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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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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

USCIS Expands FIRST: A Fully Digital FOIA System

WASHINGTON— USCIS is announcing the expansion of its digital Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records System (FIRST). FIRST is the only system in the U.S. government that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally. This process will save time, improve efficiency, and reduce potential errors that can occur with manually handling paper.

Starting today, FOIA requestors with a USCIS online account can submit requests online for their own records. Soon, they will be able to submit online requests for non-A-File material (policies, communications, etc.) Later this year, USCIS online account holders can make requests on behalf of another person.

 “As USCIS continues to move the nation’s legal immigration system away from paper-based services to an electronic future, I am excited to implement the first fully digital FOIA system, and the benefits it will bring for FOIA requestors who take advantage of this service,” said Kenneth Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “FIRST brings the antiquated FOIA process into the 21st century and makes it a more efficient and easy process.”

In May 2018, USCIS announced the initial rollout of FIRST, which allowed requestors to create a USCIS online account to receive requested documents digitally. This enabled requestors to login to their account, track requests, and download documents. Since the initial rollout of FIRST’s capabilities, users have created more than 77,000 USCIS online accounts to manage and receive FOIA responses.

To establish a USCIS online account to take advantage of FIRST, please visit first.uscis.gov. For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

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

Judge: Census Question Might Have Discriminatory Motive

BALTIMORE — New evidence paints a “disturbing picture” that racial discrimination may be the motive behind the Trump administration’s push to ask everyone in the country about citizenship status, a federal judge wrote in a Monday filing.

Last week, U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland ruled there’s enough evidence to warrant reopening a case focused on whether a proposed 2020 census question violates minorities’ rights. In his court filing Monday, Hazel reasoned that new evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose” and a decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the citizenship question.

“It is becoming difficult to avoid seeing that which is increasingly clear. As more puzzle pieces are placed on the mat, a disturbing picture of the decisionmakers’ motives takes shape,” Hazel wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court could soon render Hazel’s decision moot. The country’s highest court is expected to decide this week whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Every Friday, get an exclusive look at how one of the week’s biggest news stories on “The Daily” podcast came together.

But the federal judge’s opinion appears to strongly buttress arguments from voting rights activists who assert that newly discovered emails from a deceased Republican architect of political maps show the proposed citizenship question was intended to discriminate in an effort to restrict the political power of Democrats and Latino communities.

Democrats fear the citizenship question will reduce census participation in immigrant-heavy communities and result in a severe undercount of legitimate voters who fear revealing their immigration status to federal officials.

They say they want specific documents to determine why Ross added the question to the 2020 census and contend the administration has declined to provide the documents despite repeated requests.

Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, said in a memo last year that the Justice Department wants to ask the question to gather data to help identify majority-minority congressional districts, which the Voting Rights Act calls for when possible.

But a recently discovered trove of computer documents from Republican operative Tom Hofeller, who died last year, included detailed calculations that lay out gains Republicans would see in Texas by basing legislative districts on the number of voting-age citizens rather than the total population. The late North Carolina redistricting expert said in the documents that GOP gains would be possible only if the census asked every household about its members’ immigration status for the first time since 1950.

The documents were discovered when Hofeller’s estranged daughter found four external computer hard drives and 18 thumb drives in her father’s North Carolina home after his death last summer.

In his written opinion, Hazel said the new evidence shows that Hofeller was “the first person” to talk to Mark Neuman, a Commerce Department transition official who played an “outsized role” advising Ross on census decisions, regarding the addition of a citizenship question. He references evidence found on Hofeller’s computer drives showing he contributed key wording to a Justice Department letter used to justify the question on the grounds that it was needed to protect minority voting rights.

“Plaintiffs’ new evidence potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose — diluting Hispanics’ political power — and Secretary Ross’s decision. The evidence suggests that Dr. Hofeller was motivated to recommend the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census to advantage Republicans,” the U.S. judge wrote.

If the case gets remanded, Hazel wrote that he would reopen discovery for 45 days, order an evidentiary hearing and issue a “speedy ruling.” Hazel had ruled in April to block the addition of the citizenship question, but found at the time that the voting rights activists failed to prove their equal protection rights were violated. His ability to consider the case further based on the new evidence would depend on a federal appeals court returning it to him.

The Justice Department has declined to comment on Hazel’s latest decision, but has previously denied that the new documents show any discriminatory intent. Justice Department lawyers have said the assertion that the proposed question is discriminatory and that Hofeller and others were pushing for it on that end “borders on frivolous.”

Whether the citizenship question ends up on the 2020 Census is up to the Supreme Court. The nation’s top court is deciding whether it should be allowed after several states sued calling for the question to be removed.

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

ICE Agents Are Losing Patience with Trump’s Chaotic Immigration Policy

By Jonathan Blitzer

Last Monday, when President Trump tweeted that his Administration would stage nationwide immigration raids the following week, with the goal of deporting “millions of illegal aliens,” agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement were suddenly forced to scramble. The agency was not ready to carry out such a large operation. Preparations that would typically take field officers six to eight weeks were compressed into a few days, and, because of Trump’s tweet, the officers would be entering communities that now knew they were coming. “It was a dumb-shit political move that will only hurt the agents,” John Amaya, a former deputy chief of staff at ice, told me. On Saturday, hours before the operation was supposed to start in ten major cities across the country, the President changed course, delaying it for another two weeks.

On Sunday, I spoke to an ice officer about the week’s events. “Almost nobody was looking forward to this operation,” the officer said. “It was a boondoggle, a nightmare.” Even on the eve of the operation, many of the most important details remained unresolved. “This was a family op. So where are we going to put the families? There’s no room to detain them, so are we going to put them in hotels?” the officer said. On Friday, an answer came down from ice leadership: the families would be placed in hotels while ice figured out what to do with them. That, in turn, raised other questions. “So the families are in hotels, but who’s going to watch them?” the officer continued. “What happens if the person we arrest has a U.S.-citizen child? What do we do with the children? Do we need to get booster seats for the vans? Should we get the kids toys to play with?” Trump’s tweet broadcasting the operation had also created a safety issue for the officers involved. “No police agency goes out and says, ‘Tomorrow, between four and eight, we’re going to be in these neighborhoods,’ ” the officer said.

The idea for the operation took hold in the White House last September, two months after a federal judge had ordered the government to stop separating parents and children at the border. At the time, the number of families seeking asylum was rising steadily, and Administration officials were determined to toughen enforcement. A D.H.S. official told me that, in the months before the operation was proposed, “a major focus” of department meetings “was concern about the fact that people on the non-detained docket”—asylum seekers released into the U.S. with a future court date—“are almost never deported.” By January, a tentative plan had materialized. The Department of Justice developed a “rocket docket” to prioritize the cases of asylum seekers who’d just arrived in the country and missed a court date—in their absence, the government could swiftly secure deportation orders against them. D.H.S. then created a “target list” of roughly twenty-five hundred immigrant family members across the country for deportation; eventually, the Administration aimed to arrest ten thousand people using these methods.

