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


Friday, February 15, 2019

Teen Migrant Detention Facility Allows a Glimpse Inside Gate

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Journalists were given a glimpse Wednesday of a newly expanded south-Florida detention facility where nearly 150 teenage migrants sleep in rows of bunk beds in a large windowless room and use portable toilets housed in adjacent tents.

The sleeping area in a converted Job Corps building in Homestead, Florida, is just part of the growing detention center operated by a private company for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With a high, steel-framed ceiling and exposed ducts, the large room has an industrial feel, in contrast with smaller dorms where younger children sleep up to 12 per room that reporters saw on a similar tour of the facility last June. In the room where 17-year-old boys sleep, there are 144 bunk beds lined up in eight rows of nine. One of them had a red rosary hanging from the top bed frame.

Journalists were not permitted to interview the children Wednesday, and no cameras or recorders were allowed inside the tightly controlled compound surrounded by a chain-link fence. The children wore badges and walked in groups of 10 to 15 in single file, usually led by a uniformed employee who would frequently order them to stop so they didn’t come across other groups while trying to enter buildings. Some said “hello,” and a group of girls in pink sweatshirts offered a “good morning” in English and Spanish, but others avoided eye contact.

Comprehensive Health Services, which runs the facility, has hired 230 new employees and received 225 more children since December, when federal officials announced the expansion. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber said none of the children were transferred from a controversial facility that shut down in January in Tornillo, Texas.

The Tornillo facility had opened in June in an isolated pocket of the Texas desert with capacity for 360 children. It expanded into a guarded detention camp that in mid-December held more than 2,700 largely Central American teens in rows of canvas tents. Politicians and advocates for immigrants and human rights protested at the site over the seven months it was open, with some even taking up vigils.

Since the Tornillo tent city closed, the Homestead center is the only temporary facility in use, Weber said. Lawmakers and immigrant rights advocates are fighting to shut this one down too, saying it does not comply with state child welfare laws.

Homestead is now one of the facilities with the largest number of migrant children in the U.S. Screens at the command center on Wednesday showed a population of 1,575 children, ages 13-17. Of the group, 670 are being housed in the new section.

The children in custody now are teenagers who arrived on their own, hoping to join relatives. Last summer, Homestead had taken in about 140 children who were separated from their families at the border.

New federal requirements mandating more stringent background checks on their families since last summer have slowed the children’s release to family members. The average length of stay at Homestead has gone up from 25 days last June to 67 days as of December.

The children eat three meals and also have three snacks, a program official told the media.

On Wednesday, a group of boys formed a line with trays in hand and got served white rice, red beans and fish.

Managers say there are attorneys at the facility every day and they meet privately with the children. There are four doctors and other physicians are on call.

Weber said the Homestead facility has approximately one mental health clinician for every 15 children. Under federal policy, migrant youth shelters generally must have one mental health clinician for every 12 kids.

A legal team visited the shelter last week to verify whether it complies with a 1997 agreement known as the Flores settlement, governing how migrant children are housed in custody. J.J Mulligan Sepulveda, an attorney at the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis, said they interviewed children and described a few instances in which they broke into tears describing the “military-style” conditions at the facility where they can’t hug one another.

Some feared that expressing emotion could get them referred to mental health services.

“A lot of them saw mental health services as a punishment, and thought it would affect their immigration case,” Mulligan Sepulveda said. The attorney also said he met a boy who was separated from his brother when the center began its expansion. He said they are only allowed to see each other once a week.

The Florida Department of Children and Families said in an emailed statement last month that because it is a federal facility the state agency “does not have any jurisdiction or involvement with children placed there.”

Comprehensive Health Services, which is part of Virginia-based Caliburn, isn’t able to use Florida records to screen the staff for child abuse and neglect because Florida law bans any outside employer from reviewing information in its child welfare system. Child abuse and neglect checks were waived because of these limitations, officials say.

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

Trump Says He Does Not Want a Government Shutdown as He Moves Toward Embracing Border Deal

By Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON — President Trump declared on Wednesday that he does not want to see the government shut down at midnight Friday and hinted that he has “options that most people don’t understand” to build his border wall without congressional approval.

The remarks, which were made to reporters in the Oval Office as he met with the president of Colombia, inched him toward embracing a bipartisan border deal that fell far short of his demands. But without a shutdown as leverage, he appeared to have little choice but to sign it if it clears Congress.

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing,” Mr. Trump said.

The president’s comments came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her House Democratic troops to fall in line behind the border-security agreement, which deprived Mr. Trump of a win on his wall but gave more money for border fencing and detention beds than the left wing of her party wanted.

“As with all compromises, I say to people, support the bill for what is in it,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday. “Don’t judge it for what is not in it. We have other days to pass other legislation.”

Lawmakers and aides were rushing to resolve lingering issues in a broader spending bill before the Friday deadline to prevent another government shutdown, but Mr. Trump and key lawmakers indicated they would support a final agreement.

Mr. Trump said the White House has yet to see the legislative text of the deal, and when aides do, “we’ll be looking for land mines.”

The compromise measure, assembled by senior members of both parties on Monday night, includes just $1.375 billion for new fencing along the border with Mexico, far short of the $5.7 billion Mr. Trump sought for a steel or concrete wall — and less even than the deal that he rejected in December, which prompted the longest government shutdown in American history.

But the president got some cover from some of his Republican allies in the Senate and at least one of his hard-line immigration critics in the media, Laura Ingraham, who have claimed some measure of victory by recalling that Ms. Pelosi had said last month she would approve only one dollar for a wall on the southwestern border.

“Well, try $1.375 billion,” Ms. Ingraham crowed on Fox News Tuesday night. “She might not want to call it a wall, but that’s what it is. And that’s not all bad.”

Remaining issues in the spending package, which includes funding for the Department of Homeland Security and six unfinished spending bills, include restrictions on where new fencing can be built in the Rio Grande Valley and whether the legislation should include back pay for federal contractors affected by the shutdown, according to a congressional aide familiar with the negotiations. There is also debate over whether to include an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, which is set to expire on Friday.

The legislation is expected to be finalized Wednesday, with a House vote on Thursday night, followed by Senate passage.

Several Democrats indicated that they would support the legislation, even before the text was finished, in part because it would stave off another government shutdown and includes Democratic priorities in the other six bills. Other liberal lawmakers expressed concerns about the funding levels for detention beds and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which some had campaigned to abolish.

“I’m trying to maintain an open mind, but I need details,” said Representative Veronica Escobar, a freshman Democrat whose district includes most of El Paso, Texas.

“The barriers are going to be an issue,” she added, noting that she would prefer no funding for the Homeland Security Department until it is audited. “I want to know where and what they look like.”

