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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


Friday, February 27, 2015

Jeb Bush Defends Stance on Immigration, Education

Wall Street Journal
By Patrick O’Connor
February 26, 2015

Jeb Bush offered an aggressive defense Thursday night of his positions on immigration and education, suggesting that he is willing to lock horns with his conservative critics as he lays out a rationale for his presidential campaign.

In remarks to a small group of wealthy conservatives here Thursday night, Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, rejected efforts to label him a centrist, saying his two terms as Florida governor provided ample evidence of his success in promoting a conservative agenda.

But he stuck by his support for two stances at odds with those of the Republican base. He backed a set of education standards known as Common Core and touted the economic benefits of increased immigration, restating his belief that immigrants in the country illegally should eventually be granted some form of legal status.

The timing of his remarks—on the eve of a highly anticipated appearance before conservative activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington—suggests Mr. Bush is willing to court confrontation with some of his party’s most committed activists.

“I’m not backing down from something that is a core belief,” he declared to rousing applause here at the Club for Growth’s annual retreat. “Are we all just supposed to cower because, at the moment, people are upset about something? No way, no how.”

The comments were a nod to Mr. Bush’s decree in December that, in order for Republicans to reclaim the White House, the next GOP presidential nominee must be willing to “lose the primary to win the general” election.

In a likely preview of the themes Mr. Bush will highlight Friday at CPAC, Mr. Bush touted his efforts to reduce the state government workforce by 13,000.

Mr. Bush told the crowd he lowered taxes every year as governor and drew loud applause when he said he vetoed $2 billion worth of line items in the budget during his eight years in office, rejecting projects and programs advocated by Republicans and Democrats alike.

“They called me Vito Corleone,” he joked,” referring to the movie “The Godfather.”

He also pointed to his efforts to rework Medicaid and end Affirmative Action in higher education and government procurement.

Throughout, Mr. Bush pitched himself as a conservative reformer with a proven record of enacting big changes.

“I ran as a conservative,” he said. “I said what I was going to do. I had a chance to do it, and trust me, I did.”

The Club for Growth is a leading free-market, antitax group that frequently criticizes congressional Republicans for protecting corporate interests and cutting budget deals with Democrats. In a question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush touched on two of the group’s top priorities when he said he would like to phase out the Export-Import Bank and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac .

Throughout his 21-minute speech and subsequent question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush returned to a frequent theme: economic mobility.

Speaking to roughly 200 Club donors at the Breakers resort, the former Florida governor challenged Republicans to do a better job convincing poor and middle-class Americans that they would benefit from lower taxes, less regulation and a smaller government.

“Conservatives will win if we advance our cause to people that benefit from conservative principles,’’ he said. “And the people that will benefit from conservative principles are the ones that are stuck right now, not the ones that have already made it, the ones that are stuck, the middle that’s being squeezed and the poor that want to rise up.”

Mr. Bush drew regular applause and got a standing ovation at the end of his remarks. The crowd Friday at CPAC might not be as receptive. The event draws a broad mix of conservative activists, including a number of younger Republicans who identify more with tea-party favorites such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and libertarians who are rallying behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul .

The challenge for Mr. Bush, in sticking to his policy stances, will be to convince Republican primary voters that his record of conservative governance should trump their concerns about his support for Common Core and legal status for illegal immigrants.

On Thursday, Mr. Bush defended his support for Common Core by arguing that measurable standards are necessary to prevent children from suffering from a substandard education. He said states should determine their own standards and that he wants the federal government to stop enforcing these requirements. He also highlighted his efforts to boost school choice.

“We have a skills gap that is just extraordinary,” he said. “We have so politicized and dumbed-down our educational system that the net result is that we’re mediocre at best at a time when we need to be soaring.”

Mr. Bush couched the immigration debate in economic and demographic terms, presenting expanded immigration as a means to reverse the country’s ebbing birthrate and aging population.

The former Florida governor called for eliminating the existing quotas for certain countries and the creation of a guest-worker system that would allow the U.S. to meet its employment needs.

In an appeal tailored to conservative activists, Mr. Bush told the crowd of how he rediscovered the Constitution when his father, former President George H.W. Bush, asked him to serve on a board to honor the country’s founding document. He said imparting those values needs to be part of the immigrant experience in this country, ensuring that people who come here appreciate the country’s history and values.