From the start, however, the plan faced resistance. The Secretary of D.H.S., Kirstjen Nielsen, argued that the arrests would be complicated to carry out, in part, because American children would be involved. (Many were born in the U.S. to parents on the “target list.”) Resources were already limited, and an operation on this scale would divert attention from the border, where a humanitarian crisis was worsening by the day. The acting head of ice, Ron Vitiello, a tough-minded former Border Patrol officer, shared Nielsen’s concerns. According to the Washington Post, these reservations weren’t “ethical” so much as logistical: executing such a vast operation would be extremely difficult, with multiple moving pieces, and the optics could be devastating. Four months later, Trump effectively fired them. Vitiello’s replacement at ice, an official named Mark Morgan—who’s already been fired once by Trump and regained the President’s support after making a series of appearances on Fox News—subsequently announced that ice would proceed with the operation.

Late last week, factions within the Administration clashed over what to do. The acting secretary of D.H.S., Kevin McAleenan, urged caution, claiming that the operation was a distraction and a waste of manpower. Among other things, a $4.5 billion funding bill to supply further humanitarian aid at the border has been held up because Democrats worried that the Administration would use the money for enforcement operations. McAleenan had been meeting with members of both parties on the Hill, and there appeared to be signs of progress, before the President announced the ice crackdown. According to an Administration official, McAleenan argued that the operation would also threaten a string of recent gains made by the President. The Trump Administration had just secured a deal with the Mexican government to increase enforcement at the Guatemalan border, and it expanded a massive new program called Remain in Mexico, which has forced some ten thousand asylum seekers to wait indefinitely in northern Mexico. “Momentum was moving in the right direction,” the official said.

On the other side of the argument were Stephen Miller, at the White House, and Mark Morgan, at ice. In the days before and after Trump’s Twitter announcement, Morgan spoke regularly with the President, who was circumventing McAleenan, Morgan’s boss. In meetings with staff, Morgan boasted that he had a direct line to the President, according to the ice officer, who told me it was highly unusual for there to be such direct contact between the agency head and the White House. “It should be going to the Secretary, which I find hilarious, actually, because Morgan was already fired once by this Administration,” the officer said.

Over the weekend, the President agreed to halt the operation. But it’s far from certain whether McAleenan actually got the upper hand. Officials in the White House authorized ice to issue a press release insinuating that someone had leaked important details about the operation and therefore compromised it. “Any leak telegraphing sensitive law-enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger,” an ice spokesperson said late Saturday afternoon. This was a puzzling statement given that it was Trump who first publicized the information about the operation. But the White House’s line followed a different script: some members of the Administration, as well as the former head of ice, Thomas Homan, were publicly accusing McAleenan of sharing information with reporters in an attempt to undermine the operation.

For Homan, his involvement in the Administration’s internal fight marked an unexpected return to the main stage. Last year, he resigned as acting head of ice after the Senate refused to confirm him to the post. Earlier this month, Trump announced, on Fox News, that Homan would be returning to the Administration as the President’s new border tsar, but Homan, who hadn’t been informed of the decision, has remained noncommittal. Still, according to the Administration official, Homan and the President talk by phone regularly. Over the weekend, Homan, who has since become an on-air contributor to Fox News, appeared on television to attack McAleenan personally. “You’ve got the acting Secretary of Homeland Security resisting what ice is trying to do,” he said.

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


Emergency Aid for Migrants Badly Divides Democrats

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis

WASHINGTON — Congress is trying to rush $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian aid to the southwestern border while placing new restrictions on President Trump’s immigration crackdown, spurred on by disturbing images of suffering migrant families and of children living in squalor in overcrowded detention facilities.

But with a House vote on the package planned for Tuesday, some Democrats are revolting over the measure, fearing that the aid will be used to carry out Mr. Trump’s aggressive tactics, including deportation raids that he has promised will begin within two weeks. Republicans are siding with the White House, which on Monday threatened a veto. They oppose restrictions in the measure that are meant to dictate better standards for facilities that hold migrant children and to bar the money from being used for enforcing immigration law.

Those twin challenges have left the fate of the bill up in the air, even as evidence of deplorable conditions at the border underscores both the urgent need for the money and the bitter rift over Mr. Trump’s policies.

Officials confirmed Monday that hundreds of migrant children had been transferred out of a Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex., where they did not have soap, toothbrushes, clean clothes or enough food. The move followed detailed reports about the dismal conditions that there were no diapers for toddlers and that children as young as 8 were caring for infants.

Those reports led to a backlash from elected officials and a rise in donations to immigrant advocacy groups aimed at sending supplies to the shelter. Officials said only 30 children remain in the Clint station, which was intended as a temporary holding center. Children are supposed to be transferred out after 72 hours, but many had been held there for weeks.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi huddled privately into the evening with concerned Democrats on Monday to try to keep the bill on track, with little time to spare.

“Democrats distrust this president because we have seen his cruel immigration policies and lawless behavior terrorize our constituents,” Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said on Monday evening as she pleaded with fellow Democrats to support the package. “That is why we have language to stop transfers of money for immigration raids and detention beds. But we cannot allow our anger at this president to blind us to the horrific conditions at facilities along the border as the agencies run out of money.”

The aid package poses a difficult dilemma for Democrats, who are torn between their desire to champion humanitarian help for migrants and their concern that any money they approve will be used by the Trump administration to advance what they consider to be a fundamentally inhumane set of policies. They are also loath to be seen as the ones holding up soap, diapers and food for babies, keenly aware that Mr. Trump and his team are eager to blame Democrats for the dire conditions.

“The administration chooses to direct the vast majority of funding toward enforcement, and then cries poverty when it comes to diapers and food,” said Heidi Altman, the policy director at the liberal National Immigrant Justice Center. “It’s a hostage-taking way of engaging in policy.”

Hispanic-American lawmakers are particularly split; some are arguing that it is crucial to get the aid to agencies and outside groups assisting migrants at the border, while others say they will not be complicit in sending any money to the very departments that have carried out Mr. Trump’s harsh initiatives against immigrants.

“I will not fund another dime to allow ICE to continue its manipulative tactics,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Monday evening on her way into the meeting in Ms. Pelosi’s Capitol office.

The gathering stretched on for more than an hour as lawmakers aired their differences and complaints about the package. “It’s intense,” Representative Tony C├írdenas, Democrat of California, said as he emerged from the session, saying he was leaning toward supporting the aid. “No yelling, no screaming, but it’s intense.”

