About Me

My photo
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 28, 2014

Boehner: 'Health' Talk with Obama on Immigration Reform

Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan
February 27, 2014

Immigration was the one area of agreement House Speaker John A. Boehner highlighted out of his private meeting this week with President Obama, signaling that the prospect for legislation may still have legs this year.

At his weekly briefing the House GOP leader was asked to identify one area of potential cooperation that emerged out of the meeting, and he mentioned the thorny issue that continues to divide his party.

"Immigration -- we had a very good, very healthy conversation on immigration," Mr. Boehner said.

It marks a change of tone from just earlier this month when Mr. Boehner said that progress on immigration reform had stalled because congressional Republicans don't trust Mr. Obama to enforce the laws.

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

EXPOSED: The Year-Long IRS Plot to Punish Tea Party, Nonprofit Groups

Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan
February 27, 2014

The IRS’s new proposal to crack down on nonprofits was in the works a year before the tea party targeting scandal broke, according to a Treasury Department official who told congressional investigators it was spurred by pressure from outside parties.

The revelation follows earlier testimony from former IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, who told investigators that they started “brainstorming” ways to crack down on nonprofits while under pressure from a senior Democratic senator who was “complaining bitterly to us” about the way groups were engaging in politics while organized as social welfare nonprofits.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan recounted the testimony in a letter sent this week to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who now must decide what to do about the proposed crackdown.

The two lawmakers said the evidence proves the IRS crackdown was under way well before the revelation last May that the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party and conservative groups for scrutiny, and delayed many of their applications for nonprofit status.

“One email from June 2012 demonstrates that the IRS and the Treasury Department considered privately ‘addressing’ 501(c )(4) organizations well before the public awareness of the IRS targeting,” the two congressmen said in their letter to Mr. Koskinen.

According to their letter, Ruth Madrigal, a Treasury Department official, was on an email chain with Lois G. Lerner, the former IRS official who has been painted as a key figure in the tea party scandal, said that “in 2012, there were conversations between my office, Office of Tax Policy, and the IRS regarding guidance relating to qualifications for tax exemption under (c )(4).”

Asked by investigators during the Feb. 3 interview if those conversations were in reaction to requests from outside groups, she responded affirmatively.

IRS officials have publicly characterized their push to rein in the kinds of political activities 501(c )(4) organizations can engage in as a response to an inspector general’s report in May 2013 that exposed the tea party targeting.

The tax agency has floated an outline of new rules that would limit those groups’ ability to host candidates, distribute voter guides or conduct voter registration or get-out-the-vote drives.

A three-month period for public comments closed on Thursday, and the IRS had posted more than 115,000 comments.

They were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed rules, with both conservative and liberal-leaning groups saying the rules would stifle their ability to participate in important public debates.

One joint comment, filed by a dozen groups ranging from the immigration advocacy America’s Voice and the liberal American Civil Liberties Union to the right-leaning American Conservative Union and tea party-aligned FreedomWorks, asked the Obama administration go back and start over on the rules.

They wrote: “The proposed rules treat as political a host of activities that are now and should continue to be defined as non-political, rather than discarding years of IRS rulings, guidance and precedent: nonpartisan voter registration; nonpartisan get-out-the-vote efforts; nonpartisan voter guides; candidate debates and forums; events prior to an election that feature government officials who are candidates; lobbying and other communications near an election that mention a candidate or political party in a non-election-related context (including old references still available on an organization’s website).”

Mr. Koskinen, testifying to Congress on Wednesday, said there are a number of steps in place before any final rule is written — including reading through the flood of comments and holding a public hearing. He said the agency might even release a written rule and put that back out to the public for more comments before finalizing anything.

“I think the chances of it getting finalized before the November election are fairly slim,” he told the House Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan had written Mr. Koskinen earlier in February asking him about Mr. Miller’s statement that the IRS began considering new rules under pressure from Congress. Mr. Koskinen had not replied as of the middle of this week.

In a letter to congressional Democrats on Tuesday, Mr. Koskinen said his agency has had to spend at least $14 million responding to investigations into the tea party targeting.

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

Texas The New Battleground State? Only If Eligible Hispanic Voters Turn Out More

International Business Times
By Laura Matthews
February 27, 2014

There's a politically untapped Hispanic population in Texas that's eligible to vote, but did not turn out for the 2012 elections -- and that's preventing Texas from being another swing state. Those are the findings from a new research by polling firm Latino Decisions and immigration advocacy group America's Voice.