“We need to get beyond this political fighting that creates a wedge issue that makes it harder for conservatives to win,” he said. “We need to be for the things that draw people towards our cause.”

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

U.S. House Republicans Discuss Plan to Extend Security Funding for Three Weeks

By David Lawder
February 26, 2015

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were meeting on Thursday to discuss a three-week extension of funding that would avert a partial shutdown of the domestic security agency, a senior House Republican aide said.

Lawmakers face a midnight deadline on Friday to pass a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which spearheads domestic counterterrorism operations, and a temporary extension of funding would give them more time to resolve their differences.

Republicans in the House have tried to attach measures to block President Barack Obama's immigration actions, while the Senate is moving toward passing a "clean" bill that does not include those restrictions.

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

House and Senate Prepare Measures to Keep Homeland Security Funded

New York Times
By Ashley Parker
February 26, 2015

Just a day before the Department of Homeland Security is set to run out of money, the Senate was preparing a bill that would finance the department without restrictions on President Obama’s immigration actions. House Republicans were coming together on a counterproposal that would provide the agency with funds for only three weeks.

The Senate is expected to vote Friday on its bill, which would provide the department with financing for the rest of the fiscal year, through September. The House is expected to reject that measure, increasing the prospect that a partial shutdown of the department would be averted only through the shorter-term funding accord that the House is expected to propose.

Speaker John A. Boehner and the Republican leadership team spent much of the day struggling to find a way to provide money for the department while also expressing their displeasure with Mr. Obama’s immigration actions.

Some Republicans, though, said it was time for Mr. Boehner and his conference to accept the reality that they needed to approve financing for the department and delay the immigration fight with Mr. Obama.

“As a governing party, we’ve got to fund D.H.S. and say to the House, ‘Here’s a straw so you can suck it up,’ ” said Senator Mark S. Kirk, Republican of Illinois. “This battle should be the end of the strategy of attaching whatever you’re upset at the president to a vital piece of government.”

Emerging from a private meeting on Thursday evening, House Republicans rejected the Senate’s expected offer, saying instead that they were prepared to vote Friday on the short-term measure to finance the agency. The hope, Republican lawmakers said, is that they would be able to use that time to enter into joint negotiations over a broader immigration bill that would halt Mr. Obama’s recent executive actions.

“It gives us a chance to continue our defense of the Constitution,” said Representative John Carter, Republican of Texas.

But as House Republicans were filing out of their meeting, the office of Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the minority leader, had already sent out an email making it clear that Senate Democrats would not agree to any joint House-Senate negotiations over the financing bill.

The Republican plan simply pushes the fight into next month. It creates the very situation that Republicans had hoped to avoid after the November elections, when they took over the Senate and increased their margin in the House: lurching from crisis to crisis, with little to show in the form of major legislation.

“It says a lot about the party,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. “It means trouble. How many times can we go over the cliff and survive?”

Democrats have said they oppose a short-term financing measure, though some might support one in order to avoid shutting down the department. But the House Democratic leadership is actively campaigning against the bill.

The House passed a bill last month that would have financed Homeland Security, though it included amendments that would gut legal protections that Mr. Obama’s actions would provide for as many as five million illegal immigrants, including those brought into the country as children.

After failing four times to overcome Democratic opposition and take up the House bill, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, offered a two-step path this week to keep the agency open: one vote on a bill that deals solely with department funding and a second vote on a proposal by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, to halt the president’s immigration actions. The Senate will begin voting on those measures on Friday. Senate Democrats have said they will allow a debate and vote on the Collins plan, but only after the agency is financed.

The short-term House proposal reflects the pressure Mr. Boehner is facing from his more conservative members. They want to use the financing bill to fight what they say is Mr. Obama’s executive overreach on immigration. Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, said that his Senate counterparts had put the “surrender caucus” in charge of the chamber, ultimately leaving Mr. Reid in a position of strength.

Until Wednesday, Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell had not spoken in two weeks. Asked to describe his relationship with Mr. McConnell, Mr. Boehner acknowledged that they had sometimes had “differences.”

“We have two different institutions that don’t have the same body temperature every day,” he said. “You know, the House, by nature and by design, is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate — much more.”

Democrats said that recent terrorist episodes added urgency to the need to keep the department functioning seamlessly. “ISIS appears to have money, terrorists appear to have money, why shouldn’t our homeland have the ability to protect itself?” asked Mr. Reid, referring to the terrorist group that is also known as the Islamic State. “This is like living in a world of crazy people.”