Several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are pushing to attach stricter conditions to the money, including higher humanitarian standards for facilities that hold migrant children.

But given the urgent nature of the situation facing migrants, some lawmakers, particularly those from districts on the border, said there was no time to hold out for such additions.

“Are there things I would like to change? Absolutely,” said Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, whose El Paso district abuts the border. “But we have a real crisis.”

She said Democrats were trying to advance “a bill that reflects more of our values,” but added: “We’re running out of time. We all saw what happened in Clint — there’s no time.”

Concern about the funding bill swelled over the weekend, after Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday that he was suspending the raids for two weeks to provide time for a bipartisan compromise on changing asylum laws and closing immigration “loopholes.” His abrupt reversal came after Ms. Pelosi telephoned Mr. Trump to ask for a delay.

Ms. Pelosi praised the postponement, and in a strongly worded statement later on Sunday she called for passage of the emergency aid package, saying that it protects families and “does not fund the administration’s failed mass detention policy.” It would also do nothing to change asylum laws to meet Mr. Trump’s demands.

“As members of Congress and as Americans, we have a sacred moral responsibility to protect the human rights and the lives of vulnerable children and families,” she said. “To do anything less would be an outrageous and unacceptable violation of our oath and our morality.”

But even as the speaker was pressing to advance the bill, dozens of House Democrats were in revolt over it. In separate conference calls on Sunday, more than 30 members of the Progressive Caucus and more than 15 members of the Hispanic Caucus aired their concerns, many of them arguing that the legislation did not set high enough standards for migrant shelters or do enough to block money from going toward enforcement.

“We all want to address the problems at the border, but we don’t know that there are enough sticks in this bill to make sure that the Trump administration actually spends the money the way they’re supposed to,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and the co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus. “He’s creating these crises and then trying to point a finger at Democrats to give him more money, which he then uses for his own purposes.”

Ms. Jayapal said there was no reason to believe that the Trump administration would abide by any restrictions included in the legislation or standards dictated by the measure, given its “lawless” behavior when it came to immigrants.

The conflict in the House stands in contrast to the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats on a key committee came together last week to approve a $4.6 billion border aid package that contained some limitations to bar the administration from using the resources for enforcement. It would, for instance, prohibit the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the division of the Department of Health and Human Services that houses unaccompanied migrant children, from sharing information with immigration officials about people who take custody of the children.

The House bill goes further than the Senate legislation in placing restrictions on the money. Facilities that house unaccompanied children would have a slightly shorter time frame — 12 months instead of 14 months — to meet existing legal standards for healthy, sanitary and humane conditions; they would have to allow oversight visits from members of Congress without warning; and the Department of Health and Human Services would have to report a child’s death in its custody to Congress within 24 hours.

Representative Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, the senior Republican on the panel overseeing the bill, said he opposed the measure as written by House Democrats. “You will see just about every Republican in the House vote against the Democratic supplemental bill,” Mr. Fleischmann said, citing the added restrictions and the lack of funding for back pay for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

And even if they are able to muscle it through, he added, doing so sets up a negotiation to resolve differences with the Senate that will only delay the aid. “The enemy right now is time,” said Mr. Fleischmann, who supports the Senate bill.

“It is agreeable to the White House,” he said, “so we have two-thirds of the puzzle complete there.”

The White House on Monday issued a statement threatening that Mr. Trump would veto the House measure because it “does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis” and “contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the administration’s border enforcement efforts.”

Ms. Pelosi has told colleagues that while she understands their concerns about the aid measure, its demise in the House would essentially cede the issue to the Senate and its weaker bill, according to people familiar with the conversations who described them on the condition of anonymity.

But many Democrats are pressing for more. They want to give the administration less time to comply with existing standards for facilities that house children, and to include higher health, nutritional, hygiene and sanitation standards for Customs and Border Protection facilities.

They would ban for-profit companies from running migrant shelters and would scrap funding for the United States Marshals that is specifically geared toward referring people who entered or re-entered the country illegally for criminal prosecution. And they want stronger prohibitions against sharing the immigration records of people who come forward to take custody of unaccompanied migrant children.

The measure has also exposed a rift among immigrant advocacy groups, with some of the most liberal organizations actively calling on lawmakers to oppose it and others privately saying the aid, however imperfect, is desperately needed.

The grass-roots group Indivisible began a social media campaign to urge members of Congress to vote against the legislation as a way of starving “Trump’s deportation machine,” in a tweet with the hashtag #notonedollar.

The language echoes that of several liberal Democrats who announced on Friday that they were opposed to the funding bill, saying they could not “in good conscience” back legislation that sent money to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to “support a fundamentally cruel and broken immigration system.”

“These radicalized, criminal agencies are destroying families and killing innocent children,” said a statement by four freshman representatives, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. “It is absolutely unconscionable to even consider giving one more dollar to support this president’s deportation force that openly commits human rights abuses and refuses to be held accountable to the American people.”

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

Trump Delays Immigration Raids, Giving Democrats 'Two Weeks' To Change Asylum Laws

By Franco Ordonez and Bobby Allyn

President Trump is delaying immigration raids that were set to begin this weekend, saying he will give Congress two weeks to make changes to asylum law before dispatching Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents around the country to deport undocumented immigrants.

Immigration rights advocates had been preparing for the planned sweep of recently arrived migrants, which, according to sources familiar with the planned raids, were set to begin as soon as Sunday in 10 cities around the country.

A source familiar with the president’s decision told NPR that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Trump on Friday night and urged him to back off the raids. Pelosi had been sharply critical of the planned raids. She called them heartless and said the president needed “to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”

On Saturday, the president announced on Twitter that ICE would hold off on the roundup for two weeks “at the request of Democrats,” writing that if lawmakers in Washington cannot approve changes to asylum law in that time, he will again direct ICE agents to resume the raids.

Sources close to the White House say Democrats are unlikely to accept Trump’s pitch that asylum rules should be tightened.

Both parties are working to pass a border aid package to help deal with the influx of migrants arriving illegally at the border, and a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill noted that the raids could have endangered the deal had they not been put on pause.

The $4.5 billion border and humanitarian supplemental assistance package has been moving along with bipartisan support. Much of the money supports humanitarian assistance and immigration enforcement.

But by asking Congress to address asylum and “loophole problems,” Trump is upping the ante. There is no funding for changes to asylum laws, so Trump’s request faces significant hurdles.

Pelosi on Saturday welcomed the president’s announcement delaying the planned raids. She called for a comprehensive immigration package that includes a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million people who are in the country illegally.

