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, September 30, 2015

The GOP Immigration Plan to Save Detroit—and Syria

Politico Magazine (Opinion)
By Daniel McGraw
September 29, 2015

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, is upset about the number of immigrants in his state—in his estimation there are far too few of them. In contrast with Republican politicians who want to rein in president Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the governor asked the Obama Administration early last year to use its executive powers to designate 50,000 extra visas to the Detroit metro area for high-skilled immigrants. Citing population loss and the need to jumpstart the Motor City economically (Detroit had just filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy), Snyder—a former CEO for Gateway Computer and head of a venture capitalist firm—called on his state to “embrace immigration.”

Those calls have gotten softer in recent months as the nativist rhetoric emanating from Republican candidates for president has gotten louder. But the issue can’t be ignored entirely. As Europe deals with 4 million Syrian refugees and the Obama administration pledges to admit more of these migrants, the logic of encouraging immigration to Detroit—with its large, welcoming ethnically Middle Eastern population—is only getting stronger. Germany has been quite candid about one of the reasons it is accepting a large portion of the Syrians: it has an aging population and needs younger workers to help pay into the system that will support their baby boomers in retirement. Germany, in effect, has merged humanitarian goals with economic needs. Detroit is well suited to doing the same.

One would think that there might be some movement to alleviate Detroit’s depopulation and Syria’s humanitarian crisis with a single executive order. But during this election year, with Donald Trump at the forefront, the issue of immigration reform has been narrowed to how ranchers in Southern Arizona feel about migrants, not how a Midwest city looking to climb out of a hole that has been getting deeper for more than 50 years sees them, which could cause conflict between Republicans in the Midwest and Republican presidential candidates in the months to come.

All of which has some Republicans in Michigan scratching their heads about why the national conservative discussion on immigration is being forced on Michigan. “We have a city like Detroit that needs human capital, we have agricultural interests that need people to harvest their crops and we have the largest Arab community in the country,” says Republican attorney Richard McLellan, who served in the Ford administration, both Bush administrations, and worked for Michigan Republican governors Michael Milliken and John Engler. “From my perspective, anti-immigrant issues don’t really exist very much in Michigan.”

The Midwest’s relative lack of animosity towards immigrants is what made Snyder’s plan politically palatable in the first place. Detroit had lost more than 1 million people since 1950, and the city now has an estimated 80,000 abandoned buildings. So the plan was to dole out the visas over five years to high-skilled immigrants in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)—and require them to live in Detroit for a prescribed period of time. More foreigners moving in would mean more job creation, a much-needed economic stimulus for a city where nearly 60 percent of children live in households under the poverty line.

“Isn’t this a great way that doesn’t involve large-scale financial contributions from the federal government to do something dramatic in Detroit?” Snyder asked rhetorically when he announced the proposal in January of 2014. He implored the audience to “think about how dumb our current system is for immigration in this country.”

“When I talk about dumb, the dumbest of the dumb is the part we’re focused in on,” Snyder explains on his state website. “Currently, we have thousands and thousands of foreign nationals coming to get advanced degrees in our universities. In Michigan, it’s about over 1,800 Ph.D. and master’s students a year in STEM [that graduate] … and many of these kids, when they’re done, we just tell them to get out. That’s just plain dumb, because shouldn’t we want to keep them here after we’ve given them a world-class education?”

Some conservatives have howled at the idea. “It is beyond belief that Snyder asked how dumb it is to not give work visas to 50,000 foreign citizens when tens of millions of American workers have lost their jobs and their careers and have given up looking for work,” conservative blogger Michael Cutler, a former Immigration and Naturalization Service agent, wrote in May. “What is truly dumb, and in fact duplicitous, is Snyder's idea that the solution to high unemployment … is to import foreign workers and provide them with opportunities while blithely ignoring his fellow Americans who did perhaps demonstrate that they were dumb by voting for him in the first place.”

But the blowback in Michigan was much more tepid. In fact, it hardly registered. Michigan’s Republican-dominated legislature backed the idea, as did Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Michael Duggan, along with conservative business groups and immigrant rights organizations. The warm reception Snyder’s proposal received in his home state is indicative of how the highest priorities in the Rust Belt are generally job growth and attracting new residents (cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis have very pro-active immigrant “welcoming” programs), not anchor babies and building walls.

Despite their former enthusiasm for the plan, neither Snyder nor Duggan would be interviewed for this story and Republican state senators and representatives who backed the plan claimed they were too busy to talk (a few offered to discuss road construction, however.) With the presidential election underway, and some mentioning Snyder as a possible vice presidential candidate, the Republican governor has stayed away from discussing the 50,000 visa number specifically this year, despite recent calls within metro Detroit’s huge Middle Eastern community to use the 50,000 proposed visas to bring Syrian refugees to Michigan.

Political observers in Michigan who didn’t want their names used theorized that Snyder is keeping the immigration issue quiet in the state because he favors Republicans like Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich who, like him, are relatively moderate on immigration. Though Snyder has not publicly backed either candidate, making immigration front and center could help Trump and other more anti-immigration presidential contenders in the Michigan primary on March 8. Kasich, in particular, has been very moderate in Ohio regarding immigration reform and a path to citizenship. Like Snyder, he sees immigration more as a tool for economic growth and less as an act of social justice.

Snyder is also likely positioning himself to be an attractive vice-presidential candidate, “and you don’t get named to that if you take a controversial position on such a hot button issue,” says a former Michigan state representative who is now a lobbyist in Lansing. “It was OK to talk about this last year, but not so good this year.”

Those political realties perhaps explain the vagueness of his responses to basic questions about his immigration plan and Detroit’s role in the current refugee crisis.

