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, January 28, 2015

Govt Tells Agents to ID Which Immigrants Not to Deport

Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Jan 28, 2015, 3:15 AM ET

The Obama administration has ordered immigration agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the country illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama's plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press.

Agents also have been told to review government files to identify any jailed immigrants they might be able to release under the program.

The directives from the Homeland Security Department mark an unusual change for U.S. immigration enforcement, placing the obligation on the government for identifying immigrants who might qualify for lenient treatment. Previously, it was the responsibility of immigrants or their lawyers to assert that they might qualify under rules that could keep them out of jail and inside the United States.

It's akin to the Internal Revenue Service calling taxpayers to recommend they should have used certain exemptions or deductions.

The training materials apply to agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They instruct agents "to immediately begin identifying persons in their custody, as well as newly encountered persons" who may be eligible for protection from deportation.

One training document includes scenarios describing encounters between agents and immigrants with guidance about how agents should proceed, with a checklist of questions to determine whether immigrants might qualify under the president's plans. ICE officials earlier began releasing immigrants who qualified for leniency from federal immigration jails.

Obama in November announced a program to allow roughly 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for permission to stay in the country for up to three years and get a work permit. The program mirrors one announced in 2012 that provides protection from deportation for young immigrants brought to the country as children.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, Carlos Diaz, said immigrants caught crossing the border illegally remain a top priority for the agency. The training documents for border agents, he said, "provide clear guidance on immigration enforcement operations so that both time and resources are allocated appropriately."

Crystal Williams, executive director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, said the training will help filter people the government said should not be a priority anyway. She said the training marked the first she has heard of officers being directed to screen immigrants for potential leniency before they were arrested.

"Just because it's a change doesn't mean it's anything particularly radical," Williams said.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat and vocal supporter of Obama's immigration plans, said having CBP officers screen immigrants out of the deportation line lets the government "move criminals and recent arrivals to the front of the deportation line. The emphasis now is on who should be deported first, not just who can be deported."

A former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, John Malcolm, said the new instructions limit immigration agents.

"Agents are being discouraged away from anything other than a cursory view" of an immigrant's status and qualification for leniency, said Malcolm, who works as a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

Under Obama's plans, the government is focused on deporting immigrants with serious criminal records or who otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. For the most part, under the new policy, immigrants whose only offense is being in the country without permission aren't supposed to be a priority for immigration officers.

While the administration has estimated that as many as 4 million people will be eligible for protection from deportation, the Congressional Budget Office estimated about 2 million to 2.5 million immigrants are expected to be approved for the program by 2017. As many as 1.7 million young immigrants were estimated to be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but since its 2012 creation only about 610,000 people have successfully signed up.

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

Again for Murdoch, Romney Can Do No Right

New York Times
By Amy Chozick and Michael Barbaro
January 27, 2015

The usually grim-faced media mogul practically swooned in his seat. Moments after Jeb Bush delivered what many in the audience described as an unremarkable talk at a conference in Washington, Rupert Murdoch turned to his seatmate, Valerie Jarrett, the White House adviser, to gush over its content and tone.

Mr. Murdoch was pleased that Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had listed the economic benefits of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, confiding in Ms. Jarrett that Mr. Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, had said all the right things on the difficult issue, according to three people with firsthand knowledge of the conversation.

It was the kind of warm embrace, from the powerful and widely courted owner of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel, that Mr. Murdoch denied Mitt Romney during his 2012 bid for the White House — a snub that Mr. Murdoch is already signaling he will repeat if Mr. Romney runs in 2016.

In the delicate and unseen campaign underway for Mr. Murdoch’s affections in the next presidential campaign, this much is clear: Mr. Romney is out of the running, a reality that has pained and angered his allies.

Presidential politics is rife with grudges and grievances, but it is hard to recall a display of animus as unsubtle as the one Mr. Murdoch and corners of his media empire have unleashed on Mr. Romney in the past few weeks as he has tried to build support for a third presidential run.

An editorial in Mr. Murdoch’s most prominent American newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, has called Mr. Romney’s last run a “calamity.” Mr. Murdoch has dismissed Mr. Romney as a “terrible candidate.” And, in a final indignity, Mr. Murdoch has heaped praise on Mr. Romney’s potential rivals, no matter how long a shot they have at the Republican nomination. (“Watch Ben Carson,” Mr. Murdoch wrote on Twitter a few days ago, labeling Mr. Carson, a conservative physician and political neophyte, a “principled brave achiever.”)

The disfavor that Mr. Murdoch has showered upon Mr. Romney could have a genuine impact on the early stages of the Republican primary, as Mr. Romney, the party’s nominee in 2012, weighs whether or not to push ahead with a campaign, a decision he is expected to make in the next few weeks.

For Mr. Romney and those around him, the memory of Mr. Murdoch’s aversion in 2012, and its expression in forums like The Journal, still stings.