ICE sent letters in February to more than 2,000 migrants whose cases the Justice Department fast-tracked as a way of sending a deterrent message to families considering crossing the U.S. border illegally.

“If Congress does not change the laws to ensure illegal aliens can be promptly removed at the southern border, there is no alternative but to continuously arrest these fugitive aliens in the interior,” a spokeswoman for ICE said in a statement on Saturday.

In an interview with NPR, Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said many immigrant families are ignoring requests to turn themselves in.

“So what are our options?” Morgan said. “They’ve had due process, they’ve had access to attorneys, they’ve had access to interpreters. Majority of them don’t even show up. And then when they didn’t show up, they received ordered removal in absentia,” he said. “We have no choice.”

Immigration activists have condemned the raids and implored the Trump administration to call them off.

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

A Look at How Immigration Authorities Make Arrests

Immigrant advocates and sympathizers are warning about arrests around the country as early as Sunday.

The anticipated sweep is expected to be similar to operations that authorities have regularly done since 2003. They often produce hundreds of arrests.

This one is different because President Donald Trump announced Monday on Twitter that it would be the start of an effort to deport millions of people in the country illegally, a near-impossibility given limited resources of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which makes the arrests and carries out deportation orders.

It’s also slightly unusual to target families — as opposed to immigrants with criminal histories — but not unprecedented. The Obama and Trump administrations have targeted families in previous operations.

Here are some questions and answers about how ICE operates:

WHAT THEY CAN DO

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in charge of arresting and deporting immigrants who lack legal status.

One common method of finding and arresting people who are known to be in the country illegally is agreements between ICE and local jails around the country to hold people arrested on crimes past their release date so that ICE can look into their status. These are known as “detainers,” but they’ve become increasingly unpopular among local governments, many who say they risk legal action and that they shouldn’t be doing the work of federal authorities.

The agency also arrests people the old-fashioned way, by tracking people down and showing up at their homes or workplaces.

But the amount of resources and staff limit their ability to make multiple large-scale arrests at a time.

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE

Last fiscal year, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations unit arrested over 158,500 immigrants in the country illegally, an 11% increase over the prior year and the highest number since 2014. The agency says 66% of those arrested are convicted criminals.

Last month, ICE officers arrested 900 people during a three-week sting in California.

The agency announced last week that it arrested 140 people, including 45 in Illinois, during a sting in the Midwest that lasted five days.

Although ICE arrests people a variety of ways, it’s the larger enforcement operations such as a workplace sting that draw the most attention.

In Texas, ICE’S Homeland Security Investigations unit, which enforces immigration laws at workplaces, arrested 280 employees at a company in Allen, Texas, in April, saying it was their biggest worksite operation in a decade.

“I think what people forget is these operations go on on a regular basis,” said Art Acevedo, the police chief in Houston, one of the cities believed to be targeted in an upcoming sweep.

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE

Authorities typically have a list of people they are targeting in any operation. They visit a targeted person’s known addresses, usually a home or workplace, and seek to detain that person. They may ask family members, neighbors, co-workers, or managers about the whereabouts of the person they want to arrest.

Authorities typically obtain an administrative warrant giving them permission to detain a person for violating immigration law.

ICE agents can arrest people they discover to be in the U.S. illegally while searching for people on their target list. People who answer ICE agents’ questions about someone else sometimes end up arrested themselves. In one case in Houston last year, a young father of five was arrested in the parking lot of his apartment building after ICE agents asked him about people who lived nearby, then demanded his identification and eventually detained him.

These “collateral” arrests can comprise a large portion of the arrests in any operation. In one December 2017 operation in northern Kentucky, just five of the 22 arrests ICE made were of people it originally targeted, according to agency documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

WHAT WE’RE EXPECTING NEXT

The Washington Post and Miami Herald reported that 10 cities are expected to be targeted in raids starting Sunday. The Herald reported those cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco.

ICE officials said this week that they had sent about 2,000 letters in February to people in “family units” who had already received final orders to leave the country. The people who received those letters may be the targets of the enforcement operation.

Acevedo, the Houston chief, said ICE officials this week declined to provide him with any information about the expected weekend operation besides saying they had ongoing enforcement operations. He criticized President Donald Trump’s tweets Monday saying that agents would begin removing “millions of illegal aliens.”

“It instills fear,” Acevedo said. “We rely on the cooperation of that population to keep all Americans safe, all residents safe, and all members of society safe. … When you say you’re going to go arrest millions of people, that has a chilling effect on the cooperation.”

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

Trump Postpones Nationwide Immigration Enforcement Sweep

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday delayed a nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living the United States illegally, including families, saying he would give lawmakers two weeks to work out solutions for the southern border.

The move came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump on Friday asking him to call off the raids. But three administration officials said scrapping the operation was not just about politics. They said Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaders had expressed serious concerns that officers’ safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about private discussions.

“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “If not, Deportations start!”

The operation, which sparked outrage and concern among immigrant advocates, had been expected to begin Sunday and would target people with final orders of removal, including families whose immigration cases had been fast-tracked by judges.

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The cancellation was another sign of the Trump administration’s difficulty managing the border crisis. The number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically under Trump, despite his tough rhetoric and hard-line policies. Balancing a White House eager to push major operational changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge for the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump gave the first public word of the planned sweep earlier this week, saying in a tweet that an operation was coming up and the agency would begin to remove “millions” of people who were in the United States illegally. Later, leaks to the media included sensitive law enforcement details, such as the day it was to begin, Sunday, plus specific cities and other operational details.

On Saturday, ICE spokeswoman Carol Danko criticized the leaks in context of their potential impact on ICE personnel, saying in a statement that “any leaks telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger.”

Pelosi called Trump on Friday night and the two spoke for about 12 minutes, according to a person familiar with the situation and not authorized to discuss it publicly. She asked him to call off the raids and he said he would consider the request, the person said.

It’s unclear what else was said during the call. But in a statement Saturday before the president’s decision was announced, Pelosi appealed to the same compassion Trump expressed in declining to strike Iran because of the potential for lost lives.

“The President spoke about the importance of avoiding the collateral damage of 150 lives in Iran. I would hope he would apply that same value to avoiding the collateral damage to tens of thousands of children who are frightened by his actions,” she said.

She called the raids “heartless.”

Pelosi responded to Trump’s announcement with her own tweet, saying: “Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.”

Halting the flow of illegal immigration has been Trump’s signature campaign issue, but Congress has been unable to push his proposals into law with resistance from both Democrats and Republicans. Bipartisan talks over the immigration system have started and stalled but are again underway among some in the Senate.