At least one, Representative Juan Vargas, Democrat of California, said he would vote against the bill, but he was not actively seeking support from other members.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol today. “As with all compromises, I say to people, support the bill for what is in it,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday. “Don’t judge it for what is not in it.”CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol today. “As with all compromises, I say to people, support the bill for what is in it,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday. “Don’t judge it for what is not in it.”CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
“I think most people just want to get this thing over with,” he said. “I’m not one of those people.”

For some Democrats, the biggest issue is detention slots under the control of the Trump administration. The agreement authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to fund about 40,000 beds for detainees, many of them in centers run by for-profit companies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement near the border in Texas, Arizona and California.

House Democratic aides described the language as a “glide path” from the current level of 49,000 detention beds back to Obama-era levels of 35,000 or fewer.

But a summary of the provisions drafted by Senate Republican staff members placed the average number of beds funded under the deal at a much higher number — 45,274, including 2,500 for families. And that could rise to as many as 58,500 beds, Republican aides asserted in internal communications, because federal cabinet departments have latitude in how they use funds.

Under the complex funding formula in the agreement, the Department of Homeland Security would have “reprogramming authority” to transfer as much as $750 million from other programs into detention.

Democrats have argued that with a new House majority, they can provide much harsher oversight than their Republican predecessors and push back on that maneuvering within the department and other federal agencies.

“We’re intent on making sure that this process reflects the congressional intent of where they should be on barriers, on beds, on all these issues that matter to us,” said Representative Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California and one of the 17 negotiators working on a border security agreement.

“We’re going to respect Article I of the Constitution here and do our job,” he added, referring to the article in the Constitution that gives Congress the power of the federal purse. “If they don’t, they can expect to be up here quite a bit.”

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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Szonyi v. Whitaker

No circuit precedent has held that the text of 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) unambiguously foreclosed an interpretation that an alien will be deportable when he again commits an act, which, in and of itself, constitutes a complete, individual, and distinct crime, and then commits another such act, even though one may closely follow the other, be similar in character, and even be part of an overall plan of criminal misconduct.

Szonyi v. Whitaker - filed Feb. 13, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 15-73514 

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

The border-security compromise is a good start. Now help the ‘dreamers.’

CONGRESSIONAL NEGOTIATORS have reached a compromise on border security that delivers half a loaf or, as President Trump sees it, less than a quarter of a wall — just $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion he wanted for construction of a barrier along the Southern border. It’s a modest deal that doesn’t address the most important immigration issues, such as the status of the “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants predominately brought to the United States as children. But with dysfunction having become the Washington norm, it is practically a triumph that GOP lawmakers summoned the will to break an impasse, forged an accord with Democrats knowing it would displease Mr. Trump and plan to send it along to him to sign or veto.

Barring last-minute snags, the president appears set to sign the measure to build 55 miles of new fencing and fund the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, thereby averting another government shutdown. That would end a gratuitous standoff that could have been avoided in December had Mr. Trump supported legislation that provided more border security funding than he ended up securing after a five-week partial government closure. Pandering to his base, he opted for a fight, venomous tweets and paralysis.

Good for Congress, and good for the Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for schooling Mr. Trump on the art of the possible. Even better, though, if Mr. McConnell and other congressional leaders now take further steps to resolve immigration disputes wrongly deemed irresolvable by conventional wisdom.

They should start by defusing the time bomb ticking for the more than 1 million young dreamers, whose lives and livelihoods will be devastated if Mr. Trump’s decision to rescind their protections from deportation, and work permits, gets the green light from the Supreme Court. That’s possible, and should it happen, it will destroy families and communities in districts represented by Republicans and Democrats alike. (The Center for American Progress has published an online interactive map showing the number of dreamers in every congressional district.)

Mr. Trump signaled his willingness last month to negotiate over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals , albeit with a narrow proposal that would exclude many dreamers and extend others meager relief: just three years of work permits and deportation protections, with no pathway to legal status or citizenship. Congress would be wise to improve now on Mr. Trump’s blueprint with legislation that would provide permanent protections for young migrants who have been raised in this country and are Americans in outlook, allegiance and expectations.

Congress could also legislate relief for hundreds of thousands of people who have been living legally in this country with temporary protected status, in many cases for decades, having fled conflict and natural disasters in their home countries. The administration has ordered their protections withdrawn, as well. A proactive Congress would intervene to ensure that those migrants, often the parents of U.S. citizens, have a viable and secure future in communities where they are well integrated.

Problem-solving was once taken for granted in Congress. Regaining that muscle memory is a matter of embracing bipartisan compromise.

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

Lawyers sue ICE over videoconference immigration hearings

By Deepti Hajela

NEW YORK — A group of detained immigrants and the lawyers representing them filed a federal lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, accusing the agency of violating their constitutional rights by forcing them to use videoconferencing for their court appearances instead of bringing them in person.

In the suit, which the seven detainees along with three public defender groups filed in Manhattan on Tuesday, the plaintiffs said the reliance solely on videoconferences has “had disastrous effects on detained immigrants, the ability of their attorneys to effectively represent them, and the efficiency of the immigration court” and said the motivation was “the government’s nationwide effort to expedite deportations at the expense of due process.”

ICE said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Prior to last June, detained immigrants facing deportation hearings in New York City were brought in person to the court at Varick Street.

But ICE suspended transfers, in favor of video conferencing. At that time, the agency said it was due to safety concerns over protests outside the facility, which demonstrators then discontinued. But the use of videoconferencing remained, and according to the lawsuit, ICE said there were other reasons including cost effectiveness.

The public defender groups in the suit make up the attorneys who represent detainees pro-bono through a New York City program.

In the suit, they said not having detained immigrants come to the court has impacted their ability to represent them effectively. They said there are also confidentiality issues, that immigrants had no way to speak to their attorneys privately if they were on videoconference, and also pointed to technological and logistical issues, like whether the facilities where they are detained could effectively carry out the number of videoconference calls required, and whether interpretation could be done properly.

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

ICE director nominee in limbo after criticism from union

By Geneva Sands

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s pick to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement remains in limbo after the union representing ICE officers opposed the nomination.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday postponed a scheduled vote on Ron Vitiello’s nomination.

“Never before have we seen so many warning signs with respect to a nominee prior to confirmation and we believe him to be unfit to serve as Director,” wrote National ICE Council President Chris Crane.

Crane outlines a series of concerns, including accusations that Vitiello prevented employees from performing their official duties. The union also said that the ICE acting director’s social media content was “unacceptable” and “shows a lack of sound judgment.”

Last August, the President formally nominated Vitiello, the acting director of ICE, to hold the position permanently.