“It was a concern during the campaign, one that had to be actively managed,” said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney’s campaign in 2012.

He acknowledged that The Journal’s editorial page, a battering ram against Mr. Romney then and now, “does have an impact in shaping opinions of many within the party.”

A few of Mr. Romney’s closest friends have lost their patience with Mr. Murdoch. Ron Kaufman, a longtime confidant and adviser, said Mr. Murdoch “has proven tone deaf” when it comes to politics and bemoaned what he said were the media executive’s ill-informed outbursts.

“It’s like trying to make sense of what Trump does sometimes,” Mr. Kaufman said.

“Vacuous” is how Mr. Murdoch has privately described Mr. Romney, said a person close to the executive who, wanting to preserve his relationship with him, would not discuss private conversations for attribution. That remark is a blunter version of those Mr. Murdoch has made in public in the past month or so.

After reading this article online Tuesday, Mr. Murdoch took to Twitter to advise Mr. Romney to stand down in 2016. “Know and like Mitt Romney as a very nice person,” he wrote. “But he had his chance and seemed to lack big vision for this country.”

Mr. Murdoch took special umbrage at Mr. Romney’s handling of immigration in 2012, when the candidate, as an alternative to forced deportation, called for “self-deportation,” in which people who are in the United States illegally would voluntarily return to their home countries and apply to emigrate legally.

During a closed-door meeting at the Union League Club in Manhattan that year, Mr. Murdoch called the position foolhardy and asked Mr. Romney to back away from it. Mr. Romney, according to two attendees, replied that he had already softened his language on immigration and that if he abandoned his position he would look like a flip-flopper, a label he loathed. Mr. Murdoch was baffled and dismayed, the attendees said.

A spokesman for Mr. Romney declined to comment.

Asked two weeks ago what he thought of Mr. Romney’s consideration of a 2016 run, Mr. Murdoch said: “He had his chance. He mishandled it, you know?”

The rejection has a personal dimension for Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor whose relationship with The Journal dates back decades. The newspaper assiduously chronicled the career of his father, George Romney, a prominent automobile executive. And Mr. Romney is a devoted Journal reader who has repeatedly sought to reach its readers through his own opinion articles.

Those close to Mr. Romney said he had all but given up on trying to win over Mr. Murdoch. Several of them spoke of the situation as frustrating and inexplicable for him. Mr. Romney, they said, has nothing negative to say about Mr. Murdoch. “He doesn’t hold it against him,” Mr. Kaufman said.

But these people insist that Mr. Murdoch’s harsh assessment is neither an obstacle nor a deterrent as Mr. Romney decides whether to pursue another White House campaign.

Meanwhile, about a half-dozen mainstream Republican candidates are angling for Mr. Murdoch’s blessing, not to mention Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has developed her own growing rapport with him.

Mr. Murdoch seems eager to play a role in the political process. “I am deeply interested in the future of our country, and I enjoy meeting with potential candidates of both parties,” he said by email, responding to an inquiry about his political activity. “I am keen to hear their views, whether it’s on tax reform, immigration or defense and foreign policy.”

Mr. Murdoch remains fond of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who played his own role in the billionaire’s plans to foil Mr. Romney. In 2011, Mr. Murdoch joined a group of wealthy and influential Republican leaders who encouraged Mr. Christie to enter the presidential race, convinced he was a more exciting alternative to Mr. Romney, and with broader appeal.

Last May, Mr. Murdoch expressed doubts about the New Jersey governor, saying he expected more damaging stories to emerge about Mr. Christie’s aides in the aftermath of the closing of lanes at the George Washington Bridge. Still, the two men speak by phone about once every month or two, according to advisers close to both.

Mr. Murdoch remains intrigued by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, privately extolling his appeal to younger voters and his plans for a flat tax. The two meet often in New York and Washington. But Mr. Murdoch worries that Mr. Paul may face an uphill battle in a general election, said a person who has spoken with Mr. Murdoch.

Then there is Mr. Bush, who calls The Journal his “paper of record.” The fact that he sat between Mr. Murdoch and Ms. Jarrett at the conference hosted by The Journal in Washington was no accident: Mr. Murdoch requested it. Their ties have deepened over the years. Mr. Bush has collaborated frequently on education issues with Mr. Murdoch’s close friend and adviser Joel I. Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor, who now leads Mr. Murdoch’s education business, Amplify.

Mr. Murdoch, 83, is executive chairman of News Corporation, which owns The Journal, The New York Post and HarperCollins, among other assets, and is chief executive of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of film and television assets including Fox News and the Fox broadcasting network.

With his characteristic candor and deep, Australian-accented mumble, Mr. Murdoch is making known his high regard for Mr. Bush these days.

“I like Jeb Bush very much,” Mr. Murdoch said in New York recently. “He’s moving very cleverly, very well,” he added.

