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, April 30, 2014

Report on Deportations Shows Strict Enforcement at U.S. Border

Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler

April 29, 2014

WASHINGTON—A new report on deportations under the Obama administration paints a picture of two different approaches: a strict, "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S. border, where deportations are rising, and selective removals from the interior of the U.S., where deportations have fallen.

The number of formal removals at the border has risen every year under President Barack Obama. At the same time, deportations from the U.S.'s interior have fallen for five consecutive years.

This dichotomy is rarely recognized by combatants on either side of the immigration debate. Immigration advocates staging round-the-clock protests focus on the overall figures, which have hit a record, and they denounce Mr. Obama as the "deporter-in-chief." Conservatives say Mr. Obama is too soft on people living in the U.S. illegally but say little about stepped-up border enforcement.

The administration is "really trying to thread the needle," said Marc Rosenblum, author of the report released on Tuesday by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. "They're trying to be tough on enforcement, and to be humane and minimize the harm done to settled immigrant communities, and it's pretty hard to do both."

The report comes as the Obama administration reviews its deportation policy with an eye toward whether officials can enforce the law more "humanely."

Overall, the U.S. is now deporting many more people every year than it once did. Nearly two million people were deported during the first five years of the Obama administration, equal to eight years under President George W. Bush. Since 1996, when Congress last passed major immigration legislation, the U.S. has deported 4.5 million people, the report said, with annual totals rising steadily over time.

The report attributes the rise to new laws expanding the grounds for removal and speeding the deportation process, sizable increases in enforcement budgets and policy decisions by the last three administrations.

But it explains that the enforcement landscape is very different at the border compared with the interior.

Most of the complaints about the Obama deportation policy focus on people in the interior of the country who are separated from their families, sometimes after encountering law enforcement in connection with something as minor as a broken taillight.

But total deportations from the interior have steadily fallen to about 133,500 in fiscal year 2013 from about 238,000 in 2009.

The report concluded that the administration is applying its stated priorities for enforcement, and said most of the people deported have criminal convictions or, increasingly, prior immigration offenses.

Both of those are considered priorities for removal under Obama policy, though the review under way is looking at whether a prior immigration offense should put someone on the priority list for deportation.

"On a systemic level, the great majority of the nearly two million people removed by the current administration during its first five years appear to fall into one or more of the DHS enforcement priority categories," the report found.

Some conservatives seized these statistics to argue that the Obama administration isn't deporting enough people.

"The evidence is beyond refute: enforcement has been dismantled," said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.). "Interior deportations have plummeted more than 40% since 2009, producing a surge in new illegal immigration that threatens Americans' wages."

At the border, there were about 235,000 deportations in 2013, up from about 135,000 in 2008.

That is partly because the Obama administration has continued a policy that delivers more severe "consequences" to people who attempt to cross illegally, compared with simply returning them to where they came from. Where a would-be crosser might have been simply turned back in years past, now he or she is put through formal deportation proceedings. That makes it a crime for the person to try again.

In 2005, 82% of nearly 1.2 million people apprehended at the Southwest border were allowed to voluntarily return, the report said. In 2012, only 21% of about 357,000 people apprehended were given that chance.

Some advocates argue that the administration should offer leniency and even allow some illegal crossers to come into the country if they have lived here before and have strong family ties.

"The totality of somebody's equities should be considered," said Chris Newman of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, one of the leading groups pressuring the White House to ratchet back deportations.

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

Speaker Boehner Says He Wasn't Mocking GOP Colleagues on Immigration

Los Angeles Times
By Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli
April 29, 2014

Reporting from Washington —

Speaker John A. Boehner on Tuesday downplayed his recent criticism of reluctant GOP lawmakers as nothing but ribbing among friends, though he privately told House Republicans that he would still like to consider immigration reform this year.

Boehner came under fire from conservative Republicans for a speech he made in Cincinnati last week when he mocked colleagues with an exaggerated whining tone for complaining that the politics of immigration overhaul were "too hard."

"You only tease the ones you love," Boehner told reporters after the closed meeting at Republican Party headquarters Tuesday.

Lawmakers tended to take the speaker's criticism in stride, but "some members were offended," said Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana.