But for all the uncertainty over funding the agency, at least one truth was clear: No path forward will be easy. Walking out of the House Republican conference meeting Thursday evening, a reporter asked Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, just why he thought the Republican plan would prevail, as Senate Democrats have made it clear that they will not accept anything short of a “clean” funding bill.

Several of Mr. Rogers’s colleagues came to his rescue. They began shouting his name — “Hal! Hal!” — and pulled him into a jam-packed elevator just as the doors were closing.

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

Democrats Won’t Debate Immigration Until DHS Funds Are Enacted

By Heidi Przybyla
February 26, 2015

The Senate and House Democratic leaders stepped up pressure on House Republicans to fund the Department of Homeland Security, saying they won’t negotiate on a spending measure that also blocks U.S. immigration policies.

“If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a news conference Thursday in Washington. “If they want to debate immigration when this is all over with, we’ll be happy to do it.”

“Understand, shutting down government is their motive,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who spoke to reporters with Reid.

“If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Funding expires after Friday for the Homeland Security agency, and the Senate is moving forward on a plan to finance it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would work to get the bill to the House by the end of the week.

House Republicans have refused to consider a spending bill unless it also blocks President Barack Obama’s November orders on immigration. The Senate plans to address immigration in a separate bill.

Reid said Americans are frightened about terrorism, and noted that just a day earlier three New York residents were charged with trying to support Islamic State, or ISIL.

“ISIS appears to have money, terrorists appear to have money; why shouldn’t our homeland have the ability to protect itself?” Reid said.

Boehner Pressured

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has been under pressure from Tea Party-backed Republicans to use the Homeland Security bill as leverage after he promised a battle over immigration this year to his rank and file. Allowing a vote on a bill that funds Homeland Security without addressing immigration might imperil Boehner’s standing with those members.

One member of Boehner’s Republican caucus who disagrees is Representative Peter King of New York, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

“If Boehner’s going to get it done he ought to bite the bullet and get it done now,” King said. “What you’re talking about is a small group of people who want to hold the party hostage.”

“We have to cut them off now because they’ll keep doing this,” King said.

Pelosi said she told Boehner this week that Democrats wouldn’t support passing a short-term funding measure.

“Let’s just get the job done on time,” she said, and fund the agency through September, the end of the fiscal year.

The risk of a partial Homeland Security shutdown comes less than two months after Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress. McConnell has insisted there will be “no government shutdowns.”

Netanyahu Speech

Lawmakers also risk embarrassment if they allow a partial Homeland Security shutdown lasting until March 3, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address a joint meeting of Congress on security issues.

Republicans have been trying to use the agency funding bill to block Obama’s decision in November to ease deportation for about 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The Senate failed four times to advance a House bill that linked the issues.

Democrats oppose any legislation to block Obama’s immigration orders. Even if such a measure gets to the president’s desk, Obama would veto it.

The Homeland Security Department includes the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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

3 Reasons President Obama Is Winning This Immigration Fight

NPR (Opinion)
By Mara Liasson
February 26, 2015

As the Republican Congress tried this week to get itself out of the box it put itself in, President Obama was in Miami, aggressively ratcheting up the political pressure on the GOP on the issue underlying the standoff over funding the Department of Homeland Security — immigration. Here are three reasons why the president is winning this fight:

1. Congress can't stop him from implementing his executive actions on immigration.

Congress can shut down the Department of Homeland Security, but even that won't stop the president from using his prosecutorial discretion to give as many as 10 million people effective protection from deportation. A Texas judge may have stopped him from offering work permits or papers to individual immigrants, granting them temporary legal status, but the judge never disputed the president's power to decide how to prioritize law enforcement. It estimates that only 1 million of the 11 million immigrants here illegally are recent border-crossers or have criminal records.

2. House and Senate Republicans can't get on the same page.

On this issue Democrats, for a change, are united. House Speaker John Boehner told his Republican colleagues that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell haven't spoken in two weeks, although they did finally have a meeting Wednesday afternoon. And while McConnell was willing to throw in the towel and allow a "clean" DHS funding bill, Boehner can't get his conservatives to agree. The Republican leadership is convinced it will be blamed for shutting down DHS at a time when the American people are increasingly concerned about terrorist threats. But the conservative base is not convinced. Democrats feel they have the upper hand, with a message that, at its simplest and crudest, says: Republicans played politics with the nation's security in order to force the president to deport more hardworking Hispanics.

