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, December 31, 2014

It's Smart to Have Copies of Any Immigration Files Before Applying for Deferred Action Programs

The Daily News (Opinion):
Monday, December 29, 2014, 4:25 PM
By Allan Wernick

Documents such as passports are evidence to prove qualifications for Deferred Action programs, and are helpful when meeting with immigration law experts before applying

It's a smart move to have copies of passports and other immigration documents to prove evidence of qualification for Deferred Action programs and to show to immigration law experts 

Q: Reading your columns, I was pleased to learn that my wife and I qualify for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. We plan to apply, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement has our passports. How do we get them back?

A.K., by email

A: You can’t get your passport back, but you can get a copy. You are smart to do that. Applicants for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should get copies of any existing immigration files. Besides getting evidence to help prove your qualifications for DAPA, you’ll want an immigration law expert to review your file before you file your application. You can get a copy of your file by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency that has your records. These is no filing fee, but occasionally the agency will charge a copying fee.

To help you and other DACA/DAPA applicants, let’s review how undocumented immigrants can get copies of their immigration files.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement files: To get an ICE file, submit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form G-639, Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Request. You can get the form at www.uscis.gov/forms or by calling USCIS at (800) 870-3676.

Submit to ICE by mail, fax, emailing the form or filing it online. Mailing address: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Freedom of Information Act Office, 500 12th St. SW., Stop 5009, Washington, D.C. 20536-5009. Fax: (202) 732-4265. Email: ICE-FOIA@dhs.gov. To file online, go to http://www.ice.gov/webform/foia-request-form. Call ICE about an FOIA request at (866) 633-1182.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: File USCIS Form G-639. Mail to USCIS, National Records Center (NRC) FOIA/PA Office, P.O. Box 648010, Lee’s Summit, Mo. 64064-8010. Fax to (816) 350-5785 or (802) 288-1793. Email to uscis.foia@uscis.dhs.gov. You can call USCIS at (800) 375-5283.

Customs and Border Protection: File USCIS form G-639. Mail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA Division, 90 K St. NE, MS 1181, Washington, D.C. 20229-1181. You can apply online at www.cbp.gov/FOIA. Call CBP FOIA at (202) 325-0150.

Executive Office for Immigration Review: For your deportation/removal proceedings file, write to the EOIR. Do not use form G-639. Instead send EOIR your full name, aliases, immigration hearing location, and alien registration “A” number. If you don't know your A-number, or the case occurred before 1988, provide the date of your Order to Show Cause (first notice to appear in court), country of origin, and the place where your immigration hearing was held. Mail to U.S. Department of Justice, EOIR, Office of the General Counsel, Attn: FOIA Service Center, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 1903,Falls Church, VA 20530. Email EOIR.FOIARequests@usdoj.gov Call EOIR FOIA at (703) 605-1297.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York‘s Citizenship NOW! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email to questions@allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.

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

Obama on Immigration: 'Nativist Trend' in Parts of the Republican Party

The Washington Times:
Monday, December 29, 2014
By David Sherfinski

President Obama says his recent executive actions granting millions of illegal immigrants temporary amnesty could spur Republicans to work together with Democrats on the issue, but if they solidify what he called a “nativist trend” in parts of the Republican Party, there probably won’t be much progress.

“If your view is that immigrants are either fundamentally bad to the country or that we actually have the option of deporting 11 million immigrants, regardless of the disruptions, regardless of the cost, and that that is who we are as Americans, I reject that,” Mr. Obama told NPR.

On the other hand, he said, there is potential for working together on the issue, though Republicans have vowed to fight his recently-announced executive actions when the new Congress returns next month.

“So, the question then becomes, by me having taken these actions, does that spur those voices in the Republican Party who I think genuinely believe immigration is good for our country? Does it spur them to work once again with Democrats and my administration to get a reasonable piece of legislation done?” he said.

“Or does it simply solidify what I do think is a nativist trend in parts of the Republican party? And if it’s the latter, then probably we’re not going to get much more progress done, and it’ll be a major debate in the next presidential election,” he continued.

Mr. Obama said the country has more resources, border police, and money devoted to the borders than at any time in the past several decades and that the flow of illegal workers is about half of what it was and is lower than any time since the 1970s.