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

Lynch to Cast Herself as Departure From Holder in Bid to Be Attorney General

New York Times
By Carl Hulse and Matt Apuzzo
January 28, 2015

Loretta E. Lynch on Wednesday will cast herself as an apolitical career prosecutor who is a departure from Eric H. Holder Jr. when she faces a new Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee that includes some of the administration’s fiercest critics in Congress.

If she is confirmed, Ms. Lynch would be the nation’s first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. Her allies have sought to differentiate her from Mr. Holder, an outspoken liberal voice in the administration who clashed frequently with Republicans who accused him of politicizing the office.

In particular, Ms. Lynch is expected to face tough questioning about her opinion of the president’s decision to unilaterally ease the threat of deportation for millions of unauthorized immigrants. Mr. Holder approved the legal justification for that action, enraging some Republicans.

Ms. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, will say that while she had no role in compiling the justification for the president’s action, the legal underpinning was reasonable, according to officials involved in her preparation. Anticipating queries about executive overreach, Ms. Lynch is prepared to say she would treat the Constitution as her “lodestar” in advising the president, the officials said.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the new Republican chairman of the committee, has promised to allow a thorough airing of questions from lawmakers on both sides.

Besides Mr. Grassley, Republican committee members include Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and David Vitter of Louisiana, all of whom have expressed outrage over the president’s actions on immigration and his exercise of executive power in general. Mr. Vitter has already said he will oppose Ms. Lynch’s nomination, and Mr. Sessions has said he has strong reservations.

“I did express at one point serious concerns about anyone who would support the president’s executive amnesty,” Mr. Sessions said. “That is a big concern for me.”

Ms. Lynch needs at least three Republican members of the panel to vote for her to send her nomination to the floor. Democrats see Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona as those most likely to support her, but they said she could win over other Republicans as well.

Mr. Flake said he had made no decision on Ms. Lynch but had come away with a favorable impression and expected that she would be confirmed. Mr. Graham said he, too, had found her well qualified.

“On paper she is a good choice and I like her personally, but she is going to have some hard questions,” Mr. Graham said.

Foreshadowing a possible theme of the hearing, law enforcement veterans used a conference call with reporters on Tuesday to differentiate Ms. Lynch from Mr. Holder and his political fights on Capitol Hill.

“Attorney General Holder has been a lightning rod for some of those conversations and debates,” Jamie S. Gorelick, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, said. “At this stage in the department’s life, it would be really wonderful for it to get back to the business of justice and not be distracted by political fights and the debates of the day as much as it has been.”

William J. Bratton, the New York City police commissioner, said Ms. Lynch was a strong candidate to take over the Justice Department at a time of great tension between minority communities and law enforcement. After the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., last summer, Mr. Holder upset some law enforcement groups with comments that they saw as unsupportive.

Though Mr. Bratton did not mention Mr. Holder directly, he praised Ms. Lynch for not “coming into this with any preconceived notions.”

“It’s going to be critical that the person in this position be able to see both the police position on some of these issues, as well as the community position,” he said.

Ms. Lynch, 55, the daughter of a North Carolina pastor who was active in the civil rights movement, has spent nearly all of her career as a prosecutor. She is to be accompanied by her father and brother on Wednesday.

Officials said Ms. Lynch was expected to testify that she sought a strong working relationship with Congress. She will also try to underscore her record of prosecuting terror suspects — her office has handled the most in the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to one official. That is likely to lead to questioning from Mr. Graham and Mr. Sessions, both of whom have been critical of the use of the civilian legal system to prosecute terrorism suspects.

Cybersecurity has been an early and special interest of Ms. Lynch, who established a unit dedicated to the crime in New York. Officials say she intends to make that an “enhanced priority” of the Justice Department if she becomes attorney general.

Ms. Lynch, nominated in early November, has had to wait for a hearing as Republicans organized themselves as the Senate majority after eight years out of power. Even if she does not encounter trouble at the committee level, it will probably be weeks before she can be confirmed, perhaps as late as March, given the calendar and that Republicans are not hurrying.

That some Republicans will need to support her if she is to advance also changes the dynamic for lawmakers who in recent years could sit back and let Democrats move the president’s nominees. But Republicans also argue that a change is merited at the Justice Department.

“We need an attorney general,” Mr. Graham said. “If not her, who?”

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

Partisan Lines Drawn in Congress Over Immigration

By Alex Rogers
January 27, 2015

The deep divisions over illegal immigration were laid bare on Tuesday, as the House GOP discussed how to sue the President over his recent executive actions and Senate Democrats joined together to pressure the new Republican leadership to back down from controversial provisions in a must-pass spending bill next month.

Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a strategy opposing Obama’s November decision to temporarily defer deportations and provide work permits to up to five million people who entered the country illegally. Republicans led the effort to pass a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security—which enacted the President’s immigration actions—to increase their leverage with the new Republicans Senate.