But he has run into trouble amid social media controversy and criticism from the union representing ICE officers.

“We are going to hold over the ICE director nomination there are some issues that continue on that so we will not be voting on the ICE director,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, during a committee meeting Wednesday.

Vitiello has been leading ICE in an acting capacity since the end of June. He previously was chief of the US Border Patrol and acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

“I’m not going to say anything, other than we are holding it over and we will continue to sort through the issues,” said Johnson after the meeting Wednesday.

Vitiello faced criticism at his hearing in November for refusing to rule out potential future family separations, and was questioned about his personal tweets and an immigration event he had attended.

Michigan Democrat Gary Peters asked in the hearing about a 2012 tweet, in which Vitiello “suggested that the Democratic Party should be renamed the ‘liberalcratic party’ or the “Neo-Klanist party.'”

Vitiello acknowledged “it was a mistake” and said “he was trying to make a joke,” adding that he thought it was a direct message.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lawyer: Rapper 21 Savage Granted Immigration Bond

ATLANTA — Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage was granted bond for release Tuesday after spending more than a week in federal immigration custody, but he wasn’t freed right away, his lawyer said.

The rapper, whose given name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested during a targeted immigration operation early on Feb. 3. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said at the time that the British citizen had overstayed his visa and had a felony conviction.

Abraham-Joseph, 26, was granted bond too late Tuesday to be released right away, immigration lawyer Charles Kuck said by phone, adding that he anticipates his client will be released Wednesday.

In an emailed statement, lawyers Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro said they’ve been speaking with ICE since his arrest to “clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society.”

They said they received notification in the previous 24 hours, “in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform,” that he was granted an expedited hearing. The Grammy Awards ceremony was held Sunday.

Abraham-Joseph was nominated for two awards at the Grammys, including record of the year for “Rockstar” alongside Post Malone. His second solo album “I Am I Was,” released in December, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

After his arrest, ICE said Abraham-Joseph entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, when he was 12, but has remained in the country illegally since his visa expired in July 2006. He was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, ICE said. He was placed in deportation proceedings in federal immigration court.

Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers disputed that. They said last week that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. when he was 7 and remained in the country until June 2005, when he went to visit the United Kingdom for a month. He returned on a valid visa on July 22, 2005, they said.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad,” his lawyers said. “Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”

Federal immigration officials have known Abraham-Joseph’s status since at least 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, his attorneys said.

The attorneys also said ICE was incorrect that Abraham-Joseph has a felony conviction on his record. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not provide information on that case because it is sealed.

Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers said Tuesday that he asked them to send a message to his supporters.

“(H)e says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together,” they said.

He added that he “will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”

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

Border Deal Doesn’t Resolve Detention Questions

By Louise Radnofsky, Kristina Peterson, and Natalie Andrews

Democrats largely came up short in their quest to limit the detention of immigrants as part of a bipartisan border deal reached this week, but the arcane math left lawmakers citing different numbers and activists on both sides crying foul.

The dispute over funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds emerged as a late sticking point in the negotiations, and its resolution was key to the deal. Democrats wanted fewer beds and sought limits designed to prioritize the detention of criminals over other immigrants, such as people who overstayed their visas. Republicans wanted more beds and no constraints on which immigrants ICE can detain.

The complications arise in part from the way funding for ICE detention facilities is determined. The formula includes the agency’s average daily population of detained immigrants, but ICE has also moved money around to fund the beds.

In the last fiscal year, Congress funded ICE’s average daily population at 40,520. Under the agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans this week, the administration will get funding for an average daily population of 45,274 in the current fiscal year, congressional aides say. ICE currently holds over 49,000 people in custody.

Democrats have pointed to the possibility that the negotiated number means ICE will have to reduce detention to make the new average work. Republicans have countered that ICE has the ability to transfer money, as it has been doing, to maintain a higher level of beds. Democrats aren’t disputing that they can transfer money, though they note that money will have to come from another account.

The complexities led to varying takes on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers disagreeing on whether the deal increased or decreased the number of detention beds.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R., S.D.) estimated that once ICE has transferred money, it could fund up to “58,000 or thereabouts” beds. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) argued the agreed-to number of beds was actually a reduction. “They are pretty much at 45,000 or so,” she said.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), a hard-liner on illegal immigration, made the GOP’s initial goal his baseline. Comparatively, “it’s less than that,” he said. “It’s about 7,000 beds less.”

Pro- and anti-immigration activists both saw problems with the deal. Sandra Cordero, director of Families Belong Together, said the deal would keep detention levels steady and was “funneling more money to agencies that ripped thousands of children from their parents’ arms.” Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, said the reduction in ICE detention capacity “more than cancels out any benefit from that small amount of extra fencing.”

Others saw the result as more clear-cut.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), the Senate majority leader, claimed victory on the issue and applauded Democrats for abandoning what he called “extreme positions,” including “the idea that we should impose a hard, statutory cap on ICE detainees.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), a member of the 17-lawmaker group that negotiated the border deal, said Tuesday the Democrats didn’t get everything they had hoped for on beds, a reflection of GOP control of the Senate and White House.

“We had hoped to not only stop the grand and glorious wall, paid for by Mexico, but also to deal with detention beds. I don’t know what the final wording is on this,” Mr. Durbin said, but “we wanted to address both, and it became more difficult when we realized the political reality.”

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

Trump’s Wall ‘Emergency’ Would Be The First To Overrule Congress On Spending

By S.V. Date

WASHINGTON — While six previous presidents declared dozens of national emergencies, Donald Trump’s threatened one over a border wall would be the first to finance an unpopular construction project that congresses both in his own country and in a neighboring one have refused to pay for.

Trump has been warning for months that he would declare an emergency if Congress failed to appropriate $5.7 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico, and he repeated the threat at a re-election rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday night. “As I was walking up to the stage, they said that progress is being made with this committee,” he said of a bipartisan deal that would provide $1.375 billion for border barriers. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”

For Trump, though, choosing to declare a national emergency would likely trigger a law from Congress finding his declaration invalid, lawsuits challenging its legality or both.

“The National Emergencies Act does not give the president the authority to throw a tantrum just because Congress chooses not to give him the toys that he likes,” said Greg Chen, the head of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“I’m sure the legal challenges would be filed instantly,” said Elizabeth Goitein, an expert on national emergencies at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Of late, Trump and his allies have argued that national emergencies are nothing extraordinary, that every previous president going back to the passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976 has used it and that nearly three dozen are still in force.

On Sunday he tweeted to his 58 million followers a statement from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.): “There have been 58 National Emergencies declared since the law was enacted in 1976, and 31 right now that are currently active, so this is hardly unprecedented.”