Boehner appeared to win over lawmakers, though, when he insisted "there's no secret conspiracy to have comprehensive immigration reform pass," Fleming said.

But the speaker did not rule out taking up immigration bills this year.

"We're going to continue to work with our members and to have discussions and to see if there's a way forward," Boehner said.

Attention on the House has intensified as the window for passing legislation narrows with the coming November election. A year after the Senate passed the most comprehensive immigration overhaul in a generation, the House has yet to act.

Republicans have argued that they cannot consider immigration reform because they do not trust that President Obama will enforce whatever laws they may pass -- arguments Boehner reiterated Tuesday.

But the GOP's reluctance has prompted the White House to consider using executive powers to make changes in immigration if Congress fails to act.

Advocates for immigration reform have continued to pressure the House -- and the administration -- to halt deportations. Protests outside the White House led to several arrests this week. More than 250 evangelical leaders rallied Tuesday morning outside the Capitol.

"We're trying to line up the votes," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a leading GOP advocate of immigration overhaul. "Every day we're getting more and more."

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

The House GOP Immigration Walk-Back

By Alex Rogers
April 29, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner doesn't seem to be pushing his members to pass an immigration reform bill, despite earlier signals to the contrary

House Republican leaders have repeatedly let a few rays of hope shine on the prospect of passing an immigration reform bill this year, only to quickly close the door and draw the blinds. They did it again Tuesday.

Last week in his home district, House Speaker John Boehner chided members of his conference for their resistance to passing a reform bill. “Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this,’” he said and squirmed to laughter while speaking at a local rotary club. “’Ohhhh. This is too hard.’”

The comments, after leaders unveiled a set of immigration reform principles in January and Boehner reportedly told donors at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month that he was “hell-bent” on passing a bill this year, seemed to indicate that he was pressing his Republican to finally move on the issue. The Senate passed a comprehensive package last summer.

But returning to Capitol Hill on Monday after a two-week recess, Boehner changed his tune in a meting with his conference. “That was the first thing that he addressed,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said. “He probably went a little too far. He was really more kidding around than anything.”

Fleming said that Boehner did not mention passing an immigration bill this year, and explicitly stated the House would not go to a conference committee to reconcile differences with the Senate’s bill, which provides a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Two House Republicans from Illinois, Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger, said last week that they support some sort of legal status for undocumented immigrants.

“There was no mocking, you all know me,” said Boehner during a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters near the Capitol on Tuesday. “You tease the ones you love.”

Repeating a line that Republicans have used for months, Boehner said his party can’t trust President Barack Obama as a partner on immigration reform because of how the Administration has implemented health care reform law. Asked if there’s a bloc of intractable members in his conference, Boehner responded: “I also make clear that the 38 changes that the President has made to Obamacare, the 38 delays in Obamacare are some of the root of the problem that we’re dealing with.”

“I think our conference frankly wants to see the rule of law enforced, and that’s really been at the heart of these other issues that we’re trying to resolve,” said Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who chairs a group of the conference’s most conservative members. Scalise added that Republicans have been “fairly divided” on the issue.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), one of the most outspoken Republicans in favor of immigration reform, said that if the conference doesn’t put something forward this year, Obama will take it upon himself through forms of executive action.

“I think if we don’t fix the situation, I think the President will probably act unilaterally,” he said. “And when that happens, there is no room for negotiations.

“It’s got to be this year,” he added. “If it doesn’t happen this year, I don’t think it happens for I think a few years.”

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

Immigration Bill Hinges on New Obama Attitude, Boehner Says

New York Times
By Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman
April 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — A week after mocking his Republican troops on the issue, Speaker John A. Boehner returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday with a different message: Any movement on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws will depend on a new White House attitude toward Republicans in Congress.

But Republicans and Democrats, both publicly and privately, suggested that a narrow window for an immigration bill could open early in the summer — after most of the midterm Republican primaries — if Congress and President Obama build cooperative good will on smaller bills in the coming weeks.

Meeting with House Republicans behind closed doors on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner defended his performance in his Ohio district last week, when he called members of his conference babies who were whining at the difficulty of moving forward on immigration legislation. The speaker told his members on Tuesday that he was simply kidding around, but admitted that perhaps he had gone “a little too far.”

