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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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Friday, July 10, 2020

Trump Signs Executive Order as He Courts Hispanic Voters

Trump Signs Executive Order as He Courts Hispanic Voters
by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that creates an advisory commission tasked with improving Hispanic Americans' access to economic and educational opportunities, a push that comes as the president hopes to win a bigger share of the Latino vote than he did four years ago.
The commission has broad marching orders to foster school choice efforts and promote public-private partnerships in Hispanic-American communities.
“You are a treasure,” Trump told a friendly crowd of current and former Hispanic elected officials, business leaders and others who were on hand for the Rose Garden signing of the order. “The Hispanic Americans and the Hispanic American community is a treasure.”
Trump is walking a tightrope in his attempt to court Latino voters ahead of the November election while also courting his base supporters by underscoring his administration's efforts to stem illegal immigration on the southern border.

In recent days, Trump has showcased progress his administration has made in building more wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and vowed to renew his effort to end legal protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Supreme Court last month ruled that the administration improperly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017.
But at the same time, White House officials and campaign surrogates are making a pitch to Hispanic voters that Trump built a strong economy prior to the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic, one that saw the unemployment rate for Hispanics reach all-time lows.
In 2016, Trump won the votes of about 3 in 10 Latino voters, and he faces strong economic headwinds as he tries to improve his standing.
Overall, 66% of Hispanic Americans and 53% of Black Americans say they’ve experienced some form of household income loss, including layoffs, unpaid time off and cuts in hours or pay, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.. Forty-two percent of white Americans say the same. Thirty-four percent of Hispanics, 29% of African Americans and 20% of white Americans said someone in their household has been laid off.
Just 26% of Latino Americans say they approve of Trump, according to recent Gallup polling. Latinos’ support for Trump has been steady over the course of his presidency, much like Trump’s approval rating overall.

Trump, in his Rose Garden remarks, emphasized his support for charter schools;, noting that one in three students who attend U.S. charters are Hispanic. Charters are publicly funded but privately run, and have grown in popularity around the country since their inception more than 25 years ago. Advocates say their relative independence –- they face fewer instructional and bureaucratic regulations, and are largely free from collective bargaining -– allows educators to innovate.
But teacher unions around the country have been pressing for local and federal lawmakers to stem the proliferation of charters, which they say are siphoning funding from traditional public schools.
“As long as I’m president I will never let your charter schools be taken away from you,” Trump said.
___
Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.
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More Migrants Caught Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border Despite Pandemic Restrictions

More Migrants Caught Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border Despite Pandemic Restrictions
by Reuters

WASHINGTON — U.S. Border Patrol detained roughly 30,000 migrants attempting to cross the southwest border with Mexico in June, a 41% increase from the previous month, even as sweeping coronavirus-related border restrictions instituted by President Donald Trump remain in place.
Roughly nine in 10 of those caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in June were single adults, according to statistics released on Thursday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The number of single adults from Mexico detained at the border is on pace to rise this year, a shift away from arrests of mostly Central American families and unaccompanied children in 2019.
Trump, a Republican, faces reelection on Nov. 3 and has made his efforts to restrict illegal immigration - including the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border - a focus of his 2020 campaign. His presumptive Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, would end the diversion of billions of dollars in military funding for wall construction.

As the coronavirus spread across the United States in March, the Trump administration restricted non-essential travel across the borders with Mexico and Canada to contain the disease. At the same time, the administration put in place health-focused rules that allowed U.S. border authorities to rapidly expel migrants caught trying to cross illegally, arguing they could bring the virus into the United States.
The number of migrants caught by Border Patrol - particularly families and unaccompanied children - plummeted in April as the new measures went into effect and countries in the region initiated lockdowns.
Despite gradual increases seen both in May and June, the crossings still remain far below last year, when arrests peaked in May at 133,000.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington D.C.; Editing by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Daniel Wallis)

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California Sues Trump Administration Over New Foreign Student Rules

California Sues Trump Administration Over New Foreign Student Rules
by Reuters

WASHINGTON — California's attorney general will file a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to block a Trump administration immigration rule that could force tens of thousands of international students to leave the United States if their schools hold all classes online amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the new rules could force international students to put themselves or others at risk by attending classes in person.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said on Monday it would not allow holders of certain student visas to remain in the country if their school courses were fully online for the fall, an announcement that blindsided academic institutions and sent them scrambling to review their policies.
Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit over the new rules on Wednesday, arguing the new rules did not appear to take the health of students and faculty into consideration and would cause chaos at universities and colleges around the country.