Yet what the White House and Trump’s defenders do not mention is that no previous president has declared a national emergency for a pet project that most Americans oppose, that Congress has refused to support and that he promised during his campaign that he would force Mexico to pay for.

Douglas Rivlin, a spokesman for the pro-immigration group America’s Voice, said Trump is primarily trying to work up his hard-core base by painting immigrants as criminals, just as he did in the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections.

Rivlin added that it was ironic that an absurd campaign promise has now become the singular focus of his administration. “It’s always been a joke. It’s always been a promise that didn’t make sense,” he said. “It was an applause line. And yet it is driving national policy at this point.”

Of course, Trump did not offhandedly joke about forcing Mexico to pay for a massive, 30-foot-tall, reinforced concrete wall. He promised that he would force Mexico to pay for it — literally hundreds of times in his rallies, and even in interviews when he was asked whether he was serious.

In a March 2016 memo, Trump claimed he would force Mexico to make “a one-time payment of $5-$10 billion” or face garnishment of remittances from Mexican immigrants to their families in Mexico.

“That fit into his brand of being this master negotiator able to make people do what they didn’t want to do,” Rivlin said. “But even that was being pulled out of his ample presidential butt.”

Upon taking office, Trump did not once broach the idea of Mexico paying in his conversations with that country’s leaders, according to the Mexican government. In fact, in his first conversation with Mexico’s then-President Enrique Peña Nieto days after taking office, Trump acknowledged that Mexico would never pay for the wall but asked Peña Nieto not to say that publicly to avoid hurting Trump’s standing with his supporters.

After that phone call, more than a year passed before Trump started demanding a wall, only this time from U.S. taxpayers and Congress, which led to his claims starting in October that he had the power simply to ignore Congress.

“When the rules don’t suit him, he breaks the rules, and then it gets tied up in courts,” Rivlin said. “This has been the pattern of his life.”

At issue is the exclusive role given to Congress in the Constitution to decide whether and how much to spend for any given priority, Chen said.

All but a handful of the previous five dozen emergency declarations over the past four decades have imposed trade restrictions or other economic sanctions against nations for their aggressive behavior and human rights abuses.

A May 22, 1997, declaration by Bill Clinton prohibited new investment in Burma. An April 3, 2014, declaration by Barack Obama imposed sanctions on leaders of South Sudan. The very first emergency — which is in place to this day — was declared by Jimmy Carter to impose sanctions on Iran after the 1979 revolution.

Only a handful of the declarations have dealt with national policy outside of targeted sanctions. One, declared by Ronald Reagan in 1983, reinstated a ban on the export of technologies that could be used for military purposes. Congress had allowed the ban to lapse but did not oppose his use of the Emergencies Act to put it back into force.

Another came in 2005, when George W. Bush, without technically declaring an emergency, decreed the suspension of a requirement to pay workers involved in the Hurricane Katrina recovery a certain minimum wage. Democrats and some Republicans did object to that one, and set a vote in the House to disapprove it. Bush rescinded his decree the day before the scheduled vote.

Not one of the previous emergencies, however, did anything close to what Trump is trying to do: pay for a project not only without Congress’ approval, but after Congress has specifically rejected his request several times.

“The law was intended to authorize a president to take action in a crisis that was unfolding too quickly for Congress to respond,” Chen said. “Congress has, in fact, made a decision. Congress has chosen not to give him the funds that he would like.”

It is not clear if or when Trump would actually declare an emergency. Republican senators have already expressed their fears that enough of them would side with Democrats on the issue that a law rescinding the emergency would clear Congress, forcing Trump to back down or veto it — a choice that would likely lead to an attempt to override the veto. White House officials would say only that Trump is considering all his options and that he would do everything necessary to deal with the “crisis” at the border.

Chen, though, said that Trump’s actions — threatening an emergency, but only if Congress refused to give him what he wanted — have undermined the legal basis for one.

“The longer he waits and flirts publicly with the concept of declaring an emergency, the more he weakens the case that there is an actual emergency,” Chen said.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Congressional lawmakers reach deal on border wall funding

By Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram

WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators reached agreement Monday night to prevent a government shutdown and finance construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, overcoming a late-stage hang-up over immigration enforcement issues that had threatened to scuttle the talks.

Republicans were desperate to avoid another bruising shutdown. They tentatively agreed to far less money for President Donald Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7 billion wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4 billion, according to congressional aides.

That means 55 miles of new fencing — constructed through existing designs such as metal slats instead of a concrete wall — but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

“We reached an agreement in principle,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., appearing with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers who concurred.

“Our staffs are just working out the details,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

Details won’t be officially released until Tuesday, but the pact came in time to alleviate any threat of a second partial government shutdown this weekend. Aides revealed the details under condition of anonymity because the agreement is tentative.

The agreement also includes increases for new technologies such as advanced screening at border entry point, humanitarian aid sought by Democrats, and additional customs officers.

This weekend, Shelby pulled the plug on the talks over Democratic demands to limit immigrant detentions by federal authorities, frustrating some of his fellow negotiators, but Democrats yielded ground on that issue in a fresh round of talks on Monday.

Asked if Trump would back the deal, Shelby said: “We believe from our dealings with them and the latitude they’ve given us, they will support it. We certainly hope so.”

The border debate got most of the attention, but it’s just part of a major spending measure to fund a bevy of Cabinet departments. A collapse of the negotiations would have imperiled another upcoming round of budget talks that are required to prevent steep spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

Trump traveled to El Paso, Texas, for a campaign-style rally Monday night focused on immigration and border issues. He has been adamant that Congress approve money for a wall along the Mexican border, though he no longer repeats his 2016 mantra that Mexico will pay for it.

Democrats carried more leverage into the talks after besting Trump on the 35-day shutdown but showed flexibility in hopes on winning Trump’s signature. After yielding on border barriers, Democrats focused on reducing funding for detention beds to curb what they see as unnecessarily harsh enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The agreement yielded curbed funding, overall, for ICE detention beds, which Democrats promised would mean the agency would hold fewer detainees than the current average of 49,000 detainees held each day. Democrats claimed the number of beds would be ratcheted down to 40,520.

But a proposal to cap at 16,500 the number of detainees caught in areas away from the border — a limit Democrats say was aimed at preventing overreach by the agency — ran into its own Republican wall.

Democrats dropped the demand in the Monday round of talks, and the mood in the Capitol improved markedly.

Trump met Monday afternoon with top advisers in the Oval Office to discuss the negotiations. He softened his rhetoric on the wall but ratcheted it up when alluding to the detention beds issue.

