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


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sessions Lauds Miami and Rebukes Chicago in Escalating Fight With Sanctuary Cities

New York Times 
By Rebecca R. Ruiz
August 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions hailed local authorities in Miami on Wednesday for falling in line with federal immigration efforts but denounced Chicago and other so-called sanctuary cities that have escalated their rejection of Trump administration enforcement policies.

“The leaders in Chicago have made this a political issue,” Mr. Sessions said in a speech in the Port of Miami. He contrasted Chicago’s defiance with Miami-Dade County’s recent cooperation, formally recognized by the Justice Department this month.

“Respect for the rule of law has broken down. In Chicago, I suggest the so-called sanctuary polices are one sad example of that,” he said.

Sanctuary cities’ policies vary, but they generally limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, arguing that close collaboration could undercut local law enforcement efforts. President Trump demanded in January that local authorities fully cooperate or risk losing federal grant money.

Miami-Dade’s mayor, Carlos Giménez, has directed county jails to detain undocumented immigrants who were arrested on unrelated charges, giving federal agents a two-day window to retrieve them and possibly begin deportation proceedings.

Mr. Sessions tied violence in Chicago to its government’s refusal to follow Miami’s example.

“The same Independence Day weekend when Chicago suffered more than 100 shootings and 15 homicides, Miami-Dade also had a historic number of shooting deaths: Zero,” he said.

Mr. Sessions’ remarks came just over a week after Chicago sued the Justice Department for its plans to cut off federal grant money to sanctuary cities, which the attorney general and the president have described as havens for criminals.

“Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate,” Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, said in announcing the lawsuit.

Several other local and state governments, including San Francisco and California, filed similar complaints this month, arguing that the administration’s financial threat compromises public safety and violates the Constitution.

Until this month, Miami-Dade was considered a sanctuary jurisdiction by the Justice Department. But in an Aug. 4 letter, federal officials expressed satisfaction with the county’s policy, which was enacted days into Mr. Trump’s term and responded to the prospect of losing federal funding.

“Miami-Dade is now in full compliance,” Mr. Sessions said on Wednesday. “It means more money for crime fighting, and it means we are partners in keeping everyone here safe.” He criticized cities like Chicago for “the gall to feign outrage when their police departments lose federal funds as a direct result of their malfeasance.”

Officials in Clark County, Nevada, which encompasses Las Vegas and has been considered a sanctuary jurisdiction but similarly amended its policies, also received a letter this month certifying that it is not in jeopardy of losing grant money.

Mr. Giménez, a former Cuban refugee and a Republican who publicly supported Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election, has faced protests and local opposition over his choice to comply with the January order that demanded cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Some of that opposition was enlivened this week, leading up to Mr. Sessions’s visit, said to Michael Hernandez, Miami-Dade County’s senior communications director.

Mr. Giménez has maintained, however, that local police will not act as immigration officers and are to never inquire about a person’s immigration status. He has justified the county’s position by pointing to the necessity of the federal money that could otherwise be taken away.

The annual grant that the Justice Department has threatened amounts to some $260 million nationwide and more than $450,000 for Miami-Dade County. It has funded body cameras for the Miami-Dade police force in recent years, Mr. Hernandez said.

Over the past six months, since Mr. Giménez’s new directive took effect, Miami-Dade County has detained nearly 500 people at the direction of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to county data. As of early August, 185 had been taken into custody by federal authorities.

But even as Mr. Sessions pointed to Miami-Dade as an example of cooperation, Mr. Giménez’s request that the county be reimbursed for the cost of detaining people in local jails at the federal government’s behest was not addressed, at least publicly.

“Mayor Giménez believes it’s fair and appropriate for the federal government to reimburse Miami-Dade County’s corrections department for holding these individuals beyond the time that we can legally hold them,” Mr. Hernandez said.

He noted the mayor had discussed the issue with John F. Kelly, the president’s new chief of staff, when he was the secretary of homeland security. “Is it a demand? No. But it’s something we’re going to continue to work on.”

Officials in sanctuary cities such as Chicago, New York and Philadelphia have expressed opposition to the immigration enforcement policy that goes beyond the financial burden of complying with the president’s order.

Some have cited concern about detaining people without a criminal warrant. Others have called the Trump administration’s position counterintuitive, arguing that communities are safer when local authorities stay out of immigration matters and instead encourage undocumented immigrants to report crimes or share information without fearing deportation.