“Gov. Snyder has long said that our national immigration system is in need of reform and has called for our leaders at the federal level to continue working on this important issue,” David Murray, Gov. Snyder’s deputy press secretary, wrote in an email. “Michigan has always embraced the cultural diversity and ingenuity that our immigrants have throughout their history and can continue to bring under a bipartisan system that addresses our national interests and moves our state and country forward.”

“We knew this proposal would take some time, and we continue to be optimistic as we move forward,” Murray added.

The Obama Administration has never said publically whether it supports or opposes Snyder’s plan. The biggest difficulty would be geographically appropriating the 50,000 visas for Detroit. This has been done in some other countries (Canada, for example), but never in the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry said recently the United States would increase the number of refugees accepted by the United States from the current 70,000 to 85,000 in 2016, and up to 100,000 in 2017, for a total increase of 45,000 over the next two years.

Local willingness to accept refugees (sponsorship by churches, for example) usually plays a role when deciding where to send them but Snyder (through his spokesman) was very reticent about steering a certain number of the 45,000 extra refugees into southeastern Michigan. “Gov. Snyder believes Michigan should be a welcoming state, and we accept about 4,400 refugees a year,” Murray wrote. “But that number, and that process, is determined by the federal government. We always are open to working with the federal government on this issue.”

For McLellan, the Republican lawyer, not moving to take a large number of the Syrian refugees may be a missed opportunity for the state.

“I talk to all of the right winger nuts and get them on my Facebook page, because I am one of them,” McLellan laughs. “But I don’t see any anti-Muslim racist stuff. And part of that is because of our history with immigration. We are getting older and poorer and less educated—those are basic facts—and we need to bring in new blood, do what we did more than 100 years ago to rebuild this state. If we don’t get new blood in Michigan, we will have more serious problems down the road.”

“The conservative legislators are always looking for an enemy, and it is great if it is outside their district,” McLellan says. “In this case, the enemy is sometimes outside their Michigan district in southern Arizona. But most of the people in this state don’t feel strongly about immigration, either way. Because they know people who are, but more importantly, they come from that themselves. The hatred just isn’t here like some of the Republican presidential candidates are playing it out to be.”

It is immediately clear when driving through Dearborn, Michigan why this area is commonly referred to as the “Arab Capital of North America.” On Warren Avenue and Ford Road, among the hookah dens and bakeries with an endless supply of pita bread choices, are buildings with signage in both English and Arabic script that advertise the services of doctors and lawyers and accountants. Most women have their heads covered with hajibs. Minarets and gold painted domes are seen every few blocks for mile after mile.

And as you drive west of downtown Detroit and see all this activity, it’s not lost on you that just a few miles behind you in Detroit proper are some of the most desperate neighborhoods in America, large stretches of vacant buildings that were long ago scrapped for metal, neighborhoods where even check cashing stores, pawns shops and thrift stores can’t find customers anymore. Some homes have been abandoned for so long that the underbrush has consumed them.

“One thing I always notice while I’m driving through here,” says Michigan State Rep. Harvey Santana, as we roll through Dearborn bustling retail district, “is that there are never any vacant storefronts. If you see a ‘for sale’ or ‘for rent’ sign it is gone in a few days. The middle-eastern community invests in their neighborhoods, and you can see the difference that makes when you look at other parts of the city.”

Last May, Stanford University political science professor David Laitin co-wrote a New York Times op-ed piece titled “Let Syrians Settle Detroit” in which he figured that if Gov. Snyder wanted 50,000 more visas for immigrants, why not use those to put a dent in the 4 million or so Syrians who are refugees and in need of shelter because of war. Decrease the refugee population and repopulate Detroit at the same time.

“When I wrote that piece, it was a mad idea and we did it to draw attention to a worldwide problem,” Laitin says. “But in many ways it seems like it would be plausible right now. The United States needs to step up to the plate and take in some of the Syrian refugees, and putting them in Detroit makes a lot of sense.”

But the national political election has stalled all talk of anything immigration, Laitin says, “Because there are plenty of political leaders who would say, ‘Yeah, this is a great idea,’ but they don’t want anyone to know they think that way.”

Over its history, America has used many different rationales for taking in refugees. Cubans were allowed in to Miami unfettered from the late fifties through the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 so the United States could publicly express displeasure with Fidel Castro and bring the island’s wealth creators to the states. The South Vietnamese came here in the 1970s and 1980s because the United States felt responsible for the lives of those who had helped us in our war effort. We made extra room in the 1990s for Bosnian war refugees mostly on humanitarian grounds. The fact that Syrian refugees could be assimilated into an existing U.S. community strengthens the economic and humanitarian cases for opening America’s doors to them.

One of the reasons the Detroit area makes sense as a Syrian refugee location is not only the number of middle easterners in the vicinity (about 400,000 by some estimates), but the diversity of the population. The Arab community in Metro Detroit is a mix of people from 22 countries, with various Islamic and Christian groups represented. One of the largest is the Chaldean community, a Catholic group with ties to Iraq mostly. Syrian refugees from the country’s many ethnic and religious fractions would fit in easily. And they would be joining a community eager to rebuild Detroit’s economic base.

“The story that isn’t being told is that the middle-eastern immigrants that come to Michigan are largely well-educated and people with a drive for success,” says Ahmad Chebbani, who owns a large accounting form and is chairman and co-founder of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. “They are taking a risk just to relocate here. They are coming here for opportunity.“

“The business and political leadership understand we need to regrow the population in Detroit,” says Chebbani, who emigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1979. “What is the best way to do that? The political leadership needs to see that what needs to happen in Michigan has been done here before. You cannot oppose immigration all the time. It goes in cycles, and now is the time that it needs to be increased in this part of Michigan.”

