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


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Uncertainty over Trump's immigration policy leads foreign engineers to ditch startups

By Sara Ashley O'Brien
December 19, 2016

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump made it clear that he wanted to deport illegal immigrants.

His stance on high-skilled immigration, on the other hand, was more opaque.

The H-1B visa is the most common pathway for high-skilled foreigners to work in the U.S. Trump called it "very, very bad for workers" on the campaign trail and, after being elected, pledged to investigate visa programs that were abused. However, he also admitted that he's hired H-1B workers for his own businesses.

Uncertainty over what will happen under Trump has some foreign engineers thinking twice about working for a startup.

That's according to Harj Taggar, CEO of TripleByte, a technical recruiting site for full-time programmers.

"The thought process is ... If something does happen [with visa reform], I want an army of lawyers on my side," said Taggar, who's seen anecdotal evidence on TripleByte to support that. The firm gives an online programming test and technical interview to assess the skills of candidates and connect them with jobs at companies like Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB, Tech30), Uber, Airbnb, as well as smaller startups.

TripleByte applicants are required to already have a U.S. work visa. Taggar, a former partner at Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator, said TripleByte receives roughly 2,000 applications every month. About 10% are on the H-1B or TN visa (for Canadian and Mexican citizens).

"We've seen engineers who are on H-1Bs tell us that they're specifically looking to move to a new company that's larger and has more resources than the company they're currently at," Taggar told CNNMoney. "Earlier startups can't offer [legal resources] in the way that a Facebook or Google can."

There is a potential bright spot for startups looking for technical talent, though. Cracking down on those who abuse the system could create more room for smaller firms.

H-1B visas are doled out by a lottery system -- with an annual cap of just 85,000 per year. Startups often refrain from submitting for H-1B visas due to a swelling number of applicants. In 2016, 236,000 foreigners applied for the H-1B; in 2014, there were 172,500 applications. It's an expensive process and is futile if their employees aren't chosen in the lottery.

When Trump met with top tech execs last week, immigration was one of three main issues discussed, according to a source briefed on the meeting. Recode's Kara Swisher reported that Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30)CEO Satya Nadella brought up the H-1B program and that Trump seemed responsive to his concerns about tech's need to retain and bring foreign talent to the U.S.

Tech workers and immigration experts are very much taking a "wait and see" approach.

"We don't have a good sense of what is to come," said Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.

Ohanian has advocated for visa reform for years. He's warned that antiquated visa policies could be the downfall of the U.S. tech boom as talented engineers are forced to return to their home countries instead of helping build companies in the U.S.

"The macro trend that's really important is that we, as a country, acknowledge how much value is created by so many immigrants."

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

Trump's vow to overturn DACA could cost US billions: report

The Hill
By Rebecca Savransky
December 20, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump's plans to overturn President Obama's executive order protecting illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children could cost the country tens of billions of dollars, according to a new study.

If the executive order is repealed, about 645,000 people would lose their legal right to work in the country,  the San-Francisco based immigrant Legal Resource Center said, CNN reported.

That loss of work and the process of finding and retraining replacements for these workers could cost businesses about $3.4 billion, the center added.

"Some employers may consider consolidating or shedding these existing positions to proactively reduce some of those [turnover] costs," said Jose Magaña-Salgado, an immigration policy attorney and the author of the report.

The loss of those workers could reduce tax revenue and decrease payments to programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about $24.6 billion over the course of a decade, according to the study.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provides work authorization and a temporary halt on deportation to illegal immigrants who arrived as children if they meet certain requirements.

The president-elect said in an interview earlier this month he is "going to work something out" for those undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

"They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here," he said.

"Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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

Responding to Trump, L.A. creates $10-million legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation

Los Angeles Times
By Dakota Smith
December 19, 2016

In a dramatic response to the expected crackdown on illegal immigration by Donald Trump, Los Angeles leaders on Monday are announcing a new $10-million fund to provide legal assistance for immigrants facing deportation.

Under the joint L.A. city and county effort, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is committing to $3 million, according to Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office. The city is expected to put in $2 million. The rest of the money would be raised by philanthropic groups.