“So, you know, you have to describe specifically what are the concerns that you’ve got,” he said.

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

How Obama's Immigration Plan Is Expected to Roll Out

Los Angeles Times:
December 30, 2014
by Brian Bennett and Joseph Tanfani

President Obama's new set of immigration policies could affect as many as 5 million people, including the possibility of a three-year reprieve from the threat of deportation for parents of children with legal status.

The new year will see those policies coming into effect, potentially creating dramatic changes for those who are in the U.S. illegally. Also ahead in 2015 are important shifts in how agents will enforce immigration laws to focus more on deporting people with lengthy or violent criminal records and less on people whose only crimes are immigration offenses.

The new approach will end the dragnet system that enlisted police in blowing the whistle on immigrants. These policies won't apply to most of the 11.2 million living in the country illegally.

And don't expect this to roll out without a fight. Republicans in Congress already have vowed to try to undo the new policies.

"This is a serious breach of our Constitution. It's a serious threat to our system of government," House Speaker John A. Boehner said as the plan was unveiled. But practically speaking, there is little they can do.

Republican governors in states affected by the new deportation policies have called out the lawyers. At least 24 states have filed suit to block the plan, and that case is expected to play out in the courts throughout 2015.

Here's a look at the plan and what we can expect:

Whom is the new plan designed to help?

Mostly immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally and who have children who are citizens (nearly all children born in the U.S. are automatically citizens) or permanent legal residents. To be eligible, people have to have been living in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, and have no record of serious crimes that would make them a priority for removal.

A White House legal memo said this "would serve an important humanitarian interest in keeping parents together with children who are lawfully present in the United States." Approved applicants will get permission to stay for three years. As many as 4.1 million people could fit the criteria, the administration estimates. The application will cost $465.

What about people who came to the U.S. as children?

The program expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program begun in 2012 that has protected 587,000 young people from removal. The new rules do away with an age limit and open the program to anyone here since 2010, instead of the old cutoff of 2007. An estimated 300,000 more young men and women would be eligible.

Does this mean these people will become legal residents?

No. As laid out by Obama and Jeh Johnson, his Homeland Security secretary, the administration is using its discretion to not target these people. Absent other changes, such as a law passed by Congress, the people could again go into illegal status after their temporary reprieves expire.

Where are most of the people from, and where do they live now?

About two-thirds are from Mexico, the source of most immigrants to the U.S. The biggest share of the eligible parents, more than 1.1 million, lives in California, with the next biggest populations in Texas and Illinois.

What about the more than 6 million people who don't qualify?

Some arrived in the U.S. too recently to qualify, but most are excluded because they didn't have children born here. According to the Pew Research Center, which studies immigration, about 85% of people who live in the U.S. without authorization have been here for five years or more. That's because immigration has been down in recent years, said Jeff Passel, Pew's senior demographer. The biggest share of the people who've lived here long enough but don't qualify is single men, he said. Others are married without children. Some have children who were born elsewhere — for instance, parents of kids born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as toddlers aren't eligible.

Is the new program open to parents of children who've already received a reprieve under DACA?

No. Administration lawyers decided that was a bridge too far and without legal basis, since there would be no family member with legal status in the U.S. — only children with a temporary relief order. That decision disappointed some immigration activists, who point out that those families could be split up.

If someone met these qualifications — in the U.S. for five years, with American-born children — but got deported, could they now apply to get back in?

No. Those cases are considered closed by immigration officials. As many as 250,000 to 300,000 people could fit that category, according to Randy Capps, director of research for the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. However, the new policy says that people who are subject to deportation actions — even those who have received final removal orders but are still in the U.S. — can apply to stay.

How will enforcement change under the new rules?

The administration says its top priority will be to go after border crossers and people considered dangerous, such as convicted felons and gang members. The second priority is people convicted of three misdemeanor crimes, or who have significant offenses such as domestic violence or drug trafficking.

At the bottom of the list are people who have committed no crimes other than illegally entering the country, particularly if they've been in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014. The administration is doing away with the much-derided Secure Communities program, which enlisted police to hold unauthorized people on detainers for immigration agents. The government will still collect fingerprint data, though.

