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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, April 25, 2017

Trump Announces Abject Surrender on Border Wall Shakedown

Talking Points Memo (Opinion) 
By John Marshall
April 24, 2017

I noted over the weekend just how weak a hand President Trump was playing in his effort to force Democrats to vote for border wall money with a threat of taking away people’s health care coverage. I said this afternoon that it looked like he was getting ready to cave. But I could scarcely have imagined that Trump would preemptively cave as quickly, objectively and ridiculousness as he appears to have done. This is turning into the Dog Day Afternoon of legislative hostage dramas.

According to The Washington Post and NBC news, late this afternoon Trump signaled that he is giving in and will either accept non-wall money and pretend it’s like a wall or just give the whole thing up entirely and try again in the fall, which likely means never.

This passage in the Post is highly revealing …

But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.

As you can see, White House officials were telegraphing a less confrontational stance – metaphor wall money. But Trump himself couldn’t help caving even more aggressively, apparently openly discussing where the White House assumes it will end up, which is getting nothing at all. So White House officials pitch new bargaining position; Trump, allowed to talk, says no let’s just lose completely.

This does fit the pattern with the earlier Obamacare repeal debacle – aggressive stance, bluster, confidence followed by abject surrender.

The Post charitably headlines this as “White House ‘confident’ of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall.” But when you surrender there’s pretty good reason to be confident there won’t be a fight. How can there be? That’s not how it works.

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

Trump’s first 100 days anything but presidential

The Hill (Op-Ed) 
By Brad Bannon
April 24, 2017

The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency is known better for defeats than for victories.

Actually, things have gone better for the resistance than they have for the administration.

The new president has been busy, but he hasn’t been effective.

Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare on Day 1 of his presidency. But he failed to get congressional approval to repeal ACA and replace it with Trumpcare, even though his party controls both houses of Congress. Donald Trump’s only major legislative victory was the Senate confirmation of his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Federal judges nullified both executive orders the new president issued to ban travel from Muslim countries. After a federal judge nullified the first order, the president issued a second executive order that was virtually the same as the first. Predictably, it suffered the same fate as its predecessor.

The focus on the first hundred days comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early days of his presidency in 1933. At this point in his first term, FDR had convinced Congress to pass financial relief laws to help farmers and workers devastated by the Great Depression. He also issued an executive order that stopped a run on the banks that would have made the financial crisis even worse.

Barack Obama accomplished a lot in his 100 days. He convinced Congress to pass an economic stimulus law that prevented the country from sinking into a deeper depression than the one left behind by his predecessor, George W. Bush. President Obama was also able to persuade Congress to pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and a law to provide health insurance to children.

The Trump Administration has also been caught up in a scandal created by inappropriate and possibly illegal contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. The scandal has already caused the exit of his first national advisor, Michael Flynn after only 25 days on the job.

The Trump White House is also troubled by the internal war between alt-right nationalist Stephen Bannon and the president’s daughter and her husband Jared Kushner.

So, it’s not surprising Trump’s job rating in the Gallup Poll for the first quarter of his presidency is only 41 percent.

Still, his approval rating in the first quarter is much lower than the comparable rating for any president in recent history.

John F. Kennedy at 74 percent had the highest approval for any new president. Barack Obama clocked in with a 63 percent approval rating in the first quarter of his first term. Before Trump, Bill Clinton Bill had the lowest first quarter job rating at 55 percent.

But most Americans supported Bill Clinton in the dawn of his presidency which is a lot more than you can say for Trump’s start.

Why is Trump’s approval so low compared to his predecessors?

Simply because the ‘populist” president defies the people. The power of the president is the power of persuasion. Public opinion indicates that Trump hasn’t done much of that.

Lance Tarrance and Andrew Duggan of Gallup believe the president’s low approval rating score is a function of Donald Trump being on the wrong side of public opinion on the environment and other issues.

The environment is one of those issues. Data from a recent Gallup Poll underscores the priority that Americans place on environment protection. Nearly six in ten (59 percent) Americans believe environmental protection is more important than economic growth (41 percent).

Trump’s effort to repeal Obamacare is another example of his struggle against public opinion. Support for the Affordable Care Act is at an all-time high while Trump is trying to kill the program. In fact, support for ACA has been increasing since Trump became president.

The optics for Trump also create problems for the president. It’s difficult for the president to convince Americans that it’s urgent to solve problems when people see him leave the White House every Friday afternoon to spend a leisurely weekend having fun golfing in the Florida sun.

Things might get better for the rest of his term.