“You all know me,” he told reporters after the meeting. “You tease the ones you love.”

But then Mr. Boehner quickly shifted the blame to the president, saying that Mr. Obama had lost the trust of House Republicans through repeated changes to his signature health care law, as well as through his promise to use executive actions to circumvent Congress whenever possible.

“The biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is that the American people don’t trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass,” Mr. Boehner said. “We’re going to continue to work with our members, to have discussions and to see if there’s a way forward. But the president has to take action himself. He’s got to show the American people and show the Congress that he can be trusted to implement the law the way it may be passed.”

Mr. Boehner’s allies said most Republicans took the ribbing in stride. But, they acknowledged, the House’s hard-core conservatives — many of them the most ardent opponents of any immigration bill — still could use the performance against the speaker.

“I don’t have a problem with what he did,” said Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and a supporter of an immigration overhaul. “I know him. He was talking to his constituents. I do that all the time. You’re just kind of making fun of people. But you have a group here that wants to create a spectacle, who are only interested in their own self-aggrandizement to get on talk radio.”

House conservatives showed no sign of budging on their position that Mr. Obama’s executive actions — especially his changes to the Affordable Care Act — had made him an untrustworthy partner in the politically delicate task of changing immigration laws.

“The president has proven he’s not willing to enforce the laws on the books in a fair and equal way, and that’s really poisoned the waters on a lot of issues — and immigration is clearly one of them,” said Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and the chairman of the influential and conservative Republican Study Committee. “Our conference frankly wants to see the rule of law enforced.”

That position has kept the prospects for an immigration push bleak, even if Mr. Boehner wants to move forward. But there are glimmers of bipartisanship that could ease tension. Senators are combing through House-passed legislation to see if there are bills they could accept as-is, or could make slight changes to before passage. Bipartisan manufacturing and energy-efficiency bills are on the Senate docket.

A Republican leadership aide pointed to several smaller issues — a streamlining of federal job training programs, for instance, or future trade deals — in which the president might be able to work with House Republicans to find common ground.

Mr. Obama is in a precarious position as he faces rising pressure from immigrant groups to move on his own to stem the deportation of illegal immigrants and to take other executive actions, and Republicans appeared to be squeezing him on the same issue from the right.

Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, is expected to offer recommendations in the coming weeks to make the administration’s deportation policy more humane — and Republicans warn that any action by the president to ease deportations could undermine the chances of an immigration compromise with the Republican-controlled House.

The speaker “made it clear that there’s one and only one impediment to immigration reform, and that is the president’s unwillingness to abide by existing law, and so why pass new law when he doesn’t abide by existing law?” said Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana. “He actually doubled down today on our existing position, which is not to move forward until the president gets right with this.”

House Republicans also say advocacy organizations pressing for executive action are not helping their cause. Mr. Nunes said that he still backed an overhaul, but added that mass protests, hunger strikes and sit-ins in congressional offices were backfiring.

“When they started doing all those protests in August, I told all those groups you look like partisan hacks,” he said. “It didn’t do the cause any good.”

An increasing number of House Republicans, however, are eager to push through an immigration overhaul this year, even if they cannot quite articulate a clear path forward. Last week, Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, sent a letter to the speaker urging him to “pass meaningful immigration reform legislation.” And during the Easter break, two Republicans from Illinois — Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Aaron Schock — released videos supporting some form of legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

The window to strike a compromise, members of both parties say, is dwindling.

“It’s got to be this year,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, Republican of Florida, who has been outspoken in his support of an immigration overhaul. “If it doesn’t happen this year, it doesn’t happen for, I think, a few years.”

Mr. Diaz-Balart added: “I think you have more and more people realizing that status quo is unsustainable, is unacceptable, and are having the courage to stand up to say we are here to fix things that are broken, and this is clearly broken.”

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

As His Tenure Winds Down, Obama Turns Focus to Executive Branch

New York Times
By John Harwood
April 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — John Podesta got a brief burst of attention from his hiring in a White House “shake-up,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell will be in sharp focus in coming confirmation hearings to be health and human services secretary and the cameras loved Jacob J. Lew, the Treasury secretary, during the debt-ceiling wars.