Researchers found that that eligible but non-voting population is nearly 3 million strong, based on State and Census Bureau estimated data. In the last presidential election, only 22 percent of all the votes cast in Texas were by Hispanics, in comparison to 8 percent at the national level.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from the study:

Texas Hispanics Are Hitting Well Below Their Weight

The Hispanic turnout in the state is said to rank among the lowest in America. Some 61 percent of the eligible Hispanic electorate was a no-show during the last election. Researchers say these "unengaged" voters contribute to what is preventing Texas from being a "politically competitive" state.

By 2040 The Face Of Texas Will Change

38.2 percent of Texans today are Hispanics, which is about 10 million of the state's 26 million people. What's more, 20 percent of all Latinos in the U.S. make Texas their home. But by 2020, some 42 percent of the population will be Hispanic, and Hispanic-majority Texas could arrive two decades later.

A Third Of Hispanics Vote To Advance The Group's Cause

If Democrats and Republican want to bring out the inactive 3 million eligible voters, then they should promote policies that suit Hispanics' interests. Researchers found that a sense of community is what brought voters out in the past. By the numbers it looks like this: 34 percent of the population said they voted to support the Latino community; 35 percent voted to support Democrats; and 20 percent cast ballots to support the Republican Party.

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Arizona Residents Begin Monitoring Immigration Checkpoint

Los Angeles Times
By Cindy Carcamo
February 26, 2014

AMADO, Ariz. — Border-area residents, upset with what they called an increased militarized presence in their community, began an effort Wednesday to monitor Border Patrol actions at a federal immigration checkpoint about 25 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

Organizers with a humanitarian aid group called People Helping People in the Border Zone have called on the Border Patrol to remove the checkpoint in Amado, a town of about 300 people. Some residents say they have to deal with unnecessary delays, harassment and sometimes abuse at the checkpoint.

Border Patrol officials, who have described the checkpoint as temporary even though it's been in place for seven years, said they had no plans to remove it.

"In the Tucson sector, checkpoints remain a critical piece of infrastructure and a highly effective tool in our enforcement efforts to secure our nation's borders," a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said in a statement.

Although federal officials have released apprehension and seizure statistics for all checkpoints in Arizona's Tucson sector, they have refused to provide numbers on each one separately.

That's why the group is monitoring this one in particular, said Leesa Jacobson, a founding member of People Helping People and a librarian in Arivaca. "If they say they don't keep this data, we intend to monitor and gather it for them," she said.

Some residents in Arivaca question the effectiveness of the checkpoint if federal officials won't release data, Jacobson said. Arivaca is a town of about 600 residents near the U.S.-Mexico border; its residents must pass through the Amado checkpoint to reach Tucson.

On Wednesday, about 30 people gathered at the checkpoint to announce the monitoring program. Six people took the first shift. Wearing construction vests and sitting on red fold-out chairs, they filled in sheets to document the traffic, recording details such as time, type of vehicle and the gender and ethnicity of motorists and their passengers.

Bobbie Chitwood, who has lived in Arivaca for 36 years, says she feels compelled to make a stand and plans to volunteer to monitor the checkpoint at least once a week.

"This just impedes the movement of people," Chitwood said. "It feels very militaristic. The checkpoints feel like the beginning of something that could get worse. I don't like being stopped by people with guns."

Observing Border Patrol operations is legal as long as it doesn't interfere with agency activities, according to Customs and Border Protection officials.

Bob Bertolini, who volunteered as a monitor, says the checkpoint reminds him of those he had to go through when he was a construction worker in the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I have flashbacks when I go north of Arivaca. 'Are they going to be Iraqi soldiers? Al Qaeda? Are they going to blow me away?'" he said.

He then shakes his head to try to snap out of it, he said.

"This is America," Bertolini said. "This shouldn't be happening here."

By early afternoon, Lloyd Easterling, the deputy patrol agent in charge of the Tucson sector, had heard about the crowd and drove to the Amado checkpoint. He said he was willing to set up a town hall in Arivaca with residents to discuss the issue.

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

Jeh Johnson to Discuss Homeland Security Vision at Committee Hearing

Washington Post
By Josh Hicks
February 26, 2014

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to testify about his vision for the government’s domestic-safety agency during a House hearing on Wednesday.