But as Germany and other European countries question the United States’ failure to address this latest middle-eastern refugee crisis, Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, says the idea of Detroit being an initial hub for the resettling of these refugees is sound for both the international crisis and for Michigan. Global Detroit is a non-profit that promotes international trade and retaining immigrants and their businesses; the Knight and Kellogg foundations, as well as Quicken Loans and others, fund it.

“The federal government awards refugee resettlement contracts on a national scale and looks, among other things, at the ability of resettlement agencies to integrate refugees into the community,” Tobocman, a former Michigan state representative, wrote in an email. “Metro Detroit, as the world's most dense concentration of Middle Eastern people outside of the Middle East (second largest number Arab people after only Los Angeles—more than New York and London—but much higher percentage of regional population), offers Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees unique opportunities.”

“The idea [of bringing in 50,000 Syrian refugees to the Detroit area] is not farfetched,” says Fay Beydoun, who grew up in Dearborn. She is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and chief operating officer of Tejara, a global trade organization of different ethnic groups based in Dearborn. “Foreign born residents are a significant source of economic prosperity to communities they settle in,” she insists. “They tend to be more affluent and prosperous than native-born residents in the region.”

That is true. According to the Migration Policy Institute, Syrian refugees are more educated than Americans on average, and multilingual to boot. Beydoun points out that “The very act of leaving your country shows a willingness to take risk, and that is a trait that works well in being an entrepreneur. Let’s not forget that metro Detroit is home to the largest concentration of Middle East migrants outside of the Middle East providing an existing framework for cultural, and social and economic support."

One of the problems that Detroit has faced in recent years is it has not re-stocked itself with high numbers of foreigners in the way other cities have. In 1930, one-fourth of a Detroit’s population was foreign-born; by 1970, the percentage was in single-digits.

Presently, Detroit’s foreign-born population is far below the national average, which is about 13 percent. Detroit has about 4 percent in the city, and 8 percent in the region. The top metro areas in the country average 15 percent. According to a study released this week by the Pew Research Center, the foreign born population in the United States increased from 9.6 million in 1965 to 45 million this year. But Midwest cities like Detroit have not participated in that trend. In 1960, Detroit had about 200,000 residents born in another country but just 36,000 in 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

These missing immigrants are a major topic of conversation in the Detroit area. As we drive through Dearborn bustling retail district, past the Ford River Rouge auto manufacturing complex that so many immigrants came to Detroit for, and past the 10-story twin minarets of Islamic Center of America (the largest mosque in North America), Rep. Santana echoes what many in Detroit have been saying for decades.

“We all know Detroit needs more people and outside investment, and we all know that there are people in the middle-east who want to leave their region and pursue the American dream,” he says. “And we have a history of immigrants here, we know how this works. But as we all know, sometime the obvious solutions to problems are the hardest to achieve.”

When Virgin Atlantic started non-stop service from Detroit to London in June of this year, the airline’s CEO, Sir Richard Branson, wrote about the economics and politics of Syrians coming to Detroit on his blog. “There are cities in the world like Detroit that need more people, have got empty buildings, and have the opportunity to welcome more refugees to settle there. When I was in Detroit last week, I spoke with Mayor Mike Duggan about this. He said he would welcome Syrian (and other) refugees with open arms, and was willing to talk to President Obama to try to get permission to take them into his city.”

“Mike [Duggan] understands the enormously positive role refugees can play. When given encouragement and support to rebuild their lives, refugees often develop enormous creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that can do wonders in their host communities. But to be absolutely clear, utility should never be our guiding principle. Real human need should. There shouldn’t be a question about it. The idea of refugees having to live on the streets while people debate whether or not to take them in is not human. If any one of us had to flee our country we would expect to be helped. Therefore it is only right that countries around the world offer their support in these situations. We have to be human.”

But in politics, the definition of human decency tends to move over time. It used to be that Republicans were in favor of immigration as a source of cheap labor and it was Democrats who fought for tighter immigration limits to increase native workers’ bargaining power. This was especially true in states like Michigan, where liberal unions and conservative business leaders had a push-pull relationship on immigration quotas. But with the decline of union power—and the growing anti-immigrant mentality of the far right—the debate has flipped. Democrats now support more immigration for social justice reasons while Republicans generally oppose it, in part because the far right voter base sees them as little more than purveyors of crime and sucking off the entitlement teat.

That is seen very clearly in recent polls. In a poll released in June by the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of Republican voters view immigrants of all stripes as a “burden” who generally compete for jobs, housing and health care. On the other hand, 62 percent of Democrats agreed with a statement that immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents.”

Part of the argument that the Detroit area needs more foreign-born, skilled-workers is that the area cannot fill the needs with American-born STEM grads only, and that Detroit has the manufacturing infrastructure base that needs a push to move it back to the top. The Detroit area is still the center of much automobile and engineering innovation, and it ranks eighth among metro areas in the country in the number of H1B visas issued to skilled immigrants, ahead of cities like Seattle, Boston, Austin, Houston and the North Carolina Research Triangle, areas that one would assume are much higher tech in economic terms than Detroit.

“It’s not like we are asking for more visas for an area that would be building a high-tech economy from scratch, because we already have the educational research and background in doing innovative business,” says Donald Hicks, 40, a U.S. Military Academy at West Point grad and CEO of Ann Arbor-based LLamasoft, a firm with 150 employees and $40 million in annual sales, specializing in supply chain data analysis.