The move comes as leaders in Democratic-dominated California are developing ways to push back as the president-elect promises to deport millions of people in this country illegally.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Solis, City Atty. Mike Feuer, and City Councilman Gil Cedillo will join philanthropic leaders to announce the creation of the L.A. Justice Fund.

Monday’s announcement comes amid fears Trump will deport millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. More than 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status live in Los Angeles County, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Cedillo spokesman Fredy Ceja said Monday that the fund shows the city is “ready to respond.”

“We’re trying to find a common solution to whatever threats the federal government throws our way,” Ceja said.

Los Angeles-area immigrant rights advocates, unions and legal organizations sent a letter last month to Garcetti, the City Council, and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors calling for more aggressive action in the face of possible deportations.

The coalition’s list of demands included the creation of a legal defense fund.

State lawmakers also recently introduced a flurry of bills aimed at protecting immigrants. State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) introduced legislation to create a state program to pay for legal representation for those facing deportation, while Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)  wants to create state-funded centers to train attorneys on immigration law.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson announced last month that he’ll seek to hire an immigrant advocate to take on the effort and pursue policies to prevent L.A. residents from being deported. He also said the city should work with schools and community colleges on strategies to keep families together and prevent deportations.

But it remains far from clear what city governments can do to block or even delay deportations, which are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Some cities have refused to fully cooperate with immigration officials. San Francisco enacted a law stating that local authorities could not hold immigrants for possible deportation if they had no violent felonies on their records and did not currently face charges.

Critics say the tough talk in the wake of Trump’s election is more about politics than actually preventing the president-elect from having his way.

Los Angeles officials have been vocal since election day about protecting the city’s immigrants. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has reiterated that the department has no plans to get involved in any deportation efforts by the federal government and would continue a longstanding policy against allowing officers to stop people solely to determine their immigration status.

Illegal immigration was a central issue of Trump’s presidential campaign. He called for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, deportation of people in the country illegally and a rollback in the immigration relief created under President Obama. Trump said during the campaign that he would withhold federal funds to punish so-called sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, for their lenient policies toward illegal immigration.

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

California Marchers Protest Against Trump as Democrats Vow Policy Fight

By Sharon Bernstein and Paul Tait
December 18, 2016

LOS ANGELES — About 2,000 people protesting against the rhetoric and proposals of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump marched peacefully through downtown Los Angeles on Sunday in advance of Monday's planned Electoral College vote to formally choose him as leader.

Trump, a Republican businessman who campaigned against illegal immigration and threatened to imprison Democratic rival Hillary Clinton if elected, lost the popular vote in the Nov. 8 U.S. election but won the contest for the electoral college, which is calculated on a state-by-state basis.

"I want to tell Mr. Trump that we are immigrants, we help this economy grow, we don’t want nothing for free," said marcher Horalia Jauregui.

In addition to marking the day before the Electoral College is set to vote, the march took place on International Migrants Day, designated by the United Nations to draw attention to the plight of refugees.

Marchers in Los Angeles carried signs with phrases such as “Stop Trump,” “Refugees Welcome,” and “Make America Think Again,” a play on Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.

Heavily Democratic California voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in the election, and its leaders have begun positioning the most populous U.S. state to fight the incoming Trump administration on any challenges to its progressive policies on issues such as immigration, the environment and healthcare.

On Sunday, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said he would fight any moves by Trump that conflict with what he called California's values.

There were no obvious pro-Trump protesters at the event.

Lieutenant Al Labrada, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said the protests were peaceful, with no incidents or arrests.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sanctuary cities face a moment of truth amid Trump's war on illegal immigration

Los Angeles Times
By Cindy Carcamo, Kate Mather and Dakota Smith
November 15, 2016

Scores of communities across California and the nation over the last decade have declared themselves "sanctuary cities," a politically potent if largely symbolic designation aimed at expressing solidarity and granting protection for immigrants in this country illegally.

During the Obama years, becoming a sanctuary city came with few consequences because the White House pushed for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for many here without proper documentation.

But with President-elect Donald Trump vowing to deport millions of immigrants, the role of sanctuary cities is likely to get more complicated and controversial.