Johnson, who took took office about two months ago, heads the federal government’s third largest department, Homeland Security, which includes 22 agencies that handle anything from counterterrorism and border protection to immigration and disaster responses.

Members of the House Homeland Security Committee could use Wednesday’s hearing to address a number of challenges facing the new secretary, including long-standing problems with worker morale, evolving terrorism and cybersecurity threats, widespread leadership vacancies and damage to the Secret Service’s reputation after the agency’s Colombian prostitution scandal.

DHS also recently canceled controversial plans for developing a national license-plate tracking system. Johnson terminated the proposal last week on the same day The Washington Post published a report about it.

MORE: Department of Homeland Security cancels national license-plate tracking plan

The homeland security chief made his first policy address on Feb. 7, calling for immigration reform and warning of a growing threat to the United States from Westerners heading abroad to fight in Syria’s civil war.

Johnson said during the talk that Congress should provide new opportunities for the nation’s 11.5 million undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Speaking about Westerners fighting in Syria, he said those individuals would likely encounter “radical, extremist influences” and possibly return home to do harm.

The hearing on Wednesday starts at 10 a.m., with the committee webcasting the event live.

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Obama Eases Penalties for Businesses Hiring Illegal Immigrants

Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan
February 26, 2014

The Obama administration regularly cuts a break for businesses that hire illegal immigrants, reducing their fines by an average of 40 percent from what they should be, according to an audit released Tuesday that suggests the government could be doing more to go after unscrupulous employers.

According to the audit, conducted by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut one business’s fine from $4.9 million to slightly more than $1 million — a 78 percent drop.

Investigators said the reduction is legal, but it may be undercutting the administration’s goal of getting tough on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

“The knowledge that fines can be significantly reduced may diminish the effectiveness of fines as a deterrent to hiring unauthorized workers,” the inspector general said.

The report was released the same day that a coalition of business groups wrote a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, asking him to pass an immigration bill this year. The business groups said they supported Mr. Boehner’s list of immigration principles, which would give businesses a new supply of legal guest workers while granting legal status to most illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

While most of the attention in the immigration debate goes to illegal immigrants themselves, analysts say the problem would be much smaller if businesses would abide by employment laws.

Under President Obama, the federal government was supposed to be putting more of an emphasis on going after employers. ICE specifically announced that it would conduct more audits of the I-9 forms all businesses are required to keep demonstrating that their employees are authorized to work in the U.S.

The goal was to try to ramp up pressure on businesses to hire legal workers.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Mr. Obama has talked a good game but hasn’t followed through.

“This audit confirms what I’ve found in reviewing ICE audit records obtained through FOIA,” Ms. Vaughan said in an email. “Some field offices are conducting worksite enforcement (albeit on a tight leash) as if they actually mean to deter and punish illegal employment. Others do not take it seriously and are just going through the motions. Their goal is to rack up enough audits so that the administration can use the numbers to claim that it is vigorously enforcing the law.”

The inspector general’s report said ICE submitted notices totaling fines of more than $52.7 million from 2009 through 2012, but ended up charging only $31.2 million — for a 40 percent break for businesses.

It still marks a huge increase over the Bush administration, which imposed just $1.5 million in fines from 2003-2008.

Investigators said the agency is allowed to reduce fines if it seems the businesses’ finances can’t handle a large penalty.

Investigators said overall, ICE showed little consistency in how it applied sanctions. Some field offices gave out far more warnings and far fewer fines than other offices.

All businesses are required to store the I-9 forms submitted by employees that show their legal work status.

Analysts say the I-9 paper-based process is easy to defraud. All sides agree that an electronic system would be better — though many businesses balk at adopting electronic verification without first changing the rest of the immigration system.

In its official reply to the report, ICE didn’t address the issue of reduced fines.

The agency said it has tried to be consistent overall with how it goes after employers with warnings and fines and that the differences among field offices are caused by a number of factors.

The agency said it even went back and reviewed some cases to see whether a fine or warning was the right response and that it found the initial decisions were usually correct.

The agency did agree to strive for more consistency in its reporting of information.

Businesses have been an afterthought in much of the immigration debate, which has focused on the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country and whether they should be given a pathway to citizenship.

Business groups say passing a legalization bill is important because it would give them a more certain workforce and would likely increase legal immigration channels, which would mean more workers.

“Failure to act is not an option,” a coalition of 636 business organizations said in their letter to Mr. Boehner on Tuesday. “We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy.”