“I don’t personally believe we belong in the immigration business,” Richard Ross Jr., Philadelphia’s police commissioner, said last month after Mr. Sessions had visited to press his agenda, including similarly trying to link Philadelphia’s sanctuary policies to crime. “We want every bit of assistance that we can get. If you don’t have the resources, you’re going to fall short.”

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

Inside a day of violence, terror in Charlottesville

Associated Press 
By Sarah Rankin
August 16, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — It started with threats, taunting and racial slurs, and escalated to total pandemonium — hand-to-hand combat in the streets of Charlottesville.

White nationalists and counter-demonstrators threw punches, screamed, set off smoke bombs. They hurled water bottles, balloons of paint, containers full of urine. They unleashed chemical sprays. Some waved Confederate flags. Others burned them.

I watched, notebook in hand, as people gasped for breath and clutched at their swollen eyes, burning from pepper spray or mace.

The throngs of Ku Klux Klan members, skinheads and various white nationalist factions came to town ostensibly to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park, as President Donald Trump emphasized Tuesday. But the event was about much more than that, as exposed the night before when angry white men marched with torches across the University of Virginia chanting “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

During Saturday’s march, many were heavily armed. Some flew Nazi flags. They hurled racial slurs at counter-demonstrators and gave Nazi salutes.

White nationalist Richard Spencer — who popularized the term “alt-right” to describe the fringe movement mixing white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-immigration populism — told The Associated Press that the Confederate monuments are “a metaphor for something much bigger, and that is white dispossession and the de-legitimization of white people in this country and around the world.”

On Saturday, State Police officers lined the edges of the one-square-block park near downtown where hundreds of nationalists gathered waiting for the event to start. Counter protesters and rally attendees converged around an intersection that remained unblocked by barriers or police tape. As the crowd size grew, so did the hostility.

AP photographer Steve Helber and I saw pockets of fighting break out in the chaotic tangle of bodies. People on both sides crashed into on another, threw punches, beat each other with clubs, only to be pulled apart by their comrades — not police. Independent militia groups backing the supremacists stood sentry in their camo gear, holding long guns and staying clear of the fray near the park.

At one point, a group of white nationalists huddled together, brandishing shields like Roman soldiers as they marched toward a throng of counter-protesters. Police did not intervene.

Screams for help echoed throughout the crowd as volunteer medics bobbed in and out, rushing people to tents at another nearby park where they’d set up a makeshift clinic.

Despite the extended, violent skirmishes, Steve and I never witnessed an officer step in. State police, however, said they made three arrests.

Around 11:30 a.m., the governor declared a state of emergency, the city declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and bullhorn-wielding officers ordered the crowd to disperse.

State troopers donned riot gear and formed a line blocking the park. Inside, officers herded the rally-goers out.

From there, though, we watched confusion take hold.

Rally organizers told attendees to go home, but bands of people on both sides still roamed through the city. At one point, a rumor spread that the nationalists planned to attack a housing project, so some counter-protesters took off in that direction.

Chief Al Thomas told reporters it took an hour to “secure the streets.” But it’s not clear what “secure” meant on Saturday.

About 1:30 p.m., on a main street south of the park, bands of counter-demonstrators converged for what felt like a victory march. No police were visible to direct traffic or accompany the crowd.

The counter-demonstrators cheered, waved flags and banners, snapped photos and smiled, perhaps for the first time all day.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” they bellowed.

Then I heard the sound of squealing tires — and screams.

A car had plowed into the group, hurling bodies in the air, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. All of us nearby scrambled backward for safety or ran to help the injured.

Asked later why the street crossing was open, Thomas said he wasn’t sure if it was.

After the shocking violence, people on both sides and some former law enforcement officials have questioned why police didn’t do more.

Officials, including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, have defended law enforcement’s response, saying they faced a difficult situation and had to show restraint because the crowd was so highly armed.

But that doesn’t mean the police chief doesn’t have regrets.

“It was a tragic, tragic weekend,” he said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 

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

Right-Wing Extremism Appeared Declining and Disconnected—Until Charlottesville

Wall Street Journal 
By Dan Frosch, Cameron McWhirter and Ben Kesling
August 16, 2017

The white nationalist drove from South Carolina. The self-described patriot trekked from Tennessee. The college student espousing white pride flew in from Nevada.