“We can call it anything. We’ll call it barriers, we’ll call it whatever they want,” Trump said. “But now it turns out not only don’t they want to give us money for a wall, they don’t want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers.”

The recent shutdown left more than 800,000 government workers without paychecks, forced postponement of the State of the Union address and sent Trump’s poll numbers tumbling. As support in his own party began to splinter, Trump surrendered after the shutdown hit 35 days, agreeing to the current temporary reopening without getting money for the wall.

The president’s supporters have suggested that Trump could use executive powers to divert money from the federal budget for wall construction, though he could face challenges in Congress or the courts.

The negotiations hit a rough patch Sunday amid a dispute over curbing ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far.

According to ICE figures, 66 percent of the nearly 159,000 immigrants it reported detaining last year were previously convicted of crimes. Reflecting the two administration’s differing priorities, in 2016 under President Barack Obama, around 110,000 immigrants were detained and 86 percent had criminal records.

Few convictions that immigrants detained last year had on their records were for violent crimes. The most common were for driving while intoxicated, drugs, previous immigration convictions and traffic offenses.

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

Why immigration detention beds are the new front in Trump border wall fight

By Nick Miroff

Democrats opposing President Trump’s push for a border wall have launched an attempt to rein in his administration’s deportation efforts, proposing a cap on the number of detention beds available for immigration arrests inside the United States.

Lawmakers backing the proposal, amid calls by some Democrats to “abolish” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, say they hope the bed limit would force the agency to refocus its attention on violent criminals while backing off immigrants who lack legal status but have not committed serious offenses.

Trump administration officials denounced the proposal on Monday, saying it would hamstring ICE and force the release of thousands of criminals. Matthew Albence, ICE’s deputy director, said he had never seen a proposal for such a cap during his 24-year career.

“It would be extremely damaging to public safety,” Albence said.

But the Democrats’ maneuver is not entirely unprecedented: It takes a little-known funding mechanism long-wielded by border hawks and tries to turn it against them.

Proponents of a more-rigorous approach to immigration enforcement have for more than a decade treated detention bed funding as a way to ensure a minimum number of immigration arrests. By tying funding levels to a specific number of beds — 40,500 per day last year — appropriators were able to establish an informal quota for enforcement activity. Unofficially known as the “bed mandate,” Republican lawmakers typically pushed for as many beds as possible and encouraged ICE officials to fill them with potential deportees.

In their clash with the president over border wall funding, Democrats are trying to negotiate a deal while using the bed number as a ceiling rather than a floor — and a way to put a brake on Trump’s plans to deport “millions.”

The Democrats’ proposal would cap the number of detention beds available for interior enforcement at 16,500 per day. Democrats would also reduce the overall number of available beds to 35,400, far below the 52,000 that the Trump administration has requested.

“ICE has been overspending and overjailing,” said Kerri Talbot, an advocate with Immigration Hub, a group that is backing the Democrats’ proposal. “Democrats want controls on ICE because ICE is out of control.”

President Barack Obama came under criticism during his first term from many Democrats and immigrant advocates when annual deportations reached levels that far exceed current totals. By his second term, ICE had developed a more tailored enforcement approach that targeted serious and violent offenders but gave greater latitude to immigrants who were otherwise law-abiding.

After Trump took office, ICE officials praised him for “taking the shackles off” and giving agents greater discretion to make arrests. Criminal violators remain the agency’s priority, ICE officials say, but they also have sparked a backlash with arrests of immigrants with deep community ties, American children and well-established lives in the United States.

ICE arrests increased 11 percent last year, and the agency carried out 14 percent more deportations. But enforcement efforts have fallen far short of Trump’s post-election promise to immediately remove 2 million to 3 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.

At a time when record numbers of Central American families have been showing up at the border, the number of people held in ICE custody has soared to nearly 50,000 per day, far above the number of beds Congress has funded.

Albence told reporters Monday his agency has paid for the additional beds by making the best use of its resources, but noted that ICE has an obligation to enforce immigration laws. A cap on interior enforcement would ask ICE “to ignore the very laws that Congress has already passed,” he said.

“We cannot have a system whereby immigration enforcement is only effectuated against individuals once they commit a subsequent crime to their immigration violation,” he said. “If they know there is no enforcement arm within the interior of the United States that is out there looking for them, you will continually have that pull factor and you will never secure the border.”

Albence held a White House conference call hours after senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller had a separate call with the president’s surrogates and supporters, telling them the Democrats “want illegals released” and “won’t fund ICE officers,” according to a person who listened to the briefing.

ICE relies on a network of government-run and privately operated detention centers to hold immigration violators in custody while awaiting deportation or a court hearing.

Costs for those beds vary widely, and some county jails in rural areas have converted sections of their facilities into immigration detention centers by offering rock-bottom rates to the federal government.

The number of beds funded annually by Congress is based on the average daily cost for one detainee, so the agency can also hold more people in custody by using less-expensive facilities.

John Sandweg, who was acting director of ICE under President Obama and who held other senior positions at the agency, said the debate showed the necessity of devising more sophisticated ways to assess the flight risk of immigration violators that wouldn’t require locking them up.

Because the U.S. immigration court system prioritizes the cases of those held in custody over those who have been paroled, it can give lawmakers a misleading impression that the only way to ensure someone shows up in court is to keep them jailed.

“Detention is not the key to deportation,” said Sandweg, adding that immigration violators should be treated more like criminal defendants, with a greater range of cost-effective parole options.

But Albence said that such alternatives are ineffective. He said 72 percent of immigrants in ICE custody are subject to “mandatory detention” because of serious criminal records, a pending deportation order or some other administrative restriction on their ability to qualify for parole or GPS monitoring.

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

Trump and Beto O’Rourke Stage Dueling Rallies Near Border

By Reid J. Epstein and Rebecca Ballhaus

President Trump and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke faced off in head-to-head rallies Monday night, staging a political battle 1,000 feet from the southern border in El Paso, Texas.

Mr. Trump, in El Paso’s minor league hockey arena, laced into Mr. O’Rourke, a Democrat who is weighing a 2020 presidential bid, as a campaign loser who “has very little going for himself.”

Mr. O’Rourke, who held a competing rally outdoors across the street, didn’t mention Mr. Trump by name while praising El Paso, his hometown, as a safe city because of its large immigrant population.

“This is a city that has been one of the safest in the country,” he said. “Safe, long before a wall was built here in 2008.”

The rallies provided the first split-screen moment of the nascent 2020 presidential campaign. Mr. O’Rourke last week told Oprah Winfrey he is “thinking about running for president.”