Yet the three of them can perform more valuable services for the Obama administration out of the spotlight than in. All three are considered competent, low-key managers, which is why they are in their jobs. For the remainder of President Obama’s term, what matters most to his success is what Washington watches least: competent governmental management.

Although the part of his presidency that involves getting major new laws through Congress has wound down, the part that involves effectively running the vast federal apparatus to carry out his priorities still has nearly three years to go.

In one way, the situation is liberating for Mr. Obama because, in basketball terms, it puts the ball in his hands at the end of the game. But it is also perilous. From starting health care exchanges to overseeing the National Security Agency to executing his Syria policy, the diffident chief executive and his team have repeatedly thrown the ball out of bounds.

“He’s a nonmanager,” said Charles O. Jones, a presidential scholar and a senior fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Obama still aims to win over Republicans on immigration legislation and a minimum-wage increase. He travels the country raising money and campaigning to help Democrats hold the Senate in midterm elections this fall.

But the stakes of partisan battles have diminished, as they always do near the end of any president’s tenure. So in reshaping his second-term team, Mr. Obama has given new emphasis to managing the executive branch.

“That’s part of being on an arc of success in a presidency,” Mr. Podesta said. “The things you got moving on get done right, and so are harder later to uproot.”

The effort to limit carbon emissions and fight climate change, a central priority of Mr. Obama’s since 2008, is one big example.

Republicans won the fight in Congress over Mr. Obama’s “cap-and-trade” plan, which would have forced industry to pay a price on carbon emissions. Thus Mr. Obama hired Mr. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, to help oversee his fallback plan: new executive branch rules on power plant emissions.

Those rules, Mr. Obama calculates, can at least let him keep his international commitment pledging that the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

He will succeed only if aides craft the rules skillfully enough to withstand legal challenges and dissuade subsequent presidents and Congresses from discarding them. Mr. Podesta’s earlier experiences with White House rule-making found both victory (on protection of forests) and defeat (on workplace ergonomics) after Mr. Clinton left office.

Another second-term priority is carrying out the Dodd-Frank law, which aims to prevent future government bailouts by ensuring that no institution is “too big to fail.”

Democrats won the legislative fight over new Wall Street oversight, a top Obama effort after the 2008 financial meltdown. Yet the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell estimates that one-fourth of needed administrative regulations have not yet been proposed for Dodd-Frank.

Shepherding that process, and harmonizing American rules with the global financial system, is a major responsibility for Mr. Lew, chairman of the multiagency Financial Stability Oversight Council. Both Wall Street executives and their liberal critics credit the Treasury secretary with pushing colleagues to complete by 2015 the complex Volcker Rule, a main element of Dodd-Frank that limits banks’ ability to bet with their own money.

Mr. Obama’s first Treasury chief, Timothy F. Geithner, feuded with Sheila C. Bair, then chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. “You now have a team that works well together,” said Barney Frank, the retired Democratic representative from Massachusetts who co-wrote the law.

Mr. Frank, who observed five presidents over 32 years in Congress, called Mr. Obama “about average” as a manager. But he said the president has sometimes paid a price for aloofness from those outside his inner circle, including important appointees.

Mr. Obama is “less hands-on than Clinton,” Mr. Frank said, comparing the Democratic presidents. Two things puzzled him, he added: the apparent difficulty Mr. Obama has in reining in the intelligence agencies, and the bungled rollout of federal health care marketplaces.

Which brings up another Obama priority, the health care law. This month, the president nominated Ms. Burwell, his budget director and former head of the Walmart Foundation, to try to make the law run more smoothly. “I could choose no manager as experienced, as competent,” Mr. Obama said.

Though the law’s first enrollment period ended strongly with eight million sign-ups, the administration must build on that in 2015 and 2016 to ensure that the marketplaces have enough young people — who are overall healthier and get sick less — to hold down the cost of premiums.

The better Ms. Burwell and her colleagues perform, the less chance there is for future Republicans in Congress or the White House to significantly alter, much less repeal, the Affordable Care Act.