The right-wing extremist movement, which until recently was fragmented by division, starved for members and lacking steady leadership, rarely was capable of uniting its forces as it did last weekend. The mayhem in Charlottesville., Va., was a signal that even if not numerous, these groups are unifying.

Patrick LaPorte IV, 35 years old, a white nationalist from South Carolina who attended the rally, said he was drawn to the event even though there wasn’t a single group driving the charge, but rather a loose conglomeration of like-minded people connected on social media. Mr. LaPorte, who brought a mouth guard with him for protection in the event of a brawl, said he isn’t bothered when people call him a Nazi, though if he were to label himself he would say he subscribes to “white identity.”

In the past, he said, white nationalists might have been scared of showing their faces. For many, he said, those days are over.

For law-enforcement officials and others who have long tracked the extremist groups that descended on Charlottesville, the attendance of so many disparate elements made the gathering a watershed. While only several hundred people showed up, far fewer than the tens of thousands who have gathered to demonstrate against President Donald Trump or support immigrant and women’s rights, it was among the largest gatherings of its kind in decades.

Among the factors driving this new cooperation: a web-driven rebranding of white nationalism that has broadened its reach and allowed groups to work together; a wave of new young, leaders that helped bridge old divisions; and Mr. Trump’s remarks on immigrants, Muslims and media bias, which have left such groups feeling emboldened.

Michael German, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who worked undercover in white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in California and Washington during the 1990s, said back then they were so antagonistic toward each other that anyone joining one group was barred from others.

The weekend rally showed that attendees—including white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups including self-described defenders of Southern heritage and the First Amendment—were willing to put aside ideological differences to get behind a platform designed to appeal to the Trump administration, which they perceive as sympathetic to their causes, he said.

“What we’ve seen is that these groups are coming together and are maximizing their opportunity to get their point of view across,” he said, “not just to the nation, but to actually influence policy.”

Many leaders of the movement backed Mr. Trump during his campaign and continue to back his leadership, and support his disdain for the media. Eli Mosley, director of events for Identity Evropa—a group describing itself as “a generation of awakened Europeans”—and one of the Charlottesville rally’s organizers, said Mr. Trump gave groups like his “a megaphone” for their “message and ideas.”

“I would say Trump is not one of us, however he does have an implicit sense of white identity,” he said. “Maybe he doesn’t realize it, but he’s distinctly implying it.”

The Charlottesville rally, dubbed “Unite the Right,” was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. It quickly descended into violence. A car driven by an Ohio man with a history of sympathizing with Nazis plowed into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. Two police officers who were monitoring the rally also died Saturday when their helicopter crashed.

It was the latest expression of an extremism that has flared throughout American history, especially during periods of social, economic and political stress. In the 1910s and 1920s, the revived Ku Klux Klan drew millions. During the Great Depression, the German American Bund, a Nazi organization, drew supporters with attacks on leftists and Jews. Splinter groups of the KKK and other white-nationalist organizations committed violence against civil-rights workers and blacks during the 1950s and 1960s.

By the 1970s, white-nationalist groups were splintered and small, yet still showed a propensity for violence. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, in which the main conspirator had been influenced by white-supremacist and antigovernment ideas, killed 168 people and led to a prolonged FBI crackdown.

Many followers of those groups operated “on the edges of criminality,” said Kathleen Blee, a University of Pittsburgh sociologist who has written books about the Ku Klux Klan, so it became easy for law enforcement to turn followers into informants.

The Charlottesville gathering, she said, was “one of the first cases where people from old racist movements, the David Dukes, came together with the new alt-right in a common project. It’s remarkable that they could pull together this event.” (“Alt-right” is a catchall phrase for far-right groups that embrace tenets of white supremacy or reject mainstream conservatism.)

Social-media effect

The loose agglomeration has coalesced on social media— Facebook , YouTube, Twitter —and online chat rooms. “I can punch a button and have a message out to 10,000 people immediately,” said Preston Wiginton, 52, who recently announced a “White Lives Matter” forum on Sept. 11 at Texas A&M University until the university canceled it on Monday.

Mr. Wiginton said groups such as his are starting to work closely with similar organizations. Meetings like Charlottesville show there is “an uprising” under way by whites against “displacement and marginalization” caused by “diversity and multiculturalism,” he said.

