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


Friday, October 28, 2016

What’s At Stake With This Election? DACA Status for DREAMers & Florida’s Economic Future

October 12, 2016

Donald Trump’s core and consistent immigration pledges are not just words on a teleprompter, but a real threat to thousands of Floridians, especially the nearly 50,000 who have temporary legal status under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Beyond the personal toll on families and communities, studies show that ending DACA would also stop a potential engine for growing Florida’s economy. According to the Center for American Progress, fully adopting President Obama’s executive order on immigration would spur a cumulative state GDP increase of $6.1 billion and provide a $4.1 billion cumulative increase in the incomes of all state residents.

Trump has said that on Day One of his presidency he would end DACA for DREAMers and rescind all other immigration executive orders, breaking up families and potentially throwing local economies into chaos. One of those DREAMers who would be affected by Trump’s radical immigration plan is America’s Voice’s Juan Escalante, who writes in a new Medium post that his future hinges on this election and people voting for “candidates who will ensure the United States continues to be an inclusive and welcoming nation.”

“In my home state of Florida, the stakes are even higher for the immigrant community,” writes Escalante. “Senator Marco Rubio is running for reelection by promising to end DACA and promoting an anti-immigrant agenda that mirrors that of Donald Trump, which is why it crucial for Latinos and immigrants to engage in the election and stay informed on candidates’ positions.”

Media reports over the last several weeks have highlighted how crucial Latino voter turnout is this election season. Recent polling conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of America’s Voice found that protecting the DACA program – and DACA recipients – is a motivating issue for Florida’s Latino voters both in the presidential election and U.S. Senate race.

A majority of Latinos (56%) said that Marco Rubio’s positions – backing away from past support for comprehensive immigration reform and opposing DACA and DAPA – made them less likely to vote for him. On the flipside, 67% of Latino voters said Patrick Murphy’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for him.

Even worse for Rubio, 58% of Latino voters also said that they would be less likely to vote for Marco Rubio if they knew he was supporting Donald Trump, which he has consistently made clear that he does. Rubio’s saving grace? Perhaps it’s that a significant majority — 47% – said that they were unfamiliar with his overall immigration position. Perhaps that’s why Rep. Murphy was quick to point out his own position differences with Rubio at a campaign stop in West Tampa Monday, emphasizing how comprehensive immigration reform could cut the deficit, stimulate the economy, and address the nation’s security needs without breaking up families.

So what’s at stake with this election? Why should Latino voters and other Americans who care about DREAMers vote? One reason: to ensure that Floridians like Juan who contribute to the economic and social fabric of our communities do not lose their jobs and once against face deportation on the first day of the next presidency.

Read Juan Escalante’s new Medium post, “What Donald Trump Means for Undocumented Immigrants Like Me,”  here.

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

What’s the evidence of an immigrant crime wave in California?

McClatchy (California)
By Sean Cockerham
October 27, 2016

When Donald Johnston, a police officer in El Monte, California, went on a routine call in January 1990 to investigate a forgery attempt at a bank, he ended up shot in the neck and a paraplegic.

Twenty-six years later the case has become a part of the presidential campaign – used by Donald Trump as an example of someone who was in the country illegally attacking an American citizen.

Court records reviewed by McClatchy, however, indicate that the shooter, Nguyen Lu, was not in the country illegally. Originally from Vietnam, he’d was described as a legal refugee at the time of the incident.

Johnston’s shooting is among the cases cited by Trump as he promotes the notion that immigrants who are in the United States illegally play an outsized role in crime. The heartbreaking cases he highlights often are more complex than they appear on the campaign trail, however, and studies don’t support the idea that immigrants commit more crimes than people born in America.

“The absolutely overwhelming evidence in this area is that immigrants are less crime-prone than the native-born population, they offend at lower levels, they are arrested at lower levels, they’re incarcerated at lower levels,” said Charis Kubrin, a professor of criminology at the University of California, Irvine who has studied the relationship between immigration and crime.

High-profile cases often drive the discussion over crime and immigration, such as the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by an immigrant from Mexico who had been deported five times.