Though an O’Rourke spokesman said police estimated 7,000 people attended the former congressman’s march and rally, Mr. Trump derided his crowd size as “200, 300 people, not too good.”

“I would say that may be the end of his presidential bid,” said Mr. Trump, who spoke to a capacity crowd in the 6,500-seat arena.

Mr. O’Rourke argued against the border wall the president has called for.

“Let’s own this moment now and in the future and show the country there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to the U.S.-Mexico border,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “The eyes of history, the judgment of the people of the future are looking back at this moment to see what we do as we define ourselves and this country.”

Mr. Trump in his remarks played down an apparent deal between congressional negotiators to keep the federal government open past Friday. He said “maybe” there was progress but added of the negotiations: “I don’t want to hear about it.”

“I could have stayed out there and listened,” he said, but he chose to address the crowd instead. “We probably have some good news, but who knows.”

He added: “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”

Mr. Trump’s comments came soon after senior lawmakers said Monday night they had reached an agreement in principle to keep the government open past Friday. to fund border security and avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend. Lawmakers said congressional aides were now working out the details.

Mr. Trump has been seeking $5.7 billion to go toward a border wall. The amount under negotiation is a range of $1.3 billion to $2 billion, which would include funding for barriers and other measures and could mark an increase from the last fiscal year.

As Mr. Trump was still on stage in El Paso, conservatives had already begun attacking the deal lawmakers had reached. Fox News host Sean Hannity, who often advises Mr. Trump, called the agreement a “garbage compromise.”

In an interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News shortly before taking the stage, Mr. Trump said of the deal lawmakers announced they had reached: “They’re talking and we’ll see what happens.”

He added that he had only heard about the agreement “very quickly coming over to see you,” and that he had to decide whether to hear more about the deal or to sit for his interview. He chose the interview.

Mr. Trump is using the El Paso visit to raise more money for his campaign, which along with allied political action committees ended 2018 with $35 million in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The campaign picked up at least part of the bill for more than 50 political rallies over the past two years. A fundraising plea the campaign sent to supporters earlier Monday called that evening’s event “one of the most important rallies EVER” and urged them to join a list of “Official Build the Wall Members.”

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years

By Joshua Partlow , Nick Miroff and David A. Fahrenthold

At his home on the misty slope of Costa Rica’s tallest mountain, Dario Angulo keeps a set of photographs from the years he tended the rolling fairways and clipped greens of a faraway American golf resort.

Angulo learned to drive backhoes and bulldozers, carving water hazards and tee boxes out of former horse pastures in Bedminster, N.J., where a famous New Yorker was building a world-class course. Angulo earned $8 an hour, a fraction of what a state-licensed heavy equipment operator would make, with no benefits or overtime pay. But he stayed seven years on the grounds crew, saving enough for a small piece of land and some cattle back home.

Now the 34-year-old lives with his wife and daughters in a sturdy house built by “Trump money,” as he put it, with a porch to watch the sun go down.

It’s a common story in this small town.

Other former employees of President Trump’s company live nearby: men who once raked the sand traps and pushed mowers through thick heat on Trump’s prized golf property — the “Summer White House,” as aides have called it — where his daughter Ivanka got married and where he wants to build a family cemetery.

“Many of us helped him get what he has today,” Angulo said. “This golf course was built by illegals.”

The Washington Post spoke with 16 men and women from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said that they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew.

The former employees who still live in New Jersey provided pay slips documenting their work at the Bedminster club. They identified friends and relatives in Costa Rica who also were employed at the course. In Costa Rica, The Post located former workers in two regions who provided detailed accounts of their time at the Bedminster property and shared memorabilia they had kept, such as Trump-branded golf tees, as well as photos of themselves at the club.

The brightly painted homes that line the road in Santa Teresa de Cajon, many paid for by wages earned 4,000 miles away, are the fruits of a long-running pipeline of illegal workers to the president’s course, one that carried far more than a few unauthorized employees who slipped through the cracks.

Soon after Trump broke ground at Bedminster in 2002 with a golden shovel, this village emerged as a wellspring of low-paid labor for the private club, which charges tens of thousands of dollars to join. Over the years, dozens of workers from Costa Rica went north to fill jobs as groundskeepers, housekeepers and dishwashers at Bedminster, former employees said. The club hired others from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala who spoke to The Post. Many ended up in the blue-collar borough of Bound Brook, N.J., piling into vans before dawn to head to the course each morning.

Their descriptions of Bedminster’s long reliance on illegal workers are bolstered by a newly obtained police report showing that the club’s head of security was told in 2011 about an employee suspected of using false identification papers — the first known documentation of a warning to the Trump Organization about the legal status of a worker.

Other supervisors received similar flags over the years. A worker from Ecuador said she told Bedminster’s general manager several years ago that she entered the country illegally.

Eric Trump, a son of the president who runs the Trump Organization along with his brother Donald Trump Jr., declined to comment on the accounts by the former workers. Bedminster managers did not return requests for comment.

The company’s recent purge of unauthorized workers from at least five Trump properties contributes to mounting evidence that the president benefited for years from the work of illegal laborers he now vilifies.

It remains unclear what measures Trump or his company took to avoid hiring such workers, even after he launched a White House bid built on the threat he says they pose to Americans.

Amid Trump’s push for a border wall, there has been little public discussion of how U.S. employers — including the president himself — have generated demand for unlawful workers.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Eric Trump has said he and other senior Trump Organization executives did not know the company hired illegal workers, noting that the employees used falsified documents.

“We have tens of thousands of employees across our properties and have very strict hiring practices,” the company said in a statement in December. “If any employee submitted false documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately. We take this issue very seriously.”

Over the years, the network from Costa Rica to Bedminster expanded as workers recruited friends and relatives, some flying to the United States on tourist visas and others paying smugglers thousands of dollars to help them cross the U.S.-Mexico border, former employees said. New hires needed little more than a crudely printed phony green card and a fake Social Security number to land a job, they said.

Some workers described Bedminster as their launchpad to buy homes and start businesses. Others remembered it as grueling labor under bosses who were demanding, even bigoted — and who at times used the workers’ illegal status against them.

After the New York Times in December reported about two housekeepers without legal status who worked at Bedminster, the Trump Organization fired at least 18 employees at five golf courses in New York and New Jersey, part of what Eric Trump has said is “a broad effort” to identify unauthorized workers. An additional undisclosed number were fired from Bedminster, former employees said.

“Our employees are like family, but when presented with fake documents, an employer has little choice,” Eric Trump told The Post last month.

“This situation is not unique to Trump Organization — it is one that all companies face,” he added. “It demonstrates that our immigration system is severely broken and needs to be fixed immediately.”