“Part of the problem here, though, is that we cannot fill many of the jobs we need to fill because of visa quotas,” Hicks continues. “It is especially apparent here, more so than in other parts of the country, because companies locating and succeeding here in the Detroit area can make a big difference in economic activity in this area.”

“If we want to be the very best at what we do, if we want to have the strongest companies and workforce in the world, why do we not want to have the best and the brightest from all over the world to work here,” he says. “Every year, we go through the visa lottery and some of my people go, and some stay, and it is a horrible way for our country to force businesses to operate.” Hicks says that if the visa system is not fixed, he may expand his office in London, or move a big portion of his business across the border to Windsor, Canada.

“We are not proposing anything radical,” he continues. “We like being here, and 80 percent of our workers are American, but we are an international company and in order to grow, we need the best to work for us. Sometimes those are people born elsewhere who want to work here.”

Tel Ganesan, 48, a University of Michigan grad and native of India, is the CEO of the software firm Kybba (headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan). He says the argument that extra visas for STEM fields cause foreigners to be hired over native-born workers and decreases wages is not supported by any studies. “80 percent of our 500 or so employees are local, but we do need foreign born engineers who have studied in this country to fill the gap,” he says.

“One of the attractions of Detroit for our work force, and the way we can recruit, is that Detroit right now has a cost of living that is very much less, than say, Silicon Valley,” Ganesan says. “We can grow here faster, and I know if the Republican leadership tries to do an anti-immigrant message in Michigan, it will play against them. Because the older folks in this state come from immigrants and the millennials either are them or work with them.”

But the politics of the immigration issues at play in Michigan are not as simple as that. When Donald Trump spoke in Flint, Michigan last month, a crowd of older and former Democrats was there to hear the anti-foreign car rhetoric that hasn’t been particularly relevant for decades. Honda, for instance, now builds more cars in the United States than in Japan, though not in Michigan. But that hurt still lingers in the older residents of Michigan who blame their economic decline on foreign businesses and trade deficits. The global economy, in their eyes, is a hindrance, not a way back to economic vitality.

“There’s a very strong ‘Made in the USA’ movement still in this area,” Dayne Walling, 41 told the Washington Post in August. “You’ll see bumper stickers that say: ‘Want to lose your job? Keep buying foreign.’ People understand that if there aren’t middle-class manufacturing jobs from American manufacturing companies, you end up with cheap foreign imports and low-paying service jobs.”

But such views seem to be especially prevalent in Macomb County, an older blue-collar suburban enclave just north Detroit, where county executive Mark Hackel has instituted a program that reaches out to immigrant communities and business leaders in the region to encourage them relocate to the county, which is a political mix, voting for Obama in both 2008 and 2012, but voting for Snyder in 2010 and 2014.

“I have not heard anyone here say anything bad about what we are doing, and I think that is because they know we have to do something to keep this area viable to live in,” says Hackel, a Democrat and former county sheriff. “Many of the people here are retired, and they know that as a community, we need young working people to pay for the programs we are going to need to keep the retirees happy.”

“There is a generational difference here, as the young folks see different ethnicities as a plus, and I’m seeing the older folks relate to that more and more,” he says. “We’ve gone to war with foreign competition in the auto biz, and we survived that somewhat, but we also learned from it. No one in the United States understands the global economy better than people in Michigan do, and we know that closing ourselves off from the world was the cause of many of our problems in the first place.”

I mention this to Harvey Santana as we eat at a Mexican restaurant just southwest of downtown Detroit. The restaurant was started by a Jesus “Chuy” Lopez, who came to the United States illegally from Mexico, is now a citizen and has expanded his operation to include a catering business and a print shop. The neighborhood is mostly recent Hispanic arrivals, replacing the ones that settled there in the 1970s and then moved out to the suburbs. Like other groups before them did.

Santana and I talk about how the millennials are more in tune with "blended culture," how pita bread and hummus and sriracha sauce and pho soup are now mainstays of food culture in small and large cities, (“discount tourism” as some food writer have called the ethnic U.S. food trends), and how the immigrants are more likely to be in suburban neighborhoods than ever before. How there is acceptance of difference that the conservatives on the national level aren’t seeing. “We used to want to live in areas that were exactly like we were—with the same food and music and the same job our father worked in, punching that clock for 40 hours and going home and eating a TV dinner,” Santana says. “But those in college and just out on the job market don’t want that, and Detroit has the unique opportunity to reinvent itself because in many ways we have a blank canvas right now.”

“Yeah, we did get beat by the Japanese and we did learned from that,” he says. “We’re still getting through it. But we are open to things here. My district is 85 percent African-American and I am their representative and I’m Puerto Rican. Eminem is the main Detroit rapper and he is white. Many of the Detroit business leaders are Arab Muslims. Don’t try to say Detroit is all this or all that. Because we’ve always been lots of things here, and that is the way we will come back.”

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

John Boehner, Team Player to the End

Bloomberg Review (Opinion)
By Jonathan Bernstein
September 29, 2015

A lot of people want the lame-duck speaker of the House to do something he just can't do. And I'm not talking about the House Freedom Caucus radicals this time.

No, I mean those who believe John Boehner failed to pass immigration legislation last year because of "cowardice," as the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin put it, or those who argue, as the New York Times said today, that he could somehow still get the bill passed before he leaves office at the end of October. A Washington Post article speculated on whether Boehner would find "the resolve" to pass several bills that Democrats and some Republicans support.

Look, this isn't about “resolve” or "cowardice." It isn't about Boehner at all. He’ll push bills that most members of the Republican conference want him to move; he won’t act on what they don't want action on.

