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, August 30, 2013

U.S. Chamber: Immigration Bill's Chances are 50-50

The Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan
August 29, 2013

The top immigration official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that the chances for getting a “good” immigration bill through Congress this year are about 50-50.

Randel Johnson, senior vice president at the chamber, said the forces supporting immigration are better organized this year than at any time in the last decade, and said the conversation is no longer about whether to deport illegal immigrants, but rather how far to go in granting them legal status.

“That’s a huge shift from where it was six years ago,” he said.

The chamber struck a deal with unions earlier this year to back an immigration bill as long as it provides for a steady stream of future foreign workers, and that agreement helped get a bill through the Senate in June on a bipartisan 68-32 vote.

The debate over legalization comes down to how many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants should be given initial legal status, and whether they should be given a special pathway to citizenship based on their previous illegal status, as most Democrats and President Obama want, or whether they should be restricted to the same avenues that others have now — an approach some in the GOP have floated.

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

Labor's Trumka: Immigration Will Kill GOP; Obamacare 'Mistakes' Need Fixing

Washington Times
By Paul Bedard
August 29, 2013

Stepping up the fight for sweeping immigration reform, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday said that if House Speaker John Boehner and his GOP caucus don't OK a "path to citizenship" for 11 million illegal immigrants, they will be punished by voters for "decades."

Promising to bring a world of political hurt on immigration reform foes, Trumka warned the Republican House that its decision on the issue could change the political makeup of the nation.

"Look," said Trumka, "if this doesn't have a pathway to citizenship, they are going to pay a political price that is going to pay dividends to workers for decades. The only thing standing between immigration reform and reality is John Boehner and the House Republicans. And if they continue to stand in that way, they will pay a major, major political price."

Trumka, speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, said "the system is broken. And they want to do everything that they can so that it isn't fixed."

Immigration reform is one of several hot-button issues facing Congress when they return to Washington in two weeks. The House leadership is eager to pick the legislation apart and pass it in pieces. The Senate approved one comprehensive bill, largely supported by President Obama.

Trumka also addressed the concerns labor has with Obamacare, revealing that unions are working with the administration to make changes.

"It still needs to be tweaked to be made more effective," he said after complaining that the so-called "public option" of government-funded health care should have been included and rapping the decision to withdraw the government's ability to push down the price of drugs.

"We made some mistakes" in the legislation, he conceded.

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

McCain Enlists Business on Immigration Amid Party Rift

By Kathleen Hunter
August 30, 2013

Senator John McCain is trying to pressure Arizona’s four Republican House members to back broad changes to U.S. immigration law by getting the state’s most influential business and religious leaders to do it for him.

The five-term Republican is enlisting their help to persuade his home-state House members to support the first significant immigration revision in a generation. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona Restaurant Association, the state’s banking and small business trade groups, and local evangelical and Catholic leaders are among those McCain met with during a 36-hour Phoenix-area visit this week.

“My plea to you is to give this the highest priority for the next several months,” McCain told about a dozen local business leaders Aug. 28 at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “I would like you to petition our members of Congress and those 30 percent out there who are still not convinced of the need for this legislation.”

His push emphasizes how the immigration debate has split the Republican Party, along with the House and Senate. Arizona’s four Republican House members -- Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon, Dave Schweikert and Trent Franks -- are among those in McCain’s party who raise concerns about the plan, with a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., that the Democratic-controlled Senate passed June 27.

McCain, who describes Arizona as “ground zero” for the immigration debate, said gaining the support of at least one of his state’s Republican representatives could help change the minds of other opponents in their party.

‘Very Helpful’

“It would be very helpful if they just agreed to sit down and negotiate with us,” McCain, who turned 77 yesterday, said during an Aug. 27 interview in his Phoenix office. “All four of them have been rather quiet.”

House opposition is imperiling the immigration revision effort. McCain, a co-author of the Senate plan, has dedicated much of this month’s congressional break to activating business and religious groups, saying they are “pillars” of the party whose support could change reticent lawmakers’ minds.

“We would like to convince them that this legislation is necessary for the good of Arizona,” McCain told the business leaders. He said Republican House members “should respond to the business interests that we represent.”

In many ways, McCain is in the best position to push for House action among the four Republican senators who, along with four Democrats, wrote the Senate bill.