Trump made illegal immigration a central issue of his presidential campaign, vowing to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, deport people who are in the country illegally and unwind immigration relief created under President Obama.

During the campaign, Trump said he also would withhold federal funds to punish so-called sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, for their lenient policies toward illegal immigration.

In the wake of Trump's election, leaders in some cities are vowing to continue their policies. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday the department had no plans to get involved in any deportation efforts by the federal government and would continue a longstanding policy against allowing officers to stop people solely to determine their immigration status.

Mayors in Philadelphia and Chicago also reaffirmed their cities' sanctuary policies and said they would fight efforts by the Trump administration to crack down.

"Chicago always will be a sanctuary city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday at a news conference.

Sanctuary policies have become good politics in cities with large Latino populations. But the protections cities afford to immigrants here illegally vary widely.

There is no neat definition of “sanctuary city,” but in general cities that use the name seek to offer political support or practical protections to people who are in the country illegally.

For some cities, the “sanctuary” movement consists simply of encouraging people without legal status to get more involved in government. For instance, Huntington Park has never declared itself a sanctuary city but appointed two people without legal status to a city commission, a move that generated national attention.

Other places, such as San Francisco, adopt far-reaching policies, such as taking steps to cut ties with federal immigration officials and refusing to fully cooperate with them. San Francisco declared itself a sanctuary city in 1989, and city officials strengthened the stance in 2013 with its “Due Process for All” ordinance. The law declared local authorities could not hold immigrants for immigration officials if they had no violent felonies on their records and did not currently face charges.

That city entered the national debate over immigration this summer, when Kathryn Steinle was fatally shot by Mexican national Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez in the Embarcadero neighborhood.

Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times before he shot Steinle. Trump described the murder as "a senseless and totally preventable violent act committed by an illegal immigrant."

L.A. no longer turns over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation and moved away from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable past their jail terms. The action follows a 2014 federal court ruling that found an Oregon county was liable for damages after holding an inmate beyond her release date so she could be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In September, a federal judge in Chicago ordered immigration enforcement authorities in Illinois and five nearby states to stop asking local law enforcement agencies to detain suspects who may be in the country illegally, stating that the practice was unconstitutional. That case is now being reviewed by an appeals court.

Los Angeles is known for its immigrant-friendly policies, but L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he avoids using the phrase “sanctuary city,” saying it’s “ill-defined.”

“We cooperate all the time with federal immigration officials when there are criminals that are in our midst and need to be deported,” Garcetti said last week before a meeting with immigration rights groups. “With that said, we’re a very welcoming city, where our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they.”

More than 1 million of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status live in Los Angeles County, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs helps both those in the country legally and illegally access community and government services. The office also holds free workshops to help Angelenos apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive action that provides a work permit and deportation reprieve to people who were brought to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

Los Angeles’ city-run libraries have “Citizenship Corners,” places where literature about becoming citizens is offered.

More than 400 jurisdictions across the country have some sort of sanctuary policy.

About a dozen California cities have formal sanctuary policies, according to Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C., which advocates for immigrant rights.

None of the state’s 58 counties complies with detainer requests by U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she said.

As Trump rolls out his immigration policies, he’ll have to first decide what it means to be a sanctuary city, said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at UC Irvine.

“Is it just the name, [a] purely symbolic thing, or specific policies in San Francisco or some other cities that he thinks counter federal laws?” DeSipio said. “What defines a sanctuary city in his eyes?”

A crackdown by Trump on sanctuary cities would probably find at least some support in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Democrats in the Senate last year blocked a bill by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have stopped law enforcement funding and community development grants to states and cities that don’t hold immigrants for federal immigration officials.

It also would have enacted a five- to 10-year minimum prison sentence for a person convicted of a felony or drug-related misdemeanors who reenters the United States illegally.

Capt. Jeff Scroggin, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said it is too soon to say how sheriff’s officials would react to any changes required by the Trump administration. Those changes could be tied to federal funding, he noted.

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group opposed to illegal immigration, said it’s hard for him to understand why cities embrace the “sanctuary label.”

“I don’t think there is a whole lot of appetite among the public to keep criminal aliens in this country,” he said.