Speakers represent their party. If Boehner had tried to move on the immigration measure last year, over the objections of most members of his conference, they would have removed him from his position (as Toobin acknowledges), and almost certainly blocked the bill anyway. Yes, there was a House majority for what was then a Senate-passed immigration measure. But the bill would have needed to go through the Rules Committee first to get to the full House -- and when push comes to shove, committee Republicans will be loyal to their party, not to the speaker, if the speaker tries to govern with Democrats against their wishes.

Whatever the scenario, Boehner isn’t going to leave office by plotting to betray his party.

In his final month, he could push bills through that most House Republicans vote against -- but only if those Republican “opponents” want the bills to pass. This has probably  happened in each instance during his speakership when a bill passed even though most House Republicans opposed it. Remember, except for the 20 to 40 House Freedom Caucus radicals who opposed him from the start, there’s little evidence that any House Republicans have actually been unhappy with the way he carried out his job.

The real players in the House aren’t the radicals. Nor are they the handful of moderates, either. Most House Republicans, Boehner included, are very conservative. They understand that crazy tactics won’t win battles, but worry about losing primaries to challengers who manage to convince Republican voters that only outsiders are True Conservatives. Those mainstream conservatives run the House, and any Republican speaker will do what they want.

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

Donald Trump Wants To Relive 'Operation Wetback'

Huffington Post
By Roque PLanas
September 29, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump likened his immigration strategy to the mass deportation program that expelled roughly 1 million undocumented immigrants to Mexico, along with an unknown number of U.S. citizens, six decades ago.

In an interview with CBS News posted on Sunday, Trump said that if he became president, he’d emulate former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1954 mass deportation program -- known by the offensive name of "Operation Wetback" -- and would send undocumented immigrants in the U.S. back to their countries of origin.

Trump told journalist Scott Pelley that he'd “round them all up in a very humane way, in a very nice way, and they're gonna be happy, because they want to be legalized.”

When Pelley asked the GOP hopeful whether such a mass round up was even possible and what it would look like, Trump replied, “Did you like Dwight Eisenhower as a president at all?”

Seemingly trying to figure out where the conversation was going, Pelley replied, “Well, I wasn’t around during Eisenhower’s ..."

“But he was a fair man,” Trump cut in.

“He was a great American,” Pelley agreed.

“He did this with over a million people,” Trump responded.

However, many people who have studied the mass deportation program view it as the opposite of “humane.” The program expelled Mexican nationals and U.S. citizens, including children forced to leave with their undocumented parents.

“Like usual, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Rodolfo Acuña, professor emeritus of Chicano studies at California State University, Northridge, told The Huffington Post. “It’s ridiculous.”

Acuña noted that then-Attorney General Herbert Brownell, one of the pioneers of the ramping up of border security that accompanied "Operation Wetback," had once suggested that killing people who crossed into the United States illegally might act as a deterrent.

“Brownell said, 'Just give them some live ammo, let them shoot a few people. Then everyone will be scared and they won’t come across the border,'” Acuña said. “Really humane.”

At the time, U.S. authorities used trains and ships to send Mexican nationals deep into the interior of the country. “[A] congressional investigation likened one vessel (where a riot took place on board) to an ‘18th century slave ship’ and a ‘penal hell ship,’” according to historian Mae Ngai.

“In addition to violating the civil liberties of American citizens via questionable expulsions, ‘Operation Wetback’ violated the human rights of the people being deported,” writes Gilbert Paul Carrasco, a professor of law who focuses on civil rights. “Deportations were characterized by disrespect, rudeness, and intimidation. Reports even mentioned immigration officers ‘collecting fares’ from persons being deported.”

And as if to add insult to injury, the program’s name uses a term now almost universally viewed as derogatory.

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

The GOP Choice: Protest or Govern

Wall Street Journal
By William A Galston
September 30, 2015

The resignation of House speaker John Boehner symbolizes the most important question Republicans face: Do they want to be a party of protest or a party of governance?

Governance requires compromise, but the protesters reject that as collusion. They want to get their own way without yielding an inch, which is impossible. This is the core truth about the criticism Mr. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell level at insurgents: As long as 60 votes in the Senate are required to move legislation to the president’s desk, and 67 senators and 290 representatives are needed to overcome his veto, pure protest leads straight into a cul-de-sac.

But narrowly focusing on the unlikelihood of legislative victory misses the point, say many conservative pundits. Mainstream Republican leaders seem unwilling to say what needs to be stated clearly and boldly: We can’t win the vote until we win the argument. There is no evidence, however, that an unalloyed conservative agenda enjoys majority support in the country or would do so if articulated even more intransigently.

A Pew Research Center survey released Sept. 28 showed that 40% of voters would blame Republicans for shutting down the government, compared with only 26% who would blame Democrats. According to a Quinnipiac poll released the same day, fully 69% of American voters—including 56% of Republicans—oppose shutting down the federal government in the dispute over funding Planned Parenthood.

Nor do conservatives fare better on same-sex marriage, which 55% of registered voters now support in the Quinnipiac poll. Sixty-two percent say that government officials should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; 55% agree with that even when those officials say that same-sex marriage violates their religious beliefs.

The choice between protest and governance confronts GOP primary voters as well. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was one of the loudest voices defending the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and he seems determined to push for defunding Planned Parenthood in December.

Every Republican presidential candidate will be compelled to take a position on the government-shutdown strategy. The ones who support it will represent the party of protest. The ones who reject it, if there are any, will be standard-bearers for the party of governance.

Assuming, as I do, that the Republican Party in the end won’t nominate a candidate with zero experience in elected office, there are four candidates with a plausible path to the nomination—Mr. Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the current governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

If Republican primary voters want the most conservative candidate, they will choose Mr. Cruz. If they want a safe candidate who would know how to be president on Day One, they can choose between seasoned executives from the two largest swing states. And if they follow the “ Buckley rule”—nominate the most conservative candidate who could win the general election—they will back Mr. Rubio.