Other Republicans

His fellow Arizona senator, Jeff Flake, has far less of a national profile, having joined the Senate in January after serving six terms in the U.S. House. Florida’s Marco Rubio, who is contemplating a 2016 presidential run, has been careful not to alienate Tea Party Republicans, who oppose a path to citizenship. South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is preoccupied with primary challengers he’s drawn for his 2014 re-election race, in part because of his advocacy of the Senate bill.

At the national level, many Republicans say the party needs to reconnect with Latino voters after President Barack Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic votes cast in the 2012 presidential election. That position has caused a rift with the small-government, Tea Party faction, many of whom prefer Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s self-deportation approach.

To bolster the arguments, McCain urged business leaders to cite data provided by Regional Economic Models Inc., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based economic modeling firm. It said the immigration measure establishing a citizenship path and expanding visas would provide a $5.5 billion boost to Arizona’s economy by 2045 and increase total personal income for Arizona families by $2.5 billion by 2020.

‘Economic Upside’

“There’s a huge economic upside, and securing the border and regulating the immigrant workforce in Arizona -- and Texas and California -- is key to our economic growth,” Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said in an interview this week.

The group has provided business leaders, mayors and city council members with data showing how immigration changes would help stem workforce shortages in sectors like construction.

“What I don’t understand is why Congressman Gosar and Congressman Schweikert aren’t coming around more quickly on this issue for us,” Broome said.

None of Arizona’s Republican House members have endorsed the Senate bill, and all have said relatively little about it. Some people at an Aug. 27 immigration forum in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa criticized the citizenship path for undocumented workers.

‘Regular Rules’

“Why do they get in when other people have to go through the regular rules? I don’t think it’s right,” said Helen Henry, 70, who lives near Schweikert in Fountain Hills, Arizona, about a 30-mile drive from Phoenix. She said undocumented immigrants in Arizona were straining public resources, including health care and education.

Many House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, have said the Senate plan doesn’t require strong enough border security before undocumented immigrants could gain citizenship.

Republicans “don’t want to be seen as the pro-amnesty candidate,” while Democrats in swing districts may worry that supporting immigration-law changes will aid their Republican opponents in 2014, said Nathan Gonzales, political editor for the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington.

Gosar “believes we need immigration reform, but like many of his constituents, he will not be sold on promises of future border enforcement that will never occur,” spokesman Orlando Watson said in an e-mail.

‘Clear’ Message

Kristine Michalson, a spokeswoman for Salmon, said in an e-mail that during meetings this month, “the message from his constituents has been clear: Congress can do better than the Senate immigration reform bill.”

Schweikert and Franks’s offices didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Chris Zaharis, executive vice president at Empire Southwest LLC, an Arizona-based Caterpillar and John Deere dealership, said he met with Salmon and Gosar.

They cited political and procedural concerns, “which are a bit frustrating when you are just trying to make some progress,” Zaharis said.

Boehner and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia favor a step-by-step approach on immigration.

“We are not going to vote on the Senate bill in the House,” Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, said in an Aug. 28 interview.

Push’s Effect

Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a network of business groups that favor legal immigration, said it was “hard to tell” whether the push from business and religious groups was having an effect with House Republicans.

“The ingredients are still there for the right thing to happen” though it is too early to “see whether the ingredients come together,” Jacoby said in an interview.

Tennessee is the only other state with two Republican senators -- Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker -- who supported the Senate bill. There, too, it is opposed by House Republicans. Alexander has drawn a primary challenger with Tea Party backing.

Immigration advocates credit McCain with keeping the issue visible.

He’s “trying to lead his party out of the wilderness” on its relationship with Hispanic voters, said Frank Sharry, director of America’s Voice, a Washington group that backs a path to citizenship. “If they don’t adapt to a changing America, they will cease to exist as a viable national party.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Phoenix, Arizona at khunter9@bloomberg.net

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Organizing for Action Spent the August Recess, by the Numbers

Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
August 29, 2013

For many, August is a time for rest and relaxation. For members of Organizing for Action, it is a time for more than 2,000 rallies.

That’s according to a new memo by the group’s executive director Jon Carson, which members will receive Wednesday morning. According to the missive, titled, “The Undeniable Success of ‘Action August,’” the group pressed its case for issues including health care, immigration reform, climate change and gun control in a myriad of communities across the country. ”We built an organization that is powered by deeply-motivated Americans changing the conversation in Washington from the ground up, and this August was not only a validation of the OFA model of organizing, but it also showed once again that Americans are eager to end the pettiness in Washington and ready to make progress together,” Carson wrote in the memo, obtained by The Washington Post.