Some newer alt-right groups boast slick websites that have drawn new members. The website for Identity Evropa features photos of young, well-dressed members, essays on white superiority and “boutique” merchandise for sale. The organization is considered a white-supremacist hate group by a range of organizations, including New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Mr. Mosley of Identity Evropa disputed the hate-group characterization and said such designations are intended to stifle free speech.

The broader movement has developed greater cohesion around younger public leaders including white nationalist Richard Spencer, who runs an organization dedicated, in its words, to “the future of people of European descent in the U.S.” and is considered a founder of the alt-right.

Jared Taylor, editor of the white-nationalist website American Renaissance, said Mr. Trump’s influence on the movement had been exaggerated. “This movement was growing with him, without him, and will continue to grow once he’s gone,” he said. “He was exciting, of course, because some of his policies were congruent with some of the policies we would like to see implemented.”

Mr. Trump faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats for not immediately condemning white supremacists for the Charlottesville violence, instead at first blaming “many sides.” Several chief executives have since resigned from a manufacturing-advisory council to the Trump administration in an apparent protest of his failure to speak out more quickly.

On Monday, Mr. Trump singled out white-nationalist groups by name for condemnation. On Tuesday, he backtracked, saying again that he blamed “both sides” for the violence and defending those who showed up to protest the removal of the Lee statue.

The White House dismissed white-nationalist claims that Mr. Trump’s reticence to immediately issue a condemnation counts as an expression of support. “The president has been clear on this in his condemnation of these groups,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders in an email.

In some ways, the internet is proving to be as much a liability as a booster for the movement. Some who attended the Charlottesville rally are being identified on social media by counterprotesters demanding they be fired from their jobs. The Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi website, was kicked off hosting platforms GoDaddy and Alphabet Inc.’s Google for hate-speech violations after a social-media blitz by progressive activists against the site.

The movement’s size can be difficult to ascertain because membership is secretive and fleeting, meaning there is little detailed information on how many people are actively involved or espouse their beliefs.

A report this year by the Anti-Defamation League found that from 1993 to 2017 extremist right-wing individuals and groups committed 150 terrorist acts, attempted acts, plots and conspiracies in the U.S. The ADL found 43% of these incidents or conspiracies were by white supremacists, 42% were by antigovernment extremists and 11% were by antiabortion extremists.

The report found that the number of such incidents rose in the early 1990s, then fell off, only to rise again between 2009 and today.

Some white nationalists who attended the Charlottesville rally said despite the violence that marred the event there is a renewed sense of urgency that their voices be heard. Attendees in interviews said finally there was an administration that seemed to acknowledge their view that immigration was contributing to the country’s demise.

“We have about a 20-year window that’s going to allow for democratic political change,” said Mr. LaPorte, the white nationalist from South Carolina.

Jeans, polo shirts

He said the movement’s lack of cohesion doesn’t matter online. That said, there was some coordination before arrival, he said. Some people came dressed in dark combat fatigues and others, like him, in jeans and polo shirts.

At the weekend march, the infamous hoods and robes of Klan rallies or brownshirts of neo-Nazis were hard to find, with many dressing like Mr. LaPorte. Even those who wore extremist garb often eschewed more well-known symbols such as swastikas and instead wore pins that read “88,” a number that serves as shorthand for Heil Hitler.

At the rally, older Southern-pride proponents with scraggly beards and militants dressed in all black with pants tucked into their combat boots rallied alongside young, clean-shaven men with neat haircuts, and at least one whose blazer sported a pocket square.

In one photo, a smartly dressed young man is seen hoisting a torch, his mouth agape as he shouts while marching through the city. Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20-year-old student at the University of Nevada, Reno, said in an interview he was the man in the picture.

Mr. Cvjetanovic said he joined Identity Evropa a month earlier and found out about the rally via an internal web server Identity Evropa uses. He flew to Virginia, he said, “to honor and respect white heritage in all its good and all its bad.”

He said he was pleased so many organizations came together in Charlottesville. While he was unsettled by the violence, he said, he has felt compelled to stay true to his ideology since returning home, where he says he has received death threats. “The world hates me no matter what I do,” he said. “I can’t back down now.”