But some immigrant rights activists are now calling on “sanctuary cities” to do more for those here illegally in response to Trump’s election.

Talia Inlender, senior staff attorney at Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said cities could step up to create safe places, such as schools, to protect students from the threat of deportation. Cities could also inform communities about their legal rights and fund naturalization efforts, he said.

Moussavian noted that in the past, cities have won legal challenges defending some sanctuary policies, such as not complying with ICE detainers.

On Monday, more than 1,000 students staged a walk-out that ended at Los Angeles City Hall. Organizers said the protest was aimed at asking local political leaders to declare all of Los Angeles County a sanctuary. The demonstrators also demanded their schools be declared havens from the threat of deportation.

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

Obama: Trump should think 'long and hard' before deporting those protected by DACA

The Hill
By Mallory Shelbourne
November 14, 2016

President Obama said Monday that he will urge President-elect Donald Trump "to think long and hard" before making a decision on deporting young Americans who qualify for protection under his executive action.

“I will urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what for all practical purposes are American kids," Obama told reporters before embarking on his final trip abroad as commander in chief.

Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides people living in the U.S. illegally who arrived as children work authorization and a temporary halt on deportation if they meet certain requirements.

"These are kids who were brought here by their parents. They did nothing wrong," the president said.

"It is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see suddenly those kids have to start hiding again."

Trump made immigration a focal point of his candidacy for president. Trump told "60 Minutes" Sunday that he planned to incarcerate or deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, which he estimated would be about 2 million or 3 million people.

He also said that his administration would make a decision on the remaining undocumented immigrants after securing the border.

“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about, who are terrific people — they’re terrific people, but we are going to make a determination at that,” he said in the interview.

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

Trump’s stance on immigration puts him closer to Obama

Financial Times
By Barney Jopson
November 14, 2016

As Donald Trump reaffirms his goal of expelling at least 2m unauthorised immigrants with criminal records, Hispanic groups and other critics argue that his stance is closer to President Barack Obama’s than usually thought.

Advocacy groups who criticise the president-elect’s plans as unjust and unworkable have also attacked Mr Obama as the “deporter-in-chief” for expelling more than 2.7m unauthorised immigrants during his first seven years in office. The current president’s policy on deportations ran in parallel to his effort to give others the right to remain legally in the US.

“Obama is the person who has deported more people than any president before him,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group that dubbed the White House’s current occupant the deportation president in 2014.

“If you listen to the debate it sounds like Obama has been at the border giving people green cards. It’s ludicrous, these alternative realities. The notion that Obama hasn’t been enforcing the law is an easy talking point to stir your base, unless you are suffering the consequences of his actions.”

Mr Trump vowed on Sunday to deport 2-3m people including “gang members [and] drug dealers” in the US illegally but appeared to step back from his campaign pledge to expel all of the US’s 11m unauthorised immigrants.

His promise to do in short order what took the Obama administration two terms has raised questions about the feasibility of his promises, given legal and practical impediments to throwing even hardened criminals out of the country quickly.

Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute, a research group, said Mr Trump’s ability to fulfil his pledge would be hindered by the constitution’s requirement to give deportees legal due process and by the limitations of the US’s enforcement apparatus.

“Our immigration court system is quite clogged. You would be adding another group to the clogged system,” he said, noting that there is already a backlog of 500,000 deportation cases.

“It would require a huge expansion of law enforcement personnel. But even after that it would require a huge expansion in the number of immigration judges and prosecutors. Putting such a system in place quickly would be a tall order,” Mr Chishti said.

In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Mr Trump — who campaigned on building a border wall and ordering mass deportations — identified immigration reform as one of his top three priorities alongside healthcare and changes to the tax system.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably 2m, it could be even 3m, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” he said.

Independent analysts were baffled by the numbers the president-elect gave. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 820,000 of the US’s 11m unauthorised immigrants have a criminal conviction and that 300,000 are for felonies, the most serious crimes.

In 2012 the Department of Homeland Security estimated that there were 1.9m “removable” non-Americans with criminal convictions, but more than half of them were legally present with green cards or other forms of visa.