3. The president's position is more popular.

What the president wants to do — bring out of the shadows immigrants who have been in this country for a long time, have U.S. citizen children, and clean records — is wildly popular with Hispanics. The broader public supports the substance of the policy, even if polls show lower support for the way he went about it — acting unilaterally. But the president's action is extremely unpopular with the conservative base of the Republican Party, which calls it "executive amnesty".

This is the wedge that the president is trying to exploit with trips to heavily Hispanic Florida and interviews on Spanish-language television. Three years after Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote 71 to 27 percent, Republicans still haven't figured out how to reach out to the fastest growing ethnic bloc in the electorate without alienating their conservative base.

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Holding Homeland Security Hostage

New York Times (Editorial)
February 25, 2015

If Republicans in Congress don’t relent on their quest to thwart President Obama’s executive actions on immigration by refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security, there’s only one agency in the gargantuan bureaucracy where business would largely continue to operate as usual.

It happens to be the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which processes visa, work permit and green card applications and is the very agency responsible for accepting petitions for deferred action from deportation that the Obama administration has offered to certain unauthorized immigrants.

Unlike other parts of the department, U.S.C.I.S. is funded almost entirely by applicant fees, rather than taxpayer dollars, making it immune to government shutdowns.

Republicans have warned that they will pass a bill to finance the Department of Homeland Security only if it includes a provision that blocks Mr. Obama’s initiatives, which would allow certain longtime immigrants to remain in this country and work lawfully, but would not provide a pathway toward citizenship.

Mr. Obama has rightly threatened to veto any such legislation, arguing that the steps the White House intends to take are the best alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, which Congress has failed to pass for decades.

If the department is not funded, 30,000 people, or roughly 15 percent of the work force, would be furloughed. Most of its employees would be considered “essential” and asked to show up to work even though they wouldn’t be getting paid. The collateral damage of the stalemate are tens of thousands of families who depend on the biweekly paychecks of these front-line workers, including border patrol agents and airport security screeners.

“There are serious consequences for the working men and women of our department if they are required to come to work and try to make ends meet without a paycheck,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said earlier this week. “For themselves and their families.”

While critical functions, such as law enforcement operations, would continue, officials say the halt in funding would compromise their ability to respond effectively to a natural disaster and could make the country more vulnerable to organized crime and even acts of terrorism.

At U.S.C.I.S., there is one program that would have to be suspended: E-Verify, the online service that allows employers to check the employment eligibility of workers.

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

Visiting Miami, Obama Presses Republicans on Homeland Security Funding

New York Times
By Julie Hirshfeld Davis
February 25, 2015

President Obama called on congressional Republicans on Wednesday to renew financing for the Department of Homeland Security and promised to veto any measure that tried to gut his executive actions on immigration.

“Instead of trying to hold hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is so important for our national security, fund that, and let’s get on with actually passing comprehensive immigration reform,” Mr. Obama told about 270 people at a town-hall-style meeting at Florida International University.

He was referring to Republican efforts to block his immigration plans while still financing most of the department. Their idea is to prevent any money, whether through the appropriations process or through fees collected from immigration applications, from being used for any of the president’s existing or future executive actions on immigration. Homeland Security financing will expire on Friday unless Congress passes, and Mr. Obama signs, a bill to continue providing it.

If Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, “want to have a vote on whether what I’m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote,” Mr. Obama said. “I will veto that vote.”

The president’s directives, which would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits, are not only under fire in Congress. A Texas judge has also temporarily blocked them, and Mr. Obama used the meeting on Wednesday in a heavily Hispanic area of Miami to promote his policies and to take Republicans to task for opposing them.

“I’m using all of the legal power vested in me in order to solve this problem,” he said. “We’ve got some disagreements with some members of Congress and some members of the judiciary about what should be done, but what I’m confident about is, ultimately, this is going to get done.”

The meeting, broadcast on the Spanish-language network Telemundo, highlighted the anger Mr. Obama still faces among many Hispanics about his immigration record, including his failure to push through a broad overhaul while the Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress during his first term.