Who else could benefit from the changes?

Also in the works are changes to rules for granting visas for science and technology students, and to streamline the clunky and inflexible rules on work visas, to make it easier for people to change jobs without jeopardizing their immigration status.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Obama's Recent Bold Actions Shape the Contest for 2016

National Journal
By Ronald Bernstein
December 23, 2014

So there he was.

The President Obama on display the past few weeks has been the one many of his supporters have been expecting since he took office. In a flurry of decisions--executive action providing legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants, a climate deal with China, the move toward normalization with Cuba--he's been decisive, bold, and seemingly oblivious to near-term political costs. Rather than fruitlessly trying to untangle Gordian knots on Capitol Hill, he's moved to slice through them with unilateral executive action. Obama swaggered so much during his year-end press conference last week that he looked as though he might lift the microphone from the podium and drop it on the stage, pop-star style, as he walked out.

It's quite a reversal for a president who watched Republicans romp so thoroughly in the November election that they now hold their most House seats since the Depression. Yet Obama seems clearly liberated, in part because he no longer must constrain his actions for fear of hurting red state Congressional Democrats. On issues like immigration, Obama restrained himself and almost all of those embattled Democrats lost anyway. He now looks to be operating under the Bobby McGee principle that freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

But that's not quite true. The big vulnerability in Obama's approach is that his dramatic thrusts are all advancing through executive action, not legislation. That means that even if his agenda survives pushback from the Republican Congress (likely) and the courts (more uncertain), it can still be undone by the next president. Which in turn means the verdict on Obama unbound will pivot on whether his initiatives improve or diminish the chances of a Democrat succeeding him in 2016.

It's already a given that Obama will loom over 2016. Exit polls found that roughly four-fifths of voters who approved of Ronald Reagan in 1988, Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2008 voted for their party's nominee to succeed them. Exactly 88 percent of the voters who disapproved of Reagan and Clinton voted for the other party's candidate; for Bush the number was two-thirds. If voters in 2016 look no more favorably on Obama than the electorate in 2014-when 44 percent approved of his performance and 55 percent disapproved-any Democratic nominee will face a stiff headwind.

Though Obama still faces significant doubts about his leadership and management skills, he can reasonably hope that events may lift his standing. With employment growth accelerating, the economy has already created over six times as many jobs since he took office than during Bush's entire two terms. While his health care law still faces public skepticism and legal threats, it is contributing to positive trends on coverage and costs. Foreign crises can always erupt (see: The Interview) but Obama can point to gains against Russia, ISIS and Ebola, and the possibility of a major international climate agreement next year.

His recent policy offensive follows a different political equation. The overall public reaction to his initiatives varies; for instance, polls show that slightly more Americans disapprove than approve of him acting unilaterally on immigration (though they continue to support the underlying move to legal status). The consistent note is that his actions inspire strong support within the Democrats' "coalition of the ascendant"-the growing groups of minorities, Millennials and socially liberal upscale whites, especially women, who powered his two victories. That helps explain why Hillary Rodham Clinton has quickly endorsed each of Obama's big recent moves.

In mirror image, Obama's actions are antagonizing core Republican groups, like older and blue-collar whites. That is already pressuring the 2016 GOP presidential contenders to pledge to overturn his programs. But that exposes Republicans to the risk of systematically clashing with groups growing in the electorate, like the U.S.-born Cubans who polls show support normalization far more than do those born in Cuba.

The White House is acutely conscious of creating these conflicts. One senior Obama adviser says the administration "to do list" after 2012 included thinking "about how you lock in the Obama coalition for Democrats going forward. Because it's not a 100 percent certainty that they come out for the next Democrat." Part of the answer, the adviser said, was to pursue aggressive unilateral action on "a set of issues where we have an advantage … and believe are substantively the right thing to do" and dare Republicans to oppose him.

Most Republicans are happy to take that bait, confident that what they see as Obama's overreach will energize conservatives and alienate independents in 2016. The White House is betting instead that Obama is helping the next Democratic nominee reassemble his winning coalition. By energizing the party base, Obama's fusillade could also free Clinton to stress an economic message that courts white-working class voters-if his flurry of left-leaning unilateral actions doesn't irrevocably alienate them first. Either way, with his defiant late-term resurgence, the President is not just making an abstract play for history; he is concretely shaping the contest to succeed him.