Lawmakers are considering whether to give $4.6 billion in emergency funding to help border agencies struggling to manage a growing number of migrants crossing the border. The measure passed a Senate committee on a 30-1 vote. But the House is considering its own measure. Funding is running out and Congress is trying to approve legislation before the House and Senate recess next week.

Earlier Saturday, Trump hinted the operation was still on, saying the people ICE was looking for “have already been ordered to be deported.”

“This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts,” Trump said.

Coordinated enforcement operations take months to plan . Surprise is also an important element. ICE officers don’t have a search warrant and are working from files with addresses and must go to people’s home and ask to be let inside. Immigrants are not required to open their doors, and increasingly they don’t. Officers generally capture about 30% to 40% of targets.

The planned operation was heavily criticized by Democratic lawmakers as cruel, and many local mayors said they would refuse to cooperate with ICE. Immigrant advocates stepped up know-your-rights campaigns.

Another complication is that ICE needs travel paperwork from a home country to deport someone, so immigrants often end up detained at least temporarily waiting for a flight. ICE was reserving hotel rooms for families in the event the operation went off as planned Sunday.

The adult population of detainees was 53,141 as of June 8, though the agency is only budgeted for 45,000. There were 1,662 in family detention, also at capacity, and one of the family detention centers is currently housing single adults.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

U.S. immigration agency to transfer citizenship paperwork from busy offices, hoping to reduce wait times

By Abigail Hauslohner

Immigrants who have filed paperwork for green cards and for U.S. citizenship could see shorter wait times in some of the nation’s busiest cities as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services works to transfer cases out of overburdened offices to even out processing times across the country.

The strategy, which will apply only to applications for permanent residency — also known as green cards — or U.S. citizenship, probably will be a welcome respite to immigrant communities in cities such as St. Paul, Minn., where some applicants wait up to two years to become citizens. Immigrants in other places could see the process lengthen.

It is unclear if the plan will have an impact on the staggering application backlog that has grown during the Trump administration and has drawn a growing tide of bipartisan criticism from immigration advocates, business leaders and lawmakers.

About 25 percent of the 5.6 million immigration cases in the backlog are those with pending green card or naturalization applications; a population that includes, among others, the husbands and wives of U.S. citizens; acclaimed scientists and professors; and the children of refugees.

USCIS said Monday that it would begin transferring caseloads of applicants for citizenship and permanent residency among its various field offices with the aim of reducing the “differences in processing times based on geographic locations.”

“In recent years, there has been an extraordinary demand for USCIS’ services,” agency spokeswoman Jessica Collins said in a statement. “This will help restore balance to workloads across USCIS field offices with the overall goal of reducing processing times and providing improved service delivery. We strive to adjudicate all applications, petitions, and requests as effectively and efficiently as possible in accordance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations.”

Though the shift is likely to reduce wait times in some of the busiest place — including St. Paul and Miami — it could lengthen the wait times in others, such as Cleveland and Providence, where applicants typically wait less than six months, according to an analysis this year by Boundless Immigration, a company that guides immigration applicants.

The transfer of caseloads to more-distant field offices in some cases also means that some applicants will have to travel farther to appear for mandatory interviews. That change could disadvantage those without the time and money to make the trips.

USCIS said applicants’ travel time will be taken into account in determining the transfer of their cases to other offices.

President Trump has made immigration a central issue of his presidency, and he has pledged to crack down on illegal immigration by building barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border and by deporting those in the country illegally.

Trump and his advisers also have expressed their desire for plans to transform legal immigration by limiting the admittance of certain categories of people, including Muslims, Africans, the poor and the uneducated.

The Trump administration so far has failed to see any related legislation pass, but it has used an array of executive orders and internal policy memos during the past two years — circumventing Congress — to transform legal immigration processes.

Many of the policy changes have yielded new hurdles for those seeking to immigrate and have added to lengthening application processing times.

In late 2017, for example, USCIS began requiring in-person green card interviews for all employment-based applicants, and for the relatives of refugees and asylum seekers, both categories of people who were not previously required to appear for interviews.

USCIS attributes much of its backlog, which has grown by a million cases during Trump’s term, to a large number of applications. Agency officials say USCIS has expanded its staff and field offices, allowing it to process more applications last year than in any of the previous five years.

Critics argue that because USCIS operates primarily on the revenue of application fees, it should be able to keep pace with the demand. Doug Rand, co-founder and president of Boundless Immigration and a former Obama administration official, said the backlog will continue to grow: “They’re not on track to reduce any of that.”

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

Landlords Oppose Trump Plan to Evict Undocumented Immigrants

By Lola Fadulu and Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — Landlords and local officials across the country say a White House proposal to eject undocumented immigrants from subsidized housing would displace some of their most reliable tenants and add major financial strains to an already cash-strapped system.

Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, prodded by hard-liners like Stephen Miller, President Trump’s top immigration adviser, say the proposal, which would prohibit households with at least one unauthorized immigrant from living in federally subsidized housing, is needed to ensure that only verified citizens receive the benefits.

But landlords and local public housing administrators who would have to evict as many as 108,000 people receiving benefits say the plan would, in essence, add immigration enforcement to their responsibility of providing shelter to some of the nation’s most vulnerable families. Undocumented immigrants, they say, generally pay the rent on time, in part out of fear of attracting attention and referrals to law enforcement.

“The housing authority would bear the brunt of the expense of having to completely evict and go through the court action of having to evict these families,” said Sylvia Blanco, the chief operating officer at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, Tex. “We would be on the hook for having to pay for that.”

The government’s housing program includes public housing projects as well as vouchers for subsidized rent in buildings managed by private landlords. Although unauthorized immigrants are not allowed to receive federal housing subsidies, families of mixed immigration status can live in subsidized housing if one family member — even a child — is a legal resident.

Federal housing officials have said the proposal would reduce the backlog of more than 4.2 million people nationwide who are on waiting lists for housing vouchers and public housing. But the department’s own analysis found that the policy would mostly displace thousands of children who are in the country legally. Local housing officials fear the regulation would also add to costs for landlords and increase the homeless population.

Public housing administrators say they would need to verify the immigration status of every resident every year. Administrators would also have to issue eviction notices, potentially take families to court and move them out. Ms. Blanco said legal fees and staff expenses for each eviction in Austin would cost about $1,000 per household. She said more than 40 families who rely on vouchers in Austin are at risk of losing assistance from the proposal.

In Los Angeles, where more than 30 percent of people living in public housing are mixed immigration families, the cost of enforcing the policy would be nearly $10 million.

“You can imagine, if you’re forcing the eviction of nearly one-third of these very large public housing sites, the impact that has on households as well as the broader community,” said Doug Guthrie, the president and chief executive of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.

Under the current system, although undocumented immigrants may live with families receiving house subsidies, the assistance is prorated based on the number of eligible members of the family.

