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 14, 2020

Trump Administration Taking $3.8 Billion More From Military for Mexico Border Wall

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department sent Congress a request to shift nearly $4 billion from the military budget to pay for a wall on the border with Mexico, a central promise of President Donald Trump's campaign for the White House four years ago and bid this year for a second term.
Lawmakers said they received a request on Thursday to reprogram more than $3.8 billion from funding for the National Guard and weapons programs, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with Democrats.
Democratic aides said $1.5 billion would come from the National Guard, and the rest from funds for procurement, including the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet program, Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft, Boeing Co P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and shipbuilding.
Congressional Democrats, who opposed Trump's past diversion of billions of dollars in military spending to the border wall project, said the decision was dangerous and misguided.

"President Trump is once again disrespecting the separation of powers and endangering our security by raiding military resources to pay for his wasteful border wall," Democratic Representatives Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and Pete Visclosky, chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said in a statement.
The criticism was bipartisan.
The top Republican on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Representative Mac Thornberry, said the move by the Pentagon was "contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority."
A senior Pentagon official said U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had approved about $3.8 billion in funding being diverted to build 177 miles (290 km) of border wall.
Last month, the Pentagon received a request from within the Trump administration to build roughly 270 miles (435 km) of wall on the border, which would have cost about $5.5 billion.
"The transfer of funds is based on what the law allows and that the items to be funded are a higher priority than the items (from) which the funds were transferred," Robert Salesses, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration, told Reuters.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

New York Governor Signals Possible Compromise With Trump in Immigration Spat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated on Wednesday that he will make concessions to Republican President Donald Trump in a dispute over the state's pro-immigrant "sanctuary" policies.
Cuomo, a Democrat, is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursday, the White House said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS) announced a policy last week that would bar hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from federal programs that help travelers speed through airport security lines and borders.
The action was in response to New York's Green Light law passed last June allowing illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses and limiting federal immigration authorities from accessing records from the state's Department of Motor Vehicle.
Speaking on a New York radio program on Wednesday, Cuomo signaled he would allow federal immigration authorities to have limited access to a Department of Motor Vehicles database.
Specifically, Cuomo said he would grant access to DMV records of residents who use "trusted traveler" programs that allow faster security checks at airports and other ports of entry.
"These are people who go for an in-person federal interview with all sorts of background information," Cuomo told radio host Jay Oliver.
The U.S. Department of Homeland announced last week that it would bar New Yorkers from obtaining both new passes and renewals of Global Entry and three programs that permit faster travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Trump has made immigration a central theme of his 2020 campaign as he seeks re-election in November. During his annual State of the Union address last week, he blasted "sanctuary" jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, saying they allow "dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public."
Cuomo had condemned Trump's action as "extortion" and an abuse of power aimed at bullying a traditionally Democratic-leaning state. New York filed a lawsuit over the suspension of the travel programs on Monday, saying it would undermine public safety and cut the state's economy.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped Trump and Cuomo could reach "some type of solution" that maintains U.S. security.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Report Highlights Dangers for Asylum Seekers in Mexican City

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo continues to be a dangerous place for asylum seekers waiting to cross into the United States after being sent back to await the outcome of their petitions, according to a report released Tuesday.
Doctors Without Borders said that last September, it treated 41 people who were in the city under the program known as “remain in Mexico,” and that 18 of them, or 44%, reported being kidnapped recently. An additional 12% were victims of attempted kidnappings, the report said.
The following month, the figure of those saying they had been kidnapped increased to 75%, according to the report, and some of them were forced to work for their abductors.
“Just like the asylum seekers waiting their turn to enter the U.S. to initiate their claims, those who have been returned to Mexico while waiting for their application to be resolved also face serious risks and are systematically exposed to violence and potentially traumatic events," Doctors Without Borders said.

Asked about the report Tuesday at a news conference in Washington, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan, disputed the finding that 75% of their patients had been kidnapped after being turned away from the southwest U.S. border.
“That's not what we're hearing and that's not what we're seeing,” he said.
Morgan said the U.S. is working with the Mexican government to encourage migrants to go to shelters instead of the makeshift tent cities that have cropped up along the Mexican side of the border. And he broadly defended U.S. policies that have turned tens of thousands of people away as they sought to enter the United States in recent months.
Nuevo Laredo is one of seven border points where the United States is returning asylum seekers under the program, which launched in January 2019 and has expanded practically the length of the frontier. Tamaulipas state, where Nuevo Laredo is located, is a stronghold of cartel activity.
Other Mexican cities where asylum seekers are made to wait for months and then sent back under the program are also considered dangerous places rife with gang activity.
The Doctors Without Borders report also argued that migration policies in the United States, Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle region of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are failing to assist and protect migrants and undoing longstanding practices on asylum and refuge.