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

Immigration Groups Want Obama to Stop Deportations. Here’s Why He Probably Won’t.

US News & World Report
By Lauren Fox
February 25, 2014

For nine days, Jose Valdez has sat outside the the Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Phoenix, hungry but resolved. Today, he sits wearing a red T-shirt that reads  “not one more deportation” in Spanish. His black hair is slicked back and his left hand is folded over his right, his watch around his wrist to keep track of the time he has lost.

“My only preparation for the fast was thinking of my son in jail and thinking there will be an end to this,” Valdez says.

Valdez and five other fasting activists are part of a growing number of immigrants around the country who are taking dramatic steps to call on President Barack Obama to halt deportations. If Congress won’t act, the Latino community expects the Democratic president they helped elect to do more. For Valdez, it is about more than just the deportation of his son, Jaime Arturo Valdez Reyes, who was apprehended a year ago for driving drunk and placed in deportation proceedings. Valdez says he already lost another son to deportation – a son who was killed when he was sent back to Mexico – and he knows too many families in his shoes.

Desperate, frustrated and no longer willing to wait, Latinos are beginning to distance themselves from Democrats and refocus their attention and attacks on a president who can act unilaterally from the White House, instead of on a Congress stymied by gridlock. 

Across the country, immigrant communities are fervidly calling on Obama to halt deportations as they realize Congress isn’t likely to act in 2014, ahead of the midterm elections. Activists say demonstrations like the one in Phoenix are expected to pop up around the nation: Last week, protesters from the United Methodist Church and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network were arrested outside the north gate of the White House. United We Dream, an immigration advocacy group, says it has begun working to get out the vote in states like Texas and Nevada for any lawmaker, Democrat or Republican, who has taken direct action to push immigration reform through Congress this year.

“The more the Congress refuses to move, the more the administration is going to see action from us,” says Maria Fernanda Cabello, an organizer for United We Dream.

Immigrants in the Latino community are demanding more from a president and a party that has already taken bigger steps toward immigration reform than many of their Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives. In June 2012, the president announced a program that has stopped the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young people who had entered the U.S. illegally as children. Obama also has delivered countless speeches touting the importance of immigrants to the fabric of the economy, and in November, he promised a group of fasting immigrants on the National Mall that reform was on its way.

But speeches and promises are no longer enough.

Overshadowing Obama’s progress, activists say, is his administration’s aggressive deportation rate, which has outpaced many prior administrations. The most recent records show 1.9 million immigrants have been removed from the country since Obama became president. The administration maintains it prioritizes the removal of criminals before it goes after immigrants simply living and working in the U.S. without permission.

“There is a new emerging consensus that the president can do more,” says Chris Newman, the legal director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a group advocating to halt deportations. “There is now a clear consensus that we cannot just accept the Democratic Party seeking advantage from an intractable status quo.”

Politically, Republicans look to gain the most from immigration reform. With that off the table, the GOP could begin courting Latino voters with their economic message. That could mean a smaller share of Latino votes for Democrats, and some are accusing the president of sitting back as a way to perpetuate the status quo.

“It is undeniable that immigration reform has been held hostage by a xenophobic, paranoid and nativist wing of the Republican Party. The question is whether that fact is something Democrats are willing to resign themselves to in an effort to exploit it politically,” says Newman.

When it comes to halting deportations, Obama has said his hands are tied, and there is nothing more he can do to ease the pain of immigrant communities who say their families are being torn apart.

“The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws,” Obama told a heckler during an immigration speech in California in November.

Yet legal experts challenge the president’s interpretation of those laws. Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, says that the executive branch has wider prosecutorial discretion than the White House is letting on. The problem, he argues, isn’t that Obama can’t stop deportations. It’s the simple fact that doing so is a political risk, and one the president doesn’t want to take.

“He has wide legal authority, but you have to balance that against the will of the people and politically what you can get through Congress if you push your executive authority too far,” Yale-Loehr says.

Pressure from immigrant communities, which have overwhelmingly supported Democrats in the past, puts the Obama administration in a tight spot. If the president ignores immigrants’ requests, he could lose electoral support. In the midterm elections, Democrats could see Latino voters stay home in places like Florida and Colorado, where their votes could be the difference between a Republican or Democrat winning a seat in Congress. Yet, if Obama does act, he could jeopardize his ability to negotiate on a comprehensive immigration package down the road in 2015, after Republicans likely have maintained control of the House and perhaps even taken back the Senate.