On the campaign trail Trump has highlighted “Angel Moms” – people who say their family members were killed by immigrants in the country illegally– and clearly such cases exist, including that of Grant Ronnebeck, shot and killed in Mesa, Arizona, last year over a pack of cigarettes by an immigrant awaiting deportation for a burglary conviction.

Ten Angel Moms joined Trump onstage for a major speech in Phoenix in late August in which he set forth his hard-line policy on immigration, blaming lax policies for the deaths of their loved ones.

The tragic cases, however, can be more complex than the notion of predatory killers flooding across the border. Three of the deaths involved traffic accidents, including two in which the perpetrators were driving drunk. In the third, a driver delivering newspapers in Yucaipa, California, made a left-hand turn into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. He was charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide without gross negligence and sentenced to three years’ probation.

Four of the cases were shootings, including a woman who was shot by her Russian ex-boyfriend, who had overstayed his visa. Four of the crimes took place more than a decade ago.

El Monte police officer Johnston died of cancer 12 years after being shot. His widow, Ruth Johnston-Martin, told the crowd at the Trump immigration rally that “my husband was shot by an illegal alien.”

Relatives of Lu, the shooter, described him to the Los Angeles Times in 1990 as a Vietnamese refugee. A recent McClatchy review of the case file uncovered the probation officer’s report on Lu listing him as a legal refugee.

Asked why she believed Lu was not in the country legally, Johnston-Martin said in a brief interview that “I was told by the prosecution that he was an illegal alien and that he would be facing deportation at the end of his sentence.”

The prosecutor in the case, Susan Speer, who is now a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, did not return repeated messages inquiring about the case. Lu was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the crime and hanged himself in his jail cell.

California, with the largest immigrant population in the nation, is central to the debate over immigration and crime.

The most-cited research on the issue in California is a nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California study released in 2008 that found foreign-born people made up about 35 percent of the state’s adult population and just 17 percent of the adult prison population.

“In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated (in California) at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men,” the study concluded.

Tracking the number of crimes committed by people who are in the country illegally is problematic because law enforcement agencies often don’t note the immigration status of the accused in their reports, said UC- Irvine criminologist Kubrin. But much is known about crime by immigrants as a whole, regardless of legal status, she said, and it’s relatively low.

Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Libertarian Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, agreed that research shows “with few exceptions, immigrants are less crime-prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.”

Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower immigration levels, questioned the quality of the data used to draw conclusions about what proportion of American crime is committed by immigrants.

“There is no evidence that immigrants commit either more or less crime than anyone else,” she said. “There simply is not enough information available on that question.”

For Vaughan, though, the debate over how much crime is committed by immigrants is almost pointless. She said the bigger question was what to do about the “small fraction” of the immigrant population that had committed crimes, whether it be deporting them if they are in the country illegally or revoking their permission to remain if they have legal status in the U.S.

Vaughan said examining cases such as those of the Angel Moms was important when they provided lessons about what should have been done differently.

She cited cases including that of Sarah Root, killed in Nebraska by a drunk driver from Honduras who disappeared and is a fugitive. He was released on bond by a judge who wasn’t warned that he’d failed to show up for court in earlier cases and was a flight risk.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had declined to issue a “detainer” that would have kept him in custody.

Vaughan said the debate over immigration also shouldn’t be considered just a public safety question and that “there are other reasons that immigration laws are enforced.”

Trump, though, has focused on public safety in almost apocalyptic terms, describing Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and warning in his speech in Phoenix that America risks a wave of illegal immigration that would result in “thousands of more violent horrible crimes, and total chaos and lawlessness.”

UC-Irvine criminologist Kubrin said the broader facts tended to get trampled when tragic cases were politicized and the public was led to believe that immigrants were responsible for a crime wave.

“No matter how many studies I produce and my colleagues produce, no matter how many talks I give, no matter how many national academies reports are published, the narrative just barely budges,” Kubrin said. “It’s very frustrating.”

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Somalis Living an American Dream in Kansas Glimpse a Nightmare

New York Times
By Jack Healy
October 26, 2016

The newest pioneers in western Kansas arrive from Somalia and Myanmar, Mexico and Sudan: thousands of immigrants and refugees chasing work in the cattle yards and packing plants where pay starts at $16 an hour and little English is needed to saw through meat and bone.