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

Judge Seems Skeptical of Challenge to Obama Immigration Plan

By Sam Hananel
December 22, 2014

A federal judge on Monday appeared deeply skeptical of an Arizona sheriff's lawsuit seeking to halt President Barack Obama's plan to spare nearly 5 million people from deportation.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell questioned whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had legal standing to challenge the immigration program announced last month. She suggested the topic is better left for Congress and the Obama administration to sort out.
In the first courtroom battle over Obama's plan, Arpaio's lawyer Larry Klayman said the president violated the Constitution by doing an end-run around Congress. He argued that the program would let more illegal immigrants enter the country and commit crimes, burdening law enforcement.
"It's not policy, he's creating law and he cannot do that under the U.S. Constitution," Klayman said of Obama.
But Justice Department lawyer Kathleen Hartnett said Arpaio's lawsuit seemed to be raising a "political dispute" rather than a legal claim the court could address. The Obama administration has called the case "speculative and unsubstantiated" and has urged the court to dismiss it.
Howell at times seemed exasperated with Klayman, a longtime conservative activist who has filed hundreds of lawsuits against the federal government, including challenges to Obama's U.S. citizenship. When Klayman said his client has been threatened because of his tough views on Obama's immigration policy, Howell responded: "That just doesn't cut it for me."
Howell, an Obama appointee, also said it did not appear that Arpaio could show a "concrete" injury he has suffered from the new policy, especially since it will take months before the bulk of it actually goes into effect.
"If Congress doesn't like it, doesn't Congress have the power to step in?" she asked.
Howell said she would issue a ruling in the case soon.
Arpaio has often clashed with the federal government over the enforcement of immigration laws and he has filed suit to stop new policies announced by Obama. He claims that more than 35 percent of immigrants living in Maricopa County illegally who wound up in Arpaio's jails in 2014 were repeat offenders, signifying in the sheriff's view that federal officials have done a poor job of deporting criminals.
Obama's plan marks the most sweeping change to the nation's immigration policies in nearly three decades and set off a fierce fight with Republicans. The changes include work permits and three-year deportation stays for more than 4 million immigrants here illegally. It mostly applies to those who've been in the country more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
Under the program, the Homeland Security Department would prioritize the removal of immigrants who present threats to national security, public safety or border security. DHS officials could deport someone if an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office director determined that removing the person would serve an important federal interest.
In a separate lawsuit, Texas and 23 other states allege that Obama overstepped his constitutional powers in a way that will only worsen the humanitarian problems along the southern U.S. border. That suit is pending in a federal district court in Brownsville.
The White House has insisted that Obama is acting under proper legal authority to enforce the nation's immigration laws.

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


Larry Klayman

By Josh Gerstein
December 23, 2014

A federal judge considering a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration gave no sign Monday that she’s prepared to block the effort through which the administration plans to offer quasi-legal status to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