But after every Senate Democrat signed a letter on Tuesday calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a DHS bill for the remainder of the fiscal year without the House package’s immigration provisions—including one that would defund Obama’s 2012 program granting deportation relief to young adults who came to the country illegally as children—it’s clear Senate Republicans won’t be able to pass the House’s dream bill. Republicans only control 54 seats in the Senate; they need 60 to pass the bill and 67 to overcome a White House veto. Congress needs to pass a spending bill by February 27 or “nonessential” parts of the agency will shut down.

“The message we are sending today is clear: we should not play politics with critical homeland security resources that keep our country safe,” said New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who helped orchestrate the Democratic letter. “Protecting our homeland from threats is one of our most important responsibilities here in Congress, and I hope Republicans will put aside partisanship to live up to this responsibility.”

After rejecting the Senate’s bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, House Republicans said that will consider the issue in a step-by-step approach, starting with border security. But the House GOP leadership pulled its recent bill—led by chief sponsor and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, who has branded it the “toughest” ever—on Monday due to the blizzard. While there was talk of attaching the bill to the DHS funding package, the bill’s status is now up in the air as conservatives claim credit for sidetracking it. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that the bill, which would set new penalties unless the agency prevents all illegal U.S. southern border crossings in five years, is “extreme to the point of being unworkable,” while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects that the agency would be unable to meet the bill’s deadline requirements for “nearly all construction projects.”

Another option Republicans are considering is to sue the Administration over the President’s immigration executive actions. House Speaker John Boehner reportedly told colleagues on Tuesday that the leadership is “finalizing” plans to authorize litigation, but that effort will be time-intensive, potentially expensive, unlikely to address some conservatives’ concerns and could very well not hold up in court. Republicans on the Hill are not alone, however, as 26 states are protesting Obama’s executive actions through a lawsuit.

Last year before Obama announced his executive actions on immigration, Boehner warned Obama that he would “burn himself” if he proceeded. He has since decried the actions as unlawful and unconstitutional. But from here on, he may be left to speeches. After the Senate Democrats’ letter Tuesday, it’s as clear as it has ever been that Republicans have few good options to overturn what they believe is a massive executive overreach.

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

McCaul's Bill Exacerbates the Loss of Freedom of Border Residents

The Hill (Op-Ed)
By Christian Ramirez
January 27, 2015

H.R. 399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, a militarization-only bill that in the words of its author, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), will allow the Department of Defense “to transfer assets from theatre of war and redeploy them to the Southwest border” passed the House Committee on Homeland Security late Wednesday and party leaders said they would take it to the floor this week for a vote.

The “theatre of war" pledges to make the border a stage for militarism and threatens constitutional protections of all residents and communities living within 100 miles of a land or sea border - including all of San Diego County, and all the way to Disneyland in Orange County. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already enjoy extraordinary authority to operate within this 100-mile zone with little accountability. In practice, CBP virtually ignores 4th amendment rights by subjecting residents to unjustified stops, searches and detentions as they go to work, attend school or run errands.  H.R. 399, or what border residents are referring to as “McCaul’s Militarization Bill,” would codify this policy and practice of compromising civil and human rights to the detriment of tens of millions of people who call the border region home.

This militarization bill is a recipe for disaster for CBP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and border communities and will compound the current trend of abuses that are already commonplace. The bill empowers and emboldens an out-of-control border agency that is in need of reform, accountability and oversight. CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency tasked with patrolling U.S. borders, has been under immense scrutiny for the lack of accountability and oversight which has fomented a culture of violence, corruption and impunity. POLITICO magazine’s scathing piece titled, “The Green Monster: How the Border Patrol became America’s most out-of-control law enforcement agency,” details the rampant abuses that have surfaced as a result of previous ill-considered efforts to address border concerns.

Members of Congress should prioritize increasing accountability measures over thousands of agents who interact with the general public as a way to improve quality of life.

McCaul’s bill emphasizes increasing the use of drones and other aerial equipment, which DHS concluded as costly and ineffective. The DHS’ Office of the Inspector General report found the drone program costs far more than the agency claims and they can’t justify spending more on it without further study. It’s an absolute boondoggle, costing CBP an astounding $28,000 for each migrant it apprehends with drones.

An expanded drone surveillance program calls to question whether proponents of this bill know anything about the border reality, or if they have any regard for constitutional protections of the millions of border residents.

McCaul’s militarization bill seeks to build more miles of fencing and to nullify 100 years of environmental protections such as the Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Antiquities Act, and the Endangered Species Act clearly impacting the livelihoods of all who reside in San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. These have not been sound ideas in the past, and there is nothing to ensure that they suddenly will work now.

The bill’s proposal to use biometric technology threatens privacy rights and will cause significant delays at our already gridlocked ports-of-entries. The border region would be better served with revitalized ports and modernized infrastructure for improved trade. Investment in port infrastructure to improve and facilitate trade will have direct and immediate beneficial impact on the national economy - in fact, 1 out of 24  jobs in the U.S. depends on trade generated in the southern border.

