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


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Obama to Talk Immigration with Telemundo, Univision

President Obama will sit for interviews Wednesday with Telemundo and Univision to talk immigration reform. 
Both interviews with the Spanish-language networks will air at 6:30 p.m. ET. 
Obama did a pair of interviews with Telemundo and Univision in late January, and said then that he hoped to see comprehensive immigration reform become law by summer. 
The president indicated then that he was -- for the time being -- leaving the development of legislation to members of Congress who were showing signs of bipartisan cooperation. During a naturalization ceremony at the White House on Monday, Obama said that he was still waiting on Congress but expected to see the debate ramp up in the coming weeks. 
"Everyone pretty much knows what’s broken. Everybody knows how to fix it," he said Monday. "We've all proposed solutions and we've got a lot of white papers and studies.  And we've just got, at this point, to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done. So I expect a bill to be put forward. I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible." 
Two Democrats and two Republicans from the Senate's "Gang of Eight" are set to tour the Arizona-Mexico border on Wednesday as bipartisan talks continue. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday that work toward producing a bill is continuing during Easter recess, but that the lawmakers are still in the midst of "serious negotiations." 
Obama is headed to Miami's port on Friday, but the White House has not said whether the event will focus on immigration, revealing only that the president's remarks will be on the economy.

Why Immigration Reform Is So Hard

National Journal
By Niraj Choksi
March 26, 2013
Here’s why immigration reform is so tough: It has to balance the conflicting needs and desires of a very diverse group. Pull too hard on any one thread, and the whole thing could unravel. 
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the talks between big business and big labor, which fell apart last week over a program for issuing temporary visas for low-skilled workers. Business wants to fill jobs they argue Americans can’t or won’t take. Labor unions want to make sure immigrants don’t drive down wages in the process or take jobs that Americans want. 
The two notably agreed last month that a commission or bureau was needed to inform the public and Congress about labor shortages, but the talks hit a standstill last week over the wages they would offer. 
“In any temporary-worker program, you’ve got to get that balance right—between opening up and filling labor markets that need labor versus depressing wages,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a Tuesday reporter roundtable hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. “There’s a lot of ways you can do that.” 
One approach, proposed by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in 2006 and modified by others, is to create a commission similar in concept to the one business and labor broadly agreed to. The basic idea is simple: It would be staffed with economists, demographers, and other social scientists, who would study and track immigration and labor data to help guide policy. If an industry starts having trouble finding workers or is predicted to have labor shortages, the commission would propose lifting the ceiling on visas. 
In theory, it sounds like a great idea. In practice, it’s hard to get right. First, there’s the difficult question of whether employers are trying hard enough to fill the jobs with existing citizens. That lies at the heart of the business-labor dispute. Businesses want to pay low-skilled temporary workers slightly less than the median hourly wage, while labor unions want them to pay a wage just above the median, according to The New York Times. 
To labor, low-skilled immigrants should be allowed only “if you see certain occupations increasing their wages to try to get people in and there’s no one responding,” said Neil Ruiz, a senior policy analyst at the Brookings Institution. But businesses argue that using wages alone isn't fair, Ruiz said. 
The United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee, for example, takes all sorts of factors into account to track which industries have labor shortages. Could the work be outsourced instead? What impact would the new immigrants have on innovation domestically or the U.K.'s global competitiveness? 
The committee's recommendations are well respected, but they can still be subjective, argues MPI senior policy analyst Madeleine Sumption. 
“Measuring shortages in the United Kingdom is not simply a statistical exercise driven by quantitative data, but also requires substantial qualitative judgments,” she wrote in a 2011 paper. 
And such analyses can miss key information, Sumption says. All computer programmers aren’t the same, for example. And labor shortages can vary by region. “It’s really difficult to accurately identify the level of data that people want,” she says. 
Even if all the details are worked out, another question remains: What sort of powers would such a commission have? It could be given wide leeway to determine how many visas should be issued, allowing it to respond quickly to shifts in the labor market. Or it could propose changes that lawmakers would have to approve—a slower process in which changes could get held up over politics. 
Either way, foreign work visas are expected to be a part of the reform bill from the “Gang of Eight” senators. But, as with reform broadly, its viability will depend on a delicate balance of conflicting interests.