“Most of our members are saying that’s a process that works,” said Tim Kaiser, the executive director of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, referring to the current law. “It’s a system that’s been in place that’s fair. They don’t want to see this practice changed.”

An analysis by the housing department found that many families would leave their homes out of fear of family separation. Thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children in the country legally, could also be displaced.

Many career officials in the department said they were alarmed by the policy, and have pushed for a provision that would allow for a renewable six-month extension for tenants facing eviction.

Even Ben Carson, the housing secretary, questioned the regulations when they were sent to him by the White House. But Mr. Carson did not object, according to people familiar with the situation, and expressed no reservations at a hearing last month on Capitol Hill.

“It’s not that we’re cruel, mean-hearted,” Mr. Carson said. “It’s that we are logical. This is common sense. You take care of your own first.”

A housing department spokesman offered a fact sheet about the proposal but did not respond to specific questions.

In addition to the added toll for local housing authorities, the housing department’s analysis concluded that enforcing the policy would cost the agency $193 million to $227 million in the first year.

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restricting immigration, said the costs were worth it.

“That’s a short-term expense in the long run,” Mr. Krikorian said. “Obviously it’s going to help Americans because more Americans are going to be able to benefit from the subsidy.”

After a family leaves, the public housing provider would then have to prepare the unit, which includes cleaning and repairs. Mr. Guthrie said preparing a public housing unit can cost $10,000 in Los Angeles.

Private landlords would have trouble enforcing the law, too. If a family loses assistance in the private sector, the landlord would then have to charge them the market rate.

“Most likely they can’t afford the market rent, so they’d have to evict them for nonpayment,” said Denise Muha, the executive director of the National Leased Housing Association, which represents both public and private housing providers.

Cutting off vouchers for mixed-status families, which are used to supplement their incomes when paying rent, could discourage private landlords from renting to future families with vouchers.

“Private landlords have their pick of renters that can pay their price,” said Ms. Blanco of the Housing Authority in Austin. “Once they catch wind of this — that we’re needing to terminate assistance for closer to 40-plus families — that’s going to have a negative impact on our ability to attract landlords. It has so many ripple effects.”

The housing authority administrators and landlords also worry that many of the displaced families would fail to find homes because of a nationwide shortage in affordable housing.

“Los Angeles has a very serious homelessness problem here that has been getting worse,” Mr. Guthrie said. “This does nothing more than to put as many 11,000 plus individuals back into a situation of potentially becoming homeless.”

At Mr. Guthrie’s Rancho San Pedro housing development, families are already panicking over the policy.

“This rule hasn’t been implemented yet, but it’s already frightened everyone and shaken their tranquillity,” said Beatriz Mendez, president of the development’s resident advisory council. “That is already causing trauma to the children of those families.”

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

Trump Says Guatemala Is Set to Help Stem Migrant Flow

By Louise Radnofsky

WASHINGTON—President Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to intercept Central American asylum seekers and said that Guatemala was getting ready to sign an agreement that would make it a final refuge for people fleeing poverty and violence in the region.

In a pair of tweets Monday night, Mr. Trump said that Guatemala was preparing to sign a “Safe-Third Agreement,” in an apparent reference to a legal designation that would require Central American migrants that cross into Guatemala to claim asylum there, blocking those migrants from lodging claims elsewhere.

Officials from Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and the White House declined to immediately provide further details.

Mr. Trump also said Monday night that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would increase its efforts to remove people in the U.S. without authorization.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,” wrote Mr. Trump.

An administration official said there were more than one million immigrants who were subject to final deportation orders but the orders hadn’t yet been enforced. The administration official said late Monday that enforcing the orders would be a top priority for ICE.

Many of the families who have been traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border have been coming from Guatemala as well as Honduras and El Salvador. Many say they are fleeing a combination of endemic poverty, violence and corruption in the region.

The issue of “safe third country” status remains a major point of contention between the U.S. and Mexico, even as the two countries have reached a deal to attempt to stem a flow of Central American adults and children that U.S. authorities say have brought the southwest border to a breaking point by arriving each day in the thousands.

Mexico had long resisted U.S. requests that it accept the safe third country status, insisting that it lacked the resources to uphold such a commitment—but as part of its agreement with the U.S., Mexico pledged last week that it would take steps to declare itself a safe third country if its other efforts failed to reduce migrant numbers.

Mexico has said that its ability to uphold its asylum commitments would depend on whether Guatemala and other Central American countries would also agree to grant asylum to migrants.

Mr. Trump’s tweets on Monday night suggested that the regional framework that Mexico has been pressing for could be advancing.

“Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border,” wrote Mr. Trump. “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

But migrant rights groups have raised significant concerns over Guatemala’s ability to provide shelter and assistance to asylum seekers crossing into the country from Honduras and El Salvador. Charities and civic groups currently provide most of the funding and resources for such assistance right now.

U.S. officials say the American immigration system is ill-equipped to receive Central American families seeking asylum, from the moment they turn themselves in to the court adjudication of their claims. which can take years amid heavy backlogs.

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

Trump Threatens to Deport Millions Beginning Next Week

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people living in the country illegally on the eve of formally announcing his re-election bid.

In a pair of tweets Monday night, Trump said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would next week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place. Some in Trump’s administration believe that decisive shows of force — like mass arrests — can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the U.S. that it’s not worth coming.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts.

A senior Mexican official said Monday that, three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the U.S. border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600.

Immigration was a central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida — a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House.

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


Friday, June 14, 2019

U.S. appeals court cancels deportation of immigrant detained in Van Nuys factory raid

By Maura Dolan

A federal appeals court decided Thursday that immigration agents violated the law when they raided a Van Nuys factory in 2008 and interrogated and arrested 130 workers without reasonable suspicion that they were in the United States without authorization.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in the case of a Mexican immigrant who was ordered removed after the raid, said the right to detain someone while executing a search warrant does not extend to a preconceived plan to conduct a raid aimed at arresting a large number of people.

The decision revoked the deportation of Gregorio Perez Cruz, who entered the country as a child and worked at the factory. Cruz’s lawyers said the ruling also was likely to invalidate deportations in other cases.

The raid stemmed from a 2006 tip to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that Micro Solutions Enterprises, a manufacturer of printer cartridges, employed 200 to 300 immigrants who were in the country illegally.

Nearly two years later, agents obtained a search warrant to seize employment records at the factory.

Documents later obtained by civil rights lawyers revealed that agents “intended from the outset to turn the execution of these warrants into quite a different operation than a search for employment records,” the 9th Circuit said.

An internal memorandum showed that agents planned to make as many as 200 arrests and had lined up two buses and five vans to take the workers to a detention facility.