Doc Smith, who sells beef jerky in Clarksville, Tenn., at first wasn’t sure he wanted to attend last week’s gathering in Charlottesville, because he thought marching alongside neo-Nazis would reflect badly on the organization he belongs to, a self-described patriot group called the Hiwaymen.

On Friday morning, Mr. Smith, 50 years old, who has traveled the country to protest the removal of Confederate monuments, put that thought aside and climbed into his pickup truck for the nine-hour drive to Virginia. When he returned home on Sunday, despite his sadness over the death of a young woman, he felt the movement would be inspired. His Facebook page is a story line of videos and updates from Charlottesville.

“Watch the movement explode behind what happened in Charlottesville,” he said. “The next time we come back, there may be thousands.”

—Scott Calvert contributed to this article.

Write to Dan Frosch at dan.frosch@wsj.com, Cameron McWhirter at cameron.mcwhirter@wsj.com and Ben Kesling at benjamin.kesling@wsj.com

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

CEOs revolt against Trump over Charlottesville

The Hill 
By Sylvan Lane
August 16, 2017

Leaders of the business world staged a remarkable revolt against President Trump on Wednesday, forcing the White House to disband two economic councils that were hemorrhaging members. Shortly after news broke early Wednesday that CEOs were ending a White House strategy forum, Trump sought to save face, saying in a tweet that he was ending two councils to spare business leaders from the public pressure they were facing. But the CEOs who left the councils would not let Trump have the final word.

In a flurry of statements, CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, GE, Johnson & Johnson and 3M lined up to rebuke Trump for Tuesday remarks where he asserted equivalence between white supremacists and counterprotesters and said there were “very fine people” at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“Racism, intolerance and violence is always wrong,” said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase president who had served on of one of the councils. “There is no room for equivocation here.”

Trump said Wednesday afternoon that he would end the separate Manufacturing Advisory Council and Strategic and Policy Forum he convened to advise him on economic policy.

Eleven business leaders and CEOs had already quit Trump’s councils by the time of his announcement, eight of them leaving this week over his response to Charlottesville. Had the president not disbanded the forums, the exodus would have surely continued.

Trump ignited a firestorm Saturday when he condemned “violence on many sides” after one person died and 19 were injured when a car was driven into a group of counterprotesters. Ohio native James Alex Fields Jr., the alleged driver of the car, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The evening before the attack, white supremacists had marched through Charlottesville with tiki torches, at one point chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Many on hand for the “Unite the Right” rally identified openly with the KKK and white supremacist groups.

Trump’s decision not to explicitly condemn white supremacist groups on Saturday — which he defended Tuesday as necessary to get all the facts — prompted the CEO of Merck to resign from the White House’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday. Several other CEOs followed suit.

Trump slammed the executives and said he’d replace them.

“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!” he tweeted.

But Trump’s extended remarks on Charlottesville on Tuesday proved to be a tipping point, turning the trickle of departures into a stampede.

On a Wednesday morning conference call organized by Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group and a close Trump adviser, members of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum — which had included some of the corporate world’s biggest names — decided they’d had enough.

Members of the strategy panel called the debate over forum participation “a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans.”

“Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values,” the members said in a statement.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt said he left Trump’s manufacturing council because of Trump’s “deeply troubling” remarks, adding, “There would be no GE without people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.”

GE was one of several companies that had pledged to stay on the panels after Trump’s initial remarks, only to leave after Trump dug in on Tuesday.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky quit the economic forum and explicitly rebuked Trump’s “unacceptable” statements.

“The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Gorsky said.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in a Wednesday letter to employees that she had joined Trump’s strategy council because “dialogue is critical to progress,” but that “this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed.”

“The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance,” Rometty said. “Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group.”

Trump’s two panels were intended to show the businessman-turned-president working with corporate giants to grow the economy, restore American manufacturing and create jobs. Most advice was informal, and neither committee met frequently.

But the growing tensions between Trump and the business community come at an inopportune time, with Republicans seeking to craft a sweeping plan to cut taxes, a long-sought goal for the GOP and corporate America.

Republicans have attempted to move past the billowing investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia and their failed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to make a major push behind tax reform.

Trump campaigned on cutting personal and corporate taxes to boost economic growth, earning praise from business groups skeptical of his controversial immigration policies and fearful of his inflammatory statements. So far, the White House and congressional leaders have only united around a set of common principles and lack a formal proposal.