Judge Beryl Howell allowed conservative legal activist Larry Klayman to present more than an hour’s worth of arguments against the effort at a hearing in Washington on Monday, but her quizzical looks and pointed retorts left little doubt that the legal gadfly’s effort will come up short, at least in her courtroom.
At the conclusion of the roughly 75-minute hearing, Howell promised a ruling “very soon,” but it did not sound likely she would be granting an injunction. It also seemed possible she would grant a government motion to dismiss the case on the basis that the plaintiff wasn’t harmed enough to pursue a suit.
At one point, Howell even dismissed Klayman’s arguments as suffering from a “logical fallacy,” since the key immigration policy changes Obama announced last month haven’t kicked in yet.
The Obama administration announced last month an expansion of the 2012 program for so-called DREAMers who came to the U.S. illegally as children, as well as a new program to defer deportation of parents of U.S. citizens. Many conservatives have denounced the moves as an unconstitutional expansion of executive authority, but the Obama administration insists they are legal and in line with similar moves by past presidents.
Klayman, who filed the suit on behalf of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, said the lawman is hurt by Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies because undocumented immigrants return to jail again and again after the federal government declines to deport them.
Howell appeared convinced that Arpaio’s complaints about costs for housing illegal immigrants who have been arrested seem to stem from broader immigration enforcement concerns or from the program for DREAMers that Obama announced in 2012. The judge said she saw no indication that those harms flow from the changes the president announced in November.
Howell — an Obama appointee — also said Klayman wasn’t being precise enough about what problems Obama’s latest actions were causing to Arpaio, the Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff.
“That just doesn’t cut it for me when you’re asking me to enjoin from the bench, with a strike of my pen, some national program,” the judge said.
Klayman called the new moves an “exacerbation” of existing problems and warned that Obama’s move could have dire consequences.
“We are a system of laws not men,” the conservative lawyer told Howell. “The precedent here is terrible. It’s trashing our Constitution.”
At one point, Klayman’s comments earned a rebuke from the judge. “Let’s not play to the gallery, here,” she warned.
The conservative gadfly predicted the case would be heading to the Supreme Court, which he said could make Howell famous.
“In this room, I think you are the most famous person, Mr. Klayman,” the judge replied.
Howell said she did not find “at all persuasive” a Pennsylvania federal judge’s ruling last week that the Obama immigration moves are unconstitutional. She noted the ruling was issued in a criminal deportation case and said repeatedly that the judge there “reached out” to address an issue not properly before him.
A potentially more dangerous case for the administration was filed earlier this month in Brownsville, Texas. In that suit, 24 states are challenging Obama’s immigration actions.
The judge assigned to that case, Andrew Hanen, is a George W. Bush appointee who has publicly questioned the administration’s immigration enforcement policies. He set a hearing Jan. 9 on the states’ request for a preliminary injunction.
Even though Howell appeared unpersuaded by Klayman, the Obama administration seems to be taking the challenge seriously, assigning Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Hartnett rather than a lower-ranking Justice Department lawyer. Last year, Klayman won the first and only injunction against the National Security Agency’s program gathering data on billions of Americans’ telephone calls.
The administration has turned to Hartnett, a former lawyer in Obama’s White House Counsel’s Office, for politically sensitive arguments, such as those in a fight between Attorney General Eric Holder and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee relating to Operation Fast and Furious.
Asked by Howell whether the recent Obama moves amount to an “amnesty,” Hartnett said, “This does not provide legal status or a pathway to citizenship.” She said the programs simply put certain cases “to the side” while officials focus on more urgent enforcement priorities.
Hartnett also said there are numerous precedents for the Obama administration’s latest immigration actions, including a so-called “family fairness” program instituted under President George H.W. Bush. “That applied to 1.5 million people,” Hartnett said, using a figure that was referenced in congressional testimony at the time but has been widely disputed.
Amid the rhetorical flourishes, Klayman did put some substantive and even important points on the record.
Despite the government’s arguments that the most publicized immigration changes don’t kick in until February or May, the conservative activist noted that directives from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson tell law enforcement to begin now to identify immigrants in the system who may be eligible for relief under the programs and even to take the new programs into account when encountering immigrants who might have to face deportation proceedings.
Klayman also noted that the Justice Department sought and won an injunction against key parts of an Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law before it ever took effect.
In a brief, Klayman ridiculed as “phony and disingenuous” the government’s claims that it will consider as many as 5 million applications on a case-by-case basis.
Howell said that unusually pointed language “jumped off the page,” prompting Klayman to suggest a substitute.

Paraphrasing a line from the 1971 film “Bananas,” the conservative lawyer joked: “I could’ve used Woody Allen’s expression: a sham of a sham of a sham.”

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Obama Gets His Groove Back with Hispanics

By David Knowles
December 18, 2014

President Obama's relationship with Hispanics is officially on the mend. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Telemundo poll finds that thanks to his executive order delaying the deportation of an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants, the president's approval rating with Hispanics has jumped 10 points, nearing previous highs.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Fifty-seven percent of Latinos said they approved of the job he is doing as president, up from 47% in September though still shy of the 62% mark in April 2013. Fifty-six percent said they approved of the job he was doing handling immigration, up from 45% in May 2010.

Additionally, 66% said the president was doing “very” or “somewhat” well addressing the concerns of the Hispanic and Latino community, compared to just 30% who said the same when asked about “Republican elected officials.”