As president, his father has repeatedly called for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” Trump said during his State of the Union address Tuesday. “Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel.”

But the lax hiring practices at Bedminster and other Trump properties described by former employees — including some who said their supervisors discussed their fake documents — stand in sharp contrast with Trump’s rhetoric.

While other top-tier U.S. golf courses adopted the federal government’s E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential hires, the Trump Organization is only now planning to implement it throughout its properties — even though then-candidate Donald Trump claimed in 2016 he was using it across his company.

Of 12 Trump golf courses in the United States, three of them — in North Carolina, Southern California and Doral, Fla. — are enrolled in the E-Verify system, according to a federal database. Eric Trump said that “a few” other clubs, including a Trump course in the Bronx, use a private vendor to screen new applicants.

The government has offered employers electronic verification services since 1997 and introduced the E-Verify system in 2007 to allow companies to screen new hires online. Nearly 750,000 U.S. employers are enrolled in the program, according to the latest government figures.

ClubCorp, the nation’s largest operator of private golf and country clubs, has used E-Verify for all new hires since 2012, according to company executives.

Trump last year proposed making the E-Verify program mandatory nationwide, calling it one of his immigration policy priorities.

Employers have an obligation to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States and can face a range of civil and criminal penalties for hiring illegal workers, according to immigration lawyers. When an employee submits documents such as a permanent resident card or Social Security card, employers have a responsibility to examine those documents.

If an employer pays payroll taxes for an employee whose name does not match their Social Security number, the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration may send the employer what’s called a “no-match” letter.

Such a letter does not trigger any immigration proceedings or require the employer to fire the employee. Instead, it alerts the employer to ask the employee to resolve the problem by correcting the government record, said Anastasia Tonello, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

In Bound Brook, a majority-Hispanic town where many of the area’s blue-collar workers live, the presence of illegal workers on Trump’s staff was widely known, according to people in the community.

“It was far more systematic than two or three housekeepers,” said Joyce Phipps, executive director of Casa de Esperanza, a legal aid organization for immigrants, who said she has had several clients who were Bedminster employees. “It’s been a very open secret.”

Santa Teresa de Cajon is little more than a ribbon of road set amid coffee farms and cattle pastures on the flank of 12,500-foot Mount Chirripo. Young men zip along on dirt bikes, running errands up and down the mountain.

For those growing up here, as elsewhere in Central America, the risky trip north to the United States can mean seed money for a decent life.

Juan Carlos Zuñiga left Santa Teresa to make that journey in 2002. At the U.S.-Mexico border, he said, he scaled a 10-foot fence and jumped into Nogales, Ariz. He bought his first fake documents in Las Vegas — adopting the name Juan Lara — and hopped on a flight to New Jersey.

Zuñiga had a cousin who worked on a horse farm in genteel Bedminster Township. A nearby property needed workers, his cousin told him.

Trump had purchased the 520-acre Lamington Farm, with its brick manor house and rolling horse pastures. The estate was once owned by John DeLorean, an automobile engineer who invented the namesake sports car.

“This is a special place,” Trump told a crowd of some 100 people gathered in October 2002 for the groundbreaking ceremony, according to the Courier News.

At the time, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that Trump was lavishing money on the project, “flying in masons, carpenters, landscapers and bulldozer operators from around the world and housing them on-site.”

Some of the first Costa Ricans hired to build Trump National Golf Club Bedminster — Zuñiga, Angulo, and their Santa Teresa neighbor Abel Mora, among others — remember it as punishing work. They labored from dawn until late evening, seven days a week, raking and hauling mountains of earth moved by heavy machinery and shaping it into golf holes.

“It was rake, rake, rake, the whole day,” Zuñiga said.

There was also seeding, watering, mowing, building the sand traps and driving bulldozers, mini-excavators and loaders — all while they earned about $10 an hour or less, they said.

Around that time, a licensed heavy equipment operator in central New Jersey would have received an average of $51 to $55 per hour in wages and benefits, according to union officials at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 in the nearby town of Springfield.

As the golf course took shape, more hands were needed. Bosses told Zuñiga and his friends to bring workers. The town of Santa Teresa answered the call.

Mariano Quesada, an early greenskeeper at the club from the village, rented out a duplex in Bound Brook to several other Costa Ricans. His wife, Angela, said she would wake up before dawn to cook breakfasts and lunches for as many as 22 people on the Bedminster maintenance staff.

The laborers were coming not only from Santa Teresa de Cajon, but also from other parts of Costa Rica and around Latin America. Before long, so many were working on the course — more than 100, by workers’ estimates — that Zuñiga’s cousin began charging workers for rides to Bedminster. He had two vans in circulation morning and night. When that wasn’t enough, he bought a used school bus, Zuñiga said.

“For me, moving to the U.S. wasn’t a very drastic change,” said Mauricio Garro, 36, who worked in maintenance at the golf course for five years until he returned to Santa Teresa in 2010. “My whole town practically lived there.”

To get a job at Trump National, the Costa Ricans — as well as Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Mexicans who were employed by the club — would purchase fake green cards and Social Security numbers in Bound Brook and neighboring towns.

These were easy to come by. Sandra Diaz, a housekeeper from Poas de Aserri, Costa Rica, got photos taken at Walgreens and paid a friend of hers $50 for fake papers. Ana Vasquez, an immigrant from El Salvador who bused tables in the club’s restaurant, went to neighboring Plainfield to buy her phony Social Security card alias, “Yohana Pineda.”

Before going to her interview, Vasquez asked a friend if the club would hire people who used fake documents.

“I thought, ‘This is a place with a very famous owner,’ ” she recalled. “My friend said there was nothing to worry about. She told me, ‘They don’t care.’ ”

Several former workers said that managers in housekeeping and maintenance were well aware their documents were fraudulent — but hired them anyway. Housekeeper Gilberta Dominguez said her manager filled out her application in 2016 because she didn’t speak English.

“And I said, ‘Listen, we don’t have good papers,’ ” Dominguez, of Oaxaca, Mexico, recalled telling her manager. “She said, ‘It doesn’t matter; don’t talk about that.’ ”

In 2005, Zuñiga said, he decided that it was better to be working at Bedminster under his own name in case he got hurt on the job. He purchased new fake documents and turned those in to his supervisors. Juan Lara was suddenly Juan Carlos Zuñiga. His bosses didn’t flinch, he said.

“They were making jokes about the Social Security cards in the office, because they looked so fake,” he recalled. “They would joke that my name was Juan Lara at the beginning.”

In 2011, Hank Protinsky, then the club’s head of security, was warned by local police that an employee could be using fake papers, according to a police report obtained by The Post through a public records request.