The report said “things have only gotten worse” since 2017 with many thousands of people becoming mired in a “vicious cycle” when they seek protection but are sent back to the violence and poverty that they fled back home.
Washington has also pressured Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to do more to slow the northward flow.
The Mexican government says its policies aim to ensure safe, regular and orderly migration with strict respect for human rights.
But it has faced some criticism even from party allies.
Porfirio Muñoz Ledo of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's Morena party was among lawmakers who toured a Mexican migrant detention center on Monday.
“I spoke with several migrants who are mistreated, and the rights of children are violated,” Muñoz tweeted.
Tonatiuh Guillén, López Obrador’s former head of the National Immigration Institute, said in a recent interview that effectively a zone has been created from the United States to Honduras “where the role of the states in protection of people is being diluted” even as people continue to flee the Northern Triangle.
Guillén resigned last year as Mexico began to crack down on irregular migration through its territory in response to pressure and threats from the Trump administration.

Other international groups such as the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organization for Migration have expressed similar concerns about regional migration policies.
Associated Press writer Ben Fox in Washington contributed to this report.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New York to Sue Trump Administration Over Global Entry Freeze


The lawsuit will challenge the federal government’s decision to bar New Yorkers from enrolling in programs that allow travelers to skip lines at airports.

New York State officials said on Friday that they planned to sue the Trump administration over its decision this week to ban thousands of New Yorkers from enrolling in programs that allow travelers to circumvent long lines at airports and borders.
The lawsuit would be the latest escalation in tensions between President Trump and his former home state, after the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday that it would block New York residents from participating in Trusted Traveler Programs, which includes Global Entry.
The decision was a response to a recent New York law that lets undocumented immigrants who live in the state obtain driver’s licenses. The statute, known as the green light law, also prohibits federal immigration officials from gaining access to Department of Motor Vehicles databases without a court order.
The Trump administration accused New York of interfering with federal law enforcement’s “efforts to keep our nation secure” by adopting the law. The administration has said it would lift the Trusted Traveler ban if New York granted them access to motor vehicle records.
The lawsuit will be brought by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, and will argue that the federal government’s actions were arbitrary and capricious, did not provide state residents equal protection and violated the state’s sovereign immunity, officials said.
“We’re going to disclose this political intrusion into government, this ham-handed political tactic, that once again hurts New Yorkers to make their political point,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a news conference in Manhattan on Friday.

New York is one of more than a dozen states that have passed laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Proponents say that such laws make roads safer, provide more economic opportunity and reduce immigrants’ fear of being deported for a driving violation.
Some states that have enacted the laws also have provisions to protect personal information from federal immigration officials, but federal authorities have said that none are as restrictive as New York’s.

Without directly addressing the potential lawsuit, Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, said in a statement posted on Twitter on Friday that he had spoken with the governor.
“I made clear to the governor yesterday that suspending Trusted Traveler Programs for N.Y. had nothing to do with driver’s licenses and everything to do with the breakdown in information sharing,” Mr. Wolf wrote.
The Department of Homeland Security’s decision immediately affects roughly 50,000 state residents who have applications pending for Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, which expedites United States Customs and Border Protection screening for international air travelers when they enter the United States. Another 175,000 New Yorkers whose memberships expire this year are also at risk.
Residents would still be allowed to participate in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program.
Mr. Cuomo did not indicate when a lawsuit might be filed, but he reiterated that he would not grant the federal government’s request for access to New York’s driver’s license database, an effort he has described as “extortion.”
“I would love to hear the depositions about their justifications for doing this and the political influence in doing this, and I would love to know if there were conversations with the White House,” Mr. Cuomo said. “New York is not his political piñata.”
The state Republican Party pounced on Mr. Cuomo for signing the green light law, which progressive Democrats passed last year after regaining control of the State Legislature for the first time in years.
“The blame for this travel document dilemma rests squarely with Andrew Cuomo,” Nick Langworthy, the chairman of the state Republican Party, said in a statement. “This is an issue of safety and security, which Democrats have zero regard for anymore.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said on Friday that it would file a separate lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, and that it had been working in conjunction with the attorney general’s office.
Ms. James, the attorney general, said in a statement that she would “fight the president’s shortsighted crusade against his former home.”
“This is political retribution, plain and simple,” Ms. James said. “And while the president may want to punish New York for standing up to his xenophobic policies, we will not back down.”