Even as Donald J. Trump and other politicians talk about deporting immigrants, blocking refugees and building border walls, many in this conservative corner of Kansas have come to embrace their growing diversity. Pho is a lunchtime staple downtown. The old Kwik Shop on Spruce Street became a Buddhist prayer space. Students in the local schools speak 35 languages.

But then came a plot to attack all of that.

This month, federal prosecutors announced that three white members of a militia from western Kansas had been accused of planning to bomb the apartments and makeshift mosque where Somali residents of Garden City live and pray. The three men called themselves “the Crusaders,” prosecutors said. They called their targets “cockroaches.”

“I don’t know why these people hate,” Abdulkadir Mohamed, 68, a community leader in Garden City, said one recent afternoon. “We are not terrorists.”

“We are not ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State. “We come here for a better life.”

Prosecutors say the three men held “antigovernment, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” and researchers say their arrest came as the number of anti-Muslim crimes in the United States is soaring.

Hate crimes in the United States against Muslims and people perceived as Arab have reached the highest level since just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, new data shows. Researchers say the increase is a backlash against terrorist attacks in places like Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and the result of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim language by politicians.

The arrests have unnerved the Somalis of Garden City, leaving many worried about their safety. People in this city of about 28,000 have held rallies and vigils in a show of unity, and the police have held meetings with Somali leaders. But not everyone feels comforted.

“I don’t know why they hate us,” said Abdirisaq Hassan, 36, who works at a meatpacking plant.

Like many Republican-controlled legislatures, officials in Kansas have resisted efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in the state. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, cited “unacceptable” safety risks in an executive order last year forbidding state agencies to aid in relocating Syrian refugees. In April, the governor withdrew Kansas entirely from the federal government’s refugee resettlement program.

After the arrests of the three men were announced on Oct. 14, Mr. Brownback said that “hate and violence” had no place in the state.

In Garden City, Mr. Mohamed said his instinct after he learned of the plot was to pack up and leave. Like many others here, he had fled unrest and extremist militants in Somalia. Mr. Mohamed’s brother had been killed by the extremist group the Shabab, and his wife and children moved to Uganda. Many Somali refugees were resettled in Kansas in the mid-2000s.

Mr. Mohamed said he had been one of the first Somalis to settle in Garden City, about seven years ago, crossing the plains in a caravan of minivans with other Somalis after their old meatpacking plant in Nebraska shut down.

Somali residents spend Thanksgivings and Halloweens in the houses of lifelong Garden City families, and they welcome their non-Somali neighbors over for Muslim holidays.

To Mr. Mohamed, this is home. But now, he says, he feels unsettled.

“Like a walking dead,” he said, as he sipped a cup of sweet Kenyan tea at the African Shop, one of two Somali-run businesses in Garden City.

The growth of the Somali community has further changed the face of a region that was already increasingly less white. Here in Finney County, white residents made up 70 percent of the population in 1990. Now, they represent 43 percent, according to census figures. In schools, 79 percent of children are nonwhite, and notices to parents are sent home in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Burmese.

The federal investigation into the militia from western Kansas began in February and relied heavily on an undercover F.B.I. agent who met with at least one of the defendants, and on a paid informant who went to Crusaders meetings and sometimes recorded what was discussed there, investigators wrote in an affidavit.

The three men charged in the case — Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright — were longtime Kansans who lived and worked about an hour’s drive from Garden City. All are being held without bond. Lawyers for the men either declined to comment on the case or did not return telephone messages.

A brief statement from Mr. Stein’s mother, Hattie, said, “We do not support discrimination of any sort and have never advocated or condoned violence.”

According to prosecutors, the men met at Mr. Wright’s mobile-home business to discuss possible targets, dropping virtual pins on a Google Map of the area. They planned to pack four vehicles with explosives, leave them at the one-story apartments where many Somali and Burmese families live, and detonate them using a cellphone.

After the men were arrested, the authorities said they found guns, nearly a metric ton of ammunition, possible bomb-making components and a copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” which includes instructions on making explosives.