“You tell me what he needs to say so we can move beyond this,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters Wednesday, according to The Capital Times. “I want to work on these enormous problems, these challenges facing our nation,” referring to tax reform and cutting back financial regulation.

Niv Elis and Ali Breland contributed.

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

Undocumented Immigrants May Get Less Time to Make Their Case

By Tessa Berenson
August 16, 2017

When Jonas De La Luz Jeronimo was picked up by the feds in North Carolina, his lawyer knew he needed to get to Jeronimo’s 4-year-old daughter. Jeronimo, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, had four traffic violations on his record in the United States, where he had lived for more than 10 years. To keep Jeronimo in the country, his defense would need to prove that deporting him would cause his U.S. citizen daughter to suffer “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” But Jeronimo was in the middle of a custody battle with the girl’s mother, who wouldn’t allow his lawyer any contact with the child.

“We had no access,” says Jeremy McKinney, head of the law firm representing Jeronimo. “We couldn’t prepare a case.”

Jeffrey Widdison, Jeronimo’s defense attorney at McKinney Immigration Law, had just 39 days to prepare for the hearing. So he made a common request, asking the judge for what’s known as a continuance—a routine delay in the court proceedings. It slows the justice system down a little, but helps ensure both sides can make their best cases in court.

Three days before the August 14 court date, the judge effectively denied the continuance, telling Widdison he needed to appear in court on Monday. (He then officially denied the delay in person on the 14th.) Widdison hurriedly texted McKinney asking how he could prove hardship on a child that he had never met and whose records he had never seen. “Find any material you can on the effect of separation under these circumstances, expert materials out there, frankly on the Internet,” McKinney says he advised his colleague, grimly preparing for the outcome of Jeronimo’s petition to stay in the country. “No doubt it’ll be denied.”

Under new guidance from the Trump Administration, immigration lawyers may be scrambling with less preparation time more often. On July 31, the Justice Department issued a memorandum to all immigration judges in the United States urging them to grant fewer continuances. “The delays caused by granting multiple and lengthy continuances, when multiplied across the entire immigration court system, exacerbate already crowded immigration dockets,” the letter from Chief Immigration Judge MaryBeth Keller reads. “Immigration Judges should not routinely or automatically grant continuances absent a showing of good cause or a clear case law basis.”

The midsummer guidance seeks to address a real problem in immigration courts: a massive backlog of cases. Since 2011, the number of pending immigration cases has doubled to more than 600,000, bogging down lawyers and miring immigrants in an average of nearly two years of uncertainty before their fate is decided, according to TRAC Immigration. The granting of continuances rose 23% between FY 2006 and FY 2015, according to the Justice Department, exacerbating these wait times. “This DOJ is committed to fighting the backlog by increasing productivity without compromising due process,” says Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley. “This guidance protects due process while reminding immigration judges of the effects that inappropriate continuances have on the efficient completion of cases.”

The president and attorney general have vowed to crack down on illegal immigration, and the new directive could help move cases through the system at a faster clip. Most immigration lawyers agree that the overloaded courts are a major issue. But they fear the end result will be more deportations as judges use the wide discretion afforded to them to curtail continuances. The Immigration and Nationality Act doesn’t establish a right to a continuance in immigration proceedings, Keller’s letter notes. They’re largely governed by a federal regulation which says that an “immigration judge may grant a motion for continuance for good cause shown.”

Immigration lawyers often rely heavily on continuances for their prep work because immigration law grants limited formal discovery rights. Unlike in criminal cases, in which the prosecution is generally required to turn over evidence to the defense, immigration lawyers often have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what the government has on their client. These can take months to process.

“If their priority is speed, we all know that sounds really good, to be more efficient, but usually due process takes a hit when your focus is efficiency,” says Andrew Nietor, an immigration attorney based in San Diego. “By the time we are able to connect with our clients, that first court appearance might be the day after we meet somebody, so we haven’t had the opportunity to do the investigation and do the research. And up until several months ago, it was standard to give immigration attorneys at least one continuance for what they call attorney preparation. Now it’s not standard anymore.”

The Justice Department’s guidance says that “the appropriate use of continuances serves to protect due process, which Immigration Judges must safeguard above all,” and notes that “it remains general policy that at least one continuance should be granted” for immigrants to obtain legal counsel.