Overall, a president’s ability to be a good manager is unpredictable. Presidential candidates often promote experience in the governor’s office as superior preparation, but neither George Bush’s experience as Texas governor nor his distinction as the first president with a business degree prevented the management failures of the Iraq war or his response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Presidents often don’t care about management until it’s too late,” writes Donald Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, in the coming issue of Government Executive magazine.

In Mr. Obama’s case, Mr. Kettl concludes, improving his poll numbers on health care and other programs is no longer the point: “The best way for Obama to secure his legacy is to ensure his favored programs actually perform well.”

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

Lawmakers Return to Congress With Modest Agenda

New York Times
By David S. Joachim
April 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — When members of Congress are campaigning for re-election in their districts, they are calling for legislation to address big problems with immigration, taxes, health care, worker pay, climate change and the country’s aging infrastructure. But as they return to Washington on Monday after a two-week break, there is almost no prospect for new legislation in those areas until after Election Day.

Instead, lawmakers will take up the kind of workaday legislation that they have only recently been able to agree on, namely keeping the government’s lights on. Both chambers convene at 2 p.m.

House Republican leaders, intent on avoiding a repeat of the government shutdown last fall that hurt them in the polls, plan to hold votes this week on two spending proposals for 2015 that are considered among the least contentious: for military construction and Veterans Affairs, and for the legislative branch, according to a memo sent to House Republicans on Friday by the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Despite the modest legislative agenda, there will still be plenty of political drama. At a meeting of the Republican conference on Tuesday, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is expected to be confronted about a speech he made on Thursday in his home state in which he mocked the most conservative House members for thwarting immigration legislation.

The House will also soon take up a resolution by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official, Lois Lerner, in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about her role in holding up applications for tax exemption from conservative political groups before the last election, according to Mr. Cantor’s memo, which was provided by a spokesman.

Ms. Lerner faced the oversight panel last year and read a statement in her defense. She then refused to answer questions, invoking her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself. In April, Republicans on the committee recommended a contempt citation, claiming that her prepared remarks amounted to a waiver of her Fifth Amendment rights.

On Monday, Ms. Lerner’s lawyer, William W. Taylor III, sent a six-page letter to Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor requesting a chance to make a case for why the House should not hold her in contempt.

“The law is clear that she did not waive her Fifth Amendment privilege,” Mr. Taylor wrote. He added that “the committee did not satisfy the minimum procedural requirements for holding her in contempt, because it did not order her to answer any questions.”

Mr. Cantor, in his memo to colleagues, wrote that the House would also take up legislation to expand charter schools, make permanent a research-and-development tax credit and crack down on human trafficking. President Obama has long sought to make the tax credit permanent, but the parties remain divided over how to replace the significant loss to the Treasury over the coming decade.

In the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, plans to hold a procedural vote this week on legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage. It is likely to fail.

Senate Democrats are also planning to take up a proposal to make college more affordable for middle-income households.

Like so much of the 2014 legislative agenda in both chambers, the Senate proposals are more about drawing contrasts with the opposition party than an earnest attempt at lawmaking. With just a few weeks left before the summer campaign season, it is all about the midterms.

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

Tech Industry Creates Fears Among Immigration Advocates

USA Today
By Erin Kelly
April 29, 2014

WASHINGTON - High-tech companies' support for a bill that would increase visas for skilled foreign workers has sparked fear among immigration activists that the powerful industry wants to cut its own deal and abandon the larger cause of a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

That fear spurred Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. - one of the original architects of the immigration bill that passed the Senate last year - to send industry leaders a letter urging them not to break their commitment to the broader changes, including a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the USA.

Tech companies say they remain committed to comprehensive change, but the controversy underscores the fragility of the diverse coalition of advocates and their growing frustration over the failure of Congress to pass a bill.

"Until a coalition like this has a tangible success, there are going to be inherent suspicions among the partners," said Louis DeSipio, a political science and Latino studies professor at the University of California-Irvine. "The inaction of the House on immigration reform is creating tension. Each of the coalition partners is unsure of how committed the other partners are."

That's especially true, DeSipio said, since the coalition supporting an immigration overhaul is broader than it has ever been, bringing together business groups and labor unions, Catholics and evangelical Protestants, immigrant rights activists and police chiefs.

"This is a new coalition in American immigration reform history," the professor said. "Some of the coalition partners don't know each other that well."