If Obama charges ahead without Congress, Republican attacks saying the president “does not enforce the laws on the books” could be validated. If the president stops deportations now, that gives Republicans more ammunition, more proof and more evidence to drag their feet on comprehensive reform, some Republican lawmakers say. 

“If the president halts deportations, he loses trust,” says Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “It contributes to the opponents of immigration reform who say that the president doesn’t want to enforce the law.”

But if Obama does nothing, activists say it’s a guarantee that more families – like that of Valdez – will continue to be torn apart.

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

E-Verify Lowers Earnings for Men Working in the U.S. Illegally

Wall Street Journal
By Ben Leubsdorf
February 25, 2014

Men who may be working in the U.S. illegally earn less money if they live in states that are cracking down on the hiring of undocumented workers, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

“Taken as a whole, the results indicate that E-Verify mandates to date are largely successful in achieving the goal of worsening labor market outcomes among unauthorized immigrants,” wrote Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny in a new Dallas Fed working paper.

But while requiring employers to verify the legal status of new employees can be a “powerful interior enforcement tool,” the economists warned it “could also lead to higher poverty and more social assistance needs among the unauthorized immigrant population.”

Ms. Orrenius, a vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Fed, and Ms. Zavodny, an economics professor at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, analyzed labor market data from 2002 to 2012. They focused on people they described as “likely” unauthorized immigrants, defined as any non-U.S. citizen from Mexico with at most a high-school education. “Although not all immigrants in this group are unauthorized immigrants, a high share of them are,” the economists wrote.

Eight states between 2006 and 2012 adopted “universal” mandates requiring all employers to verify the legal status of newly hired workers through the federal government’s E-Verify system: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

Hourly earnings fell about 8% for male “likely unauthorized Mexican immigrants” in those states after the mandates took effect, compared with other states. The same mandates, though, led to higher labor force participation by women, which the economists wrote “makes sense in the context of family decision making — as men’s earnings go down, wives may enter the labor force as secondary earners.”

Ms. Orrenius and Ms. Zavodny found the earnings hit was roughly 14% for men who had lived in the U.S. for a decade or longer. “One potential explanation is that recently arrived men move away from — or do not go to — states that adopt an E-Verify mandate… Meanwhile, longer-term male residents who have put down roots and are less mobile experience earnings losses,” they wrote.

Earnings and employment did rise in E-Verify-mandate states for low-education men from Mexico who had become naturalized U.S. citizens, and earnings rose for low-education Hispanic men born in the U.S., the economists found. “Workers who compete closely with unauthorized immigrants … may benefit from the mandates,” the economists wrote.

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

Religious Leaders Pressure GOP on Immigration

Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
February 26, 2014

WASHINGTON—Religious leaders who favor an overhaul of immigration laws are stepping up their pressure on House Republicans, aiming to move the stalled legislation and show that the GOP could pay a political penalty for inaction.

This weekend, Hispanic evangelical pastors will preach a "call to action," asking churchgoers to call members of Congress to demand passage of a broad immigration bill.

The program is being organized by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which encouraged its 34,200 member churches, representing 16 million members, to participate. It is unclear how many will do so.

On Wednesday, nearly a dozen Catholic bishops and archbishops representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are sending a letter to House members, urging them to move immigration legislation. The letter is also signed by evangelical leaders.

"The frustration—it is no longer simmering, but it's boiling over," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who is meeting next week with GOP congressional leaders. "The consequences are both moral and political."

In their letter to House members, the religious leaders wrote: "Common-sense fixes to our immigration policies are long overdue."

On Tuesday, a similar letter was sent to lawmakers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 600 business associations and companies.

Last month, many religious leaders applauded House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) when he released a set of principles to guide an expected debate in the chamber on immigration legislation. Less than a week later, however, Mr. Boehner said it was unlikely legislation could pass this year, essentially putting on the back burner an issue that would divide the GOP, which has a majority in the House, in an election year.

A spokesman for Mr. Boehner, Michael Steel, replied that the speaker wants to tackle immigration but that Republicans don't believe President Barack Obama would carry out all elements of a new law.

"Right now, there is widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it is going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," he said.

The change in course angered many evangelicals, particularly Latinos, said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. "The right thing to do was sacrificed on the altar of political expediency."