The University of California system also said on Wednesday that it planned to sue over the new policy.
California had nearly 162,000 international students in 2019, according to a report by the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP

Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP
by Alexander Bolton


Republican lawmakers say they have little to no idea what President Trump’s agenda would be if he wins a second term, making it difficult for GOP candidates to coordinate campaign messages ahead of November.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last year he wanted the 2020 election to be a referendum on socialism, but instead it’s turning into a referendum on Trump, a scenario that GOP senators wanted to avoid.
Congressional Republicans say Trump spends too much time going after critics on Twitter and not enough time articulating his vision for a possible second term. They would prefer more contrasts between their party and Democrats on issues such as taxes and regulation — areas they think could be part of a winning formula in the fall.
Instead, Republican senators say there has been little discussion about what Trump’s second term would look like, other than the assumption he might have a chance to appoint another Supreme Court justice and fill other judicial vacancies.
Asked if he knew what Trump’s agenda would be if he wins reelection, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, “Only on the Supreme Court.”
“That’s the only discussion we’ve had,” Grassley said. “The president, he’s going to put out a new list, including some of the people that are already on the list, for the Supreme Court.”
“I assume we’re going to be dealing with a U.K.-U.S. free trade agreement, Kenya-U.S. free trade agreement,” he added.
Grassley predicted Trump is “going to” speak more about his agenda in the coming months.
Another GOP senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there’s been little direction from the White House about its agenda in the event of a second term.
Asked if the president has described to Republican senators his agenda for after the election, the senator said, “No.”
The senator said that needs to change in order to give Republicans a better chance of keeping control of the White House and Senate.
“Candidates win or lose in part because of what they describe will happen if they’re elected. There are lots of reasons why people vote for or against people. One of the components is ‘If I’m elected, this is what you can expect,’ ” the senator said, adding that “there should be” a clear explanation of the president’s agenda.
That lack of clarity was on display when Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Trump in a recent interview about his plans for a second term. In response, Trump gave a lengthy answer that was short on specifics.  
When Hannity asked what his priorities would be for a second term, Trump talked generally about how “the word experience is a very important word” and how he didn’t know much about Washington when he was elected. He then transitioned to slamming his former national security adviser John Bolton as “an idiot” and “a sick guy.”
The lack of an agenda just four months ahead of Election Day sparked a shower of criticisms and left GOP lawmakers shaking their heads.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) summarized his advice to Trump after the Hannity interview by saying, “Your agenda is to finish the job you started in your first term. Close the deal on fixing a broken immigration system, building a wall, and going to merit-based immigration. More judges. Keep the military strong. Energy independence, not just for this generation but every generation.”
Graham said Trump should also tout plans to deal with the debt and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.
“When that question is asked, I would like the president to be able to go back to what he’s done in his first term, say, ‘I’m going to finish the job and the new priority will be the debt,’ ” he added.
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) said, “The president has, if he wants to make the argument, has a really good record to talk about.”
He said if the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus shutdown and related job losses, Trump can tout the policies that coincided with the lowest national unemployment rate on record before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Republicans think Trump can help make up ground in the polls, which show him lagging former Vice President Joe Biden, by highlighting their different visions on the economy and taxes.
Biden unveiled a tax plan in December that would raise taxes on wealthy individuals, families and corporations, bringing in $3.4 trillion over a decade. Republicans see that as a potential campaign issue.
But what’s frustrating to GOP senators is that those kinds of policy differences are being lost amid the daily controversies that surround Trump, such as his threat to veto the annual defense policy bill over a provision that would rename a handful of military bases named after Confederate generals.
“There’s a policy debate to be held there that I think the president can win with the American people. So he’s got to get on that message, and hopefully they will,” Thune said.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of Trump’s most loyal allies, said that “it’s always helpful” for a candidate to run on an agenda.
“From my standpoint, if I were him, I’d be pointing out what he did in the first term that was so successful about reviving a pretty slow-growth economy to attain record heights, record low levels of unemployment,” he said. “We’re going to need that exact same formulation to pull us out of COVID.”
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At Mt. Rushmore and the White House, Trump Updates ‘American Carnage’ Message for 2020

At Mt. Rushmore and the White House, Trump Updates ‘American Carnage’ Message for 2020
by Annie Karni & Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — President Trump used the spotlight of the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the “new far-left fascism.”
In a speech at the White House on Saturday evening and an address in front of Mount Rushmore on Friday night, Mr. Trump promoted a version of the “American carnage” vision for the country that he laid out during his inaugural address — updated to include an ominous depiction of the recent protests over racial justice.
In doing so, he signaled even more clearly that he would exploit race and cultural flash points to stoke fear among his base of white supporters in an effort to win re-election. As he has done in the past, he resorted on Friday to exaggerated, apocalyptic language in broadly tarring the nationwide protests against entrenched racism and police brutality, saying that “angry mobs” sought to “unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities” and that those seeking to deface monuments want to “end America.”
Mr. Trump followed up with his remarks on Saturday from the South Lawn of the White House, which sounded more like a campaign rally, and repeated the themes from the previous evening.