“We’re going to talk about killing people and going to prison for life,” Mr. Allen said during one meeting, according to federal authorities. “Less than 60 days, maybe 40 days until something major happens.”

Later, Mr. Stein added, “When we go on operations, there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year-old; I’m serious.”

As laid out in the criminal complaint, the brown-brick apartments on Mary Street were a hated target to the three defendants, “full of goddamn cockroaches.” But to the immigrant families living there, they are the ground floor in an American journey.

Somali and Burmese children play soccer together in the parking lots. Donated beds are delivered to new families, though some are so accustomed to sleeping on the thin mats of a refugee camp that they forgo the box springs and bed frames.

The mosque is little more than a small apartment where Somali men slip off their shoes to pray before or after eight-hour shifts at the beef plant. For the past two weeks, since he arrived in Garden City, Abdishakur Mohamed Noor, 55, has been sleeping there under a borrowed blanket because he does not have the paperwork required to get a job at the plant.

People here have tried to show unity since the news of the plot broke, holding vigils and standing together — white residents next to Somali women in colorful abayas — on the sidewalks with posters that praise their town and the local police.

“It’s like an attack against the whole of who we are,” said Sister Janice Thome, a Roman Catholic nun who spends many of her days fielding phone calls from immigrant families looking for help paying the utilities or a dentist bill, or for a ride to the doctor’s office in Kansas City, Mo., 370 miles away.

But for some Somali residents, the arrests raised a chance to discuss the smaller ways they can feel unwelcome in their adoptive home. They say they feel curious stares at the Walmart. The African Shop, with its shelves stocked with goat’s milk ghee, black currant syrup and Ethiopian chile powder, has been looking for a new location.But Halima Farah, 26, who works there, said that every time she goes to speak with a landlord about a vacant property, it mysteriously seems to be unavailable.

But mostly, she said, Garden City is welcoming and safe.

“We live in a small town,” Ms. Farah said, where nobody ever expected to be discussing explosives and domestic terrorism. “We were like: Of all places, Garden City?”

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

Pro-Immigrant Protesters Snarl New York City Morning Commute

October 26, 2016

Pro-immigrant protesters chained themselves together and blocked lanes on the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York City on Wednesday, briefly halting traffic during the morning rush on the busiest U.S. bridge.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, said delays were as long as 90 minutes on the bridge's upper level on the city-bound side.

Ten protesters were arrested, Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said.

The protesters held a sign that read, "Deport ICE," an acronym for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coleman said.

The immigration agency oversees thousands of deportations weekly and has deported more than 2 million immigrants under Democratic President Barack Obama, more than under any previous administration.

An organization calling itself the Laundry Workers Center said on its website that it helped organize the protesters, who it said included immigrants and supporters.

"The immigrant community is tired of being in the shadows," Laundry Workers Center co-director Mahoma López said in a statement on the website.

"For many years we are here, we contribute, we pay taxes, we build this country, but in the end, we don't have the right to participate in the decisions at the local and national levels," the statement said.

No one from the center could immediately be reached for comment.

According to the website, the Laundry Workers Center assists laundry, warehouse and food service workers.

Pictures posted on social media showed the protesters clasping a banner that read, "Resist, organized, rise up!"

They began blocking east-bound traffic at about 8:15 a.m. and were removed from the roadway by 8:30, Coleman said. All lanes had reopened by 8:50, he said, adding that there were no injuries or property damage.

On social media, people recalled the "Bridgegate" lane closures at the same span in 2013. Two aides to New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie are on trial in connection with the scandal, charged with ordering traffic gridlock as pay back for a mayor who had declined to endorse Christie's reelection bid.

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

What the Early Vote in North Carolina Means: A Daily Tracker

New York Times (North Carolina)
By Nate Cohn
October 26, 2016

Our estimate of the final vote, based on what we know about the early vote

There aren’t many states more important this November than North Carolina, a rapidly changing state crucial to Donald J. Trump’s hopes of winning the White House and to Democrats’ hopes of winning the Senate.

There also aren’t many states with better election data than North Carolina. The state releases detailed, individual-level information on every voter in the state. It even publishes a daily account of who has voted early, either in person or by mail.