In today’s Republican Party, both governors face an uphill climb. Jeb Bush has underperformed in debates, and his donors’ patience seems to be wearing thin. So far, the “I’m my own man” candidate has offered his brother’s foreign policy and his brother’s tax plan.

He can survive a poor showing in Iowa, but not in New Hampshire. As of now, Mr. Bush is running fifth in the Granite State, with 5% of the vote. It remains to be seen whether he can offer anything that excites the Republican electorate, or whether costly TV advertisements can boost his standing enough to turn the tide.

John Kasich has a solidly conservative record, both as the Ohio governor and previously as chairman of the House Budget Committee. For today’s right wing, though, his decision to accept President Obama’s Medicaid expansion verges on political treason, as does his support for a path to legal status for the 12 million immigrants who lack it.

Worse still, he believes in compromise to get things done.

Campaigning last weekend in Iowa, Mr. Kasich remarked that Republicans willing to deal with Democrats are “drowned out by the voices that yell, ‘Stand for something.’ ” He positioned himself squarely against these loud voices: “I’m hearing increasingly, ‘How do we get people to work together?’ ” At the Iowa State Fair this summer, he laid it on the line: “You want to deal with immigration? You want to balance the budget? You want to deal with entitlements? . . . You have to do it as a team. One party cannot do it all.”

Mr. Bush has occasionally spoken of the need for bipartisan compromise, and Mr. Rubio’s record is more pragmatic than his campaign rhetoric suggests. But of all the candidates now in the Republican contest, Mr. Kasich is offering the clearest vision of his party as a party of governance. In less than five months, we will find out whether today’s Republican electorate is open to some form of this vision. If not, prepare for a rerun of 1964.

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

Legal fight over Obama's immigration orders may outlast his presidency

By Ariane de Vogue
September 29, 2015

Mario Sidonio is an aspiring astrophysicist with big American dreams. But lately the 17-year-old has been waking up every day hoping a federal appeals court will come down with a ruling that could help his family secure a better future.

Mario is a U.S. citizen born and raised in Texas. But his father is an undocumented worker, trying to support his six children who are all U.S. citizens.

The family has been on an emotional roller coaster since last November when President Barack Obama announced executive actions that would ease deportation threats to some 4 million undocumented workers. Mario's father would have been eligible for one of the programs. But last February, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen sided with Texas and 25 other states challenging the programs and temporarily blocked them from going forward.

Temporary, however, could mean more than a year. The Sidonios and millions of other similarly situated families across the country have seen their dreams turn into a slow-moving court case that remains stalled. Meanwhile, several Republican candidates have seized on the President's programs as a talking point on the campaign trail, with some presidential hopefuls endorsing strict deportation policies and suggesting that not all children born in the U.S. should be eligible for citizenship in the first place.

After losing in the district court, the administration appealed its case to a three judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit based out of New Orleans. The appeals court heard arguments in July — and both sides are getting impatient.

"Almost three months later, we are still waiting on a decision," said Josh Blackman, an Associate Professor of Law at the South Texas College of Law. Blackman, working with the libertarian CATO Institute, has filed a brief in support of Texas and the other states who believe the President's executive actions were an unprecedented expansion of executive power.

Blackman supports comprehensive immigration reform, but he writes in the brief, "it is not, however, for the President to make such changes alone, in conflict with the laws passed by Congress, and in ways that go beyond constitutionally-authorized executive power."

No final decision coming soon

This step won't be the last. This court battle will most likely reach the Supreme Court, and the appeal process might outlive Obama's presidency.

"We're very frustrated," Mario said in an interview. His father planned to apply for a program called "Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents " (DAPA) that would have made him eligible for work authorization and associated benefits.

"We are wondering what is taking so long," said Mario. He hopes that even if his side loses at the Fifth Circuit, the case could be appealed to the Supreme Court in time for it to be heard and decided this term. But for that to happen, the case would need to be decided very soon.

On dark days Mario fears the appeals court, which is generally considered to be very conservative, is slow-walking a decision as a way to run out the final months of the Obama administration.

"I feel like it's being delayed on purpose, but maybe that's just the frustration talking," he said.

"There is a distinct possibility that if this case is decided too late, there may not be enough time for the Supreme Court to argue and decide the inevitable appeal by June 2016," said Blackman who added that if the case is kicked to the fall of 2016, the decision could come after the next presidential election.

According to the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, there are approximately 6.3 million children who live in a household with a DAPA eligible mother or father, and 5.5 million are U.S. Citizens.

In a recent study, CSII says that nearly 600,000 children of parents that could be eligible for DAPA currently have the right to vote.

Next fall, that will include Mario who was shocked when he heard Republican front-runner Donald Trump explain his immigration views during the most recent debate.

"A woman gets pregnant. She's nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years. I don't think so." Trump said.

Mario said he expects to respond at the voting booth.

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

How US immigration officers use dubious identity papers to deport people

Al Jazeera America
By Aviva Stahl
September 30, 2015

In March 2013, Patrice Talbot was taken out of York County Prison in southern Pennsylvania and told he was being deported. Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, later showed Talbot the temporary one-way passport, known as a laissez-passer, they said they had secured for him from Cameroonian officials. ICE was required to produce a travel document in order to send him back to his native country of Cameroon, which he said he’d fled in 2002 after enduring arrests and brutal beatings by police. Talbot had been living without papers in Philadelphia after being denied political asylum in the United States almost nine years earlier. He says he was afraid to return home.