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Why Immigration Judges Opt To Leave Over Trump Policies

Why Immigration Judges Opt To Leave Over Trump Policies

Heard on Morning Edition

Many federal judges have quit over the Trump administration's stance on immigration and asylum. NPR's Noel King talks to retired judge Charles Honeyman of the Philadelphia Immigration Court.

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

Advocates Allege ICE Neglecting 5-Year-Old With Head Injury

HOUSTON — A 5-year-old boy from Guatemala who fractured his skull in an accident and suffered bleeding around his brain is not being properly treated at an immigration detention center in Texas for what could be a traumatic brain injury, family members and advocates alleged.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement defended the care given to the 5-year-old, whom the agency detained with his parents and 1-year-old brother in January, about a month after the boy fell out of a shopping cart. The children and their mother are in custody at the family detention center at Dilley, Texas, where the 5-year-old continues to have headaches and complains when he hears normal levels of sound, according to his aunt and Dr. Amy Cohen, an advocate working with the family.
ICE said Wednesday that multiple neurological exams conducted at Dilley revealed no medical issues but that the boy was hospitalized on Tuesday and Wednesday “for additional evaluation and imaging to rule out any concerns." The agency said the boy's MRI was normal and there were no signs that he had bleeding in his skull. He will soon be taken back to Dilley, ICE said.
Cohen provided the AP with records from the hospital that initially treated him after the injury. The records say the boy had an epidural hematoma, which is bleeding between his brain and skull, as well as a temporal bone fracture and a mild traumatic brain injury.

Testing done now “doesn't mean that he isn't having complications from the bleed that he did have,” Cohen said.
Before they were detained during what the family thought was a routine check-in, the boy had been scheduled for an appointment with a neurologist, Cohen said. He has begun wetting himself at night, his aunt said.
The Associated Press is withholding the names of the boy and his family because they fear imminent deportation to Guatemala, where the boy's mother says she was threatened.
The mother has alleged that medical staff at Dilley told her the injury took place too long ago to be causing symptoms now, according to Cohen and the aunt. The mother is having him wear diapers intended for her younger child because he loses control of his bladder, the aunt said.
“She says they don't pay much attention to her,” the aunt said. “They don't let her explain to them that my nephew's case is bad because of the accident that he had. They don't give her the chance.”

The boy was hospitalized Tuesday, a day after the Associated Press first contacted ICE about the case.
In a statement, the agency said medical staff at Dilley conducted a neurological exam that “did not reveal any issues, and the child denied any dizziness or visual changes.” ICE also said no medical issues were found when the boy underwent a routine exam on Jan. 23 or during a follow-up neurological exam on Jan. 27, when it says the mother reported her son “was eating and sleeping well and getting along well with peers.”
A 1-year-old child was detained at Dilley before she died of a hemorrhage, according to the law firm representing her mother, Yazmin Juarez. The attorneys allege Juarez's daughter, Mariee, contracted a respiratory illness that was misdiagnosed and mistreated at Dilley.
The agency defends the medical care it provides at Dilley and its other detention centers and says medical care is available at all hours to detainees. But the Trump administration has been sharply criticized for its treatment of migrant children, including wide-scale family separations and packing families into cells well beyond their capacity with limited food and water.
At least six migrant children have died after being detained by U.S. agents since President Donald Trump took office.
“It’s astonishing to me that people are continuing to tolerate the physical conditions and the cruelty that children are being subjected to in detention," said Cohen, executive director of the advocacy group Every Last One.
According to ICE, the boy's mother was apprehended in May 2019 after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization. She was released and required to report to the agency monthly, but after she did not appear for an immigration court hearing in November, a judge ordered her removal from the U.S.