To get a better sense of what’s going on, we’re trying an experiment: We’re estimating the result of the early vote and the Election Day vote by combining the rich data released by North Carolina with data from the Upshot/Siena survey of North Carolina.

Already, about 812,000 people have voted in North Carolina, out of about 4,425,000 we think will eventually vote. Based on the voting history and demographic characteristics of those people, we think Hillary Clinton leads in North Carolina by about 6 percentage points. We think she has an even larger lead – 22 percentage points – among people who have already voted.

Here’s a breakdown of those estimates for the two major-party candidates:

These aren’t official results. They’re just estimates. If our polling is wrong, then our conclusions could be wrong as well. Our polling has been somewhat stronger for Mrs. Clinton than other surveys of the state have. The last Upshot/Siena poll this week gave Mrs. Clinton a seven-point lead.

Even if our polling is pretty good, there’s still uncertainty: Undecided voters and the supporters of Gary Johnson pose as much of a challenge for this project as they do for a typical survey. But by the end of the early vote, one of the biggest sources of uncertainty in polling – the composition of the electorate – will be greatly diminished.

As early voting continues, our estimates will gradually shift as low-turnout voters lock in their votes, and as doubts arise about whether people who haven’t voted yet actually will.

The big thing to watch is the trend: Is the early vote changing the composition of the electorate to the advantage of either candidate?

How many people have voted, and how many we think are yet to vote

And how our estimates of the final vote have changed

Heading into the early vote, our estimate was that Mrs. Clinton had a six-point lead in the state. The early vote so far hasn’t been enough to move that assessment. That’s because only a fraction of voters have turned out. It’s also because most of the people who have voted so far are fairly reliable early voters.

What would cause it to change? The easiest way to shift these estimates is if one candidate benefits from a strong turnout among voters whom we didn’t expect to vote, especially people who weren’t registered to vote at the start of the early voting. In general, low-turnout voters tend to vote closer to the election.

Two things have changed, albeit slightly. First, our estimate for the final turnout has gradually declined. That’s because early voting has been a little slower this year than in 2012. Part of the reason is that there are some North Carolina counties where the number of in-person early voting stations has been scaled back. This has clearly reduced the number of early voters. We have made no adjustment for this effect, which should gradually diminish once more polling stations open on Oct. 27.

The other change is that the supporters of Mr. Johnson simply aren’t turning out in early voting, according to our polling data. So far, he has just 3 percent of the vote among people who voted early, according to our polling and our modeled data.

Below, our estimates of the vote in North Carolina across different groups of voters.

By race

From the roughly 812,000 early votes:

From the roughly 3,612,000 votes yet to be cast:

Our best guess at the final vote in North Carolina:

At the start of early voting, we estimated that 71 percent of the final overall total of voters would be white and that 21.4 percent would be non-Hispanic black.

These pre-early-voting estimates were strictly based on vote history. A 45-year-old white person who voted only in 2012 and a 45-year-old black person who voted only in 2012 were given an equal chance of voting in our forecasting.

In practice, vote history isn’t the only factor that determines turnout. In recent elections, black voters in North Carolina have been likelier to vote than white voters with the same vote history. For this particular project, our estimates start out agnostic on whether black or white voters will turn out in greater numbers than their vote history suggests. The turnout should speak for itself.

If early voting goes as it did in 2012, our estimate for the black share of the electorate will gradually increase if infrequent and even previously unregistered black voters show up in disproportionate numbers.

Over all in 2012, black voters represented 27.3 percent of the early vote and ultimately represented 23 percent of the final electorate, even higher than their share of registered voters (22.4 percent).

By vote history

From the roughly 812,000 early votes:

From the roughly 3,612,000 votes yet to be cast:

Our best guess at the final vote in North Carolina:

Every vote counts, but not every vote tells us as much about who is winning the early vote.

There are some people who are all but sure to vote: They participate in just about every election. If they vote early, it doesn’t really change our view of the race. But if a voter whom we don’t expect to vote shows up, that moves the numbers. That’s what the campaigns are trying to do, too: They’re trying to get their less likely supporters to the polls.