Yet nothing about the Cameroonian passport seemed right. The photograph was so dark and grainy he hardly recognized himself. The single sheet was not printed on embassy letterhead. And instead of bearing the signature of the ambassador, the passport was signed by someone he had never heard of — Charles Greene, of Houston, Texas. Talbot expressed his concerns to the ICE officer assigned to his case, Mistyann Schram. When Talbot was charged in August 2013 with resisting deportation, a federal judge stated in a ruling that she also doubted the document’s validity. By then, others had raised questions about the role of Greene, a Methodist minister who served in a voluntary capacity with the Cameroonian ministry, in deportations. According to documents reviewed by Al Jazeera America, Greene had issued a Cameroonian passport in the spring of 2013 to someone who was not even a citizen of that country.

Talbot spent almost two years fighting his deportation from the York detention center. But despite the red flags surrounding the passport, he was sent back to Cameroon in January 2015 on a charter flight with the document in hand.

Talbot’s story is not the only one of its kind. In a report released today, “Smuggled into Exile,” the New York-based advocacy group Families for Freedom raises concerns about other cases in which ICE officials deported people based on falsified identity documents. The group identified at least four individuals who were removed from the United States from 2012 to 2015 with travel papers of dubious validity or without any papers at all. It says the actual number may be much higher.

Abraham Paulos, executive director of Families for Freedom and the report’s editor, says this practice is not the only example of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, bending international norms and its own rules in order to expedite deportations. Meanwhile, the consequences for people who are removed without valid laissez-passers or other paperwork can be significant. People who arrive in their country of origin without proper identity documents may have difficulty working or accessing local services and can even be subject to arrest.

“To us, the travel document is much more than a piece of paper,” Paulos said. “It is the weight that hangs in the balance of our freedom or imprisonment.”

In an email, Sarah Maxwell, ICE’s Philadelphia-based spokeswoman, denied that the agency knowingly deports people without valid papers. “Consistent with every removal effected by the agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does its due diligence in working with the receiving country’s designated representative, who is responsible for verifying the citizenship of the deportee and issuing the requisite travel documents,” she wrote. Greene has also defended the accuracy of the passports he issued.

Formed after the Sept. 11 attacks, ICE is responsible for enforcing immigration laws and deporting people deemed to be removable — those who lack legal status and have exhausted all immigration proceedings available to them. To ensure that individuals are deported to countries where they have recognized status, and that they have proof of citizenship upon arrival, deportation officers must obtain travel documents from the receiving country before removing anyone. Typically, the officers provide officials at the consulate or embassy of the destination country with information that attests to the deportee’s identity. The consular official uses that information to corroborate the deportee’s citizenship status, for example by checking against a national identity database. One form of temporary travel document issued for deportees to West Africa who lack passports is the laissez-passer like the one produced for Talbot.

According to investigations by The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, acquiring travel documents for deportees is a challenge. Governments with poorly functioning or underfunded consular services are often unable to respond to ICE requests. A 2007 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, or OIG, found that due to problems securing travel documents, nearly half of African deportees remained in detention for more than 90 days after being issued a final order of removal, the highest of any region. People who have been issued a final order of removal, but have no travel documents, are generally supposed to be released from detention after 180 days.

Schram, who handled deportations to Cameroon, often had trouble getting travel documents for the country, according to testimony she gave in 2014 when Talbot was charged with resisting deportation. In the 2.5 years she had been working for ICE, Schram said, she had requested about 150 travel documents and received about 20. When Talbot’s case file came across her desk, she testified, she did not mail the usual package of documents to the embassy. Instead, she sent the papers to the ICE field office in Houston, whose employees then approached an honorary consul for Cameroon who lived in the area. This person was Greene.

Honorary consuls are citizens or legal residents of the host country who have personal or professional contacts with the country they are serving. In 2013 there were about 20,000 honorary consuls worldwide, according to The Economist, and by one count about 1,200 in the U.S. Most are residents of cities that lack formal consulates, and they often work without pay; while they may provide limited consular services, they can be appointed to nurture the foreign country’s business interests.

Greene, who was born in Liberty, Texas, had never been to Cameroon before his appointment, in April 1986, as honorary consul. Nor did he have any experience working in immigration or foreign affairs. His only direct link to the country was through his family’s oil wells in Texas, which had been purchased by Shell many years ago. At the time, the company also had holdings in Cameroon.

It was rare for ICE to approach Greene, but it had happened before. Greene testified at Talbot’s trial that from 2010 to 2014 he had produced 14 travel documents for the agency. (The ICE press office responded to requests for comment directed to Schram.)

In at least one of the cases preceding Talbot’s, Greene had made an error. According to documents reviewed by Al Jazeera America, in May 2013 Greene issued a passport for another individual on Schram’s caseload, Noah. (Noah’s name has been changed since he and his family are still working to gain legal status and documentation.) Noah was born in the Ivory Coast and said he had never been to Cameroon, although he is of Cameroonian descent. After Noah’s lawyer provided Greene with Noah’s Ivorian birth certificate and a copy of Cameroonian citizenship statutes — which strictly prohibit dual citizenship — Greene issued a retraction of the original document. But nonetheless, in 2014, Noah was deported to Cameroon.

According to Bardis Vakili, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of San Diego, people deported to their home countries without valid documentation may face a greater risk of arbitrary arrest or be unable to work or receive medical care.

A number of people have raised questions about whether Greene, as an honorary consul, has the authority to issue passports, particularly to deportees. The particular bylaws of each embassy determine whether honorary consuls can issue such documents. A form on the Cameroonian Embassy website, dated March 2013, appears to specify that travel documents can only be secured through the Washington, D.C., office. The Cameroonian Embassy in Washington did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Cameroon’s Ministry of External Affairs could not be reached for comment.