“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” Mr. Trump said, claiming that protesters — who have won broad public support, including from corporate America — were “not interested in justice or healing.”
Mr. Trump cast himself as the heir to “American heroes” who defeated Nazis, fascists, communists and terrorists, all but drawing a direct line from such enemies to his domestic critics.
“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said.
Speaking to an audience that included front-line workers like doctors and nurses fighting the coronavirus, Mr. Trump boasted about his administration’s response, even as more than 129,000 Americans have died and cases are surging in parts of the country whose reopening he had cheered on.
Local officials had urged the White House to cancel the celebration, citing public health concerns, and few on the White House South Lawn were wearing masks, a safety precaution Mr. Trump and senior members of his administration have consistently played down.

The president repeated his false claim that an abundance of testing made the country’s cases look worse than they were because they “show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.” And he raised expectations for a vaccine “long before the end of the year.” It was his latest attempt to dismiss widespread criticism of his administration’s slow and ineffective response to the virus.
His remarks at Rushmore, and repeated from the grounds of the White House, were a reflection of his dire political standing as he nears the end of his first term in office. Mr. Trump is trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in national and battleground polls; lacks a booming economy or a positive message to campaign on as he tries to assign blame elsewhere for the spread of the coronavirus; and is leaning on culture wars instead to buoy his base of white supporters.
Sticking closely to the remarks on his teleprompter for both sets of remarks, with none of the joking and sarcastic asides that pepper his rally remarks, Mr. Trump delivered his speeches in a grim monotone that he often employs when reading from a script. His address had little of the celebration and joyfulness that presidents typically try to convey on the Fourth of July.
The speeches were drafted for Mr. Trump by his regular team of writers in the West Wing, who are led by Stephen Miller. Campaign officials said Saturday that they thought the speeches struck the right note for the moment.
Campaign officials have repeatedly said they expect a backlash against the progressive “cancel culture” movement to help the president’s standing with white suburban female voters, who they believe to be frightened by images of chaos in the city streets. But that backlash has yet to reveal itself in polls: A recent New York Times/Siena College survey showed that 75 percent of moderates and even 53 percent of somewhat conservative voters have a favorable opinion of Black Lives Matter.
Central to Mr. Trump’s approach, however, is a belief he and some of his advisers share that voters are misleading pollsters about their support for the nationwide protests, several allies said. As he has sought to present himself as the candidate of law and order, Mr. Trump has rejected suggestions from some aides who have urged him to do more to address racism in America, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis.
Instead, he has intensified his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a post last week on Twitter, he called the words Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” as he criticized plans by the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, to paint the phrase on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower.

And in both speeches, Mr. Trump promoted an executive order he issued late Friday directing a task force to design and construct a statuary park honoring “American heroes,” an apparent repudiation of recent acts by anti-racism protesters who destroyed or defaced national monuments.
Though Mr. Trump avoided references in both speeches to the symbols of the Confederacy that have been a target of many protests, referring instead to monuments of America’s “founders,” he has in the past defended statues honoring Confederate soldiers as “beautiful.”
The searing tone he has adopted is in large part aimed at consolidating support within his own party. Private Republican polling indicates the president is slipping in red states, in large part because conservative-leaning voters are unsettled.
“Trump needs — or thinks he needs — fear of ‘the other’ to motivate his base and create enthusiasm,” said Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster. “Right now, people are fearful of Covid-19, but that is inconvenient for Trump, so he is trying to kick up fear about something he thinks will benefit his re-election: angry mobs of leftists tearing down American history.”
Ms. Matthews noted that his rhetoric does little more than solidify the voters who were already likely to return to his corner. “He has no interest at all in expanding his base or even pulling back in those who have departed,” she said.
Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that past presidents have typically sought to defuse cultural battles, “giving people this amorphous kind of middle where they can continue to live.” Mr. Trump, however, is unlike any of his predecessors.
“Donald Trump does not give you that choice — you are either with him or against him,” said Mr. Murray, whose latest survey this week showed Mr. Biden leading 53 percent to 41 percent. “He is forcing people to take sides. And when they take sides, more of them are moving to the other side.”

In Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump also faces a centrist opponent who is not easily branded as a radical liberal, but rather one who is seen as a palatable alternative by some older voters and Republicans in a way that Hillary Clinton was not. Mr. Biden, for instance, has said he does not support defunding the police, and has made careful distinctions between tearing down monuments to the country’s founding fathers and those commemorating Confederate leaders.
That hasn’t stopped the Trump campaign from claiming that in the black-and-white world it wants to present to voters in November, Mr. Biden is on the side of violent looters. “The first instinct of Joe Biden and his party is to agree with the agitators that there is something fundamentally wrong with America and that there always has been,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said.
In some ways, the divisive place that Mr. Trump has landed on Independence Day is where he has always felt most comfortable campaigning. “He’s totally opportunistic,” said William Kristol, the conservative writer and prominent “Never Trump” Republican.
He noted that Mr. Trump had never weighed in on the immigration debate before he made building a wall along the Mexican border the signature issue of his 2016 presidential campaign because he saw that it worked. “If you don’t care about damaging the country and abandoned normal guardrails of presidential discourse,” Mr. Kristol said, “you just keep trying things and hope something sticks.”
Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Washington, and Shane Goldmacher from New York.

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Democrats, Biden Look to Accelerate Southern Political Shift

Democrats, Biden Look to Accelerate Southern Political Shift
by The Associated Press

ATLANTA — From Mississippi retiring its state flag to local governments removing Confederate statues from public spaces, a bipartisan push across the South is chipping away at reminders of the Civil War and Jim Crow segregation.
Now, during a national reckoning on racism, Democratic Party leaders want those symbolic changes to become part of a fundamental shift at the ballot box.
Many Southern electorates are getting younger, less white and more urban, and thus less likely to embrace President Donald Trump’s white identity politics. Southern Democrats are pairing a demographically diverse slate of candidates for state and congressional offices with presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, a 77-year-old white man they believe can appeal to what remains perhaps the nation’s most culturally conservative region.
“There’s so much opportunity for everyone in this region,” said Jaime Harrison, Democratic challenger to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and a 44-year-old Black man.

Decades of economic development have coaxed new residents to the area. That includes white people from other parts of the country, Black families returning generations after the Great Migration north during the lynching and segregation era, and a growing Latino population. Harrison noted that even younger native Southerners, Black and white, are less wed to hard-partisan identities than their parents and grandparents were.
“Sometimes we get held back by leadership that’s still anchored in old ways,” Harrison said. But “all of these changes are starting to move the dynamics in so many communities. … That’s not to say we’re forgetting our past. But it won’t be the thing that’s dragging us back.”
The November elections will determine the extent of the change, with competitive races in the South affecting the presidency, U.S. Senate control and the balance of power in statehouses from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Austin, Texas.
Democratic victories would redefine policy fights over expanding health insurance access and overhauling criminal justice procedures, among other matters. The general election is also critical because voters will elect the state lawmakers who will draw legislative and congressional boundaries after the 2020 census.
Republicans, for the most part, aren’t as quick as Democrats to frame 2020 as a redefining year. Still, they acknowledge obvious shifts that began with suburban growth in northern Virginia and extended southward down the coastline and westward to Texas.

“North Carolina, Georgia, Texas – these are becoming real two-party states,” said Republican pollster Brent Buchanan, whose firm, Cygnal, aides GOP campaigns across the country.
Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, talks eagerly of “an expanded map” that puts North Carolina and Florida in the same toss-up category as the Great Lakes states that sent Trump to the White House. Georgia and Texas, she adds, will be tighter than they’ve been in decades.
Buchanan said GOP-run state House chambers in Georgia and Texas are up for grabs, as are Republican U.S. Senate seats in North Carolina, Georgia and perhaps Texas. Senate contests in South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi could be much closer than typical statewide races in those Deep South states.
“Georgia and the South are changing faster than most people think,” said DuBose Porter, a former Georgia lawmaker and state party chair. “That was happening before Trump,” Porter said, but the president “has accelerated it.”
True two-party states in the Old Confederacy — at least beyond Florida and Virginia and occasionally North Carolina — would be relatively newfound. For generations after post-Civil War Reconstruction, the “Solid South” was uniformly Democratic, white voters' visceral rejection of President Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. Beginning with the 1960s civil rights movement, most whites drifted to Republicans. That trend peaked during Democrat Barack Obama’s two terms as the first Black president. More than party identity, the common controlling force was white cultural conservatism.
“Voters align first on principles, then on policy,” Buchanan said.
Democrats see Biden as a party leader who can put a metro-based coalition over the top by mitigating margins beyond big cities and suburbs. “Biden is a safe vessel for these (white) voters who might have been OK with Trump when everything’s going well, but now are just looking for a stable leader who’ll do the right thing,” said Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster based in Alabama and whose firm is aligned with Biden's campaign.
If Biden manages the feat, it would bridge the Southern appeals of the last three Democratic presidents. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were native Southerners who, with whiter, less urban electorates, attracted white moderates and Black voters. Carter, for example, styled himself a racial progressive, yet courted Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a former segregationist, in the 1976 primary. Carter won across the South.