Of course, Republican elected officials like House Speaker John Boehner have stated that the president's executive order on immigration "smacks of raw politics." Those politics would seem to be working in Democrats' favor, however.

It may be no coincidence that as the Republican-controlled House passed a bill that declared Obama's immigration order "null and void" and has since filed a lawsuit to try and have it overturned, Democrats have seen their support from Hispanics solidify.

Roughly half of Hispanics polled said they would prefer to have a Democrat in the White House once Obama leaves office, while only 27 percent favored a Republican, the survey found. Mind you, that's not quite as big as the 71-27 percent margin that Obama won the Hispanic vote in 2012, but the trend line is, once again, moving in the Democrats' direction.

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

Immigrants Build Document Trails to Remain in US

December 20, 2014

Electricity bills. Speeding tickets. Dentist records. Money order receipts.

The search for documents is on for immigrants who may qualify for a work permit and reprieve from deportation under measures President Barack Obama announced last month. Applicants must prove they were in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 2010 — a tall order for many accustomed to avoiding trails. For critics, conditions are ripe for fraud.

The administration has not said which documents it will accept, but advocates are taking guidance from a 2012 reprieve for immigrants who came to the country as young children. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, allows vehicle registrations, baptism records, mortgages, postmarked letters — and those are just some suggestions from the agency that vets applications.

Los Angeles immigration attorney Carl Shusterman uses social media postings. A Facebook photo at Disneyland might work.

"It's not the first thing I would use, but if you're here illegally and getting paid in cash, you may not have as good records as someone paying into Social Security," he said. "How do you prove you were here?"

Laura Lichter, a Denver immigration attorney, has used movie rental receipts, veterinarian bills and customer loyalty programs that detail purchase histories.

"You use what you got," she said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told members of Congress this month that fraudulent applications could potentially "undermine the whole process" and he promised to review safeguards. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which vets applications and operates under Johnson's watch, says it has grown its anti-fraud unit and increased "the scope and frequency" of vetting.

Some advocate a more aggressive approach.

Louis D. Crocetti Jr., who headed Citizenship and Immigration Services' anti-fraud unit until he retired in 2011, recommends more random interviews of applicants and periodic home visits for recipients of immigration benefits. He said his audits of various visa programs found double-digit fraud rates, including 33 percent for religious workers in 2005 and 13 percent for high-tech workers in 2008.

"Immigration benefits is a production-oriented agency that receives tremendous pressure from the public and the Hill to process applications as quickly as possible," he said.

The government plans to begin accepting applications by mid-February for immigrants eligible for an expanded version of DACA and by mid-May for parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez said the agency will hire as many as 1,000 officers to process applications. The agency says hires will get several weeks of training.

Attorneys expect children's birth certificates will be required for parents of U.S. citizens. School transcripts, bank statements and vaccination records also will be in demand.

Irwin Diaz, a San Diego construction worker who came to the country illegally in 1990, would use paycheck stubs if he applies but says employment records are tricky for anyone who worked under an assumed Social Security number.

"Whatever everyone like me is trying to do is see if we're eligible, see if they have any tickets they owed or things like that," said Diaz, 31. "It's people in the shadows."

School administrators say DACA prepared them. The Los Angeles Unified School District received 16,000 requests for transcripts and enrollment records after the program was announced in 2012, requiring the creation of a new record processing system and hiring. In Houston, hundreds lined up for records each day for months.

"The line would be out the door, down the hall," said Brita Lindsey, the student records manager at Houston Independent School District.

More than 700,000 people have applied for DACA since 2012, with 87 percent approved, 5 percent denied and the rest pending. Applicants must go to a government office to give fingerprints, which are scanned against law enforcement databases. They are typically not interviewed.

Patrick Taurel, a legal fellow at the American Immigration Council who has advised DACA applicants, said officers often ask for additional documents.

"It's a preponderance of evidence standard," he said. "It has to be more likely than not that you meet all the evidence standards."

Advocates warn that rigorously grilling applicants may dampen interest in one of Obama's signature initiatives. An estimated 5 million people are expected to be eligible, but some may worry that admitting they are in the country illegally will expose them to deportation. Permits last three years, and it is unknown how the next president will act.