The woman's husband is being held at a different facility in California, according to the boy's aunt. ICE said the mother may soon be deported.
The agency says the mother did not mention her son's head injury when they were detained on Jan. 21. Cohen and the boy's aunt say the mother said she reported the injury that day.
The boy's aunt and Cohen say they're worried that his symptoms will quickly worsen.
“I fear for his immediate health and safety and for his long-term health and safety, because we know that traumatic brain injuries in children can have devastating consequences for the rest of their lives,” Cohen said.

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Wall’s ‘sanctuary cities’ attack ad ignores nuance, Nehls says

Two Republicans competing for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District have sparred in recent days over the state’s so-called sanctuary cities ban, one of the sharpest rifts to emerge in the jam-packed primary contest.
In a new TV ad, longtime GOP donor Kathaleen Wall accuses Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls of “fighting a Trump administration effort by ICE to catch criminal illegal aliens.” The ad also cites a Houston Chronicle story from 2017 in which Nehls expresses opposition to an element of Texas’ sweeping ban on sanctuary cities.
“Incredibly, Nehls refuses to ask the immigration status of potential criminals,” the ad narrator says. “Worse still, Nehls opposed a ban on sanctuary cities signed into law by Gov. Abbott, saying it went too far.”
Nehls flatly denied Wall’s claims, accusing her of misrepresenting his remarks by taking them out of context. In a Facebook post Sunday — his first public rebuttal to the ad — Nehls said labeling him pro-sanctuary cities “is like calling President Trump pro-impeachment.”
“Let me set the record straight: I have never and will never support sanctuary cities,” Nehls said. “I support President Trump 100%, I support building the wall, and I support deporting criminal illegals. If you hear otherwise, it’s fake news.”
The ad takes direct aim at Nehls’ record on border security — his central campaign issue — with less than a month to go in the 15-candidate GOP primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, who is retiring at the end of his term. Four Democrats also are running for the seat, which covers most of Fort Bend County and parts of Brazoria and Harris counties.
Nehls, elected sheriff in 2012, frequently condemns Congress for “failing to secure our southern border,” and on his campaign website says he has “lock(ed) up over 2,500 criminal illegals and work(ed) with ICE to process them for deportation.”
The first part of Wall’s ad refers to Nehls’ decision in 2017 not to partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a program that trains sheriff’s deputies as de facto immigration agents. The 287(g) program, named for the Immigration and Nationality Act section that created it in 1996, allows deputies to check inmates’ immigration status and help initiate deportation proceedings on those in custody for other suspected offenses.
In an August 2017 news conference, Nehls said he viewed the program as redundant and a “waste” of public funds, because his office already participated in an ICE immigrant ID-checking program called Secure Communities. Nehls estimated it would cost Fort Bend County about $500,000 to train and employ deputies for the 287(g) program.
About halfway into Wall’s ad, the narrator alleges that Nehls “opposed a ban on sanctuary cities,” a reference to the 2017 bill that would create civil and criminal penalties for officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The ad cites a May 2017 Chronicle story in which Nehls says he does not think the law should criminally penalize officials.
"I don't support sanctuary cities, I've made that very clear," Nehls said in May 2017. "But some of the language in this bill, I don't agree with. … Adding the criminal penalty to sheriffs and others, it's an overreach by state officials and state government."
Later that year, Nehls said he agreed with nearly everything in the newly-enacted law — except for a controversial amendment authored by state Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, that allows law enforcement officers to question a detained person’s immigration status, a provision that covers routine traffic stops. Officers previously could inquire about immigration status only after an arrest.
In the story, Nehls also is quoted saying the bill “is actually dangerous for law enforcement, in my opinion, because when you make that traffic stop you don't know what this person is thinking.” Nehls said he expected the law to produce “more confrontation on the side of the road.”
Overall, Nehls contended, Wall’s ad creates an inaccurate perception that he’s “soft on immigration.”
“I am the most vocal supporter of a wall with beautiful gates,” Nehls said. “I've been an advocate for President Trump and his border security plan, and getting the bad hombres out of this county and this state. So, she's taking the truth and trying to spin it into a lie, and she ought to be ashamed of herself.”
On Monday, former state Rep. Matt Rinaldi — who has endorsed Wall — said on Twitter that Nehls is “lying” about his record. He linked to a KHOU story in which Nehls is quoted saying SB 4 “creates an us vs. them attitude,” and bashed Nehls for his stance on ICE’s 287(g) program, writing, “Seriously, this guy is in the wrong primary.”
In response to the criticism, Nehls said “no one in this race, including Kathaleen Wall, can claim they’ve done more, or anything close, to addressing illegal immigration.”
Wall, for her part, said she is the “only candidate in this race that supports the president’s agenda 100 percent. I’m never going to apologize for that.”
Like Nehls, Wall has centered her campaign around Trump and border security. She has self-funded her congressional bid with $1.6 million through the end of last year, including an ad buy on cable for the anti-Nehls spot. Nehls launched his own TV ad Tuesday touting his record on immigration and “2nd Amendment rights.”
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Fears of immigration agents on Seattle-area transit prompt new guide to who’s policing buses, trains