About 100 armed and uniformed agents entered the factory, blocked the exits and told workers they could not leave or use their cellphones. The agents frisked Cruz and other workers and handcuffed and questioned them.

Cruz, during the questioning, told an agent he did not have authorization to be in the country.

An immigration judge later decided that agents had violated a government regulation by initially detaining Cruz and failing to advise him of his rights. The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled in favor of the government, and Cruz appealed to the 9th Circuit.

The court agreed that the arrest violated an immigration enforcement regulation and the Constitution.

Agents cannot detain and interrogate people “without individualized suspicion” — a reasonable belief backed by evidence that the workers entered the country without permission, the court said.

“Perez Cruz has presented substantial, uncontroverted evidence that the search authorized by the warrant was far from the ICE agents’ central concern,” Judge Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the panel.

The law “does not justify using the execution of a search warrant for documents to ‘target’ for detention, interrogation, and arrest busloads of people who could not otherwise be detained,” she wrote.

Berzon was joined by 9th Circuit Judge Michelle T. Friedland, an Obama appointee, and District Judge Daniel R. Dominguez, a Clinton appointee based in Puerto Rico.

Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and one of Cruz’s lawyers, said the decision sent “a powerful message.”

“Everyone has the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures,” he said.

Noemi Ramirez, who also represented Cruz, said the court’s ruling clearly barred “pre-planned mass detentions, interrogations, and arrests that violate a person’s 4th Amendment right.”

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

Premature Baby Found in Border Patrol Facility in Texas

The teenage girl with pigtail braids was hunched over in a wheelchair and holding a bunched sweatshirt when an immigrant advocate met her at a crowded Border Patrol facility in Texas.

She opened the sweatshirt and the advocate gasped. It was a tiny baby, born premature, being held in detention instead of where she believes she should have been — a hospital neonatal unit.

“You look at this baby and there is no question that this baby should be in a tube with a heart monitor,” said Hope Frye, a volunteer with an immigrant advocacy group who travels the country visiting immigration facilities with children to make sure they comply with federal guidelines.

Frye and other advocates say the case highlights the poor conditions immigrants are held in after crossing the border at a time when the government is dealing with an unprecedented number of families and children who are arriving each day.

She says the mother, a 17-year-old from Guatemala, had an emergency cesarean section in Mexico in early May and crossed the border with the baby June 4. She was in a wheelchair in extreme pain when legal advocates found her this week. The girl told advocates she had crossed the border through the Rio Grande River but needed people to carry her, and also needed assistance getting into a Border Patrol car when she was apprehended.

The mother and daughter were expected to be transferred to a privately-run facility for underage immigrants without parents on Thursday after outcry on social media.

They were held in an overcrowded McAllen processing facility that holds hundreds of parents and children in large, fenced-in areas and gained international attention last year when it detained children separated from their parents. Advocates describe them as cages and say they are extremely cold. The converted warehouse is the same location where a flu outbreak caused authorities to shut down the facility last month.

The Trump administration has been facing daily criticism over conditions in migrant detention facilities.

Five children have died since late last year after being detained by the Border Patrol. Immigrants have been kept outside for extended periods near a bridge in El Paso in conditions that a professor who recently visited the location told the Texas Monthly magazine was like a “human dog pound.” And an Inspector General report last month found severe overcrowding inside an El Paso processing center, with 76 migrants packed into a tiny cell designed for a maximum of 12 people. Investigators saw immigrants standing on top of toilets to make room and find space to breathe because the cell was so cramped.

In a letter to Congress this week, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Kevin K. McAleenan, and Alex Azar, who heads the Health and Human Services Department, pleaded for emergency supplemental funding.

“We continue to experience a humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border of the United States, and the situation becomes more dire each day,” they wrote.

Customs and Border Protection says its agents are overwhelmed and don’t have the funding or resources to handle the influx. Health and Human Services, the governmental agency in charge of caring for unaccompanied children after they’re released from Border Patrol custody, says it is past capacity with over 13,000 kids in its care at the moment. The agency said it plans to add new facilities for children in New Mexico, Texas and a military base in Oklahoma.

Families and underage migrants who cross the border are held in Border Patrol facilities that are meant to be temporary and were designed primarily for single adult men and not mothers, newborns and sick toddlers. Families are regularly kept in them for much longer than the allowed maximum of 72 hours.

Frye first met the teenage girl at the McAllen facility on Tuesday. The girl said border authorities made her throw away a backpack with the baby’s clothing and hadn’t given her anything else, so the baby was in a dirty onesie bundled in a sweatshirt that another migrant mother gave her.

At one point, the baby got sick and was listless and unresponsive, Frye said.

Frye said the baby and her mother should never have been kept there. She said she isn’t sure how premature the baby was born but said she is “minuscule” and that her head was “the size of my fist or smaller than my fist.”

Customs and Border Protection, which runs the facility the girl and baby were held in, has not issued comment.

___

This story has been corrected to show that mother and daughter were being transferred on Thursday, not Friday.

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

Cruz v. Barr

An individual’s statements regarding his birthplace constituted evidence of alienage—not identity—and is suppressable. Law enforcement’s categorical authority to detain incident to the execution of a search warrant does not extend to a preexisting plan whose central purpose is to detain, interrogate, and arrest a large number of individuals without individualized reasonable suspicion.

Cruz v. Barr - filed June 13, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 15-70530 

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Torres v. Barr

Although Congress’ two-year reprieve for immigrants residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands protected immigrants from removability under 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(A)(i) on the basis that they had not been admitted or paroled into the United States, it did not exempt them from removal based on other grounds of removability. Residence in the commonwealth before U.S. immigration law became effective does not count toward the residence required for naturalization as a U.S. citizen.

Torres v. Barr - filed June 12, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 13-70653 

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

High Turnover Roils Trump’s Immigration-Policy Ranks

By Louise Radnofsky

WASHINGTON—President Trump has made immigration his top policy priority, yet he is relying on an increasingly transient cast of characters to carry out his plans.

In the past two months, almost every top job on immigration policy has turned over once—and in some cases, twice—with the administration at times employing creative maneuvers to get officials in place. The personnel changes have occurred against a backdrop of especially dramatic action, including high-stakes negotiation with Mexico over a surge of Central American families seeking asylum at the southern border that deployed the threat of escalating tariffs as leverage.

Both the turnover and the talks with Mexico, administration officials have indicated, reflect the importance of immigration to the president and the mounting frustration within the White House over enacting an ambitious agenda in the face of almost-certain blockades from some federal courts and few prospects of legislative movement in Congress.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. Within the White House, Mr. Trump’s two leading aides on immigration, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner, have been with him since he began his presidency.