But if I was a Trump supporter, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. (He is not related in any way to the alt-right leader and Trump adviser Stephen Bannon.) Campaigns and Elections magazine called him a “mover and shaker” in the political consulting industry. He hosts and contributes regularly to the nationally syndicated progressive talk show, “The Leslie Marshall Show.” Bannon is also a political analyst for CLTV, the cable news station of the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com, the social media network for politics.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trump wall faces skepticism on border

The Hill 
By Rafael Bernal
April 21, 2017

President Trump’s tough rhetoric on border security has met expected resistance from Democrats, but many border Republicans have also questioned the need for a border wall.

Sen. John Cornyn, the number-two Republican in the Senate, has said “there’s parts of our border which it makes no sense,” and that when President Trump talks about a wall, “he’s speaking metaphorically.”

Of nine House districts on the southwest border, three are controlled by Republicans, all of whom have voiced some level of opposition to a border wall.

Reps. Martha McSally (R-Ariz) and Will Hurd (R-Texas) last month sent Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly a letter questioning a $1 billion request for “planning, design and construction of the first installment of the border wall.”

“An expenditure this large, and submitted with limited details, deserves additional scrutiny to ensure funds are being used effectively in pursuit of our shared goal of securing the southwest border,” the letter read.

Hurd went further, saying a wall would be “the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.”

New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce (R), an early Trump supporter, said in February a wall won’t work, because “you can come over it, under it, around it, through it.”

Republican border senators haven’t expressed much support either.

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake have given little credence to the idea on fiscal, legislative and diplomatic grounds.

Sen. Ted Cruz a strong proponent of a wall as a presidential candidate, has recently been less vocal on the issue. Asked Tuesday if border wall funding should be in the budget ahead of the upcoming funding deadline, he said Congress “should use the power of the purse, use appropriation, to implement good policy.”

Although Trump won Texas and Arizona pledging to build the border wall and end or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the practical consequences of the two proposals have met stiff resistance along the border, particularly in Texas.

Much of the land along the Rio Grande is privately owned, and an international treaty bans construction on the river’s floodplain.

That’s created two challenges for federal authorities: The use of eminent domain to acquire private lands is unpopular, slow and expensive; and a wall built north of the floodplain would leave some private lands on the Mexican side of the wall.

And in many border communities, especially larger cities with busy ports of entry, talk of border security often takes second billing to discussions about how to speed up cross-border trade.

“Of course we want to see security, but we’ve got issues with infrastructure, we’ve got issues with having enough equipment on our bridges, and we want to coordinate with Mexicans more,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

Cuellar’s district includes the city of Laredo, the busiest port of entry on the border. In the first two months of 2017, of all land, sea and airports nationwide, Laredo ranked first in total value of exports, and fourth in total value of imports.

Texas is the most dependent U.S. state on trade with Mexico, with almost a third of all Texas exports and imports traded with Mexico.

Binational metropolitan areas that host cities on each side of the border rely on cross-border freight shipments and individual border crossings for tourism, shopping, medical attention, family visits and entertainment.

The largest such metropolitan area is El Paso-Ciudad Juarez.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly visited the El Paso side of the border on Thursday.

Neither addressed regional economic development in their statements, focusing instead on the administration’s immigration enforcement actions.

“This is ground zero – this is the front lines, and this is where we take our stand,” said Sessions.

The characterization of El Paso as “ground zero” raised eyebrows among the region’s business community. It is struggling to attract investments and dislikes statements that make the area seem like a crime zone.

“It becomes incredibly frustrating for those of us who are born and raised along the border, to continue to hear the rhetoric and inaccurate facts about our region being a violent, lawless frontier. It is anything but that,” said Jon Barela, the former New Mexico secretary of Economic Development under Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

Barela is now the CEO of Borderplex Alliance, a non-profit corporation dedicated to expanding business in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-southern New Mexico region.

Border leaders are especially sensitive to talk of violence in the region, which they are quick to promote as one of the safest in the country.

A 2016 Texas Tribune analysis of state and federal data confirmed that border cities were among the safest in the state.

“Some of us just roll our eyes when somebody comes in from Washington and talks about security and they’re missing part of the essence of border life,” said Cuellar.

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

Judge Seems Reluctant to Issue Another Travel Ban Injunction

Associated Press 
April 21, 2017

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday seemed reluctant to issue another nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, saying two courts already have halted the bid to stop immigration from six predominantly Muslim counties.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said at a hearing in the nation’s capital that blocking the executive order might be an “academic exercise” given similar rulings from courts in Hawaii and Maryland.

Chutkan heard arguments from Iranian-American and Muslim groups that say Iranians have faced unusual delays and disruptions in visa processing even while the ban is on hold. They want a more sweeping injunction than those imposed by other courts, one that seeks in part to resume the normal visa application process.