Clinton, who won several Southern states in 1992, campaigned seamlessly among Black voters yet made a show of his death penalty support by traveling back to Arkansas during the campaign for the execution of a Black inmate. Obama won North Carolina and Virginia in 2008, leaning more heavily on diverse cities and battleground suburbs.
Biden, putting his needle-threading attempt on display, has noted his list of potential running mates includes “several” Black women. He speaks about centuries of injustice and systemic inequalities, most recently using an Independence Day address to describe American history as a “constant push and pull between two parts of our character, the idea that all men and women — all people — are created equal and the racism that has torn us apart.”
But with civil unrest spurred by the latest police violence against Black Americans, Biden has sought a middle ground, making clear he opposes progressives' calls to “defund the police.”
Confederate symbols, Biden has argued, should come down, but ideally not through mob action, and he’s drawn distinctions between memorials to traitorous Confederates and those to national founders who owned slaves, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Their monuments, Biden said, should be protected.
McCrary said that approach, with Biden's center-left positioning on policy, should prevent a white backlash that benefits Trump. Buchanan argued it's an open question of what uneasy white Southerners choose. “Those voters are still scared about the direction of their country,” he said.
In South Carolina, Harrison sees progress, even as more tangible policy fights remain.
“Almost all of my life, the Confederate flag flew over the state Capitol dome or on the grounds of the Statehouse,” Harrison said. “For my sons, they will have no memory of that.”

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Immigration Officers Face Furloughs as Visa Applications Plunge

Immigration Officers Face Furloughs as Visa Applications Plunge
by Zolan Kanno-Youngs & Emily Cochrane

WASHINGTON — Three years of restrictive and sometimes draconian immigration policies have left families separated, applicants for visas stranded and would-be immigrants looking for alternative destinations.
Now a new group is facing uncertainty, driven in part by the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s immigration policies: thousands of employees of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Nearly 70 percent of the agency faces furloughs because the immigration processing fees that fund it have plummeted.
Joseph Edlow, the deputy director for policy of the agency, which screens people seeking immigration relief and protection, has told his approximately 19,000 employees that the decline in revenue from fees attached to immigration and visa applications during the pandemic has forced the agency to turn to Congress for an emergency infusion of $1.2 billion.

But Democrats and Republicans said the administration had yet to provide sufficient information about the funding request, and Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing to furlough nearly 13,400 employees by Aug. 3.
The cause of the budget crunch is in dispute.
Some agency employees and members of Congress blame Mr. Trump’s restrictive policies, which have dried up fee revenue by adding to delays and backlogs of visa applications.
Top administration officials point to the pandemic. The agency has seen a 50 percent drop in fees from applications since March.
Regardless of cause, the effect is real. Russell T. Vought, the acting White House budget director, told lawmakers the agency’s fee receipts could fall by more than 60 percent by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Of the agency’s $4.8 billion budget, 97 percent comes from such fees.
“This feels like the culmination of three and a half years of policy change and policy shifts, one after another in terms of restricting immigration,” said Jason Marks, a steward for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, which represents some Citizenship and Immigration Services employees.