H.R. 399 is a misguided piece of legislation that effectively turns southern border communities into “theatres of war” and will exacerbate the loss of civil and human rights for border communities. Accountability and transparency are not partisan issues, they are about good government. This bill is a threat to our environment, the economy, privacy and civil rights and we urge responsible Members of Congress to take a stance against this bill.

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

Congress Is Anti-Immigrant – Again

Bloomberg View (Opinion)
By Francis Wilkinson
January 27, 2015

It's possible that nothing is ever new in the U.S. immigration debate. In 1977, his first year in office, President Jimmy Carter proposed "an adjustment of status" for perhaps eight to 10 million (who really knew how many?) undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The point, Carter said, was to avoid having:

a permanent "underclass" of millions of persons who have not been and cannot practically be deported, and who would continue living here in perpetual fear of immigration authorities, the local police, employers and neighbors.

Objections were raised immediately. Such an amnesty would reward illegal behavior and penalize those aspiring immigrants who had followed the rules only to see cheaters get ahead. It would send a signal to others that they, too, should game the system by entering the U.S. illegally. And, of course, undocumented immigrants were stealing the jobs and lowering the wages of American citizens.

Amnesty. Deportation. Border security. All the pieces on the board remain the same -- but the game, and the nation, is slightly different. The U.S. Hispanic population has more than tripled since 1980. The share of marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity has more than doubled in that time. And attitudes about immigrants, including the undocumented, have evolved. The Republican House majority, which recently passed a series of bills to strip undocumented immigrants of protections, is building a fortress on shifting sand.

Public views of President Barack Obama’s executive actions designed to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation are mixed. But in a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll in December, only 27 percent wanted to deport those who meet the requirements. According to Gallup surveys, Americans were more favorably disposed toward immigrants during the depths of the Great Recession in 2009 than they were at the peak of the Reagan or Clinton booms.

But the paradox of this nation of immigrants is that it is often bitterly anti-immigrant. Historically, the nation's love-hate relationship with immigrants has emphasized the latter at the expense of the former. Yet immigration was a tide not easily turned back even in eras when the public stood resolutely opposed to it. As political scientist Daniel Tichenor wrote, U.S. immigration policy has often appeared insulated from "mass publics long opposed to new immigration."

There was no great popular clamor for the immigration overhaul of 1986, for example, yet it was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The law granted amnesty to several million undocumented immigrants who had been in the U.S. at least since Jan. 1, 1982. Its enforcement provisions, such as forbidding employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers, proved notoriously weak. More undocumented immigrants -- millions more -- arrived in the U.S. and stayed.

In 2013, it looked as if Congress might follow the blueprint of the 1986 law. The 2013 legislation, passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, struck essentially the same balance as in 1986: amnesty for millions in return for tougher enforcement and border security. But skeptical conservatives revolted, and the bill died in the House.

Since then, the House has moved aggressively to undermine Obama’s actions to protect immigrants from deportation, including his deferred action for "Dreamers" who were brought to the U.S. as children. The nativist wing’s preferred policy of de facto deportation has overtaken the business wing’s desire for a reprise of the 1986 deal.

As a result, anti-immigrant rhetoric is growing more acceptable among Republican politicians. Its main effect is to polarize a previously bipartisan issue -- probably inevitable in Washington circa 2015 in any case -- and to mobilize competing constituencies. However, it’s unlikely to reverse the trend toward greater acceptance of immigrants.

Republicans have the power, at least through 2016 and perhaps far longer, to block the path of undocumented immigrants into the American mainstream. Some small percentage of noncriminal aliens will continue to be deported from the U.S. even under Obama’s directives. Most will not; as a practical reality, they are here to stay. They, or their children, or their children’s children will be Americans. The only question is when. 

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2 More States Join Texas-Led Immigration Lawsuit

January 26, 2015

Texas says two more states have joined its coalition suing over the Obama administration's executive action on immigration, meaning 26 states are now part of the case.

New Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday that Nevada and Tennessee have officially become part of the coalition.

More than half the states are now fighting the order in a federal court in Brownsville.

Announced in November, the president's unilateral move is designed to spare millions of people living illegally in the United States from deportation. The lawsuit accuses the White House of "trampling" the Constitution.

A federal judge heard arguments Jan. 15 but didn't immediately rule on an injunction the coalition is seeking. It would suspend Obama's action until the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

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

House Vote on U.S. Border-Security Plan Postponed Amid Storm

By Billy House
January 26, 2015

House Republican leaders decided to postpone this week’s scheduled vote on a $10 billion border-security bill as part of weather-related revisions to the chamber’s schedule.

The bill, H.R. 399, has been dropped from Wednesday’s calendar. That day ends the week’s House action because Democrats will head to Philadelphia that afternoon for their annual issues retreat through Friday.

No new date for the border bill vote was announced in the alert from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office. The notice also said all votes on Monday had been scrapped because of inclement weather.