The president tangled at times with the moderator, José Díaz-Balart of MSNBC, who read a question from a participant charging that both parties had used the immigration issue for political gain.

“That’s just not true, the notion that Democrats and Republicans played political Ping-Pong,” Mr. Obama shot back.

“Democrats have consistently stood on the side of comprehensive immigration reform,” the president told Mr. Díaz-Balart. “You do a disservice when you suggest that, ‘Ah, nobody was focused on this.’ ”

“The blockage has been very specific on one side,” Mr. Obama added. “Let’s not be confused about why we don’t have comprehensive immigration reform right now. It’s very simple: The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, refused to call a bill.”

At another point, he interrupted Mr. Díaz-Balart, who had asserted that many Hispanic voters were skeptical that they could influence the political process.

“It’s not a game — wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” Mr. Obama said. “Let me tell you something: This is not a game.”

He said voters must keep up the pressure on Congress and the Republicans who run for president in 2016 to back a more permanent measure that would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to legal status.

“When they start asking for votes, the first question should be, ‘Do you really intend to deport 11 million people?’ ” the president said. “ ‘And if not, what is your plan to make sure that they have the ability to have a legal status, stay with their families and, ultimately, contribute to the United States of America?’ ”

Mr. Obama said his administration was aggressively defending his executive actions in court. In the meantime, he said, immigrants who would qualify for deportation reprieves and work permits under those actions — including people brought to the United States as young children, and the parents of American citizens — should be confident that they will not be deported. He said he had ordered immigration and border officials to focus on criminals and recent immigrants in carrying out any deportations.

“Even with legal uncertainty,” Mr. Obama said, “they should be in a good place.”

His trip to Miami coincided with the first full week the Department of Homeland Security had been scheduled to begin carrying out part of the program.

The Texas court’s ruling blocked about 270,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children from applying for the new protected status, a process that was to begin last week. After that decision, the White House announced that it was delaying a second program, scheduled to begin in May, that would offer about four million immigrants with children who are American citizens a reprieve from deportation and a chance to work.

The administration has filed for an emergency stay of the ruling to let the changes take effect.

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

Obama Says Court Fight on Immigration Actions to Take Months

February 25, 2015

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he is confident his administration ultimately will win a legal battle to proceed with his executive actions on immigration, but he told an audience of young Latinos that the fight will take months.

Obama told a town hall-style audience that the Justice Department has appealed a Texas court decision stopping his move to allow as many as 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and obtain work permits.

“That will take a couple of months” to file and argue the case, he said.

"We expect to win," he said, promising the audience that his administration would continue to fight the case even if the appeal fails.

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

Republicans Grapple With Internal Rifts in Homeland Security Impasse

New York Times
By Ashley Parker and Emmarie Heutteman
February 25, 2015

Republicans on Wednesday publicly struggled to resolve tensions within their party as House and Senate leaders searched for a way to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to run out of money on Friday.

The effort to keep the department running has emerged as a proxy fight over President Obama’s immigration policies — as well as the first major test for congressional Republicans over whether they can actually govern, now that they control both chambers.

But it has also become a test of how House and Senate Republicans can reconcile their own considerable differences on major policy fights.

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, told his conference at a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning that he and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had not spoken in two weeks, something several lawmakers said they found surprising.

The battle to finance the department — with the Senate calling on the House to act, and the House saying it is still waiting on the Senate — is perilous for the Republican Party.

One day after the Republicans retook the Senate majority, Mr. McConnell said there would be no more government shutdowns, yet he now faces that prospect. And for Mr. Boehner, the funding impasse raises the question of whether he has the political muscle to corral his restive conference — including its most conservative members — into passing a spending measure without a reprisal against his leadership.

On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell offered what he hoped was a way out of the fight — one vote on a bill solely to fund the agency, and another vote on legislation to halt Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, countered by saying that Senate Democrats would not allow a vote on any spending bill until they have a guarantee from Mr. Boehner that his conference also accepts the proposal. And on Wednesday, Mr. Boehner and House Republicans emerged from their private meeting saying they had no plans to act until the Senate actually sent them a bill.

“I don’t know what the Senate’s capable of passing, and until I see what they’re going to pass, no decisions have been made on the House side,” Mr. Boehner said. “The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration, and we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the majority leader, told his members to keep their schedules “flexible,” and to expect a lot of late nights and early mornings, as well as maybe a weekend session. Another option emerging Wednesday was a short-term funding measure, either for a few months, or for at least a few days until lawmakers figure out a plan forward.