Big Labor and Big Business Have One Big Issue: Immigration Reform

Immigration reform has become the No. 1 policy priority at the AFL-CIO, a remarkable shift for the labor group that has in the past spent more effort trying to pass a health care law or destroying a proposal to privatize Social Security. 
Immigration reform has also become a top priority at the Business Roundtable, which represents the largest U.S. corporations. The group previously has focused its attention on corporate tax reform and trade policy. 
Welcome to the new reality. Immigration is where it’s at. 
The Senate is expected to begin debating a sweeping reform bill sometime this spring that would legalize some 11 million unauthorized immigrants and create a new way for foreign workers to come into the country. 
The legislation has a long way to go, but some observers think it may be the only substantive work Congress can accomplish this year. If it happens, millions of workers would be added to the tax base almost immediately. Wages would likely go up in sectors where employers rely on undocumented workers. Crooked employers that take advantage of illegal labor might find it more difficult to do so, creating a more competitive environment for the honest corporate brokers. 
Given those stakes, perhaps it should be no surprise that this year marks the first time that the AFL-CIO and the Business Roundtable have devoted significant resources to immigration. But for each group, the involvement is historic. The Business Roundtable formed its first immigration committee in January. 
AFL-CIO federations in 30 states have adopted resolutions cheering immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Those resolutions represent 9 million workers from a variety of unions, signifying the unanimity among different trade groups in supporting an immigration overhaul. The union locals are expecting to contact all members of Congress during the two-week recess to tell them that immigration reform is important to them. 
“There’s a pretty big cross section of the labor movement there. Twenty years ago, it would have been impossible,” said Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO's government affairs director. 
This is a major shift from the last time immigration was moving in Congress in 2007. The AFL-CIO wasn’t among the active lobbying groups pushing for an overhaul because the federation opposed the bill’s guest-worker plan. The federation’s ugly split with the Service Employees International Union over the issue didn’t help matters. The SEIU was willing to accept a guest-worker program in exchange for legalization of undocumented workers. The AFL-CIO wasn’t. 
Now, all the unions and most business groups are in agreement that there will be no new guest-worker programs in the immigration bill. Instead, they all support work visas that would seamlessly transition into green cards. The SEIU is weighing in during the congressional recess with a $300,000 ad buy on several cable news networks for a spot entitled “America” that promotes a path to citizenship that requires payment of back taxes and learning English, The Washington Post reported. 
Work visas are still a touchy subject for Americans worried about their own employment. The AFL-CIO’s support should calm nerves in states — think North Dakota or Michigan — where there aren’t a lot of immigrants and people are extremely concerned about the economy and jobs. 
“There are senators and representatives from both parties that have a history of anxiety about this issue. The labor movement will make a huge difference,” Samuel said. 
The Business Roundtable is also diving in with an economic message. The chairman of its special committee on immigration, Motorola CEO Greg Brown, ran his first newspaper op-ed on Tuesday calling for a 360-degree solution on immigration that “will both strengthen national security and boost economic growth.” 
The Business Roundtable’s position is remarkably similar to the AFL-CIO’s. Brown said immigration legislation should include clear standards for employers on how to check for work authorization, an efficient work-visa system that gives employers and foreign workers flexibility, and legal status for the 11 million undocumented workers who are already here. 
“This newly legal workforce will be more mobile, able to move to different regions and jobs as the labor market demands. This new labor dynamism also will add to local economic growth, producing higher wages,” the op-ed said.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SEIU Launching Immigration Ad Campaign

Washington Post
By Rachel Weiner
March 26, 2013
The Service Employees International Union is launching a cable ad campaign urging lawmakers to support immigration reform, airing on national cable during the congressional recess.
The ad will run for a week on the most-watched cable news programs on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. The buy is small at $300,000, but it is part of a seven-figure television ad campaign from the SEIU, a media consultant working with the union says.
The ad, “America,” aims to appeal to both immigration reform advocates and skeptics. Over shots of a diverse group of workers repairing a bent American flag, the spot calls on Congress to pass “an earned path to citizenship” that includes “back taxes paid, English learned.”
“We think we are on the right path but we are not taking any chances,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told The Post. The message for lawmakers is that “they need to return to Congress and get the job done.” The union is pushing for a Senate bill passed by end of April and a House debate in May. Lawmakers began a two-week recess this week.
Senate immigration reform is at an impasse because of a dispute between business and labor, The Post reported last week. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have been unable to come to an agreement on  a new visa program for foreign workers. Henry described negotiations as “difficult” but said she was confident that negotiators would “reach a fair and reasonable solution.”
The coalition Alliance for Citizenship, of which SEIU is a part, is running a multimillion-dollar campaign for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.  Along with the TV ad campaign, the SEIU has aired Spanish-language radio ads, sent out field staffers to mobilize voters in lawmakers’ districts during the recess, and has lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The groups will hold a rally in front of the Capitol on April 10.

Obama Tries to Push Stalled Immigration Talks Forward

Los Angeles Times
By Kathleen Hennessey
March 25, 2013
President Obama prodded congressional negotiators to reach agreement on a plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, saying despite delays and disputes he still wants a bill to emerge soon and debate in the Senate to begin next month.
“We are making progress but we’ve got to finish the job,” Obama said at a naturalization ceremony for 28 citizens at the White House on Monday. “This issue is not new. Everyone pretty much knows what's broken. Everybody knows how to fix it. We've all proposed solutions and we got a lot of white papers and studies. And we just got at this point to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done.”
Obama’s remarks were aimed at a bipartisan group of senators who have been working on a proposal for nearly three months. The so-called “gang of eight” had hoped  to complete their work Friday, before a two-week congressional recess, but left town for spring break without a deal.
U.S. immigration law: Decades of debate
In January, Obama threatened to send his own bill to Congress if the group did not produce a proposal “in a timely fashion.” His remarks Monday suggest the White House is willing to give the group more time to work before it takes that step.
“I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible,” he said. “We know that real reform means continuing to strengthen our border security and holding employers accountable. … Let’s get this done.”
Obama’s time frame may be tough for senators to reach. U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the judiciary committee, already has cast doubt on the chances of getting a bill through his committee by the end of April. Even if the bill comes to the floor next month a vote would not necessarily follow quickly. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he plans to let senators debate the legislation at length, and there remains no clear path for the bill through the Republican-led House.
The senators remain deadlocked over several issues, including the details of a guest-worker program and how the legislation will implement and define security at the border.
Obama has largely steered clear of the talks, instead offering broad elements he wants to see included.  The president on Monday used the platform to revive his call for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, the key requirement for any bill.
Obama spoke after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano administered the oath to 28 new citizens, including 13 members of the military. Obama praised the group as a reminder of the “promise of America.”
“Immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keeps us hungry. It keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country,” he said.

Obama Presides Over Swearing In New Americans

New York Times
By Peter Baker
March 25, 2013
President Obama presided over a ceremony swearing in new American citizens at the White House on Monday as part of his pitch for legislation that would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.
Mr. Obama offered a testimonial to the benefits of immigration after watching 28 men and women, including some who have served in the United States armed forces, take the oath of citizenship. The ceremony came as momentum builds for a plan to legalize millions of other foreigners now in the country illegally.
“After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all; the time has come for comprehensive, sensible immigration reform,” Mr. Obama told the invited audience in the East Room.
He noted that lawmakers were working across party lines to develop proposals. “I applaud them for that,” he said. “We are making progress. But we’ve got to finish the job because this issue is not new. Everyone pretty much knows what’s broken, everybody knows how to fix it.”
Mr. Obama said he expected a bill to be put forward soon and for debate to open in Congress next month. Any solution to the problem, he said, should include a pathway to “earned citizenship,” meaning that illegal immigrants must pay back taxes and penalties and get in line behind those who have sought citizenship legally.
“Let’s get this done,” he said. “Let’s do it in a way that keeps faith with our history and our values. No other country on earth welcomes as many new arrivals as we do.”
Mr. Obama, who has had such naturalization ceremonies at the White House several times over his four years in office, singled out new citizens from Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria and St. Lucia.
“I know this is an incredibly special moment for you, for your families,” he said, “but I have to say it’s a special moment for the rest of us as well, because as we look out across this room, we’re reminded that what makes somebody American isn’t just their bloodlines, it’s not just an accident of birth; it’s a fidelity to our founding principles, a faith in the idea that anyone, anywhere can write the next chapter in this American story.”

Obama Demands Congress 'Finish the Job' on Immigration Reform

Washington Post
By David Nakamura
March 25, 2013
President Obama helped swear in 28 newly naturalized U.S. citizens at the White House on Monday, using the occasion to demand that Congress “finish the job” on his push for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.
In a ceremony in the East Room, Obama hailed the new Americans, including 13 who serve in the U.S. military, as examples of the nation’s strong immigrant history and argued that lawmakers must no longer avoid tackling immigration reform.
“Immigration makes us stronger; it keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it makes us prosperous. It’s part of what makes this a dynamic country,” Obama said. But, he added: “We need to do a better job welcoming them.  We've known for years that our immigration system is broken... 
After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all.”
The president has participated in a naturalization ceremony at the White House for the past four years, but this year’s event took on heightened symbolism. Obama read a list of countries that the immigrants hailed from — including Afghanistan, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru — and some of the new citizens wore their U.S. military uniforms. They raised their right hand while reciting an oath of citizenship at the direction of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Obama praised bipartisan efforts in the Senate and House to develop reform legislation, and he said he expects a bill to be introduced next month. A bipartisan group of eight senators has said it hopes to unveil its bill after the Senate returns from a two-week Easter break April 8.
The Senate effort, widely expected to serve as a template for a potential deal between Congress and the White House, will include a 13-year path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants, a large increase in visas for high-tech workers, a new guest-worker program for low-wage foreigners, and the elimination of some categories of visas for extended family members, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
The legislation will also call for increased border control and work-place security measures.  We've got to finish the job.  This issue is not new," Obama said.  "Everyone pretty much knows that's broken; everyone knows how to fix it. .?.?.  We've just got, at this point, to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done." 
Senate aides have said they expect the bipartisan bill to be written during the Easter break, despite a dispute from labor and business leaders over terms of a guest-worker program for foreigners. Under the proposal, up to 200,000 immigrants a year would be granted visas for low-skilled jobs for which not enough American workers are available.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have disagreed over how much those immigrants should be paid, with labor leaders saying they are concerned that the program could drag down wages for all workers.
The Senate aides said they do not think the dispute will stop the bill from remaining on schedule. In the House, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has said a bipartisan group has wrapped up its work on a bill that could be introduced in the next few weeks.
Immigration advocates hailed the White House ceremony Monday as an example of why the promise of becoming a citizen is so important to those who leave home countries for the United States.
Citizenship is more than a process,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group that backs a citizenship path. “It speaks to who we are as a nation. It ensures that the energy and aspirations that drove these new citizens to our country in the first place keep our nation vital and moving forward.”
In his remarks, Obama shared some of the personal stories of the new citizens, noting that one man from Ukraine had come to the United States when he was 11 and joined the Air Force “to give back to the country.” Another man from Nigeria, who is pursuing a doctorate in information technology, wants to be a professor, the president said.
“As we look out across this room, we are reminded what makes somebody American is not just their blood lines, not just an accident of birth — it’s a fidelity to our founding principles,” Obama said, “a faith in an idea that anyone, anywhere, can write the next great chapter in this American story.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Amponsah v. Holder