“The vast majority of the American public would agree that somebody who poses a national security threat or a threat to community well-being should not be released on to the street,” said Ms Martinez de Castro.

But she said Mr Trump had failed to provide specifics about who he would categorise as a criminal. “I’m assuming he’s casting a very broad dragnet,” she said.

To the dismay of immigrant advocates, a substantial number of the Obama administration’s deportations have involved people who committed minor infractions such as traffic violations or had no criminal record at all.

The Obama administration stepped up deportations in part to show Republicans that the border was secure as it tried to persuade Congress to pass a comprehensive package of immigration reforms.

But that legislative effort failed in 2013. A subsequent attempt to use Mr Obama’s executive powers to remove the deportation threat for some 4m unauthorised immigrants with no criminal records was stopped by the Supreme Court in June.

Mr Trump appeared to soften his stance on mass deportation towards the end of his campaign and said on Sunday that many illegal immigrants were “terrific people”. His comments also appeared to suggest he would focus on his controversial plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico before deciding the full extent of deportations.

“After the border is secured and after everything gets normalised, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about,” he said in the interview.

He added the wall could include “some fencing” along the almost 2,000 mile long border.

Immigrant advocates note that Mr Trump’s close advisers include Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a hardline conservative who helped scupper a Senate immigration bill three years ago.

Opinion polls suggest that mass deportations are not even supported by a majority of Trump voters. The Pew Research Center found that only 32 per cent of Trump backers were in favour of an effort to deport unauthorised immigrants.

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

After Trump’s Win, an Anxious Mexico Asks: What’s Next?

New York Times
By Azam Ahmed
November 14, 2016

Ever since the election of Donald J. Trump to the American presidency, Juan Pardinas, a Mexican academic, has been thinking back to his childhood.

Specifically, the Cold War era, when his days as a young boy were filled with a medium-grade anxiety that the Russians might incite a nuclear war that could devastate North America.

“It’s the same feeling of uncertainty,” said Mr. Pardinas, a graduate of the London School of Economics whose work on anti-corruption legislation has been roundly praised in Mexico. “The feeling that politics has become a source of bitterness, anguish and uncertainty is really sad.”

Clouds have descended over Mexico, miring it in a state of anguish and paralysis after the election of Mr. Trump to the highest office in the world. They are clouds of uncertainty and fear, of self-doubt and insecurity. There were even actual storm clouds hanging over the capital in recent days, a literal echo of the nation’s state of mind.

“This may not affect people on the top of our country, but it can only mean bad news for us merchants and lower, working-class people in Mexico,” said Claudia Rivera, a street vendor who owns a food cart in Mexico City.

Outside of concerns about the election, violence has been soaring to levels not seen since the start of the drug war a decade ago. And corruption and a loss of faith in the political leadership had already plunged the nation into a state of gloom. Now, the loss for many is external, too.

“A lot of people see the U.S. as a beacon of freedom, as something to aspire to,” said Mr. Pardinas, who works on legislation and economic competitiveness. “But what happens when you lose a role model, the role model of a nation? Now all of us who admired the U.S. are having second thoughts.”

For most Mexicans, the American election has been a grim exercise in self-perception. Mr. Trump, a candidate who called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals, vowing to deport millions and build a wall to keep others out, has stoked long-held insecurities in Mexico over sovereignty and respect from its northern neighbor. And his victory was seen by some as validating the perception that Americans, or at least half of them, see Mexico through a knot of stereotypes.

Never mind that Mexico’s rich culture and cuisine, its art and film, are having a global moment, Mexicans say. Or that a wall between the two countries these days might actually keep more Mexicans in the United States than out, given the recent research showing more Mexicans are returning home than leaving to seek opportunity in America.

“We are really in need of some reassurance,” said Mr. Pardinas, echoing the sentiment of dozens interviewed in the wake of Mr. Trump’s election. “But you need political leadership for that, and we are short on those attributes.”

President Enrique Peña Nieto and his administration have adopted a diplomatic and hopeful posture toward Mr. Trump’s presidency.

In a statement after the election, Mr. Peña Nieto said the results “open a new chapter in the relationship between Mexico and the United States, which will imply a change, a challenge, but also, it’s necessary to say, a big opportunity.”