But it remains unclear just how far House Republicans — who are eager to tie any funding bill to legislation to rein in what they say is the president’s executive overreach on immigration — are willing to go in their delicate stance between fighting Mr. Obama’s immigration policies and providing money for a vital security agency.

“There wasn’t really a clear message of where we’re going,” said Representative Raúl Labrador, Republican of Idaho. “I know that most of us over here feel that you have to have the defunding of the president’s actions attached.”

If Mr. Boehner and his leadership team do ultimately try to pass a “clean” funding bill that has no immigration-related amendments, probably with the support of Democratic members, they could face criticism from their more hard-line members, as well as outside conservative groups.

“Our base would be extremely angry,” said Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana. “So this is very, very delicate territory for our leadership.”

Though discussions are continuing on the Senate side, Democrats seemed increasingly inclined to accept Mr. McConnell’s offer of a vote on a bill to fund the agency, with no immigration provisions attached.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Boehner gave no clear indication of what his conference would be able to pass. “Senate Democrats have stood in the way now for three weeks over a bill that should have been debated and passed,” he said. “So until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait-and-see mode.”

Republicans have long blamed Democrats for the impasse, pointing out that Senate Democrats have four times filibustered an effort to even open debate on a funding bill. But with time ticking down until a partial shutdown, some Republican lawmakers also signaled that it was time to accept a compromise.

“We can’t allow D.H.S. not be funded,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. “People think we’re crazy. There’re terrorist attacks all over the world, and we’re talking about closing down Homeland Security. This is like living in the world of the crazy people.”

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

Senate Nears Action on Homeland Security Funding Bill

Wall Street Journal
By Kristina Peterson
February 25, 2015

The Senate prepared to move forward on a bill extending the Department of Homeland Security’s funding as soon as Wednesday afternoon, while top House Republicans said their chamber would wait for the Senate to act.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Democrats would support a bill extending Homeland Security funding beyond its Friday midnight expiration.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure it passes by an overwhelming vote. I think virtually every Democrat will vote for that,” Mr. Reid said following a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats.

Over conservative opposition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) had offered earlier this week to hold separate votes on the funding and a bill blocking President Barack Obama ’s November action, which bypassed Congress, to provide work permits and safe harbor from deportation for some illegal immigrants. Until earlier this week, Republicans had yoked the two together to use the funding deadline as leverage to demand immigration concessions from Democrats.

Senate Democrats had been skeptical of Mr. McConnell’s offer, noting that no final deal could be reached without cooperation from House Republicans. Still, they were likely to support passing the funding bill in the absence of GOP procedural tricks, Senate Democratic aides said. The bill would require 60 votes to clear the first procedural hurdle.

“Of course we’re going to vote for clean funding,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.). But she said that the Senate’s action alone wouldn’t prevent a funding lapse.

“There clearly is a problem between [House Speaker John] Boehner and McConnell,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said House Republicans would stand behind the bill the House passed last month, which had merged funding for the department through September with additional measures rolling back several of Mr. Obama’s immigration policies. Senate Democrats have blocked consideration of the House bill in four separate roll-call votes.

“I’m waiting for the Senate to act. The House has done its job,” Mr. Boehner told reporters Wednesday. “Until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait-and-see mode.”

But it was clear that a Homeland Security funding bill stripped of immigration measures would face stiff resistance in the House.

“I wouldn’t be able to support legislation that funded the Department of Homeland Security without those [immigration] riders,” said Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, a member of House Republican leadership.

Some House Republicans said that Mr. Boehner would face a backlash from conservatives if he brought a funding bill to the House floor that didn’t also seek to challenge Mr. Obama on immigration.

“I can’t see how it would pass. Our base would be extremely angry,” said Rep. John Fleming (R., La.). “To cave at this point, on this bill, I think our leadership sees real danger in doing that.”

House Republicans said Mr. Boehner told them Wednesday morning that he hadn’t spoken to Mr. McConnell for two weeks. But aides said staff for the two top Republicans are in daily contact and noted that Congress had been in recess for one of those weeks.

Still, the comment suggested that each leader was giving the other room to placate his own rank-and-file for now, with days left until the funding deadline could force them to make unpopular compromises.