That may be one reason why a recent op-ed in Roll Call by the executive director of Compete America - a coalition of technology companies, universities and trade associations favoring new immigration laws - caused such a negative reaction among other supporters.

Scott Corley used his March 19 op-ed to call on Congress to act now to take up legislation such as the SKILLS Visa Act that would increase the cap on the number of H1-B visas from 65,000 to 155,000, allowing U.S. companies to bring in more computer scientists, engineers and other highly skilled workers from foreign countries. The bill has been introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"It is time to take action," Corley wrote. "There is widespread agreement among both parties and in both chambers of Congress that high-skilled immigration is good for the economy."

Some of Compete America's allies in the broader fight for immigration changes saw that op-ed as evidence that the tech industry might be looking to cut a deal to benefit only itself.

"I am troubled by a recent statement that some in the technology industry may shift their focus to passage of stand-alone legislation that would only resolve the industry's concerns," Durbin wrote in an April 1 letter to the CEOs of Accenture, Amazon, Cisco, Deloitte, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle.

"This 'divide and conquer' approach destroys the delicate political balance achieved by our bipartisan (Senate) bill and calls into question the good faith of those who would sacrifice millions of lives for H1-B relief," Durbin wrote.

Corley called the rift a "false controversy" and said he has reached out to other members of the coalition to reassure them.

"Nothing has really changed for us," Corley said. "No one has been more committed than our industry to comprehensive immigration reform. And that's still what we're working for."

However, since House leaders have said they prefer to take up immigration legislation issue-by-issue rather than in one sweeping bill, Corley said he urged them to take up the H1-B issue as a first step.

"We just want the House to start with something," he said. "We don't care if it's H1-B or border security or the Dream Act (to help young immigrants brought to the USA illegally as children)," Corley said. "We'll take it any way that gets us to reform."

Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice immigrant rights group, said he is not worried that Congress would pass an H1-B visa bill without taking action on a broader immigration bill.

Even if the Republican-led House passed a bill that would help high-skilled foreign workers, the Democrat-led Senate and White House would not let it go through unless it was part of a comprehensive package, Sharry said.

"I'm annoyed but not concerned," Sharry said. "Tech lobbyists may be doing things to try to impress their bosses, but it's not the kind of thing that's going to survive the rough and tumble of Congress."

That could change if Republicans take control of the Senate in this fall's election, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes the Senate's immigration bill.

"If both chambers of Congress pass an H1-B bill, would the president really veto it?" Krikorian said. "I'm not sure he would. And if the tech industry gets what it wants, then they're done. What do they care about the rest of this stuff?"

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Immigration Resurfaces in Tough Talk by Speaker

New York Times
By Ashley Parker and Michael D. Shear
April 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — Speculation about Speaker John A. Boehner’s intentions in overhauling the nation’s immigration laws intensified Friday after he mocked the most conservative House members for thwarting his attempts to fix the system, shore up the borders and address the legal status of the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

For Mr. Boehner of Ohio, who expressed his frustrations at a Rotary Club luncheon in Ohio on Thursday, it was the latest in a series of bracing comments that White House officials and activists said could be an indication that he was willing to buck opposition in his own party and move ahead on immigration.

Steven C. LaTourette, a Republican former congressman from Ohio who is close to Mr. Boehner, said the speaker’s comments meant he was ready to either push forward on immigration or was preparing for retirement.

Mr. Boehner may have become “finally unchained and has basically had enough of this stuff and is going to be John Boehner again, which would be great for the party and great for the country,” Mr. LaTourette said. “Or this condo he bought down in Florida is going to be occupied sooner than anyone thought.”

The Senate, with bipartisan support, passed a broad immigration bill last June, which included a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. But the measure stalled in the Republican-controlled House, where many conservatives dismissed the bill as providing “amnesty.”

Mr. Boehner and his leadership team released a one-page set of guiding principles on immigration in January, which also included a lengthy path to legal status for such immigrants, but he was forced to abandon the guidelines just a week later in the face of conservative opposition.