The group, a nonprofit affiliated with President Obama, held more than 500 immigration reform events this month, including ones in six districts held by Republicans who support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Aaron Schock (Ill.), Dan Webster (Fla.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.).

OFA volunteers held over 225 Obamacare events, nearly 300 rallies urging action on climate change and close to 200 events aimed at enacting stricter background checks on gun sales. On global warming, the group is targeting the 135 members of Congress who publicly question the connection between human activity and climate change, delivering “climate denier awards” to lawmakers such as Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).

This frenzy of activity is making a mark on social media and in the press. On Aug. 21, Carson wrote, its day of action on gun violence “left the biggest footprint. OFA’s #WhatWillItTake hashtag trended nationally on twitter, and our volunteers drove national coverage from Bloomberg, and local press clips from Nashua, NH to Santa Clarita, CA.”

But is it changing lawmakers’ minds? So far none of the members of Congress the group has targeted has changed his or her public position on immigration reform, climate change, health care or gun control. The real test, however, will come once they return to Washington next month.

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

Immigration Reform 2013: Napolitano Spread Arizona's 'Shameful Infection of Nativism,' Say Day Laborers

International Business Times
By Laura Matthews
August 28, 2013

Not everyone will be sad to see Janet Napolitano leave her Department of Homeland Security secretary, or DHS, post next month for a job in academia, leading the University of California system.

Illegal border crossings dropped to a near 40-year low under her watch, and at least one pro-immigration organization holds Napolitano responsible for bringing what it believes is an Arizona-style approach to immigration reform to the national level.

“Secretary Napolitano will ultimately be remembered as having spread the shameful infection of nativism from her home state of Arizona into national immigration policy,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, or NDLON, in a statement.

Alvarado said that with Napolitano resigning, President Barack Obama should consider expanding “the one bright spot in an otherwise abysmal record” by extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to the 11 million undocumented immigrants presently residing in the U.S. DACA provides a two-year reprieve for children living in the country illegal so long as they meet certain criteria.

DACA granted much needed relief to a small segment of the immigrant community and showed that administrative action can improve the prospects for legislative results,” Alvarado added. “Expanding DACA to the rest of the undocumented community is a necessary step to reverse the pain caused by Napolitano’s DHS, and it would be a helpful advance for reform efforts.”

He’s calling on the next Homeland Security secretary to work with congressional leaders on freezing deportations, at least for those who qualify for legal status under the Senate-passed 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Napolitano bid farewell at the National Press Club on Tuesday, saying her agency has grown flexible, agile and adaptable in operation to respond to changing threats. She added that establishing commonsense policies and priorities sometimes contributes to DHS’ successes.

When she took over in 2009, Napolitano said one of he first actions was to ensure put priorities in place to protect the nation’s borders and enforce its immigration laws. Her tenure saw an increase in manpower and technology that caused a dramatic decrease in illegal crossings. She also prioritized deportation of immigrants who posed serious threats to communities and national security while placing children brought to the country illegally by their parents as low priority.

But Napolitano said despite these successes, there’s more work to be done.

DACA, of course, is no substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, which is the only way to face the longstanding problems with our immigration system,” Napolitano said. “But it is indicative of our larger approach: to devote historic resources to the border, reorient our enforcement priorities, and build more flexibility into the system. I believe we are a stronger, more effective department because of these changes.”

The House of Representatives has turned a blind eye to the Senate immigration reform bill, insisting that its vision of reform is different and that its members will take a piecemeal approach to do it right.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The GOP's Conservative Cuccinelli Problem

National Journal
By Beth Reinhard
August 28, 2013

Down in the polls and outraised by his opponent, Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is increasingly relying on the national party to come to his rescue.

In the last two months, the Republican Governors Association has spent $3.6 million on television ads in the state, on top of the $2 million doled out to the campaign earlier this year. Three of the GOP's biggest stars, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are all expected to campaign for Cuccinelli this fall, with Rubio scheduled to come to Virginia next month.

It's a mutually beneficial but awkward relationship between the nominee and the national political establishment. Republicans – including the three potential 2016 contenders -- want to keep their grip on the highest office in a major battleground state. Not to mention that the GOP is gunning to repudiate Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, a former national party chairman closely tied to Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"If you care about conservative values and getting our country back on track, this race should matter to YOU, even if you don't live in Virginia," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, chairman of the RGA and another possible 2016 candidate, in a recent fundraising appeal.