One easy way to get a sense of whether infrequent voters are turning out is to look at whether they participated in the 2014 midterm election. Our estimate heading into the early vote was that voters who skipped the midterm election would make up 42 percent of the electorate, and we thought they would support Mrs. Clinton by a 10-point margin.

It’s worth watching both parts:

* Whether Mrs. Clinton’s expected 10-point margin with that group grows or shrinks, a sign that the infrequent voters who are turning out are more or less favorable to her than expected.

* Whether they’re expected to make up more or less than 42 percent of the electorate, a sign that more of them have stayed home or turned out than expected.

By age

From the roughly 812,000 early votes:

From the roughly 3,612,000 votes yet to be cast:

Our best guess at the final vote in North Carolina:

So far, most early voters have been pretty old. Young voters were most likely to be undecided or in support of Mr. Johnson in the Upshot/Siena poll, so Mrs. Clinton doesn’t benefit as much from a high youth turnout as you might guess.

By party

From the roughly 812,000 early votes:

From the roughly 3,612,000 votes yet to be cast:

Our best guess at the final vote in North Carolina:

Democrats have a longstanding voter registration advantage in North Carolina, but a significant slice of them are conservative, older white Democrats who have been voting Republican in presidential elections.

There isn’t a realistic scenario in which registered Republicans would outnumber registered Democrats in the final count. That’s especially true in early voting, which is traditionally used more by Democrats than Republicans.

In 2012, Democrats had an edge of 48 percent to 32 percent in party registration among early voters, and a 44-33 edge in the final count. Since then, the Democratic registration edge statewide has diminished, in large part as older conservatives have switched to the Republicans. At the same time, newly registered voters who support Democrats have been far likelier to register without affiliating with a party.

As a result, the expected Democratic registration edge is somewhat smaller than in the past: 40 percent to 32 percent for the Democrats.

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

Hispanic Turnout Is Key to Clinton's Fate and GOP's Future

Bloomberg (Opinion)
By Francis Wilkinson
October 26, 2016

How Hispanics vote in November -- and in what numbers -- is a key to the presidential election and to the future of both political parties. Donald Trump's courtship of the American electorate, after all, began with an attack on Mexicans. His provocations didn't end there.

If Hispanics, who historically have low rates of voting, fail to turn out, or support Hillary Clinton less enthusiastically than they did Barack Obama, Trump's offenses will appear to have been forgiven, on the way, ultimately, to being forgotten. If Clinton wins Hispanics in a landslide, however, she will almost certainly be president, and Republicans will be facing a daunting obstacle, potentially for years to come.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of eligible Hispanic voters will be about 40 percent higher in 2016 than it was in 2008. About 11 million Hispanics voted in 2012, when Hispanic turnout was slightly below 50 percent, which was close to normal. About 27 million will be eligible to vote in November, with the growth mostly coming not from immigration but from Hispanic citizens entering adulthood -- at a rate of 800,000 annually.

If Clinton falters with these voters, even in victory, Republicans will have an opportunity to heal some self-inflicted wounds after shedding Trump. But if Clinton matches or exceeds Obama's share of Hispanic voters, about 71 percent in 2012, it will mark the third presidential election in a row in which Democrats dominate. How many landslides does it take for a generation or more of Hispanics to shut out the GOP for good?

Surveys of Hispanic voters reflect vast disparities. Among polls taken this October alone, RealClearPolitics.com shows the Hispanic vote ranging from a modest 10-point Clinton advantage over Trump to a gap of 53 points in her favor. In the first poll, by Economist/YouGov, Clinton may be heading for trouble in important swing states, including Florida and Nevada. In the second, by Latino Decisions, she has a bigger margin among Hispanics than Obama had over Mitt Romney in 2012.

In an analysis of earlier poll disparities, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz said that a 28-point difference in the Hispanic vote would translate into a 2 to 3 point difference in the national vote. The difference between the October Economist/YouGov and Latino Decisions polls is 43 points, or perhaps 4 points in a national election, larger than Obama's margin of victory in 2012.