He was sure, he said, that the relationship would be one of “trust and mutual respect” that would “build prosperity” for both countries. He also recounted that he had congratulated Mr. Trump by phone earlier and that the men had discussed the possibility of meeting again in the coming months “to define, with total clarity, the course that the relationship between the two countries will have to take.”

However, behind the scenes, there was a deep worry regarding the transition, most immediately the possibility of mass deportations of Mexicans living in the United States.

The Foreign Ministry called back all the Mexican consuls general serving in the United States for meetings to discuss how to respond to the incoming administration. Other consular offices issued requests for Mexicans to report harassment or assaults, as anger stirred by Mr. Trump’s ascendance has turned into racial threats and violence in parts of America. Meanwhile, the government has already expressed a willingness to renegotiate parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But to some, Mr. Peña Nieto’s statement seemed a missed opportunity to address the injury that many Mexicans still feel by Mr. Trump’s anti-Mexican stance and the broad concerns about his threats regarding trade between the two nations.

Armando Ríos Piter, an opposition senator representing the state of Guerrero, said that after enduring Mr. Trump’s hostile discourse for a year and a half, Mexicans deserved a more robust response from their president.

“It was a very light response to a very dangerous threat,” he said.

As Mr. Trump prepared to take office, he continued, Mexico needs to establish its position regarding the United States wall with “firmness, clarity and dignity.”

Instead, “we are left with a politically light position that doesn’t say anything,” he said. “We can’t settle for a statement that says, ‘I spoke with Trump.’”

In September, in anticipation of a possible Trump victory, Mr. Ríos submitted bills that would strengthen Mexico’s hand. The bills, which have languished in the Senate, would allow the government to penalize American investments in Mexico should Mr. Trump follow through on his promises to tax or block remittances by Mexicans in the United States to finance his proposed border wall.

The legislation would also make it explicitly illegal for the Mexican federal government to finance anything that could be interpreted as a border wall, and it stipulated that if the United States decided to pull out of Nafta, as Mr. Trump has threatened, the Mexican legislature would review the dozens of agreements and treaties that govern the bilateral relationship.

In truth, the Mexican government is in a difficult place. Some Mexicans say their leaders must be careful not to antagonize the new president of the United States with their own incendiary comments, given the economic importance America holds in Mexico.

“It is worrying and frightening to know that the loud guy holding a stick in his hand, saying he is coming to get you, to beat you up, is actually in power to do so now,” said Leticia Vega, a Mexican lawyer.

Business leaders, meanwhile, have begun the process of normalizing Mr. Trump’s presidency. Though most executives have adopted a wait-and-see approach, they are continuing with business as usual.

“Sometimes the rhetoric is very different from the actual business of governing,” said Alejandro Ramirez, the head of the largest business consortium in Mexico and the chief executive of Cinépolis, which runs movie theaters across the Americas. “When you have to face the reality of governing you have to look much deeper into the facts, to see whether what you are proposing makes sense.”

Mr. Ramirez buys $40 million worth of goods from the United States every year to run his cinemas, from popcorn and nacho cheese to audio equipment. If free trade were upended, those purchases might be made from other countries, he said.

Few thought a Trump presidency was possible. Now most are banking on a stark difference between Candidate Trump and President Trump, meaning that he will not be as harsh on Mexico as promised. Business consortiums and trade interest groups have taken a proactive stance on engaging the president-elect.

“If the Mexican government is smart about this, if they anticipate correctly the concerns of the incoming administration, they can build an agenda to which the Trump administration can respond,” said Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, which promotes relations between the United States and Mexico through research. “The immediate reaction I got from board members is that this is the moment for us to actually engage.”

For some, though, Mexico’s own problems loomed larger than a Trump presidency.

“The problems that we have generated here, in Mexico, ourselves are far more worrisome and immediate,” said Juan de la Vega, 42, a lawyer who has a brother living illegally in San Francisco. “Those are the ones I worry about the most because they affect my life directly, like the stagnant economy, corruption and insecurity.”

“In the grand scale of things, we as Mexicans know how to accept, assume and transcend this Trump thing,” he added.

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