By Heidi Groover

Citing fears about federal immigration crackdowns and misinformation, local community organizations Tuesday launched a new effort to alert Seattle transit riders about the types of law enforcement they may encounter on trains and buses.

A flyer released by the King County Sheriff’s Office watchdog, the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), outlines the role of various police and security officers seen on transit.

The education effort comes after several instances in recent years in which rumors spread about immigration enforcement on trains or buses. Transit agencies emphasized Tuesday that they do not know of instances of immigration agents patrolling their vehicles and stations

“In any given week,” a hotline run by the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network “receives information that there’s immigration agents on the light rail or on public transportation,” said director Monserrat Padilla.

Each time, those reports have turned out to be another type of officer. “There’s always this fear that in these unprecedented times, anything can happen,” Padilla said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not board public transit to check immigration status, ICE said in a statement Tuesday. The agency denounced “misinformation and rumors” and said, “allegations that ICE is boarding commuter trains, buses, or any other public transit for the purpose of checking riders’ immigration status [are] completely false.”

Transit riders may have seen several other types of law enforcement or security on or around Sound Transit trains and King County Metro buses, though: transit police, who are part of the Sheriff’s Office; fare-enforcement officers, who check for valid fare on Sound Transit trains and some buses; transit security officers; and Federal Air Marshals who are part of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) teams and are sometimes mistaken for immigration enforcement.

The Federal Air Marshals work on anti-terrorism efforts as part of teams called Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, which ramped up after attacks in London and Madrid, Spain, according to TSA. The teams “have nothing to do” with immigration enforcement, said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service.

OLEO outlined the role of each group and what their uniforms look like on the flyer, which is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. The flyers aren’t currently posted on any buses or trains, but will be handed out to riders during service changes and through community groups, according to OLEO.

TSA teams and Sheriff’s Office transit police, who patrol transit and stations and respond to requests from security officers, are armed. Fare-enforcement and security officers, who work for the private company Securitas, do not carry guns.

There are “greater conversations to be had” about the role of law enforcement on transit, said OLEO director Deborah Jacobs.

“We’re starting by telling you who’s there, what kind of clothes they’re wearing, what they’re there for, how you can complain about them if necessary and that kind of basic information to hopefully alleviate some of people’s fears,” Jacobs said.

The office tied the release of the flyer to the birthday of Rosa Parks and cited census data to note that people of color are more likely to use transit to get to work.

On Seattle transit, the TSA teams have created particular confusion because their uniforms only indicate they are from the Department of Homeland Security, said Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Given reports of coordination between law enforcement and ICE in other parts of the country, “there’s a general wariness of somebody in a uniform,” Barón said.

In the summer of 2018, a photo of a Sound Transit security officer showing an ICE logo on a card visible on his duffel bag drew attention on social media. At the time, Sound Transit representatives said they didn’t know why the officer had the ICE card and that he had left the job for personal reasons.

Last year, the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network received reports of ICE officers on Metro’s RapidRide E line, but learned the reports likely stemmed from someone seeing a fare-enforcement officer, Padilla said.

“Because of the real fear that this current time puts in our community, people were just really afraid,” Padilla said.

In Spokane, a false rumor spread in 2017 about ICE agents checking people’s IDs at a Greyhound station. Last year, a Portland comedian said immigration authorities forced him off a Greyhound bus in Spokane and questioned him. His account was broadly confirmed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Fear about immigration enforcement can cause people to skip work, school or doctor’s appointments, Padilla said. Padilla encouraged people to report potential activity to the network’s hotline, 844-724-3737, to be vetted before sharing rumors or sightings on social media.

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