Talbot said that when he called the Cameroonian Embassy from detention around April 2013, embassy officials told him the passports produced by Greene were invalid. In court, Paulos, the Families for Freedom advocate who was assisting with Talbot’s case, and Talbot’s lawyer, Harrisburg public defender Lori Ulrich, told the judge that Greene had told them he was only permitted to issue travel documents for people within Texas. In his testimony, Greene denied making those statements. Greene also testified that ICE agents failed to inform him that Talbot was being held in Pennsylvania when they approached him to produce the travel document.

In a phone interview, Greene struggled to recall the details of specific cases and denied that there had ever been questions about the legitimacy of the documents he produced. When pressed on the issue, he suggested that Noah had claimed different countries of origin at different times in order to complicate ICE’s efforts to deport him. “Every time you try to nail them down to a country, they jump over to another country,” Greene said.

He also insisted he had the legal power to produce identity documents on behalf of ICE. “There’s nothing false about [these papers],” he said. “I worked through Homeland Security. They brought it to me and I responded.”

Greene’s practices do not appear to be common. None of the immigration attorneys or immigrant advocates contacted by Al Jazeera America were familiar with cases in which ICE had approached an honorary consul in order to secure travel documents.

According to the 2007 OIG report, however, it is common for deportation officers to take shortcuts when attempting to acquire travel documents for deportees. OIG investigators found that four of seven field offices “routinely” failed to submit the specific travel document applications required by receiving countries. Instead they simply sent passport photographs and a standard DHS form.

And Talbot’s experience may fit into a broader pattern of overreach by U.S. immigration authorities, say civil rights advocates. In a report last year, the American Civil Liberties Union said that officers with DHS appear to have provided false and misleading information to many deportees in order to secure their signatures on voluntary departure forms and formal deportation orders. According to Sarah Mehta, the ACLU researcher who authored the report, DHS officers have pressured individuals into signing voluntary departure forms and deportation orders. In some cases, people were told they would be released to go home if they signed the papers or that they would lose their children if they refused, Mehta said. Even people with legal status in the U.S. have sometimes been coerced into signing removal orders.

Maxwell, the ICE spokeswoman, wrote that neither Noah nor Talbot had a legal basis on which to remain in the United States. She declined to answer specific questions on whether they had been deported on the basis of false or fraudulently procured papers.

People deported with invalid papers can face major hurdles upon their return. The Families for Freedom report describes the case of Carlos, an immigrant from Ecuador who faced deportation after pleading guilty to criminal charges. In August 2013, the Ecuadorian consulate in Atlanta sent a letter to Carlos’ deportation officer stating that it could not locate documentation confirming his Ecuadorian nationality. By that point, Carlos had been in the United States for decades and did not have the identification the consulate required to corroborate his citizenship status. According to Families for Freedom, in October 2014 Carlos was sent back to Ecuador anyway, with a sheet of paper that resembled a photocopy of the ID page of a passport. When Carlos arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador, government officials confiscated the document, telling him it was invalid, according to the report.

Carlos told Families for Freedom that he lived in fear of arrest since police frequently stop people and ask for identification. It took Carlos five months to obtain Ecuadoran identification. In that time, he was unable to work and struggled to feed, clothe and house himself, according to Families for Freedom.

According to Bardis Vakili, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of San Diego, people deported to their home countries without valid documentation may face a greater risk of arbitrary arrest or be unable to work or receive medical care. “Even for those who are somehow able to navigate the process well enough to eventually get ID documents, the process can take months if not years, during which time they have to struggle just to survive.”

'The Court believes that the evidence presented by Defendant raises serious questions as to the validity of the travel document such that this Court is unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the travel document is valid.'

After his asylum claims failed in 2005, Talbot was granted a voluntary removal, meaning he was allowed to arrange his own travel back to Cameroon, according to the Families for Freedom report. He decided to defy his deportation order and remain in the country undocumented. Years passed. Talbot settled in Philadelphia, where he met and moved in with an American woman, Crystal Cesar. But in 2013, Cesar called police, alleging domestic violence, and Talbot was arrested. Although Cesar quickly dropped the charges, Talbot’s name was flagged in an ICE database. He was handed over to immigration officials in compliance with federal law.

Fearful of what awaited him in Cameroon, Talbot repeatedly resisted deportation. In August 2013, after he fought back physically during an attempt by ICE to put him onto a commercial flight to Cameroon, Talbot was charged with hindering removal from the United States, a federal crime. The matter went to a bench trial in May 2014. In her ruling, Judge Kane found Talbot guilty of resisting removal. However, she concurred with his defense that the passport was dubious. “The Court believes that the evidence presented by Defendant raises serious questions as to the validity of the travel document such that this Court is unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the travel document is valid,” she stated in her decision.

In January, after he was taken to a detention center in Miami, Talbot decided he was tired of fighting. One day that month, he boarded a charter flight bound for Douala International Airport with roughly 14 other deportees from the region. The three other deportees from that country were allowed to disembark while he waited on the plane, according to Talbot. He was then taken to a holding cell, where he waited for nearly five hours, Talbot said. Only after he phoned a relative in the city and paid an official a bribe was he permitted to leave.

Before his deportation, Talbot and Grant married in a small ceremony in Baltimore in July 2013. The couple filed an application for a spousal visa; that application is still pending. Although she doesn’t know how she’ll find the money to hire a good immigration attorney, Grant hopes she will eventually be reunited with her husband. Talbot feels the same. “I miss my wife,” he said. “I would do anything to be with her.”

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