But in recent weeks, Mr. Boehner’s exasperation has become increasingly pronounced. At a recent fund-raiser in Las Vegas, in comments first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Boehner told guests that he was “hellbent” on dealing with the issue this year. And on Thursday, back in his home district, Mr. Boehner allowed what seemed to be his private sentiments to spill into public view as he poked fun at some of his most conservative members.

“Here’s the attitude: ‘Oooh, don’t make me do this. Oooh, this is too hard,’ ” Mr. Boehner said in a high-pitched voice, his faced scrunched up like a child’s.

“We get elected to make choices,” he added, in comments first reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer. “We get elected to solve problems, and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to.”

His aides were quick to reject the idea that Mr. Boehner was ready to change strategies. He still opposed, they said, a broad overhaul embraced by President Obama and a bipartisan group in the Senate.

“The speaker continues to believe we need step-by-step efforts to fix our broken immigration system, but given the American people and Congress’s lack of trust that the president will enforce the law, it’s difficult to see how we make progress,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner. As for the mockery, he added, “The speaker often says you only tease the ones you love.”

House Republicans, including Mr. Boehner, hoped to pass a series of narrow but related bills. But they also said that Mr. Obama’s repeated changes to the Affordable Care Act, as well as his State of the Union promise to use executive actions to circumvent Congress, have eroded trust and made any immigration deal with Republicans increasingly difficult.

Privately, Republicans also said that a broad immigration deal was unlikely in a midterm election year, and that the issue was too big and unwieldy to push through in the lame duck session after the November elections. Democrats pointed to a small window of opportunity — in June and July — when a deal could be reached, but they warned that it was rapidly closing, and that Republicans had not made any serious effort to work with them on a compromise.

Mr. Boehner’s comments did nothing to endear him to his party’s conservative wing, which he has battled on a number of other fronts, including the “fiscal cliff” deal and the government shutdown last year. Representative Raúl R. Labrador, an Idaho Republican who frequently criticizes Mr. Boehner, said in a statement that he was “disappointed” in Mr. Boehner’s remarks.

“The problem is Obama, not House Republicans,” he said. “Speaker Boehner should have made that point instead of criticizing the people he is supposed to be leading.” 

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, said Mr. Boehner’s recent actions have offered a “drip, drip, drip” of signals to his party’s conservative base, and “each one of these weakens his hand.”

Immigration advocates said they needed to see action from the speaker, not just tough talk. “He’s acting like he’s not the speaker of the House of Representatives,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group. “There’s nobody higher than him in that body who can decide what bills get put on the floor and what votes to take.”

White House officials declined to comment on the speaker’s remarks. In recent months, Mr. Obama and his aides have been careful to give Mr. Boehner — who they believe is personally committed to overhauling the immigration system — a wide berth in dealing with his members.

But even as he waits for Mr. Boehner to act, the president is under increasing pressure to slow the steady stream of deportations. Last month, Mr. Obama promised that Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, would review the deportation policy to make it more humane.

That review could be finished within weeks, several administration officials said. Mr. Johnson is considered likely to focus on ways to minimize the deportation of immigrants who have settled in the nation’s interior and have committed no other crimes. Such a proposal could reduce the likelihood of deportation for tens of thousands.

Any recommendation like that could anger House conservatives and make the speaker’s job more difficult.

But a proposal to change enforcement priorities is not likely to satisfy most immigration activists either; they want the president to end most deportations until a legislative overhaul is enacted.

Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who once served as Mr. Boehner’s spokesman, said his comments in Ohio this week reinforced the speaker’s difficult position.

“It isn’t a secret about what John’s personal policy views are on this,” Mr. Madden said. “He believes this is an important issue that he’d like to get done.”

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

Pelosi Calls on Boehner to Act on Immigration Bill After He Mocks GOP

USA Today
By Catalina Camia   
April 25, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner’s mocking of his own GOP members on immigration sparked a reaction from lawmakers in both parties.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi turned Boehner’s words on him and urged the speaker in posts on Twitter to bring an immigration proposal to the floor for a vote. House GOP leaders have said repeatedly they will not consider the Senate-passed immigration bill.

Boehner told a Rotary Club audience in his Ohio district on Thursday that some House Republicans have this attitude about overhauling the nation’s immigration policy:  “Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhh. This is too hard.”

He went on to say that he’s had “every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with. I didn’t say it was going to be easy.”

One of those Republicans jabbing at Boehner has been Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who once said Boehner should lose his speakership if he pursued an overhaul of immigration policy this year. The GOP-led House has only released a statement of principles about what it would like to accomplish in an immigration rewrite.

“I was disappointed with Speaker Boehner’s comments, and I think they will make it harder — not easier — to pass immigration reform,” Labrador said in a statement Friday. He said the “biggest obstacle” facing Congress is President Obama, charging him with not enforcing the immigration laws that already exist.

“Speaker Boehner should have made that point,” Labrador said, “instead of criticizing the people he is supposed to be leading. … If he wants the Republican conference to follow him on this issue, he needs to stand up for House Republicans instead of catering to the media and special-interest groups.”

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

Homeland Security Chief Stresses Families in Immigration

Wall Street Journal
By Sarah Portlock
April 27, 2014

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Sunday emphasized the importance of keeping families together as his agency conducts a review of policies that immigration advocates say are tearing families apart.

Last month, President Barack Obama directed Mr. Johnson to review the policy to see if it could be conducted in a more “humane” way.

On Sunday, Mr. Johnson expanded on that definition, saying immigration law needs to comport with American values.

“And one of those American values is respect for human dignity,” Mr. Johnson said on ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “I also believe one of those American values is respect for the sanctity of the family unit.”

The administration has set a record for total deportations, and immigrant advocates have complained that the current policy is separating family members who have ties to their communities and pose no danger.

Critics say any loosening would be a mistake and that no one would leave without the threat of deportation.

Speaker John Boehner has said he is “hellbent” on addressing immigration reform despite reluctance from many Republicans to tackle the issue in an election year.

Among the questions said to be under review is whether people without serious criminal records should continue to be removed from the U.S. That group accounted for a small slice of illegal immigrants who are settled in the U.S. but have minor or no criminal records but get snagged by law enforcement.

On Thursday, nearly two dozen Republican senators sent a letter to Mr. Obama to express “grave concerns” with the policy review. They fear the changes will wrongly weaken immigration enforcement. The senators said that the administration’s policies, which prioritize criminals, recent border crossers and others for deportation, already undermine federal law.

Mr. Johnson, on Sunday, said he “doesn’t understand” people who say the administration is not enforcing the law, and that Congress needs to pass immigration reform legislation.

“We are enforcing the law every day,” Mr. Johnson said. “None of what I can do, however, is a substitute for action by Congress.  We have an immigration system in this country that is not working.  Comprehensive immigration reform would fix it.”

The Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill last summer, but the issue has stalled in the House. Some Republicans oppose it, saying it is wrong to reward people who broke the law with legal status and that more legal visas would hurt American workers. The GOP also fears the divisive debate would hurt the party’s chances in the November midterm elections.

“This is something we need to do,” Mr. Johnson said. “I’m confident that it will happen.”

Most have assumed that immigration will not advance this year in the House, but recent comments from Mr. Boehner suggest he will try. He got some backup when Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Republican Conference, said the House is prepared to move forward with guidelines for immigration reform and could have a deal before the election, according to the Spokesman-Review.

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

DHS Chief: Immigration System Not Working

The Hill
By Laura Barron-Lopez
April 27, 2014

Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said on Sunday that the current U.S. immigration system isn't working.

Johnson pushed back at criticism from Republicans that Homeland Security is failing to enforce the law, but also said he needs help from Congress.

"We are enforcing the law every day," Johnson said on ABC's "This Week." "None of what I do, however, is a substitute for action by Congress."

"We have an immigration system in this country that is not working. Comprehensive immigration reform is something we need to do," he said.

Last month, facing scrutiny from the left on the department's deportation approach, President Obama asked Johnson to oversee a review of deportation policy.

"Immigration laws or any other law need to comport with American values," Johnson said. "One of those values is respect for human dignity."

Johnson said he looking for ways to more effectively enforce the nation's immigration laws, but again is hopeful Congress will act on reform soon.

"I'm confident it will happen," he said of immigration reform.

Last week, Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (Wash.), the House's No. 4 Republican, told The Spokesman-Review that she thinks "there is a path" for a bill to get to the floor by August.

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