Application fees, which are $465 for DACA, may also be a deterrent.

"Who's going to spend $500, plus expose themselves to potential backlash?" Lichter said. "It's just not going to work. It's going to sour people."

Prakash Khatri, Citizenship and Immigration Services' ombudsman from 2003 to 2008, said he didn't anticipate "really extensive" questioning. He said there is little incentive to lie because getting caught would erase any prospects of permanent legal status.

Technology advances have made lying more difficult since a 1980s amnesty that was widely perceived to be tainted by document fraud.

"In 1986, we were still dealing with the first generation of computers, no Internet," Khatri said. "Today if you present a document and you say you lived at a certain place, there are so many records that can reveal whether or not you have stated the truth."

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

‘Toughest Sheriff’ Gets First Draw in Obama Immigration Fight

By Andrew Zajac
December 22, 2014

The Arizona lawman who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” proved quick on the draw in his latest clash with the Obama administration by hurrying to court to challenge the president’s immigration overhaul ahead of more than two dozen states.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking a federal judge in Washington today to suspend two of President Barack Obama’s immigration directives until a ruling is made on whether he overstepped his authority.

Arpaio, first elected in 1993 from Phoenix and its suburbs, sued the same day Obama said he would give a reprieve from the threat of deportation to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, triggering a showdown with Republicans who take control of the Senate in January.

Texas Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who won the Nov. 4 governor’s race, sued with other state attorneys general in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, on Dec. 3 to block Obama’s plan. Those states are also seeking to temporarily block the most sweeping immigration changes in decades while a judge decides whether the president exceeded his constitutional powers. A hearing on that case is set for Jan. 9.

Lightning Rod

Arpaio is getting the first shot.

The 82-year-old sheriff has been a lightning rod for immigration reform advocates because of his aggressive tactics toward people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. His office has been overseen by a monitor since October 2013, after Arpaio was found by a federal judge in Arizona to have violated the civil rights of Latinos.

In April, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered the sheriff to provide his deputies with a summary of the court order forbidding the department from using race or Latino ancestry as a reason to stop a vehicle or detaining Latino drivers and passengers only on the suspicion they are undocumented immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department accuses Arpaio and the county in a separate lawsuit of systematically discriminating against Latinos.

Arpaio has attracted attention for other actions, including requiring prisoners to wear pink underwear and investigating the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.

In the immigration case in Washington, Arpaio teamed up with lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of the advocacy groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch. Last December, Klayman, a frequent litigator on issues of executive branch authority and other topics, won a court ruling that the National Security Agency’s telephone data surveillance program is probably illegal. A decision on the government’s appeal of that case is pending.

Bypassing Congress

Klayman argues Obama’s Nov. 20 executive order and an earlier set of immigration policy changes known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals illegally bypass Congress’s legislative powers.

The actions “are exercises of delegated lawmaking authority by the executive branch which must first go through rigid rule-making,” Klayman said in the complaint. “The president cannot simply announce new rules and implement them by giving a speech.”

The government on Dec. 15 filed papers asked U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, to throw out the case because Arpaio’s complaint is “a generalized disagreement with the federal government’s immigration policy” which “does not directly impact him.”

Immigration Claims

Arpaio’s claims that Obama’s directives “will result in a future increase in illegal immigration” are at odds with the terms of the policies, which apply to aliens who have resided in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, according to the U.S. filing.

A ruling in the case in may be the first on a direct challenge to Obama’s order.

On Dec. 16, a federal judge in Pittsburgh wrote that Obama’s order was unconstitutional. His comments came in a individual deportation case that doesn’t affect the president’s order.

The Justice Department said in an e-mailed statement that day that judge’s “analysis of the legality of the executive actions is flatly wrong.”

The case is Arpaio v. Obama, 14-cv-01966, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington). The states’ case is Texas v. U.S., 1:14-00254, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville).

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Immigration Advocates Shift to Defense

The Hill
By Mike Lillis
December 18, 2014

Predicting little progress on immigration reform in the next Congress, some of the nation's top advocates say they're shifting gears to focus on defending President Obama's new deportation policy from GOP attacks.