Votes are still scheduled Tuesday on several bills related to human trafficking, and the following day the House will consider H.R. 351, a measure to expedite Energy Department approval for exporting liquefied natural gas.

Representative Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said it wasn’t a coincidence the border funding bill’s consideration was postponed.

‘Murky Prospects’

“They can blame inclement weather all they want, but we all know that it was the storm clouds over this bill and its murky prospects that are the real drivers,” Thompson said.

The border legislation, sponsored by Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, is intended to be a first step in House Republicans’ plans to address U.S. immigration laws.

Republicans, including a spokeswoman for Majority Whip Steve Scalise -- Hoyer’s vote-counting counterpart -- say Democrats’ contentions about delaying the bill aren’t true. They say Scalise hadn’t begun to officially “whip” votes on the measure.

“We haven’t even whip-checked it yet,” said Moira Smith, in an e-mail statement.

“Too many members’ travel was affected by the snow,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, in a statement.

Thousands of flights have been canceled, and the National Weather Service has said as much as two feet of snow may fall in New York, with up to three feet of snow in Boston and eastern New England.

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

The GOP's Border Bill Would Be a Disaster

By Dara Lind
January 26, 2015

Congress has been pushing to pass bill that turns border security into a matter of zero tolerance: by 2020, every single person entering the US from Mexico illegally must be apprehended. Every. Single. One.

If even a single unauthorized immigrant gets across the border without being caught, DHS will get hit with penalties — getting everything from overtime pay to government aircraft access taken away from them.

You're probably going to be hearing more about this idea in the coming months, as both the legislative battle between Congress and the president over immigration reform and the 2016 presidential election heat up. The border bill was scheduled for a House vote the week of January 26, though it's been pulled from the schedule. The Senate has introduced a similar bill, and might try to pass it soon — maybe even making it a condition of Department of Homeland Security funding. And the Republican primary candidates who've talked about the border at all seem to see guaranteeing 100 percent security as an obvious first step. (One candidate, doctor Ben Carson, said that the next president should promise to "seal the border" within his first year in office.)

Border patrol agent on ATV

But the zero-tolerance standard is plainly unrealistic, according to experts. Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute, who worked for the Congressional Research Service on measuring border security, says that "no serious student of the border" could possibly believe that the GOP's standard is a good idea.

Think of this bill, Rosenblum suggests, as the border-security equivalent of No Child Left Behind. Border agents have a limited amount of time to meet a "testing" goal: in this case, zero people cross the border illegally and get away. (By the same token, NCLB required schools to reach 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2013 — though most of them didn't.) They're given some resources to help meet that goal, but that doesn't change the fact that the goal itself holds agents accountable for factors that might not be in their control. And if they don't meet the goal, they're punished — which creates incentives to juke the stats. As Rosenblum says, "Whenever you have high-stakes testing, there's an incentive for teachers to cook the books."

That hasn't stopped immigration hardliners from attacking the bill themselves — because their definition of "border security" isn't limited to who's apprehended at the border. So to understand the fight, you need to understand how the government actually measures border security — and what a zero-tolerance mandate would actually do.

Why it's so hard to measure border security

Since 2011, the Department of Homeland Security has been measuring border security by the number of immigrants apprehended crossing the border without papers. The problem is that the number of immigrants who are trying to cross into the United States is changing all the time, and knowing how many are caught doesn't tell you how many get through.

Border security is really about a ratio: out of all people crossing into the US without papers, how many of them are getting caught? But by definition, Border Patrol can't be expected to know exactly how many people they didn't catch.

Currently, they're estimating the number of "got aways" via direct observation. The border is stacked with surveillance cameras; as Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress puts it, "we have an eye on the border basically 24/7." Beyond that, agents can make educated guesses based on cuts in fencing or signs, footprints, or litter.

The zero-tolerance standard: "operational control"

The GOP bill gives DHS the resources to set up better metrics to estimate how many people are crossing (as well as how many guns and drugs), and to come up with different strategies for ports of entry and for maritime borders. But those metrics are in the service of a goal that nobody thinks DHS can actually meet: preventing or apprehending every single illegal entry.

This standard is called "operational control." Congress actually mandated "operational control" of the border almost a decade ago, in 2006 — but DHS, knowing that it wasn't realistic to prevent every single entry, quietly tweaked the definition of "operational control" to something it could actually achieve.

This time around, Congress is preventing DHS from being able to define its own border-security standards. The new bill makes it very clear that "operational control" means that every single immigrant crossing the border without papers must be apprehended or turned back. And if DHS can't prove that they have "operational control" of high-traffic areas of the border within two years — or of the entire border within five years — the penalties start kicking in.

Why this won't work

No one disagrees that the government should be trying to apprehend everyone who crosses the border without papers — after all, the government can't tell who's smuggling drugs or weapons unless it stops them. But the government has been trying to do that for the last 20 years, and it hasn't worked yet.