“Sen. McConnell has a big job to do. So do I,” Mr. Boehner said, when asked about his comment.

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

Former DHS Secretaries Urge Republicans to Fund the Department

Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
February 25, 2015

Two former secretaries of Homeland Security, both Republicans, urged GOP lawmakers to set aside their anger about President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration and provide funding for the department.

“I personally believe, as a former member of the Congress of the United States, that the president has gravely overstepped his constitutional authority,” said Tom Ridge, who served under President George W. Bush as the first secretary of homeland security and earlier had been a U.S. representative and governor of Pennsylvania. He added that Republicans have “every right to challenge” the move, but said withholding funding is “wrong, it’s folly.”

They made their comments at a news conference at the Department of Homeland Security alongside the current DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, who has been campaigning for a full-year funding measure for his department.

The Senate was preparing to vote as soon as Wednesday on a measure favored by Democrats that would extend funding for the rest of the year, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) agreed to strip language nullifying Mr. Obama’s executive actions. But it was unclear whether that measure could pass the House.

Michael Chertoff, who served as the second DHS secretary, also under Mr. Bush, said he understands the “deep concerns” that many have about extending protections to people in the U.S. illegally, but pointed to a federal district judge’s decision to put that part of the action on hold.

“That matter as it turns out is likely to be dealt with by the courts,” he said. “What I don’t think make sense is to hold the entire set of operations of the Department of Homeland Security in abeyance as a hostage, as the legislative branch starts to play a game of chicken with the president.”

While essential personnel will still have to work, he said, they will not have needed administrative support and they will not be paid.

The fourth person to serve as agency chief, Democrat Janet Napolitano, was unable to attend the event but issued a statement supporting full funding for DHS.

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Homeland Security Bill Moves in Senate While House in Limbo

February 26, 2015

The Senate is moving forward on legislation to fund the Homeland Security Department, but the House is in limbo two days away from a partial agency shutdown as conservatives angrily reject the Senate plan.

Many House Republicans say they aren’t ready to admit defeat and approve spending for the department without demanding concessions from President Barack Obama on immigration. They are pressuring House Speaker John Boehner to hold firm against that approach, even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argues that it’s the best way out of the GOP’s dilemma.

No other options are apparent, aside from a partial shutdown of the agency charged with protecting the U.S. against terrorism. Without congressional action, that will happen at midnight Friday — and polls show Republicans likely to take the political blame.

Boehner met privately with McConnell on Wednesday afternoon, their first meeting in two weeks, but he gave no indication during the day of how he might resolve what has become a high-stakes leadership test two months into full Republican control of Congress.

“I’m waiting for the Senate to act. The House has done their job,” Boehner said at a news conference where he repeatedly sidestepped questions about his plans.

Hours after Boehner spoke, the Senate did act, voting 98-2 to advance the Homeland Security funding bill over its first procedural hurdle. Several more votes will be required to bring the bill to final passage, but that outcome in the Senate is assured with lawmakers of both parties ready to put the fight behind them.

The $40 billion legislation would fund the agency through Sept. 30, the end of the budget year. Gone would be the contentious immigration language from the House-passed version that repealed Obama executive actions as far back as 2012 granting work permits and deportation stays to millions of people in the country illegally, including immigrants brought here as kids.

Instead, McConnell envisions a separate vote on a narrower immigration measure to undo just Obama’s most recent immigration directives, from November. The measure would leave in place protections enacted in 2012 for younger immigrants, but even so Democrats are not likely to approve that bill, and it faces a certain Obama veto.

The president repeated that threat Wednesday at a town hall style meeting in Miami designed to keep pressure on Republicans.

“If Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate, and the speaker of the House, John Boehner want to have a vote on whether what I’m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote,” the president said. “I will veto that vote — because I’m absolutely confident that what we’re doing is the right thing to do.”

Facing united opposition from Democrats who blocked four GOP attempts to open debate on the House-passed bill, McConnell said he was offering the best plan he could. But House conservatives called it a surrender and said they would not abandon their fight, even if no outcome looked possible except a partial Homeland Security shutdown that would furlough 30,000 workers and send tens of thousands more to work without pay.

“On one side, we’re faced with dealing with the horrible prospect of a shutdown. If we do nothing and we just capitulate, we’re dealing with an even more horrible prospect of a constitutional crisis,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “It’s a no-win situation.”