Mr. Marks, who also works as an asylum training officer, recently received a furlough notice.
In more than a dozen interviews, officers with the agency and members of Congress said the furloughs would not just harm the personal lives of the employees and worsen morale in the agency. They will also clog the legal immigration system.
“U.S.C.I.S. operations heavily rely on the revenue raised from fees from applicants and petitioners,” Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a separate letter supporting the emergency funding request. “In many ways, U.S.C.I.S. operates more like a traditional business rather than a government agency funded entirely by appropriations.”
Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have told Congress they would repay the funds to the Treasury Department by adding a 10 percent surcharge on applications filed, despite the fact that the pandemic has drastically slowed such processing.
Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill said they needed a formal request for the emergency aid that included how the money would be spent.
“O.M.B. has not been forthcoming with information right now,” said Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, the top Democrat responsible for overseeing immigration and homeland security funding.
“We’re also asking for some accountability,” she said, adding that the priority should be to avoid layoffs.
Last year, when Homeland Security Department officials pressed Congress for $4.6 billion in emergency border funds, some Democrats pushed back out of concern that the money would contribute to immigration enforcement. Those suspicions only increased after a report last month from the Government Accountability Office found that Customs and Border Protection had spent $112 million of funds meant for food and medicine on all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and boats.

“Congress is willing to work with the administration, but we can’t write a blank check for them to continue operating U.S.C.I.S. in a way that is running our legal immigration system into the ground,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Democrats are not alone in saying they need more from the administration.
“If they really want it, they’re going to have to formally ask for it,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Even Danielle Spooner, the president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 119, the union that represents more than 14,100 U.S.C.I.S. employees, agreed that any of the funding should come with additional oversight.
Robert Kuhlman, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration had provided Congress with the appropriate request to secure the funds. “Our hope is that congressional Democrats accept our proposal to keep the lights on,” he said.
A senior homeland security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue said the budget office needed to provide Congress with a formal request for the funds to be secured.
Both Democrats and Republicans said that they were focused on preventing the furloughs and that it was possible to include additional aid into another coronavirus relief package.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the top Republican overseeing homeland security spending, said adding aid to another coronavirus relief package could be one way to support the agency, since the pandemic had contributed to the collapse of revenue.

“We want to prevent those layoffs,” she said on Wednesday.
Michael Knowles, the president of the A.F.G.E. Local 1924, said the employees he represented felt caught in the middle.
“You’ve got people who don’t like our administration’s policies saying, ‘Why should we give more money to fund an agency that’s being used to fund things like M.P.P.?’” Mr. Knowles said, referring to the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, which forces migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases for asylum in the United States are processed. “And then on the other hand, you’ve got people on the right wing who don’t want to fund the agency saying, ‘Why would we fund an agency who’s been giving away the key to America for years?’”
Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended most of its activities on March 18 as states imposed social-distancing measures, delaying citizenship ceremonies for thousands of potential immigrants.
But the agency’s bleak finances cannot be attributed to just the pandemic, said Cristobal Ramón, the senior immigration policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist research organization in Washington. The administration has also increased vetting of applications, banned travel from many countries and instituted other policies that have deterred would-be immigrants, foreign students, travelers and temporary workers.
One example is the “public charge” rule the administration put in place this year that denied immigrants green cards if they were deemed likely to use government benefit programs like food stamps or subsidized housing. Immigration advocates have said the policy has deterred many people from applying for legal permanent residence.
Citizenship and Immigration Services had forecast financial troubles long before the pandemic when it proposed raising citizenship fees for most by more than 60 percent last November.
“I think you will see a lot of U.S.C.I.S. employees questioning whether they want to be working there in the long term,” Mr. Ramón said. “It’s hard to wake up every morning and arrive at the office not knowing what your job is going to entail because the orders given by senior-level leadership change day to day.”

For some, that exodus has already begun. Jillian Morgan joined the agency in January 2017 to work in refugee processing but left in May after many of her colleagues had been directed to carry out policies that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico or deported them to Central America.
“I joined the government to be a protection officer,” she said. But with her new assignments, “there was a high chance we would place someone in danger, and I was not comfortable being a part of that.”
Jessica Collins, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, pointed to a 2019 report that showed job satisfaction at the agency was rated at 75 percent, based on a survey answered by two-thirds of the work force.
Ms. Collins also provided a statement from Mr. Edlow, the deputy director, that stressed the dire immediate future those employees now face.
“This week, thousands of dedicated public servants received possible furlough notices, causing concern for their livelihood during these challenging times,” Mr. Edlow said. “The last thing we want is for Congress to play politics with our work force.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs is the homeland security correspondent, based in Washington. He covers the Department of Homeland Security, immigration, border issues, transnational crime and the federal government's response to national emergencies and security threats. @KannoYoungs
Emily Cochrane is a reporter in the Washington bureau, covering Congress. She was raised in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida. @ESCochrane 

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