As the government built up security where immigrants were most likely to cross, immigrants started going where border agents weren't — even though that meant an often lethal journey through rough desert. Where the government built fencing, immigrants cut holes. Where the government used drones, smugglers dug tunnels. The government simply can't prevent every single eventuality — and spending energy trying to do so, to get every single unauthorized immigrant, is energy that won't be spent on more dedicated law-enforcement efforts against criminal groups.

Even the author of this bill in the House, Homeland Security Committee chair Michael McCaul, has acknowledged that 100 percent prevention is a worthwhile goal but not a realistic one. A bill he proposed in 2013, after several hearings about border-security metrics, would have required that 90 percent of all border crossers get apprehended or turned back. But in 2015, his reservations have suddenly disappeared.

This is an impossible bind for 2020

So the question isn't whether the federal government will be able to meet its goal. It won't. The question is what happens when it doesn't.

There's going to be pressure to cook the books. The GOP bill prohibits DHS officials from doing anything to tamper with the metrics. But border patrol agents are still the ones responsible for estimating how many people, in total, are crossing the border — which is going to determine whether DHS can say everyone's being caught. There's going to be enormous pressure from the top down at DHS not to overestimate the total number of border crossers, since that would mean that more were going uncaptured.

Just as high-stakes testing led to outright cheating in schools from Washington, DC to Atlanta, it's possible that border patrol stations could tip into outright manipulation — seeing cut signs, for example, but simply deciding not to record those as evidence of a "got away."

Furthermore, the GOP bill defines "operational control" as zero tolerance, but it doesn't actually specify what metric should be used for that — that part's up to DHS. In theory, DHS could straight-up assert that it had "operational control" even if a few people were getting by unapprehended. (The bill would appoint a commission of experts to check the government's math, but since it's going to be hard to find experts who believe Congress' definition of "control" is achievable, it's possible the commission could side with DHS.) And it would be up to Congress to decide how to respond.

Congress can crack down at any time — or it can let the government off cleanly. The Obama administration has actually softened the consequences of No Child Left Behind's testing mandate, by giving waivers to states that weren't on the way to 100 percent proficiency. The federal government can't do that in this border bill. The only escape route would be for Congress to pass another law repealing or postponing the "operational control" mandate — or quietly letting DHS know that if it decided to claim it had "operational control" even if it wasn't catching literally every immigrant, Congress would let it slide.

This gives Congress an extraordinary amount of power — and a massive bargaining chip.

What if it's a Republican administration? This isn't just a policy problem. It's a political problem. The convenient thing about leaving "border security" undefined is that it lets immigration hawks attack the Obama administration over failing to "secure the border" — even though, by the available metrics, fewer immigrants are getting into the country than were under George W. Bush. Setting a standard for "border security" that can't be met makes it easy to attack whoever's in power for not doing it. But what if that's a Republican — who, having been elected in 2016, would be running for reelection in 2020 when the hammer comes down?

So what would a better way be to measure border security? Border experts have one set of answers. But they're not the only ones opposing the bill — many immigration hardliners, as well as border agents themselves, have come out against it for not doing enough to get rid of immigrants once they've arrived.

Can people cross the border without papers to seek asylum legally? It's not always illegal to enter the US without papers — as long as the immigrant goes straight to a border agent to apply for asylum. That isn't a distinction that most people understand. Plenty of politicians said that the Central American migrant crisis of 2014 showed that the border wasn't secure — but most of those immigrants sought out border agents and turned themselves in.

Under the new GOP bill, those immigrants wouldn't be a threat to "operational control" at all. And for that reason, some border agents themselves are attacking it. They think that the border can't be secure as long as people can enter the country without papers and ultimately be allowed to stay. So they want to make it harder for people to seek and get asylum.

What about unauthorized immigrants living in the US? Other immigration hardliners, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (new head of the Senate's immigration subcommittee), are wary of any law that isn't focused on deporting unauthorized immigrants who are currently in the US, or undoing President Obama's executive actions to protect them. The GOP's border bill is called the "Secure the Border First" Act — Sessions and others are worried that what comes after the "first" could be legalization of unauthorized immigrants.

How do you distinguish between a high-risk and low-risk immigrant? Border experts, meanwhile, agree that the most important thing in border security is flexibility: the ability to focus on the most serious threats to national security and safety. That might mean needing to put a little less effort into catching every single border crosser, but it also means having better information about exactly who's crossing and why.

Shouldn't the government get more credit for people who decide not to try to cross at all? It's obviously much better for the government if people don't even try to cross illegally. In fact, most of the US government's policy over the past year, in response to the migrant crisis of last summer, was to focus on keeping people from making the journey. But none of the metrics that have been developed yet give the government credit for deterrence. In other words, border security is measured by how many people think they can get across, and are wrong.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Senator Presses Both Chambers on Immigration

Wall Street Journal
By Kristina Peterson and Laura Meckler
January 25, 2015

When Rep. Mo Brooks was explaining his objections to a House border security bill last week, he paused to check his notes. For reference, he turned to a news release from a fellow Alabama Republican.