"We're not looking to Congress for relief in the next two years," Frank Sharry, head of America's Voice, an advocacy group, said Thursday during a breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington. "We're looking to defend the win that we've had, and to set the stage to expand on that win."

Republican leaders in both chambers say they're poised to act on immigration policy next year by breaking out certain provisions of a Senate-passed comprehensive reform bill — including efforts to bolster border security and interior enforcement — in hopes of sending them to President Obama's desk.

But Obama and the Democrats are largely opposed to that strategy for fear that passing the popular provisions as stand-alone bills would doom the more controversial elements, particularly the legalization and citizenship benefits for millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

“What we don’t want to do is simply carve out one piece of it ... but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done,” Obama said last year.

That partisan conflict, the liberal advocates say, sets the stage for yet another two-year impasse on the thorny issue of reform policy.

"I don't think that there's any chance of comprehensive immigration reform this Congress," said Marshall Fitz, an immigration expert at the liberal Center for American Progress.

With those dynamics in mind, liberal reform advocates say their focus is shifting to the implementation and defense of Obama's new deportation policy, rather than expectations of bold congressional action.

"That's going to be the movement's priority. It is in the interest of our community to make this program a success," said Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, another group pushing for comprehensive reform.

"Republicans have a self-interest, politically, to work on it [comprehensive reform]," she added. "We just don't see how they get their party together to actually provide a viable solution."

In the absence of congressional action, Obama last month adopted new rules that will halt deportations and grant work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. The move outraged Republicans, who are searching for legislative ways to dismantle the program.

The GOP's anger over Obama's unilateral action complicates the debate for Republican leaders, according to the liberal reform advocates, because conservatives in both chambers — figures like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — will likely fight to attach amendments undoing the executive action to any immigration-related bills that hit the floor.

Such amendments would almost certainly lead to an Obama veto, thereby reducing the odds that Congress will make progress on immigration reform before the 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile, the advocates say, the administration is going to need all the help it can get installing the new deportation rules and getting people to participate.

"This is a huge undertaking," Fitz said. "They're going to be trying to implement this when they're getting zero support from Congress, no appropriations, and they're under a withering attack from the appropriators and the Republican leadership. So I think that they're going to have more than enough to do and focus on in terms of making this a reality."

Leading Republicans on and off Capitol Hill, meanwhile, are pushing their piecemeal approach to immigration in hopes of sending focused bills to Obama.

Included in their wish-list are proposals to strengthen border security, expand visas for high-tech workers, streamline a guest-worker program on the nation's farms, establish a mandatory E-Verify system for businesses and create an exit-visa registry to rein in overstays.

“I would bust it up if I were setting the agenda in the Senate, start with border security, H-1B visa expansion, H-2A ag worker provisions, E–Verify and some of the other things I think we can get pretty broad agreement on,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the incoming majority leader, said earlier this month.

Republican activist Grover Norquist, who is pushing the GOP to adopt the piecemeal approach next year, said Obama would have a tough time vetoing bills that reach his desk with bipartisan support.

"It's a losing issue for the Democrats if the Republicans just take this step-by-step," Norquist said last month.

But the liberal reformers, while not opposed to that strategy per se, are quick to warn that it's destined to fail if legalization and citizenship proposals are not included — provisions that have almost no chance of passing as stand-alone measures with Republicans controlling both chambers.

"We're not against pieces moving. We're against pieces moving without balance," Sharry said. "By balance, I mean enforcement and legalization."

Sharry said liberal advocates would have a difficult time opposing such a package, but he also predicted that conservative pressure on Republican leaders would prevent a "balanced" proposal from ever reaching the president's desk.

"That would make it much more challenging for us to say no to, at that point, if it's balanced," Sharry said. "[But] the idea that the Republicans are going to be smart about legislating on immigration — and do so in a balanced fashion — that's our dream, but I don't see it happening."

Fitz said advocates expect Republicans to use a number of tools — including more lawsuits, budget fights and threats of a partial government shutdown — to undo the new deportation policy. But he also predicted those efforts, while energizing each party's base, will fail.

"There's really very little that they can do," Fitz said. "They have no legislative end-game here; there is none. ... There's going to be a lot of noise, but ... at the end of the day I don't think they've got a viable strategy to block this."

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