But the memo is more skeptical about continuances for attorney preparation. “Although continuances to allow recently retained counsel to become familiar with a case prior to the scheduling of an individual merits hearing are common,” it says, “subsequent requests for preparation time should be reviewed carefully.”

It remains to be seen if this careful review will streamline the ponderous system or add another difficulty for the harried lawyers and hundreds of thousands of immigrants trying to work their way through it. For Jeronimo, it may have been decisive. In mid-August, the judge found that the defense didn’t adequately prove Jeronimo’s deportation would harm his young daughter and gave him 45 days to voluntarily leave the United States. Now Jeronimo must decide whether to appeal his case. But he’s been held in a detention center in Georgia since March, and his lawyers worry that he has lost hope. He may soon be headed back to Mexico, five months after he was picked up at a traffic stop in North Carolina.

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

Feinstein slams Trump for ‘hateful deportation program’ after Oakland family denied reprieve

SF Gate 
By Hamed Aleaziz
August 16, 2017

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that the Trump administration’s decision to deny a delay in the deportation of an Oakland nurse and her husband who have lived in the country for more than two decades was an “act utterly devoid of humanity.”

The California Democrat visited the family last week after reading a front-page Chronicle story about Maria Mendoza-Sanchez and Eusebio Sanchez, who plan to depart for their native Mexico late Wednesday with their 12-year-old son to start a new life, while leaving behind three daughters aged 16, 21 and 23 who have legal status.

It was Feinstein who informed Mendoza-Sanchez on Tuesday that last-minute legal efforts to keep them in the country had failed.

“This is a travesty, plain and simple, and evidence that Donald Trump’s immigration policy is nothing more than a hateful deportation program targeting law-abiding families,” Feinstein said in a statement. “It’s shameful and stands against the very ideals upon which this country was founded.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, defended the deportation order last week, saying the family’s case had gone through a lengthy review in immigration courts and, “neither of these individuals has a legal basis to remain in the U.S.”

The family decided to bring their son, Jesus, who is a U.S. citizen by birth, with them to Mexico due to his young age. But they believe it is better to leave behind their daughters, one of whom is a UC Santa Cruz student. The plan, for now, is for the older girls to raise the youngest, seeing her through two more years of high school.

Feinstein said the deportation of two people with deep ties to the country and no criminal record was a clear message about the administration’s immigration policy.

“By deporting Maria and Eusebio Sanchez,” she said, “the administration admits it will refuse to distinguish between criminals and families, proving once and for all that all undocumented individuals and families are priorities for deportation.”

Sen. Kamala Harris also weighed in on the case Wednesday, posting on Twitter: “A disgrace. My heart goes out to Maria & Eusebio. I will keep fighting for them & all families being targeted by these hateful policies.”

Hamed Aleaziz is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: haleaziz@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @haleaziz

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Phoenix mayor not happy about President Trump’s rally plans

Associated Press 
By Walter Berry
August 16, 2017

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump plans to rally supporters in Phoenix next week, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is not happy about it.

Trump’s campaign announced the event Wednesday — a day after the president blamed “both sides” for weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators.

The Aug. 22 rally will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center, the campaign said. Trump tweeted about the event Wednesday night with a link for ticket availability.

“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” Stanton said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”

The president has been holding campaign-style events in Trump-friendly areas since he took office. Next week’s rally will be his first in the West.

Trump told Fox News in an interview this week that he may pardon former metro Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently was convicted in federal court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that Arpaio’s officers had racially profiled Latinos.

Arpaio, 85, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 and faces up to six months in jail. Attorneys who have followed the case doubt someone his age would be incarcerated, however.

Critics say a pardon would amount to an endorsement of racism.

“If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation,” Stanton said.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, has announced he’ll be leading a counter protest outside the Phoenix Convention Center during Trump’s rally, the Arizona Daily Star reported Wednesday.

In a six-minute video posted on YouTube, the newspaper said Grijalva called Trump unhinged and the congressman from Tucson labeled the president as a supporter of racists.

Trump last held a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center Aug. 31, 2016, ahead of the presidential election and detailed his plan to combat illegal immigration.

He lambasted millions of immigrants as violent criminals and a drain on the U.S. government. Trump vowed at that time that no person living in the United States illegally would have a path to legal status without first leaving the country.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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