A number of Republican lawmakers said the plan could potentially pass with Democratic votes, but conservatives warned that Boehner would face an intense backlash if he took that route, as he’s done in the past.

Congress could potentially pass a short-term extension of current funding levels, but that would only postpone the conflict.

House lawmakers openly chafed at the position they found themselves in after agreeing last fall to put off the fight over immigration until this year. The argument was that they would have more leverage once Republicans controlled the Senate and claimed larger numbers in the House.

That hasn’t proven to be the case, mainly because the GOP commands only 54 votes in the Senate, short of the 60 needed to advance most legislation under the chamber’s rules. And Obama’s veto pen still gives him the ultimate leverage.

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Bipartisan Deal Sets Up Homeland Security Vote in Senate

By David Espo and Eric Werner
February 25, 2015

Three days before a partial Homeland Security shutdown, lawmakers cleared the way Wednesday for Senate passage of legislation to fund the agency without immigration-related provisions opposed by President Barack Obama.

Approval in the Senate would send the issue to the House, where some conservatives derided the plan as a surrender to the White House. Other Republicans predicted it would clear, but Speaker John Boehner declined to say if he would put it to a vote.

"I'm waiting for the Senate to act. The House has done their job," he said at a news conference where he repeatedly sidestepped questions about his plans.

Increasingly, though, it appeared the only alternative to House acceptance of the Senate measure was the partial shutdown of a federal department with major anti-terrorism responsibilities — and the likelihood the GOP would shoulder whatever political blame resulted.

The developments in Congress unfolded as Obama met at the White House with immigration activists before departing for a speech in Florida, where more than 23 percent of the population is of Hispanic descent. One person attending the meeting, Frank Sharry quoted Obama as saying Republicans were engaging in "kabuki" to appease conservatives who adamantly oppose presidential directives that would allow more than 4 million immigrants to remain in the country without threat of deportation even though they came to the country illegally.

Obama also predicted his administration would win a reversal in court of a ruling that has temporarily blocked his policies from taking effect, according to Sharry, who is executive director of America's Voice.

The Homeland Security funding legislation has been at the core of a politically charged struggle for weeks in the Senate. Democrats have repeatedly blocked action on the measure, objecting that it included House-passed immigration provisions that the White House opposed.

With the threatened partial shutdown approaching, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., retreated on Tuesday, offering separate votes on two bills. One would provide DHS funding, while the other would repeal Obama's immigration directives issued in 2012 and last year.

Democrats initially said they wouldn't agree unless Boehner signed on to the deal, but after a closed-door meeting, the party's leader gave his consent.

"It's an important step to be able to send to the House of Representatives a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security," said Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

He added, "We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in the next 24 hours to get this done. All eyes now shift to the House of Representatives as soon as we pass our clean funding bill."

Moments later, he and McConnell jointly pledged to pass a funding measure swiftly without the immigration provisions attached. McConnell said he hoped it could be cleared and "sent back to the House this week."

The precise timing of the bill's passage appeared to depend in large measure on the response of some of the Republican Party's most dedicated opponents of eased immigration laws, Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas among them.

Cruz, a potential presidential contender in 2016, told reporters he saw nothing to be gained from delaying the bill's inevitable passage by a day or so, and Sessions declined to comment.

Across the Capitol, House Republicans met privately to discuss the Senate measure as Boehner marked time, and lawmakers were told to be prepared to spend the weekend in the Capitol to resolve the issue.

Republican Rep. Pete King of New York predicted that a stand-alone spending measure would clear the House if it first passed the Senate. Yet he acknowledged that was not the preferred course of action for most members of the Republican rank and file, and there was ample evidence of that.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said there was scant support expressed inside a House GOP meeting for what he termed a "surrender plan."

Another frequent Republican rebel, Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, said Boehner would find himself on "very thin ice" if he relied primarily on Democratic votes to pass a funding bill stripped of provisions to roll back immigration directives that Obama issued in 2012 and last year.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stepped up his involvement in the debate, too.

He said that without legislation to set new spending levels, there would be no money for new initiatives such as "border security on the southern border." He also said disaster relief payments "would grind to a halt."

Officials have said that more than 85 percent of the agency's workforce — 200,000 out of 230,000 employees— would continue to work even if the funding were not approved because they are deemed essential for the protection of human life and property. That includes front-line workers at the Customs and Border Patrol, the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

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