But the national party's much-ballyhooed goals of winning over more minorities and women on the road to the White House doesn't always line up with Cuccinelli's fiercely conservative track record. The mismatch was evident Tuesday, when the attorney general was asked about Rubio's bill to allow millions of illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Some Republican leaders say the bill will pave crucial inroads in the fast-growing Hispanic community.

"I don't support amnesty, if that's what you mean, but I certainly support a focus on the rule of law," Cuccinelli said in a visit to the Ashby Ponds retirement community. He added that he hadn't read the bill: "I'm running for governor. That is a state office."

Cuccinelli's explanation doesn't mesh with his longtime practice of wading into national debates over immigration, health care, and climate change. For example, as a state senator running for re-election in 2007, Cuccinelli sent out a fundraising appeal describing his fervent opposition to a similar immigration reform bill touted by then-President Bush. "My President is wrong," reads the e-mail. "I no longer consider him the head of my Republican Party." Cuccinelli also warned: "If Washington compounds its historic irresponsibility on the issue of illegal immigration by passing the proposed bill, there will be a bi-partisan/non-partisan political explosion the likes of which we have not seen in some time."

Rubio's office did not respond to a request for comment about Cuccinelli's position on the current bill. Proponents say it will create jobs, as many as 14,000 in each congressional district according to the Republican-leaning American Action Network.

"Ken Cuccinelli continues to demonstrate that his extreme ideology comes before bipartisan compromise," said McAuliffe spokesman Brennan Bilberry. "Cuccinelli is again focused on derailing a pragmatic bipartisan compromise that is critical for Virginia's economy because of his ideological opposition."

Cuccinelli has also opposed a new state law awarding $600 million for roads and other transportation improvements because it will raise taxes.

The attorney general's conservativism also came up Tuesday in a question from one of the residents of the retirement community about his position on birth control.

"I don't think government should be doing anything about birth control or birth control devices," he said.

"So the rumors that you would support birth control restriction are false?'' asked resident Johnanna Bonnelycke.

"I wouldn't call them rumors. I'd call them lies," Cuccinelli responded.

His remarks drew a swift response from McAuliffe's allies in the Democratic Party and the abortion rights movement, who pointed to his 2007 "personhood" bill that declared that life begins at fertilization and could have outlawed some birth control.

The governor's race has been characterized by brutal attacks by both sides and left Cuccinelli lagging six points behind McAuliffe in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. McAuliffe has weathered a string of negative publicity about his business record, including a federal probe into a bid for foreign investors by his former electric car company, GreenTech. Cuccinelli has also endured bad press, particularly about his ties to a businessman whose relationship with fellow Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is under federal investigation. Cuccinelli has tried to separate himself from the matter and was cleared of ethics violations but he's been hit hard by attack ads linking him to the scandal.

"One of the problems with being outspent is that it's awfully hard to push back," said Cuccinelli, who was trailing McAuliffe by $5 million in donations at the end of June.

Another resident of the senior center, Bill Vitale, told Cuccinelli not to worry about the television spots. "Shortly after they're on, people can't remember what they're about anyway," he said, adding that "I think you'll be a fine governor."

Cuccinelli didn't hesitate to take several shots at McAuliffe during his appearance Tuesday in a key swing county in Northern Virginia. He described the race as between "frugal Ken versus union Terry," referring to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Democrat has accepted from labor. Cuccinelli also noted that he's held elected office in Virginia for a decade while McAuliffe has never served in public office.

"There's an assumption that they've already been contributing to their community that they're asking to lead and in my race, that assumption is not true," he said. "I'm the only candidate that's been doing that in Virginia."

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

Catholic Churches Push Rep. Ed Royce on Immigration

Los Angeles Times
By Cindy Chang
August 27, 2013

Hundreds of Catholics rallied outside Rep. Ed Royce’s office in Brea on Tuesday evening to demand a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“I pray that not only he, but other members of Congress, will have a change of heart and quickly enact comprehensive immigration reform for our country,” Dominic Luong, auxiliary bishop of Orange, told the crowd.

The windows to Royce’s second-floor offices remained dark as the rally concluded with a prayer for "those who come from other lands" and a chant of "Si se puede."

Ruben Barron, a rally organizer, said 27 leaders from the Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino dioceses met with Royce, a Republican, last Friday, but the two sides remained far apart.

