra­tion.

The raids, ac­cord­ing to Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment Sec­ret­ary Jeh John­son, tar­geted fam­il­ies who had come to the U.S. in the past year and a half. “Our bor­ders are not open to il­leg­al mi­gra­tion,” John­son said in a state­ment Monday. And he prom­ised that they would con­tin­ue “as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

The ac­tion is de­cis­ive, yet small-scale—of the 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants in the coun­try, .001 per­cent were taken in­to cus­tody. And it was re­l­at­ively quiet: Word first leaked in a Wash­ing­ton Post re­port in late Decem­ber—just be­fore Christ­mas—that they were be­ing planned, and they largely went un­der the radar. The size and tim­ing of the raids yiel­ded little con­sensus on what mes­sage Pres­id­ent Obama hopes to send with his ac­tions.

Pro-im­mig­ra­tion ad­voc­ates take the tim­ing to mean that Obama is dodging pub­li­city, per­haps try­ing to min­im­ize the in­ev­it­able back­lash from fel­low Demo­crats and oth­er act­iv­ists. (Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial front-run­ner Hil­lary Clin­ton, for ex­ample, has “real con­cerns” about the raids, her cam­paign said.)

Anti-il­leg­al-im­mig­ra­tion groups, on the oth­er hand, con­tend the pres­id­ent wants to prove his mettle on en­for­cing im­mig­ra­tion law, but aren’t con­vinced that there’s any real sub­stance to the ac­tions. And some are simply con­fused as to what he’s do­ing en­tirely.

Obama has long spoken to the vir­tues of im­mig­ra­tion. In a strident de­fense of im­mig­rants last month, he im­pli­citly re­buked xeno­phobic rhet­or­ic from Don­ald Trump, ur­ging Amer­ic­ans not to re­peat the coun­try’s his­tory of pre­ju­dice.

“The pres­id­ent has re­mained pretty con­sist­ent that our spir­it as a na­tion, that we’ve al­ways been a na­tion of im­mig­rants, and that to be Amer­ic­an is to em­brace all of the dreams and the pas­sion that im­mig­rants bring,” says Ry­an Eller, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of pro-im­mig­rant group Define Amer­ic­an.

That’s why the DHS raids—which Eller called “shock­ing, im­mor­al, and short­sighted”—have been so mys­ti­fy­ing to him.

“If you wait to an­nounce something pub­licly, or at least it doesn’t get un­covered un­til Christ­mas Eve, then it’s prob­ably something that you’re not try­ing to talk a lot about in pub­lic,” Eller says. “It’s really baff­ling to me, to be hon­est.”

Mean­while, those who ad­voc­ate for tough­er im­mig­ra­tion policy see the ex­act op­pos­ite: Rather than something the ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to hide, it’s en­tirely for show. Ira Mehl­man, a spokes­man for the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­ic­an Im­mig­ra­tion Re­form, says the raids are aimed at try­ing “to con­vince the Amer­ic­an pub­lic that they’re do­ing something that they’re not really do­ing.”

Mehl­man calls it a “ka­buki dance” between pro- and anti-im­mig­ra­tion act­iv­ists. “I think it was an­nounced in or­der to gen­er­ate some kind of re­sponse from the ad­voc­ates for the il­leg­al ali­ens to provide the pres­id­ent with cov­er for do­ing the ab­so­lute min­im­um when it comes to en­force­ment.”

Yet an­oth­er the­ory, from Define Amer­ic­an’s Eller, is that the raids could give Obama a found­a­tion to up­hold his con­tro­ver­sial ex­ec­ut­ive or­der grant­ing am­nesty to 5 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants should it go be­fore the Su­preme Court. DHS’s de­port­a­tion pri­or­it­ies, as laid out in a Novem­ber 2014 memo, in­clude those who came to the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2014, and the raids are, in part, tar­get­ing those in­di­vidu­als. Eller spec­u­lates that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is “play­ing polit­ics” to prove that it’s en­for­cing those pri­or­it­ies—and there­fore have a bet­ter shot at up­hold­ing the rest of his or­der.

The White House hasn’t giv­en much clar­ity on its mes­sage. Press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est told re­port­ers Monday that al­though the ad­min­is­tra­tion is “quite ser­i­ous when it comes to en­for­cing our im­mig­ra­tion laws,” the de­port­a­tion pri­or­it­ies are fo­cused on “felons, not fam­il­ies,” along with those who re­cently crossed the bor­der. While the lat­ter have been the tar­get of the raids, so too have fam­il­ies.

That di­ver­gence has left even some al­lies of the pres­id­ent con­fused as to what mes­sage he’s try­ing to send. An­gela Kel­ley, an im­mig­ra­tion ex­pert at the lib­er­al Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress, says it’s con­found­ing. Con­trary to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­id­ent George W. Bush, raids aren’t a tac­tic that Obama has much em­ployed.

“It’s a head-scratch­er,” Kel­ley says. “All of the sud­den, the no­tion that this ad­min­is­tra­tion is knock­ing on doors early in the morn­ing and rous­ing wo­men and kids out of beds is not the dir­ec­tion that we had seen it go­ing for so many years.”

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

No comments: