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


Monday, June 30, 2014

Obama in Political Bind Over Border Crisis with Illegal Children


By Dave Boyer
Thursday, June 26, 2014
** FILE ** This June 18, 2014, file photo shows young detainees being escorted to an area to make phone calls as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. Thousands of immigrant children crossing alone into the U.S. can live in American cities, attend public schools and possibly work here for years without consequences. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

“It’s fair to say the White House and the president have been pretty disappointed,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday on MSNBC. “We’re not going to just sit around and wait interminably for Congress.”

Senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said last week that Mr. Obama might “build upon” his program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which critics are blaming for encouraging the latest surge of unaccompanied child immigrants. Ms. Jarrett said no decisions have been made, pending the review by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Much of Mr. Johnson’s work schedule in recent days has been consumed with visits to border states to inspect facilities where the illegal child immigrants are being housed temporarily. In Arizona Wednesday, Mr. Johnson issued a new warning to families in Central America not to send their children to the U.S., and he tried to dispel the widespread belief that such children are eligible for ‘permisos’ documents that would allow them to remain in America.

“This journey is a dangerous one and at the end of it there is no free pass, there is no ‘permisos’ for your children to come to the United States,” Mr. Johnson said.

Eli Kantor, an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, said that message has not yet sunk in with people south of the border.

“On the Texas border, there’s a lot of disinformation that if you come as an unaccompanied minor, that you’ll get ‘a proviso,’ ” Mr. Kantor said. “And a lot of them actually are able to stay,” at least temporarily, by claiming special status as a refugee or a victim of abuse, he said.

Mr. Kantor, a spokesman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said he expects Mr. Obama to take limited executive action to ease deportations later this year.

“I think what he’s going to do … is to expand DACA to different categories of people, a broader segment,” Mr. Kantor said. “I think Obama will do something to mollify critics on the left.”

Ms. Meissner, who served as commissioner of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, said Mr. Johnson’s review of deportation policies has likely been delayed by the border crisis.

“The key players are absolutely preoccupied with the southern border issue right now,” she said. “I could see that they might make some policy shift later in the year, when some of this has settled down again.”

The loss of Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, in his primary earlier this month also increases the likelihood that the House won’t act on immigration reform, Ms. Meissner said. Although she discounts the view that Mr. Cantor’s relatively moderate stance on immigration reform contributed to his defeat, she said other Republican lawmakers do believe immigration issues played a role.

“That’s the takeaway that many members of Congress have drawn from the experience,” she said. “That makes the Congress even more cautious and willing to criticize the administration, and makes it certain that they’re not going to be enacting any new legislation.”

Mr. Obama has declared this election year as his “year of action,” having already taken more than 20 executive actions to move forward with his agenda when Congress doesn’t agree. But an executive order on immigration could further motivate Republican voters, already fired up over Obamacare and what they view as the president’s misuse of his executive authority.

House Republicans said this week they are preparing to file a lawsuit against Mr. Obama for abusing his presidential powers. Ms. Meissner said any presidential move on immigration would add fuel to the GOP’s argument.

“The House has not once dropped an opportunity to cast this in terms of unwillingness to execute the law, that the actions he’s already taken are a sign that the president is lawless, that he’s in violation of his oath,” she said.

The president’s aides say Mr. Obama is increasing frustrated at congressional inaction, because the Senate legislation is the best solution to improve the immigration system.

“None of those [executive action options] will be a substitute for the kind of congressional action that we’d like to see,” Mr. Earnest said.

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

Border Crisis: With Immigration Reform 'Dead,' Will Obama Act Alone?

Christian Science Monitor
By Patrik Jonsson
June 27, 2014

As a seemingly unending phalanx of women and children continues to try to cross into the US from Central America, President Obama has only a few politically unappetizing options left on the table for how to ease a humanitarian crisis that critics say is at least partly his own making.

Fifty thousand people – mostly women with small children and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) – have crossed the Rio Grande River in south Texas this year, and another 40,000 are expected by October. The vast majority are from noncontiguous countries such as Honduras and Guatemala, which means US officials can’t just turn them back at the border. Instead, these women and children are piling up in US detention centers and being released on their own recognizance, with a promise to return to immigration court in months or years.

Most immediately, the crisis has stalled momentum on Capitol Hill toward immigration reform. House Republicans are taking the surge of undocumented women and children as proof that the US border is too porous to even start talking about a path to legal status or citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the US.

But the situation also gives Mr. Obama a new reason to use his executive powers to bypass a hostile House of Representatives, possibly by expanding his 2012 order that allows thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the US before the age of 16 to avoid deportation and work legally. A new executive order, for example, could expand eligibility to other classes of immigrants, including parents of these so-called Dreamers.

Democrats began pushing that option this week, arguing that Republicans have declared immigration reform “dead” by not offering up a bill, thus forcing Obama’s hand to act unilaterally. The Democratic-controlled Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform bill a year ago Friday, but the House has not taken it up.

“It’s fair to say the White House and the president have been pretty disappointed,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday on MSNBC. “We’re not going to just sit around and wait interminably for Congress.”

Meanwhile, the border situation remains fluid and politically explosive. At stake are not only the future prospects of thousands of illegal immigrants, but also perhaps the 2014 elections, in which scenes from an unsettled border may inflame an already-passionate Republican base and possibly tip control of the Senate away from Democrats.

“The timing here couldn’t be worse for the broader immigration debate – both in terms of the administration’s ability to tell the story about how the border is more secure and it’s time to move on to broader reforms … and the fact that there’s a narrative emerging that previous administrative actions are contributing to unauthorized migrant children arriving here,” says Marc Rosenblum of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

In addition, some conservatives have characterized the situation as a setup. The administration, they say, purposely set the migration surge into motion to create a border crisis that Obama and Democrats could cite to expand DACA and take other unilateral executive actions. (Along those lines, the conservative Drudge Report had this headline: “Nancy Pelosi to greet new arrivals at border.” The House minority leader's office on Friday confirmed that she will be touring the South Texas Detention Facility, as reported, but that she will not be meeting with the children.")

Such suspicions have transformed the border crisis into a Republican rallying cry, including alarms over disease, gangs, and economic harm to American workers.

Moreover, according to Eli Kantor, an immigration attorney in Beverly Hills, Calif., Obama appears to be winking at Hispanic immigrants. For example, while Obama warned Central Americans this week that their children will be sent back if they cross the border, he also earlier appropriated $2 million for legal groups to help make asylum claims for children who have managed to arrive there.

“The president is talking out of both sides of his mouth,” says Mr. Kantor.

Any citizen of a noncontiguous nation who manages to sneak into the United States can request asylum once apprehended. The United Nations has estimated that two-thirds of the arriving unaccompanied minors may have a case, and US immigration judges, on average, give asylum to about half of seekers, on the basis of their individual stories.

The crisis has begun to take a political toll on prospects for Obama’s immigration reform strategy. The president met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this week to mull over his options, even as word leaked out that the administration may stay its hand on possible expansion of executive orders on immigration, so as not to rile Republicans too much before the midterm elections.

Obama “really is in a very tight place,” Doris Meissner, director of immigration policy at the Migration Policy Institute, told the Washington Times. “It’s virtually an impossible situation. It is not a situation that in any way respects policy and reasonable discourse. It’s entirely politics.”

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

Obama Seeks More than $2 Billion in Border Control Funds

Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
June 29, 2014

Two girls watch a World Cup soccer match from their holding area at a U.S. border-control center in Nogales, Ariz., where many Central American immigrant children are being held.

President Barack Obama is seeking more than $2 billion to respond to the surge in children and other migrants from Central America who are illegally crossing the U.S. border, and is asking for new authority to return them home more quickly, the White House said Sunday.

Together, the requests represent a significant escalation in the Obama administration's response to the recent increase in migrants crossing the Southern border, which has presented a logistical, political and humanitarian crisis.

While the administration already has signaled it will need more money to confront the volume of migrants, this marks the first time the White House is asking for the power to deport children faster.

Mr. Obama plans to make the requests in a letter to Congress, a White House official said. "On Monday, we will inform Congress that we will be asking them to work with us to ensure that we have the legal authorities to maximize…our efforts," the official said. The appeal was first reported by the New York Times.

The official said Sunday that the White House is still working with various federal agencies on the details of its supplemental appropriations request, but the total is likely to be more than $2 billion.

Mr. Obama has been criticized by congressional Republicans, who say he hasn't been tough enough on illegal immigration and that his policies are indirectly encouraging the recent surge of border crossings.

The administration has also been scrutinized by immigration advocates, who argue that the welfare of children escaping violence in Central America should be the administration's primary concern.

"Expanding deportation efforts that the president himself has called inhumane, in the face of vulnerable children in need, is the worst of the dehumanizing Washington politics he went into office with a vow to change," said B. Loewe, spokesman for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

A record number of minors—more than 52,000 children since the fiscal year began in October—have been streaming across the border. Most of the new migrants come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, entering the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

U.S. law requires that apprehended children be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which places them with sponsors in the U.S.—usually family—while their deportation cases are heard.

Clogged immigration courts and an array of legal avenues to extend their time in the U.S. can result in these young migrants remaining north of the border for years or permanently.

Administration officials and other experts are concerned that the backlog may encourage parents to send their children on what can be a perilous—and even fatal—journey to the U.S., often in the hands of abusive smugglers.

The White House says it will ask for authority to return children to their native countries faster. This will apply to nations that aren't contiguous to the U.S., as a law already allows for a quick return to Mexico, given the shared border.

The administration also has asked for a "sustained border security surge," a request likely to be welcomed by congressional Republicans, who have said the increase in crossings is diluting the ability of the border patrol to maintain security.

Moreover, the president will ask for a "significant increase" in immigration judges in an effort to clear court backlogs. The White House said it would seek to reassign some immigration judges to handle recent border-crossing cases and establish facilities to expedite the processing of these cases.

The request also will include increased penalties for those who smuggle migrants and "the resources necessary" to detain, process and care for children and adults who cross illegally.

Already this fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 39,000 people traveling as families. But with limited facilities to hold adults traveling with children, many are released with instructions to report to court later.

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

Obama to Seek Funds to Stem Border Crossings and Speed Deportations

New York Times
By Julia Preston     
June 28, 2014

President Obama will ask Congress to provide more than $2 billion in new funds to control the surge of illegal Central American migrants at the South Texas border, and to grant broader powers for immigration officials to speed deportations of children caught crossing without their parents, White House officials said on Saturday.

Mr. Obama will send a letter on Monday to alert Congress that he will seek an emergency appropriation for rapidly expanding border enforcement actions and humanitarian assistance programs to cope with the influx, which includes record numbers of unaccompanied minors and adults bringing children. The officials gave only a general estimate of the amount, saying the White House would send a detailed request for the funds when Congress returned after the Fourth of July recess that began Friday and ends July 7.

The president will also ask Congress to revise existing statutes to give the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, new authorities to accelerate the screening and deportation of young unaccompanied migrants who are not from Mexico. Fast-track procedures are already in place to deport young migrants from Mexico because it shares a border with the United States.

Mr. Obama will also ask for tougher penalties for smugglers who bring children and other vulnerable migrants across the border illegally, the officials said.

“This is an urgent humanitarian situation,” Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “We are being as aggressive as we can be, on both sides of the border,” she said. “We are dealing with smuggling networks that are exploiting people, and with the humanitarian treatment of migrants while also applying the law as appropriate.”

After the president declared a humanitarian crisis in early June, federal emergency management officials have been coordinating with the many federal agencies involved in finding detention shelters for the unaccompanied youths and in stepping up enforcement measures to deter more migrants from coming.

“The uptick in activity at the border and the steps the administration has put in place are extraordinary,” a White House official said. “We are maxing out our capacities within the existing appropriated monies.” Federal officials have opened shelters to detain unaccompanied children at three military bases and are seeking facilities for other shelters.

Border authorities are required to turn over unaccompanied minors within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the shelters and seeks to locate family members in this country who can receive the youths.

While many unaccompanied children may qualify for some legal status here, many others would not. Authorities want to eliminate delays in deporting children determined to have no legal option to stay, the White House officials said.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama directed tough comments to Central American parents in an interview on ABC News. “Do not send your children to the borders,” the president said. “If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”

White House officials said they were not asking Congress to change other existing legal protections for children apprehended without their parents. The administration is working with the governments of the three countries that are home to most of the migrants — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — to ensure the children are safe once they are returned, the officials said.

Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district includes a long stretch of the South Texas border, on Saturday visited about 1,000 migrants detained at the Border Patrol station in McAllen. He urged Congress to approve quick changes to laws on the handling of unaccompanied minors.

“When it’s Central American countries, there is a different process,” Mr. Cuellar said. “One of the things we need to do is tweak the law, to give Border Patrol the power to treat anybody the same as we treat Mexicans.”

The influx in the Rio Grande Valley has also included many families, especially women with children. To discourage more families from embarking on the dangerous journey across Mexico, the administration is detaining more of them after they are caught.

House Republican leaders chastised the president last week, saying his lax enforcement of immigration laws had unleashed the flow. “Word has spread to the Americas and beyond that the Obama administration has taken unprecedented and most likely unconstitutional steps to shut down the enforcement of our immigration laws,” Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing. “It seems that Obama fiddles while our borders implode.”

Mr. Goodlatte said he would work with the White House to strengthen the administration’s enforcement powers.

The new proposals to deal with the border came as immigrant rights groups signaled in more than 40 coordinated protests in 23 states during the weekend that they were still hoping for action by the president to slow the pace of deportations.

The demonstrations were small, but fervent. In Chicago, a rally by activists on Friday in front of the offices of the federal immigration enforcement agency included a mock trial of Mr. Obama, who was accused of engaging in harsh deportations. On Saturday, protesters marched through the Boston Common, and in Detroit, they rallied in front of the federal building.

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

Obama's Bid to Deport Children Complicates Immigration Reform Effort

Los Angeles Times
By Lisa Mascaro and Brian Bennett
June 29, 2014

President Obama's surprise request that Congress give him authority to quickly deport thousands of Central American children illegally crossing the border is likely to renew the on-again, off-again immigration reform debate that many Republicans had hoped to avoid.

The administration is asking Congress to approve $2 billion in emergency funding for beefed-up border security and assistance, as the children — many traveling without their parents under the mistaken impression that they will be allowed to stay — slip across the Southwest border. Amid a growing humanitarian crisis, many of the children are being sent as far away as California and Oklahoma for processing and shelter.

The request, expected to be formally made Monday, seems intended to blunt criticism that White House immigration policies have inadvertently encouraged the crush of youngsters.

But the proposal presents lawmakers with an unpleasant vote on whether to deport children, something the U.S. has historically resisted. It also would undo part of a bipartisan 2008 law passed under President George W. Bush that mandated certain protections for minors fleeing violence and poverty in Central American countries and other nations.

Some conservative lawmakers may decide, particularly in an election year, that deporting the children is an appropriate response that would send a hard-line message against illegal immigration.

But for many others, particularly Democrats and Republicans representing areas with large immigrant populations, the prospect of such a heart-wrenching vote could fuel arguments that the time has come for broader immigration reform.

"It's pretty sad if the one thing they pass this year is deporting a bunch of kids — not just deporting, but permanently rolling back due process," said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the immigration advocacy group Women's Refugee Commission.

Democratic aides said Sunday that the president's proposal would provide an opportunity to reopen the legislative debate. But passage of an immigration overhaul remains a long shot, given deep resistance from the Republican-led House; many consider the bipartisan reform package that passed the Senate last year all but dead.

Once lawmakers return from their weeklong Independence Day break, the White House intends to ask Congress to move quickly to address its latest border request, which it views as an "aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation of recent border crossers," a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry will meet with the leaders of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala on the sidelines of the Panamanian president's inauguration to reinforce items agreed to during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the Central American countries earlier this month, the official said.

Authorities have apprehended more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border so far this fiscal year — about double the number from a comparable period in the last fiscal year. Many are fleeing violence at home, or reacting to false rumors that children and families will be given permission to stay.

Although no program grants residency to such migrants, in a strange way, the rumor has become somewhat true. After 72 hours, the Department of Homeland Security must transfer detained children to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is required to "act in the best interest of the child." That often means reuniting the child with a parent or relative living in the U.S. With the massive backlog in immigration courts, migrants can spend years in the U.S. before their cases are heard.

As the number of immigrants grows, U.S. lawmakers have reacted with a mix of partisan fervor against the administration's policies and, at times, exasperation over what to do next.

"I think, you know, we have to be humanitarian, but at the same time let them know that if they do come, they cannot stay here," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Otherwise, we'll never stop the flow."

Democrats who have pushed for the Republican-controlled House to take up an immigration measure after the Senate approved its bipartisan bill a year ago said the border crisis only amplified the need for Congress to act.

"We never give up," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said during a weekend trip to the border in south Texas. "There's still the month of July and, again, public sentiment is everything."

The $2 billion in emergency border funding to detain and process arrivals specifically in the Rio Grande Valley along the Southwest border will probably appeal to all but the most conservative deficit hawks in Congress, who tend to oppose any new spending. An administration official said Sunday that the amount requested was likely to rise.

But the administration's proposal to undo part of the 2008 law that provided specific protections for minors from countries with noncontiguous borders — all but Mexico and Canada — has already raised alarms, especially from the president's Democratic allies.

Under current law, children from Central American countries are afforded an immigration or asylum hearing, a process that smugglers, or coyotes, portray to immigrants as a permiso — permission to remain in the U.S.

The change sought by the administration means the children would no longer get that hearing. Instead, they would have just one opportunity to make their case to immigration officials as soon as they were detained.

"This is what's shocking about what this administration is asking for," Brané said. "Even under the Bush administration, before the law was codified, it was [accepted] that children shouldn't be put through that process. The idea was if you're going to put a kid on a plane, you need to think about that a little more."

Immigration activists said the White House's sudden strategy was little more than a quick fix to deeper problems that have been exacerbated by Congress' failure to act. It could also fuel the disenchantment of some activists who have dubbed Obama the "deporter in chief" in an effort to goad him into relaxing deportations by executive order.

Republicans say the rise in new arrivals shows the president's executive actions have become a magnet for immigrants. They point to his 2012 decision to give young adults who arrived illegally as children temporary permission to stay in the country as long as they are enrolled in school or have served in the military.

Others, though, say the broken system has left immigrants little choice but to take their chances with illegal entry if they ever hope to reunite with family members already in the U.S. or escape the poverty or wartime conditions in their own countries. The waiting list for legal entry can stretch for decades.

"It is incredible we're reacting from crisis to crisis instead of solving the problem," said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican strategist who supports immigration reform and blames both parties for failing to pass legislation. "It is sad if they could reach an agreement on [Obama's latest request] but not anything else."

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Biden Says No 'Red Card' for GOP on Immigration

Wall Street Journal
By Reid J. Epstein and Laura Meckler
June 26, 2014

A day after Congress’s biggest cheerleader for immigration legislation declared the effort dead, Vice President Joe Biden insisted it is still alive.

Mr. Biden told a gathering of a dozen people representing law enforcement, agriculture interests and religious communities that despite Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) showing a red card – soccer’s version of a being thrown out of the game – to House Republicans on immigration reform, the White House still thinks it a deal can be reached on Capitol Hill.

“We’re not giving them a red card and we’re still in this,” Mr. Biden said, according to Jenny Yang, the vice president for policy and advocacy for World Relief.

Mr. Biden delivered an immigration pep talk during the the two-hour Thursday afternoon session. He urged them to keep their efforts focused on Congress, which he said could still reach an immigration solution.

Jim Wallis, the president of the Christian social justice agency Sojourners, said Mr. Biden told the group the White House is “pushing and pushing and pushing” to get a deal through Congress this year.

“He basically said not to give up on them,” Ms. Yang said.

President Barack Obama, who has been dubbed the “deporter-in-chief” by critics, is under enormous pressure from immigration advocates to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants being sent away from the U.S. Mr. Obama in March announced that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson would conduct a review to see what administrative actions the White House could take on immigration.

On Wednesday Mr. Gutierrez delivered a eulogy for immigration legislation on the House floor while holding a small red card like the ones shown by World Cup soccer referees.

“No one tried harder than I did to keep the two parties talking about how to move forward on immigration,” he said. “But months passed and Republicans turned their backs on their own members, turned their backs on the American people, turned their backs on the business community, on Latino and Asian voters, and on those trying to save the Republican Party from itself.”

Mr. Biden on Thursday acknowledged the outside pressure during the meeting and said it can only be sufficiently relieved by Congress.

“He said they’re getting a lot of pressure and the president understands the need for a legislative solution,” said Kristi Boswell of the American Farm Bureau. “What he repeated was that the red card that Gutierrez talked about isn’t up.”

Mr. Biden met last week in Guatemala with Central American leaders to talk about ways to stem the surge in minors making dangerous trips to the U.S. border.

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

White House May Delay Easing Deportation Rules Due to Influx of Minors

Los Angeles Times
By Brian Bennett and Kathleen Hennessey
June 26, 2014

A surge of young immigrants crossing the border is prompting President Obama to delay his plans to announce more lenient deportation policies, a sign that the White House has begun to guard against political fallout from the unprecedented influx of minors.

An official familiar with the discussion says the administration has slowed plans to announce revisions to deportation policies, including one that would stop most deportations of foreigners with no criminal convictions other than immigration violations.

Obama’s advisors are also reconsidering whether to move ahead with a separate, still-tentative plan before the November midterm election that could allow the parents of young people who were brought into the country illegally to stay and work, said the official, who declined to be named in order to discuss internal deliberations.

An estimated 52,000 minors, many from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have crossed the border since October, nearly double the number of young immigrants caught crossing during the same period the year before. Republicans have blamed the unprecedented flow on lax enforcement, while administration officials have linked it to increasing violence in Central American cities and to false rumors that children who reach the U.S. receive residency permits.

A delay would be an abrupt shift for a White House that for months has used the threat of executive action to try to push House Republicans to pass its version of immigration legislation approved by the Senate a year ago.

White House advisors are now telling lawmakers and advocates that the rise in minors crossing the border — and the Republicans' claim that the administration’s deportation policies are to blame -- could swiftly drain political support for the sort of immigration reforms Democrats have advocated, the official said.

A senior administration official, who also would not be named discussing the matter, denied that the plans were on hold.

“There is no rollout plan, but the work is continuing,” the senior official said, adding that the White House remained focused on trying to pass immigration reform legislation. If lawmakers leave for their August recess without making progress, the White House will then “reassess” options, the official said.

“We haven’t reached any conclusions about that, not while legislation is still pending.”

The Senate-passed bill would create a path to legalization for most of the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. unlawfully and boost border security spending by more than $46 billion over 10 years. But with the effort to pass immigration legislation in the House stalled, Obama’s promise to take executive action to make the immigration system more "humane" had become the focus for advocates and the administration.

Department of Homeland Security officials over the last three months have condensed and rewritten a patchwork of directives created over decades into a single set of instructions that tell immigration officers whom to put at the front of the line for removal from the country.

The proposed changes would have effectively stopped most deportations of foreigners with no criminal convictions other than immigration violations, and further focused enforcement efforts mostly at those charged or convicted of felony crimes or those who pose more of a threat to public safety.

Administration officials have acknowledged that Obama’s unilateral move would drive Republicans away from the negotiating table and probably close the window for passing an overhaul of immigration laws. But White House officials also believe that if Obama acted on his own it would drive Latino voters further away from the GOP, damaging their chances of winning the presidential election in 2016.

Obama already delayed the changes once before, saying he wanted to give lawmakers more time to act. In May, Obama said he would give lawmakers until the end of the summer to pass legislation before taking his own steps.

But top officials who were closely involved in developing the new enforcement policies are now focusing on the administration’s response to the influx at the border. The administration has called in the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, testifying at the Capitol on Tuesday, said he was considering “every conceivable lawful option to address this situation.”

House Republicans have called on the administration to send the National Guard to secure the border.

In addition to revising the deportation policies, the White House had begun to develop a broader expansion of an Obama administration program to allow the parents of young people brought to the country illegally to stay and work.

The program, which was tentatively scheduled to be announced this fall, was to be modeled on the 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that stopped the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people, so-called "dreamers" brought to the U.S. as children.

Now some White House political strategists think that expanding such a program could create too much of a liability in the midterm races and prefer to wait until after the election, the official familiar with the discussions said.

Advocates were not surprised, although not pleased by the decision.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration reform group, says he sees Republicans trying to use the children at the border to “bully” the president into backing off executive action. And he’s worried it’s working.

The White House should be able to separate the immediate crisis from the long-term problems he promised to address, Sharry said, adding that the president “has not been a profile in courage on immigration.”

Johnson is continuing to “evaluate the options” for any executive action, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

“None of those will be a substitute for the kind of congressional action that we'd like to see,” he said.

As Obama has pushed and failed to win a major immigration overhaul, his public approval rating on immigration has taken a hit. A Gallup survey taken this month found just 31% of Americans approve of his handing of the issue, a drop of 8 percentage points since August.

The survey captured some of the cross pressures Obama faces. The growing disapproval crossed party lines, though a mere 8% of Republicans said they approved of Obama’s immigration policies, the survey showed.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a central architect of the Senate immigration bill, said earlier Wednesday at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Wall Street Journal that the chances for passing a bill were slim.

“I can’t tell you that we have a great shot at it, but I know the consequences of failure,” said McCain, adding that he agreed with the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that unless Republicans help pass immigration reform, the party’s nominee for president in 2016 would lose.

McCain said that the flood of children from Central America crossing the southwestern border “argues for immigration reform, not against.”

Conservatives have been looking for excuses to put off voting on an immigration bill, said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican strategist at the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a Washington-based group that advocates for immigration reform. The minors coming across the border gave the House leadership another excuse to put off a vote, he said.

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

Bleak Prognosis from Both Sides of Aisle in House for Immigration Overhaul

New York Times
By Ashley Parker
June 26, 2014

WASHINGTON — Two leading House lawmakers — one Republican and one Democrat — declared efforts to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system all but dead for the year, the result of hardening Tea Party opposition and growing mistrust of President Obama among congressional Republicans.

The grim prospect for an immigration compromise comes a year after the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill with broad bipartisan support that included both enhanced border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Pressure now shifts to the White House to address the situation through executive action.

Delivering an emotional and defiant speech on the House floor Wednesday, Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long been an outspoken and optimistic voice for an immigration deal, took a cue from the World Cup craze and handed his Republican colleagues a “red card” — used in soccer to signal a player’s ejection — as he declared any chance of compromise over for the year.

“You’re done, you’re done, leave the field,” Mr. Gutiérrez said. “Too many flagrant offenses and unfair attacks and too little action. You are out. Hit the showers. It’s the red card.”

On the Republican side, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia offered a similarly bleak assessment and twice called the chances of pushing immigration legislation through Congress this year “exceedingly difficult.”

At a breakfast for reporters on Thursday organized by The Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called for “enforcement of the law first,” and said the Republican-controlled House, which has long rejected the Senate bill in favor of a step-by-step approach, did not trust Mr. Obama to enforce the existing immigration laws.

“Until the president shows leadership on enforcement, it is very difficult to bring the parties together to talk about passing laws,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “We’re not going to be able to get to addressing immigration issues when the president is both acting unilaterally and failing to enforce the law.”

Many Republicans and Tea Party groups were outraged by Mr. Obama’s 2012 decision to use his executive authority to halt the deportation of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, as well as his State of the Union promise this past January to use his “pen and phone” to counter congressional inaction.

In a sign of the growing distrust, Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday declared his plans to introduce legislation next month that would allow the House to sue the president over his use of executive actions.

The recent flood of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America to the Mexico-Texas border has also strained relations across the aisle. Democrats point to the crisis as another reason to act on immigration immediately; Republicans say the surge of minors is another byproduct of Mr. Obama’s failure to enforce the law.

“Speaker Boehner supports efforts to fix our broken immigration system, particularly in light of the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, but it’s tough to make progress when the American people simply don’t trust President Obama to enforce the law as written,” said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman.

The surprise loss of Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, to a Tea Party challenger in a primary this month has further discouraged House Republicans from moving on an immigration deal before the midterm elections in November. Mr. Cantor’s challenger, David Brat, ran on an anti-immigration platform.

Nonetheless, Democratic leaders from both the Senate and House held out a sliver of hope in a news conference Thursday that they could pressure House Republicans into bringing some immigration legislation to the floor for a vote before the monthlong August recess.

“We demand, we plead, we ask on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the American people, bring this comprehensive immigration bill to the floor, and do it now,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip.

But Democrats as well as immigration advocates also made clear that if immigration overhaul dies in Congress this year, they believe the blame falls squarely on their Republican colleagues.

“We think the chances of immigration reform moving in this Congress are virtually nil and the next chance we’ll have to revisit this issue is in 2017,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group. He added that the group was stepping up efforts to persuade Mr. Obama to stop at least some deportations through his executive authority.

He, like other immigration activists, predicted that Republicans would face long-term political consequences: “This is going to be one of the factors that is going to lead to an electoral tsunami in 2016 that will not only help Democrats take the White House and the Senate, but to also to have a shot at retaking the House,” Mr. Sharry said.

Inside the White House, officials are divided on whether to abandon efforts for passage of an immigration overhaul or continue to have Mr. Obama pressure Republicans in the House to take up the issue this summer.

Many others believe that Republicans are not going to budge. Some are urging the president to act unilaterally to reduce those deportations that are breaking up families who have been in this country for years.

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, was preparing to make such an announcement in the spring, but Mr. Obama had him delay it to give Republicans in Congress more time to consider passing a broader overhaul. Officials said the announcement could come this summer.

Some Republicans think there may still be a narrow window for a step-by-step approach to legislation early next year, before the 2016 presidential campaign begins in earnest — but only if Republicans retake the Senate, which would give them the opportunity to draft a new immigration bill more to their liking.

Still, most Democrats and advocates for immigrants believe the next chance for broad immigration legislation will not be until January 2017, after a new president is elected.

“Because with Republican primaries and presidential candidates vying for the hard-right element that votes in those primaries, I think it’s virtually impossible for the House to take it up,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said.

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Immigration Reform Effectively Dead Until After Obama Leaves Office, Both Sides

Washington Post
By David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe
June 26, 2014

The two-year attempt to push immigration reform through Congress is effectively dead and unlikely to be revived until after President Obama leaves office, numerous lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the issue said this week.

The slow collapse of hopes for new border legislation — which has unraveled in recent months amid persistent opposition from House Republicans — marks the end of an effort that both Democrats and Republicans have characterized as central to the future of their parties. The failure leaves some 12 million illegal immigrants in continuing limbo over their status and is certain to increase political pressure on Obama from the left to act on his own.

Some of the most vocal proponents of a legislative overhaul now say they have surrendered any last hopes that Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal. The realization marks a low point for advocates who mounted the first serious immigration push since 2007, when a bipartisan effort under then-president George W. Bush was defeated in the Senate.

Obama called immigration reform his top second-term priority, and many GOP leaders suggested after their 2012 election loss to Obama that a deal was necessary for the party as it sought to broaden its appeal to Latinos.

But after a year of cajoling, prodding and berating House Republicans, leading advocates acknowledge that time has run out. Friday marks a year since the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration bill on a bipartisan vote, with no progress evident in the GOP-controlled House and little time left this year to approve legislation.

“Nothing’s going to happen,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said in an interview Wednesday after denouncing his GOP colleagues for their inaction in a fiery House floor speech. “My point of view is, this is over. . . . Every day, they become not recalcitrant, but even more energetically opposed to working with us. How many times does someone have to say no until you understand they mean no?”

Chances of legislation advancing in the House are “next to zero,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of a bipartisan group of eight senators who led reform efforts in the upper chamber.

“It’s a shame,” Flake added. But after talking to GOP colleagues in the House, “there’s just no appetite for it right now.”

Hopes for a sweeping immigration deal had already dimmed considerably by this spring. But the Obama administration and its Democratic allies believed, based on signals from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders, that there was a final window for a deal this summer before midterm elections this fall.

Two recent developments, however, appear to have doomed whatever slim chances remained, advocates and lawmakers said. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary election this month to a tea party challenger who ran on a strong anti-immigration platform. In addition, a new crisis erupted on the Mexican border, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children apprehended crossing the border illegally into Texas over the past several months.

House Republicans have cited both situations as evidence that the time is not right for a broad, bipartisan deal that would provide legal status, and potentially citizenship, to millions of undocumented immigrants. Many have also stepped up their rhetoric on the issue, blaming Obama policies for the border crisis and emphasizing that the president has failed to convince them he will enforce immigration laws.

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing this week, some GOP members suggested that the United States should, among other things, cut off all economic aid to Mexico until the border is secure, build hundreds of miles of new fencing to help prevent more illegal immigration and immediately put the children arrested by Border Patrol officers on buses back to their home countries.

“I think what you need to do is ask the Guatemala government where they want these kids dropped off when the buses bring them back down there,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) told Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the hearing.

The ascension of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to replace Cantor as majority leader appears unlikely to add new momentum to the immigration effort, even with his representation of an agricultural district that relies heavily on immigrant farm laborers.

House GOP aides said that, like Boehner and Cantor, McCarthy believes that Obama has damaged his standing with the conference through a lax approach to enforcing immigration laws. That view — heavily disputed by the White House — was underscored Wednesday when Boehner announced at a news conference that he intends to sue Obama over the president’s use of executive powers.

Though Boehner declined to spell out which actions would be addressed, Republicans have repeatedly complained about Obama’s 2012 decision not to deport young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally by their parents.

White House officials acknowledged this week that they have seen no signs of movement on immigration from House Republicans in recent weeks. The president is likely to face a shift in tactics among immigrant advocates, who will renew demands that he use his executive powers to further stem deportations.

Obama rebuffed such calls from Democrats and advocacy groups last spring, asking that they present a united front against House Republicans through the end of July, which he described as the final window of time for a potential breakthrough. Obama delayed an internal review of deportation policies at the Department of Homeland Security until after the summer.

Asked this week if the House GOP had responded to that opportunity, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Sadly, no.”

“Unfortunately, right now I think the early indications are not very good for a lot of progress on this front,” Earnest said. “For a year, there has been a very clear template . . . but House Republicans at every turn have blocked any sort of progress.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading immigrant rights group, predicted that pressure on Obama would “increase significantly in July” because advocates had lost hope in the legislative process.

Boehner has named a working group of seven GOP members to monitor the administration’s response to the border crisis involving unaccompanied children. He said the group would report back to him after the July 4 holiday recess with suggestions for potential changes in the law.

But even if Boehner were to revive House efforts to pursue legislation, the calendar leaves precious little time.

The House is in session for four weeks until the five-week summer recess that starts in early August. After that, there are just 10 legislative days in September — likely devoted to a host of complex fiscal issues, including a new highway bill and a measure to keep the federal government open when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The House has two legislative days scheduled in October, but those sessions could be canceled to allow members to spend more time at home campaigning for the midterm elections.

The potential of an electoral upheaval leaves the lame-duck session after the midterms also fraught with uncertainty. Members of both parties also suggest it is highly unlikely that immigration reform could be restarted next year, when the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign begin to take shape.

Democrats have signaled they will continue pushing Republicans to act. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats scheduled a news conference late Thursday morning to make their case.

But at a breakfast Wednesday hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — two of the architects of the Senate immigration bill — acknowledged that the chances of House legislation were exceedingly slim.

“I can’t tell you we have a great shot at it,” McCain said. “But I know the consequences of failure.”

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