"He's talking border security. We don't disagree with that, but he's only focusing on border security. He's not focusing on the 11 million," Barron said in an interview before the rally.

Catholic parishes across the country are mobilizing during the August congressional recess to advocate for immigration overhaul. Tuesday's rally include churches from throughout Royce's district, from La Habra to Yorba Linda to Diamond Bar.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports permanent residency, with an eventual chance at citizenship, for immigrants of "good moral character."

"I'm here to show support for immigration reform. I really want it to pass," said Ingrid De La Torre, 21, a college student and member of St. John Vianney Parish in Hacienda Heights. "There are so many kids who stay here as orphans while their parents are sent back to Mexico."

Royce is among the House Republicans targeted this summer by activists on both sides of the immigration issue. In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill that included a path to citizenship, but House Republicans have signaled their intention to take a piecemeal approach.

Earlier this year, Royce joined other House Republicans in denying funding for President Obama’s deferred action program, which grants work permits and two-year deportation deferrals to young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The vote was largely symbolic but was an indication of where lawmakers stood on immigration.

Fernando Morales, 37, an immigrant from Mexico, has a green card and plans to become a citizen next year. He was able to sponsor his parents for legal residency, but not his brother, who lives in the U.S. without immigration papers and works "morning to dark" as a gardener.

Morales, who lives in Brea and plans to register to vote as a Democrat, says he will not support Royce if the congressman does not get behind a path to citizenship for immigrants like his brother.

"The law they're trying to pass is not fair," Morales said after the rally.

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

Why Immigration Reform Is In Trouble, Jeff Denham Edition

Washington Post: Why immigration reform is in trouble, Jeff Denham edition
By Aaron Blake
August 27, 2013

Perhaps more than anybody in the House, California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham exemplifies why comprehensive immigration reform faces a very difficult road when Congress returns next month.

Denham happens to be one of the few House Republicans to come from a district with a large Latino population; 40 percent of his Central Valley district is Hispanic, according to the 2010 census. Denham has also said supportive things about both a new path to citizenship and the Senate-passed immigration bill.

On Aug. 3, Denham voiced support for the Senate bill’s path to citizenship:

When asked if that meant that he supported a pathway to citizenship, Denham hesitated for a couple of seconds before answering.

“Given the parameters that are in the Senate bill — yes,” Denham said. “My hesitation is that when I talk to people in my district, ‘a pathway to citizenship’ always means something different to different people.

On Aug. 8, he lamented that the Senate bill wasn’t coming to a vote in the House:

“The Senate bill won’t get a vote in the House, and it’s something that could have helped this community,” Denham said, according to the Modesto Bee. “I am frustrated. I thought we’d get this done before the August work period. I think the Senate made tremendous progress. It was done bipartisan and I thought that would be enough to get the House moving forward.”

On Aug. 15, Denham again pushed for a vote on comprehensive reform rather than the piecemeal approach the House is taking:

Rep. Jeff Denham said “every issue” in immigration reform should be debated on the House floor.

“I want to make sure that we’re addressing all aspects and having a full debate in front of the American people,” the California Republican said in a brief media availability at the train station here. “I think part of the challenge is we’re talking about bits and pieces and not allowing the full debate to happen where people can engage in the overall discussion.”

On Aug. 22, Denham again said he supports a pathway to citizenship:

When asked point blank by several of the people who gave testimonies whether he supported a pathway to citizenship, Denham didn’t waiver.

“I have and I will,” he said.

But Denham, who given all of that is perhaps the one House Republican you would think would support the Senate immigration bill, does not.

“Congressman Denham has said since the Senate bill passed in June that he thought it made great progress,” Denham spokesman Jordan Langdon told Post Politics. “Many of the provisions of the Senate bill, passed on a bipartisan basis, have his support. However, he believes the Senate bill is flawed, and that the strongest immigration reform legislation will come out of a conference between the two chambers.”

Asked whether Denham would oppose the Senate bill if it came to a vote, Langdon replied: “Correct.”

So what does it all mean?

Very few House Republicans have come out in support of comprehensive immigration reform. And even those who do are reticent to support the Senate bill.

If it’s so difficult for members to support comprehensive reform in the abstract, it’s going to be that much harder for them to support a specific bill.

And that goes for whatever form it might take — be it the Senate bill or a negotiated bill between the House and Senate.

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