“I follow the lead of Sen. Jeff Sessions on that one,” he said.

In the 19 months since the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration bill, Mr. Sessions’s dogged opposition has rallied House Republicans to block all but the most conservative immigration measures.

Through meetings with House lawmakers and a prodigious output of written materials, Mr. Sessions has made the rare leap across the Capitol, where GOP lawmakers often eye senators’ attempts to influence them with suspicion.

Mr. Sessions spots a missed opportunity for Republicans.

“Democrats fight with more passion in defense of illegal immigrants than Republicans fight in defense of American workers,” Mr. Sessions wrote in a handbook he circulated this month on the issue.

Now Mr. Sessions’s opposition to a House border-security bill scheduled for a vote this week will spotlight, and test, his efforts to rally conservatives to his side. The measure was one of the few changes to the immigration system where Republicans had been expected to agree, and Mr. Sessions’s efforts are prompting criticism from backers of the House bill.

“For God’s sake, if we can’t unite around border security, what can we unite around?” said Michael McCaul (R., Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Mr. McCaul already had toughened language in a bill his committee produced in 2013, making it more prescriptive with details about equipment and approaches the agency must take in each section of the southern border.

Mr. Sessions, however, opposed Mr. McCaul’s bill. He argued that sending additional resources to the border is fruitless as long as the Obama administration allows some illegal immigrants into the country, and unless there is stricter enforcement of laws for those who already are here.

Mr. McCaul has said some of conservatives’ concerns only can be addressed in the Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), has promised to address other enforcement issues in coming legislation.

Moreover, some conservatives are concerned that the Senate could seek to redirect attention to the border bill, rather than previously passed House legislation seeking to block implementation of the president’s executive order on immigration, as it searches for a way to keep the Homeland Security Department funded beyond Feb. 27.

Due to their concerns, some House conservatives are trying to delay a Wednesday vote on the border bill, GOP aides said.

Whether Mr. Sessions has built enough momentum to derail the House bill this time remains to be seen. Many lawmakers say they are still undecided, and House GOP aides expect the measure to pass.

Nevertheless, Mr. Sessions’s continued involvement reflects his rise as one of Washington’s most prominent critics of the nation’s immigration system.

Last week he was named chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee. His staff now tweets from the @ImmigrationGOP handle.

Earlier this month, Mr. Sessions released his 25-page “immigration handbook,” which details his case against both illegal and in some cases legal immigration, arguing that an influx of low-wage workers depresses wages and job prospects for U.S. citizens.

Mr. Sessions is up against supporters of increased immigration—including some in his own party—who say that immigrants often fill jobs that U.S. workers won’t accept and help fuel innovation.

“Some of the points we raised have resulted in improving the legislation,” Mr. Sessions said, referring to his involvement in a bill last summer dealing with the surge of young migrants on the southern border. Encouraged by Mr. Sessions, conservatives raised objections that forced GOP leaders to pull the measure from the floor and change it to appease them.

Mr. Sessions isn’t the only senator who has built a following among House Republicans. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) often has met with House colleagues, most prominently during the fight about health-care funding that helped lead to the 2013 partial government shutdown.

Mr. Sessions’s arguments have been convincing to some conservative House Republicans.

“It does not secure the border,” freshman Rep. Dave Brat (R., Va.) said of the McCaul bill on a local radio show last week. “I agree with Sessions on about everything he says when it comes to this issue.”

Some House members, however, believe Mr. Sessions is meddling.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), a leading supporter of liberalizing immigration law, said Republicans would have trouble expanding their appeal among voters by tapping Mr. Sessions for a more prominent immigration role. “I don’t think Sessions is going to lead them there,” Mr. Gutierrez said on MSNBC on Friday.

Frank Sharry, who leads the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, said Mr. Sessions’s focus on increasing deportations above all else is bad policy and damaging politics for the GOP.

“Republicans will rue the day they handed the keys to the car to Sessions,” he said. “He is intent on moving the center of gravity on immigration within the GOP far to the right, and…seems to be succeeding.”

Centrist Republicans say they are eager to pass the border bill and move on to fixing other parts of the immigration system after two years of inaction on the issue.

“I’m just tired of defending nothing,” said Rep. Mark Amodei (R., Nev.) “OK, you wanted border [legislation] first, here you go. Let’s turn the page and get onto the other stuff.”

The McCaul bill would provide $10 billion for equipment and technology along the southwest border, including an array of drones, surveillance systems for land and sea, radar and fencing.

It would require the government to achieve “operational control” of high-traffic areas within two years, and of the entire southern border within five years. The measure defines control as preventing all unlawful entries, a higher standard than the 90% set out by the same committee in 2013. At the time, Mr. McCaul called 100% control “impossible to achieve.”

The bill cleared the panel last week on a party-line vote.

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