Abramowitz, in an e-mail, pointed out that Latino Decisions has an "excellent" track record from 2012 and that its large margin for Clinton has been supported by other polls that also used large samples of Hispanics, conducted interviews in both Spanish and English and employed other techniques designed to obtain more representative voter samples. (Latino Decisions principals Matt Barreto and Gary Segura are advising the Clinton campaign. "We are completely firewalled off from the rest of our firm this cycle," Barreto told me in an e-mail.)

A presentation by Latino Decisions pollster Gabriel Sanchez pointed out that 2010 Senate polls in Nevada and Colorado, both of which have large Hispanic populations, generally underestimated Democratic support. (Democrats won both contests.) Many polls similarly undercounted Obama's Hispanic support in 2012.

The trajectory of the fast-growing Hispanic vote will help determine not just party power but party dynamics for years. Republicans have long anticipated a burst of Hispanic support, arguing that socially conservative Hispanics are a natural GOP constituency. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both Cuban, were expected to be the vanguard of this new voting bloc, resuming the progress the GOP made among Hispanics under Texan George W. Bush.

Perhaps that development has only been postponed by Trump; soon the Hispanics' vote will grow less lopsided. Or perhaps more of them will come to view themselves as white, and identify with the party that caters to white cultural nostalgia in various forms.  

Trump's candidacy, however, has crystallized a more pressing possibility. If the GOP can't extract racial conservatism from its brand of social conservatism, the party is in danger of being swamped by nonwhite votes in November and for years to come. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine such an outcome compounding the GOP's troubles, intensifying white resentment and thus making it even harder to diversify the party.

November will be a big tell. Some private polls suggest that Clinton's lead among Hispanics is nowhere near the Latino Decisions range. If the Latino Decisions end of the polling spectrum is correct, however, the 2017 Republican autopsy promises to be a doozy.  

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

GOP’s Hispanic Outreach Could Blunt Trump Effect in Senate Races

By Steven Dennis
October 24, 2016

If Donald Trump loses in November, one main factor will be the way he alienated Hispanic voters. But many of those same Hispanic voters could still give Republicans a chance to hold on to the Senate.

That’s because Republicans have spent the past few years reaching out to Hispanic voters in swing states, an effort that may help them blunt Trump’s toxicity in congressional races. Senate races in Nevada, Florida and Arizona, where Republicans face their biggest test, have been targeted by the Libre Initiative, a group funded by the conservative Koch brothers that has eschewed Trump all along to focus on down-ballot races.

"Very early on, our organization saw that we could not be confident that Donald Trump valued the principles that our organization holds in our core," said Libre spokesman Wadi Gaitan, who quit his job as spokesman for the Florida Republican Party this year over Trump’s positions on immigration.

This outreach to Hispanics has taken on new importance in Republicans’ strategy for keeping the Senate majority, a hope that’s becoming more elusive as Trump continues to slide in the polls. The GOP is counting on getting faithful party members opposed to Trump, as well as independents, to still show up on Election Day and split the ticket by supporting Republicans running for Senate and the House.

In Nevada, for example, Libre long ago abandoned the presidential race to focus on the Senate match-up between Republican Representative Joe Heck and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.

Ticket-splitting Hispanics also appear to be helping Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona, Republican authors of a failed compromise immigration overhaul in 2013.

Poll Split

A recent poll by Latino Decisions for the NALEO Educational Fund found Rubio winning by 10 points among Hispanics in Florida and Trump losing by 40. The split was a bit less dramatic in Arizona, with McCain down 19 points and Trump down 52; in Nevada, with Heck down 30 points and Trump down 55; and in North Carolina with Senator Richard Burr down 15 points and Trump down 50. The Latino Decisions polling firm has also done work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

McCain recently unendorsed Trump, while Rubio has continued to stick by him -- but not actually appear with him at any events -- despite the Florida senator’s scorching criticism of the party’s nominee as a con man who shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.

The lesser known Heck, meanwhile, has been a model for the Republican Party when it comes to Hispanic outreach, staffing his congressional offices with Spanish-speakers and spending significant time in Hispanic communities.

"We just don’t show up in those communities two months before election asking for a vote. We’re in those communities every day, every day, at their events, participating," Heck told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, earlier this month.