The worker’s status was discovered when the Bedminster Township Police Department investigated a hit-and-run accident on the course and questioned a man identified as the driver: a club employee working under the name Reinaldo Villareal.

When Officer Thomas Polito spoke to Villareal, he “told me that his real name was Fredis Otero and that he was working under a false name and social security numbers,” Polito wrote.

Otero, a native of Colombia, told police that he had arrived in the United States as a cabin steward on a cruise ship and walked off the ship when it docked in Miami in 2010. He obtained a three-month vacation visa, then bought a fake Social Security card and U.S. permanent resident card and used them to get hired at Trump’s course, according to the report.

Polito wrote in the police report that he told Protinsky his employee “may be using a false name and government documentation.”

The head of security gave the police officer a copy of Villareal’s employment application, which showed that while his resident card listed his first name as “Reynaldo,” his application spelled it “Reinaldo,” the report said.

Police arrested Otero and contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about his case. ICE confirmed Friday that it took custody of Otero and that he left the United States in August 2011.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. Protinsky — who has since left the course — declined to comment.

Other former workers said their jobs at Bedminster, along with Trump’s popularity with local law enforcement agencies, afforded them a degree of protection despite their immigration status.

One former kitchen staffer from Ecuador still carries an ID card with her name and photo that says she is a “supporter” of a foundation that provides scholarships to the children of New Jersey State Police. She said she got the card at a golf tournament the charity held at Bedminster. The foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

At times, rifts between legal employees and those without papers were occasionally laid bare in front of the managers.

Emma Torres, a housekeeper from Ecuador, said that in mid-2015, she complained to the club’s general manager, David Schutzenhofer, about a supervisor who blocked her from taking a lunch break and frequently berated her for not speaking English.

During the meeting, she said Schutzenhofer asked her if she was going to file a complaint with the state labor department. Torres told him that would be impossible.

“I told him no, because I didn’t have papers,” she said.

Trump had recently launched his presidential campaign, vowing to build a border wall. Torres said she asked Schutzenhofer why Trump spoke so harshly about immigrants.

“This is just politics,” he said.

Torres stayed at the club but was reassigned to the kitchen.

The Post contacted Schutzenhofer and two dozen current and former managers at Bedminster — including those identified by the workers as their supervisors — and asked if they were aware that the club employed people without legal status. Most either declined to comment or did not respond.

One former groundskeeping manager responded only by sending The Post an animated image of Trump saying, “I have great relationships with the Mexican people.”

Another former manager, who confirmed working closely with both Zuñiga and Garro, said, “I think everyone was in the dark. We all assumed they were legal.” That manager spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relationships in the golf industry.

Ed Russo, an environmental consultant who worked on the Bedminster project and was remembered by one of the Costa Ricans as a supervisor, declined to address whether he was aware illegal workers were hired for the project.

“Are you documented?” Russo asked a reporter. “You’re not going to get anything from me.”

Over the years, Trump family members have emphasized their deep involvement in properties that carry their name.

“People think of Trump as being just a face, just a brand,” Eric Trump said in a 2011 promotional video about the company’s golf courses. “We design every single tee, every fairway. . . . We pick the carpets. We pick the chandeliers. There is not one element of these clubhouses which we don’t know about it. You name it — we’re involved.”

Donald Trump himself was an imperious but mostly distant figure for the illegal workers, who in the early years at Bedminster would be told to make themselves scarce when “the big boss” would arrive by helicopter.

Groundskeepers would stay inside a converted horse barn used to store tools and machinery or go into the woods to wait, they said.

“When he arrived, we had to hide,” said Alan Mora, a former greenskeeper who helped build the driving range and who now works as a security guard at a resort hotel in Santa Teresa. “We had to be invisible.”

On days Trump dined in the club’s restaurant, Vasquez said she and five other Spanish-speaking women working illegally at the club in 2004 and 2005 were sent upstairs by their supervisor to fold napkins and buff the glassware, and kept out of sight.

“They would tell us it was because the restaurant was hosting an important event, and only the workers who could speak English could be there,” she said.

Trump was also known for his occasional largesse. The housekeepers who cleaned his villa noted neat stacks of $20, $50 and $100 bills on his bedside table, which Trump would dole out as tips as he golfed or strolled the grounds. He would sometimes warmly greet employees and compliment them as he inspected their work.

Trump’s election did not bring any added scrutiny to his workers’ immigration status, former employees said. Torres said superiors kept her name and those of other workers without legal status off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before a Trump visit to the club in 2016.

Another former employee who arrived in the United States in 2018 on a tourist visa and worked as a groundskeeper said his manager only asked for his nationality in preparation for a Trump visit. He told him that he was from Costa Rica.

Groundskeepers were given a general warning not to bring drugs, weapons or explosives to work, a request he found amusing.

“It was very light security, very normal,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to return to the United States. “Here in Costa Rica, to enter someone’s home, they would ask for more. They want you to identify yourself. Over there, that didn’t happen.”

The long-standing presence of unauthorized workers at Bedminster created a culture in which employees were stratified by immigration status and English-language proficiency, former employees said.

At the top were the professional staff and senior managers who spoke little or no Spanish. Below them were mid-level supervisors who were often immigrants themselves and able to converse in both languages.

Many without legal status told The Post they did not receive health benefits, while they heard other colleagues did.

Groundskeepers would work through storms, snow and glaring sun with little protection.

One rainy day in 2007, Zuñiga said, he and other greenskeepers staged a one-day strike, refusing to leave a maintenance building until supervisors agreed to pay them for sick days.

The maintenance manager eventually conceded and offered rain jackets to the greenskeepers. Some of the longer-serving staff members were offered health insurance, too.

“This was the first protest by the Hispanics,” Zuñiga said.

Franklin Mora, who quit after a year on the grounds crew, said that his manager would mock his limited English and spoke harshly to the Hispanic employees. The manager required them to set their mowers at a pace that required them to jog to keep up in a fashion he viewed as humiliating.

“They treated us like slaves,” he said.

The experience left Mora so bitter he said he wouldn’t return to the United States even as a tourist.

Still, others remain hopeful they will get to go back to Bedminster as part of a seasonal workforce that swells every spring.

In Santa Teresa de Cajon, some former Trump workers recall their New Jersey years as a rite of passage — not unlike military service or leaving home for college. They learned to cook their own meals, clean up after themselves and endure freezing winters and homesickness.

“The golf course is the best thing that has happened in my life,” said Angulo, who now earns his living raising cattle.

He said he didn’t care much for Bound Brook or other U.S. cities he visited, but he loved tending to the golf course and dreams of going back one day to see the place “that taught me how to work hard.”

This time, he said, he would like to go as a tourist.

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