BIA’s blanket rule against recognizing states’ nunc pro tunc adoption decrees was an unreasonable and impermissible construction of 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1101(b)(1), which defines "child," for the purposes of adjustment of status, as including an immigrant adopted before his or her 16th birthday. A reasonable construction of the statute requires case-by-case consideration of such adoption decrees. BIA’s determination that alien engaged in marriage fraud violated her due process rights where government neither raised the question of marriage fraud nor asserted it as a basis for pretermitting alien’s adjustment of status application; the immigration judge in that proceeding made no finding that her marriage was fraudulent; and BIA made the determination solely by taking administrative notice of a prior decision in which it denied I-130 spousal visa petition filed by her husband on her behalf, based on a finding that the marriage was a sham.
     Amponsah v. Holder - filed March 22, 2013
     Cite as 11-71311

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Pro-Obama Group Enters Immigration Fray

The New York Times
By Michael D. Shear
March 25, 2012

WASHINGTON  Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of President Obama's successful re-election campaign machinery, will jump into the immigration debate this week with an aggressive online effort to highlight the personal stories of immigrants.
The group has collected 7,000 stories from supporters, some of whom entered the country illegally or were brought as young children by their parents. Organizers say they will distribute the stories using Twitter, Facebook and blogs beginning this week.
The idea, officials with the group said, is to demonstrate support for efforts in Congress to overhaul immigration laws in ways that would provide 11 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship.
That legislative effort, which Mr. Obama backs, is nearing a key moment. Early next month, a bipartisan group of eight senators is expected to unveil a bill in the hope that it will win support from members of both parties in the House and the Senate.
“It is clear that America’s immigration system is broken, with so many employers that game the system by hiring undocumented workers and 11 million people living in the shadows,” said Jon Carson, the executive director of Organizing for Action and a former director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “Neither is good for the economy or the country.”
Opponents of an immigration overhaul say they are counting on conservative activists to rise up in anger once the Senate legislation is unveiled. One group has said it will hold a two-day conference for conservative radio talk show hosts next month to encourage opposition to the legislation.
In 2007, the last time Congress considered an immigration overhaul, conservatives hammered lawmakers at town-hall-style meetings and on talk radio. Proponents of the 2007 legislation eventually gave up.
The goal of Organizing for Action’s initiative is to counter any opposition by conservatives to the current legislative effort with support from around the country.
“Our supporters know it is time to fix the system that requires responsibility from everyone — both from the workers here that are undocumented and those who hire them — a system that guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules,” Mr. Carson said.
The stories distributed by Organizing for Action were collected after an e-mail request to Mr. Obama’s supporters. Organizers said they would begin sending more e-mails to the list this week, asking for additional personal statements. Some of the people will be videotaped telling their stories for distribution via YouTube and Twitter.
One supporter describes his father’s illegal entry into the United States from Mexico. The father received legal status in 1986, the last time that Congress passed legislation to address undocumented workers.
“Almost 30 years ago, he came into this country with hardly anything to his name,” the supporter, Victor Hugo, says in one of the stories on the group’s Web site. “Now my father is part of family that is driven and committed to making the most of the opportunities given to them by this country.”
Starting early next month, Organizing for Action will move beyond the online effort to organize its supporters at events around the country. They will include phone banks for supporters to call members of Congress, press events, community rallies and letter-writing parties, officials said. The events will run from April 1 to April 7, a week ahead of the unveiling of the Senate immigration plan.
Officials at Organizing for Action said they would also continue to hold weekly conference calls with people who are interested in getting more information about how to support the immigration effort. A conference call on immigration last week drew 2,229 participants, organizers said.