Building Relationships

The results have been encouraging for a party struggling to attract minority voters.

"We took 40 percent of the Latino vote in the 2014 congressional race," he said. "We were the highest Latino Republican vote-getter of anybody other than our governor, who is Latino. And that’s because we’ve built relationships and people know who Joe Heck is."

While Heck opposed the compromise immigration effort, he has had a very different position on the issue than Trump.

Heck has backed a version of a bill that would allow children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents to stay, although he has voted to defund the president’s executive orders blocking deportations -- a point pounded by Cortez Masto at their recent debate in Las Vegas.

Heck countered, "I have never talked about deportation," adding that he wants a path to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally who haven’t committed other crimes.

Heck, like McCain, recently unendorsed Trump after watching the 2005 tape of Trump bragging about groping women and getting away with it.

Democratic Counterattack

Heck has faced a steady stream of high-profile Cortez Masto surrogates attacking him as a Trump supporter -- including President Barack Obama on Sunday.

Obama noted Cortez Masto would be the first Latina ever elected to the Senate -- her grandfather immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico -- and slammed Heck for sticking by Trump, leading the crowd in chants of "Heck, no!"

"On issue after issue, Catherine Cortez Masto is going to be on your side, working for you," Obama said. "Her opponent is going to have the Koch brothers on line one, and Donald Trump on line two."

Cortez Masto says she also has the backing of immigration advocates on the ground and ripped the Libre Initiative as an insincere effort by the Koch brothers.

"To me, it’s offensive. Their goal is to exploit this community and not help them and they need to be called out on it," she said.

Democrats are also hoping to capitalize on people who became citizens this year so they can register and vote against Trump.

"I’ve never seen anything like that before in this state. There are people paying attention and they are going to come out," she said.

Long Game

Gaitan, the spokesman for Libre, said his group differs from Democratic efforts because it is on the ground throughout the year.

"They show up to register people to vote," Gaitan said of Democratic groups. "We do everything from English classes to drivers’ license classes and citizenship classes."

The freebies come with a dose of conservative ideology. "It’s a platform for us to talk to them. We can talk to them about how overreaching government regulations and high-reaching taxes are an impediment to opportunity," he said.

So when they knock on doors to attack Cortez Masto and support Joe Heck, "it’s not the first time you are hearing from us," he added.

The group has hit Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general, on suing Uber -- a service that employs many Hispanics -- and on school-choice accounts, among other issues.

"A candidate that stands against those kinds of policies should not be rewarded with the Hispanic vote," Gaitan said. "That’s the case we’re making."

Harry Grill, senior political field director for Unite Here, a union that includes the powerful Culinary Workers Union in Nevada, said groups aligned with Heck don’t have the same ability to reach voters as the union, which includes canvassing operations and buses to take workers to the polls.

"It’s a much more real conversation. A lot of our folks are housekeepers, are cooks. They’re actually speaking to real people, people like themselves. That’s a very powerful message," he said.

Mixed Results

Even so, there certainly are some Hispanics who would, in a more traditional political year, be receptive to the Republican message -- skeptical of government or opposed to abortion.

Jesus Marmolejo, a Las Vegas Republican who works as a manager in the transportation industry, is the kind of Hispanic voter Heck needs.

He said he supports Heck, a brigadier general in the Army Reserves, because he is a veteran, and doesn’t like Cortez Masto because she supports funding for Planned Parenthood.

"I’m against abortion, so why should I vote for somebody that funds that organization?" he asked. But he’s not yet sure he’s going to vote for Trump.

His wife, Elvia, a Democrat, pronounced herself "very undecided."

Warning Signs

There are warning signs for Heck too.

Jay Jara, owner of two Los Tacos restaurants in Las Vegas, said Trump has inspired Hispanics to vote, and Heck could get swept away in the undertow.

"They’re scared for, you know, our cousins, that they’re going to deport all of them," he said.

Grace Cortez, a Democrat who recently moved to Las Vegas with her family from Los Angeles, opposes Trump and finds his supporters "scary."

"They picked the wrong guy," she said.

But she doesn’t know enough about the Senate race yet.

"I just need to be more informed," she said.

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