Mr. Rodriguez said, "You really gave us hope, and then you took it away."

For years, Evangelical Christians have strongly supported Republicans. Hispanic evangelicals are much more likely to support Republicans than are other Latino voters, according to polling by the Pew Research Center.

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says that could change. He said that older evangelicals may be aligned with the GOP, but Republicans risk alienating younger religious voters. "These young voters, who are increasingly concerned about justice issues, are the activists," he said.

Other religious leaders are hesitant to blame Republicans for the failure to pass an immigration bill. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, who also signed the letter to House members, said both parties share blame for failures over the years.

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

White House Meeting Turns Into a Lightning Round for Obama and Boehner

New York Times
By Michael D. Shear
February 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner sat across from each other for an hour on Tuesday in the leather-bound chairs of Mr. Obama’s office and quickly ticked through a remarkably long list of issues.

They chatted about economic matters like manufacturing, trade promotion authority and flood insurance, according to aides to both men. They discussed the Affordable Care Act and the president’s push for an immigration overhaul. They engaged on efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the process of getting a budget, and the stalled highway funding bill. And don’t forget the California drought and Mr. Obama’s new plan for fighting fires.

All told, they spent about five and a half minutes on each of the subject areas. (Less, actually, since the above list is not a complete record of the topics covered during the conversation, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said.)

But while the meeting offered a rare moment for private sharing by the leaders of America’s two dominant political parties, few of their colleagues expect it to lead to any legislative breakthroughs. Aides to both men on Tuesday called it “constructive” but offered no evidence that Washington gridlock is over.

“They agreed that there is a lot of work to do the rest of the year, and it is important to work together wherever we can find common ground,” an aide to Mr. Boehner said in an email to reporters after the meeting.

Mr. Carney maintained that the White House “is looking for a partner in Congress.” But he also noted that Mr. Boehner had in the past said he would never again negotiate with Mr. Obama. Mr. Carney declined to say whether there seemed to be any softening on the no-negotiation stance.

The president and Mr. Boehner have spent most of the past five years in a series of awkward and often fruitless negotiations. Tuesday’s exchange of views was the first publicly known, in-person, one-on-one since December 2012, and the only such talk since Mr. Obama became president that was not aimed at resolving some sort of looming fiscal crisis.

(That doesn’t count phone calls or the time Mr. Obama invited Mr. Boehner for a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base in June 2011. Aides said that social outing was constructive, too.)

It is unclear whether Mr. Obama might have had another, private message to deliver to Mr. Boehner during Tuesday’s surprise meeting, which was revealed late Monday night in the president’s daily schedule. But nothing in their dealings so far suggested a new d├ętente is in the works.

The two political adversaries met Tuesday even as the leaders in both parties in Washington have largely resigned themselves to the fact that almost no major legislation will break through in the current election year. Republicans are trying to seize control of the Senate this fall, as Democrats scramble to try to defeat as many Republicans in the House as they can.

Mr. Obama, for his part, has spent the month since his State of the Union address vowing to circumvent Congress whenever possible — and has acknowledged publicly that he does not have high hopes for progress on economic issues or an immigration overhaul.

“We’ve got a Congress that prefers to say no rather than yes right now,” Mr. Obama told Democratic governors last week. “They don’t have an affirmative agenda. Their main strategy is to just try to do nothing and see if they can — falsely — give people a sense that somehow the policies that we’re trying to pursue aren’t working for them.”

At the same time, Mr. Boehner has done little to suggest his House would advance any of the president’s agenda in the months leading up to the midterm elections, telling his members this month that he would not pursue the immigration legislation that Mr. Obama supports, but that angered conservative Republicans.

Republicans have vowed to continue their push to roll back or change the Affordable Care Act, and in a message posted on Twitter, even as the speaker was arriving at the White House, Mr. Boehner took a political jab at the president’s top domestic policy.

“#ObamaCare may increase premiums for 11 million workers, report says,” the message from the @SpeakerBoehner Twitter account read.

After Mr. Boehner finished the meeting in the White House, he slipped out without talking with reporters and returned to the Capitol. Moments later, he took to the floor — but not to wax poetic about the “constructive” meeting he had just had.

Instead, he used a new — and disputed — report on the costs of insurance premiums to attack the president’s health care law. “Another sucker punch to our economy,” he called it. “Another broken promise to hardworking Americans.”

The next Oval Office meeting might not come for another year.

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