On Tuesday, asked why he didn’t have a nominee for Homeland Security secretary, Mr. Trump praised the value of his acting head, Kevin McAleenan. He indicated that he saw flexibility as a virtue and didn’t believe Mr. McAleenan was hampered by lacking a confirmed title.

“We have ‘acting,’ ” he said. “We’ll make a determination. But I think Kevin is doing a very good job.”

But the approach to filling the ranks of official positions has tested the limits of longstanding Washington practices, including the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which dictates the order of succession in agencies and usually ensures the Senate has a chance to vet top officials, some federal-government management experts say.

“Here and in other places they appear to be doing an end-run around the Senate’s advice and consent responsibility for senior executive officials,” said Max Stier, head of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group. “What we are seeing is a system that has been challenged in ways that suggest it needs to be updated.” The group estimates that 59% of key leadership jobs at the Department of Homeland Security currently don’t have Senate-confirmed people in those roles.

On Monday, Mr. Trump announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the main rulemaking agency on immigration within the Department of Homeland Security, would be headed by conservative politician Ken Cuccinelli on an acting basis. Mr. Cuccinelli is the agency’s third leader in 10 days, after the resignation of L. Francis Cissna became effective June 1. Mr. Cissna was immediately succeeded by Deputy Director Mark Koumans, who had been on the deputy job since May 13.

Making Mr. Cuccinelli acting director required a complex series of steps because the former Virginia attorney general-turned activist had never been Senate-confirmed to any federal position. The agency was able to comply with vacancy rules by creating a new position for Mr. Cuccinelli—principal deputy director—which outranked Mr. Koumans and made Mr. Cuccinelli eligible to take over on an acting basis, according to multiple descriptions from officials and external experts.

The maneuvering is unlikely to end there. Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have made clear their distaste for Mr. Cuccinelli and are unlikely to support him for confirmation, in part because of his open backing of conservative challengers against GOP incumbents.

“The appointment as acting director of USCIS requires no Senate confirmation,” a USCIS representative said. “Mr. Cuccinelli’s appointment is in accordance with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. It is up to the president to nominate, or not, for a permanent appointment and that would require Senate confirmation.”

As acting director, Mr. Cuccinelli can serve in the role for 210 days—until January 2020. If someone else is nominated, Mr. Cuccinelli may be able to serve longer, because a nomination stops the clock, said Mr. Stier, of the Partnership for Public Service.

A senior administration official signaled weeks ago that Mr. Cissna’s departure was coming, telling reporters that Mr. Trump and top aides had concluded that some of the rise in migrants with children stemmed from what they see as specific administrative failures on the part of USCIS.

The senior administration official said DHS leaders’ support for the president’s immigration agenda wasn’t necessarily in question, nor were their credentials. Instead, the White House had concluded that they had been unable to clear obstacles fast enough.

Mr. Cissna contradicted that perspective publicly in his farewell message to staff, in which he defended his efforts as moving “carefully and purposefully.”

Similar scrambled lines of succession have been playing out across DHS since early April, when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned; the White House pulled the nomination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Ron Vitiello, prompting his resignation; and Mr. McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner at the time, was sent to head the agency in Ms. Nielsen’s place.

Making way for Mr. McAleenan required the resignation of a higher-ranking official within DHS, the undersecretary for Management, Claire Grady. Mr. McAleenan designated his chief operating officer at CBP, John Sanders, to fill the commissioner role on an acting basis.

Regarding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement vacancy, the president said in a tweet May 5 that he would be tapping Mark Morgan, a former FBI agent who briefly served as Border Patrol chief at the end of the Obama administration, to head ICE. Mr. Morgan had made a series of Fox News appearances and a fiery performance before Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, during which he expressed support for Mr. Trump’s agenda.

After Mr. Vitiello’s last day, the position of acting director actually went to Matthew Albence, the acting deputy director. Then, on May 29, Mr. McAleenan—the acting Homeland Security chief—said in a note to staff that Mr. Morgan would be formally starting as acting director of ICE.

Mr. Morgan, too, had been maneuvered into place by first being appointed a principal deputy director—an extra position that did not require confirmation—which then allowed him to leapfrog Mr. Albence in the line of succession. Mr. Trump has not signaled if he plans to officially nominate him.

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

Mexicans Are Minority of Illegal Residents for First Time in Five Decades

By Alicia A. Caldwell

For the first time since at least 1965, less than half of all foreigners living in the U.S. illegally are from Mexico, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

The change reflects a decadeslong shift at the southern border in which more migrants are fleeing violence and poverty in Central American nations such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, while fewer Mexicans are coming to the U.S. for work.

Mexicans made up 4.9 million, or 47%, of the estimated 10.5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally in 2017, the researchers found. The population of Mexican immigrants without legal authorization to be in the U.S. dropped by about two million since reaching an estimated peak of 6.9 million in 2007, according to the Pew report.

Jeff Passel, senior demographer at Pew, said the majority of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. had been Mexicans since researchers first started making estimates around 1965.

Illegal migration from Mexico, as measured by arrests at the American border, has been declining since 2004, when U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested more than one million Mexican nationals. During the 2018 federal fiscal year, border agents made just 152,257 such arrests.

Mr. Passel said the number of Mexicans living illegally in the U.S. first started to decline around 2007, as more Mexican nationals left the country than arrived.

“We’re still getting some unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, but there’s a lot more leaving than coming,” said Mr. Passel, who co-wrote the study released Wednesday.

Mr. Passel said the decline is likely the result of both increased security at the U.S. border and an improving economy in Mexico.

“People are moving around Mexico,” Mr. Passel said, adding that more agriculture and manufacturing jobs have become available in recent years. “There are a lot of factories in Mexico that offer employment opportunities so people don’t have to leave.”

Migrants from Central America and Asia have largely replaced departing Mexican immigrants, the Pew report said.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants traveling as families or as unaccompanied children in the past eight months has severely strained U.S. government resources at the border.

Last week, President Trump threatened to levy tariffs on Mexico if authorities there didn’t do more to curb the flow of Central Americans through that country to the U.S. The Mexican government agreed to deploy National Guard troops to its southern border and let U.S. authorities send more asylum seekers back to Mexico while they wait for American judges to decide their fate.

Since 2014, more than 851,000 Central Americans have been caught crossing the U.S. border illegally, according to federal government data. Nearly all have requested asylum, claiming they fear for their safety if they were to return home.

Those with children are released into the interior of the U.S. to wait for an immigration judge to decide whether they will be allowed to stay in America, a process that can take years to complete.

Overall, the population of foreigners living in the U.S. illegally has remained steady in recent years at about 10.5 million, according to Pew.

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