But Chutkan expressed concern that ordering consular officials to issue visas “would take the court into areas where the court is not supposed to act.”

Justice Department lawyers disputed the challengers’ claims and said the court should not second-guess the president’s foreign policy decisions.

After a two-hour hearing, Chutkan asked both sides for additional briefing on the practical implications of ruling in the case.

The organizations challenging the ban include the Pars Equality Center, the Iranian American Bar Association, the National Iranian American Council and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans. The lawsuit includes more than a dozen people who claim the order is harming students, interfering with business travel and separating couples and families.

The case is unusual because Chutkan earlier this week allowed witnesses to testify in court about the effects of the travel ban, the first time a judge has permitted live testimony in a case challenging the order.

Representing the Iranian-American groups, lawyer Cyrus Mehri said no other court in the country has the “robust record” that shows the harm caused by the ban.

“We’ve had ongoing harm of visas being cancelled and they’re still not being reinstituted,” Mehri said.

Federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii last month blocked the vast majority of the ban, which would restrict immigration of people from six predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Trump administration is appealing both rulings.

The revised travel ban issued in March is narrower than an earlier one from January that was blocked by a federal judge in Washington state. It temporarily bars new visas for citizens of the six countries and suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler argued that the ban targets countries, not religious groups, and said the court should not undermine the president’s power to protect national security.

“It’s not a dispute with the Iranian people, it’s a problem with the Iranian government,” Readler said.

But Chutkan said those arguments are undercut by comments Trump and his advisers made during the election campaign and after indicating a desire to focus on Muslims.

Any decision in the Washington, D.C., case to block the travel ban would take effect only if the other two orders were reversed. But it also could be broader if it covers part of the order affecting visa procedures.

Chutkan suggested the portion relating to the visa process seems to rely on other sections already halted by another court.

Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei said there was no evidence to suggest visa delays for some Iranians had anything to do with the travel ban. He warned the court against issuing an order that would amount to “global micromanagement of the State Department’s consular posts and offices.”

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

U.S. States Realign in Legal Battle Over Trump's Travel Ban

By Dan Levine
April 21, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority nations faces its second challenge at a U.S. appeals court next month, and this time more Republican states are backing the measure, while one Democratic state attorney general dropped out of the legal fight this week.

Some legal experts say the states’ realignment could signal that the changes made last month to Trump’s original executive order have strengthened the government’s case.

Sixteen Democratic state attorneys general and the District of Colombia on Thursday filed a “friend of the court” brief backing Hawaii in its bid to block the March 6 executive order, which two federal judges put on hold before it could be implemented. Hawaii and other states argue the ban violates the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against Muslims.

But Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who opposed the original ban that Trump signed on Jan. 27, did not join Thursday’s brief, which was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Shapiro declined to comment.

On the other side, Texas, which had been alone in its support for the original January order, has gained the support of 14 Republican states urging that the ban go forward in a legal brief filed on April 10. Those states back the government’s argument that the president has wide authority to implement immigration policy and that the ban is needed to prevent terrorist attacks.

Trump’s original ban, which the president said was needed for national security to head off attacks by Islamist militants, applied to seven Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely banned the entry of all refugees from Syria. It was revised and narrowed after a flurry of legal challenges.

“The second executive order was much more carefully written than the first. Maybe when various states analyzed it they weren’t as interested as joining,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr an immigration expert at Cornell University Law School. However, he said, “amicus briefs sometimes are filed for political reasons.”

Some judges pay close attention to amicus briefs, while others disregard them.

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.

Trump’s January order was hastily implemented just days after his inauguration, leading to chaos and protests at airports and more than two dozen lawsuits. A federal judge in Seattle halted the order and the 9th circuit upheld that ruling.

The White House re-crafted the order to exclude legal permanent residents and removed Iraq from the list of targeted countries. Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are still included in the new order. The new ban also dropped language giving preference to refugees who are part of a persecuted religious minority in their country of citizenship.

The changes were meant to chip away at the plaintiffs’ “standing” to sue, which requires that anyone bringing a lawsuit show they have been directly harmed by the action they are contesting.

But as soon as the second order was signed, states and civil rights groups went back to court, saying that it was still discriminatory.

Federal district judges in Maryland and Hawaii put the second order on hold before it could take effect on March 16.

The judge in Hawaii blocked the two central sections of the ban, on travel and refugees, while the Maryland judge only halted the travel portion.

Most of the focus is now on the Hawaii case, which is being heard by the 9th Circuit on May 15.

The 4th Circuit appeals court in Virginia is slated to hear arguments in the Maryland case on May 8.

Not all states have staked out a side in the fight. Pennsylvania now is among 18 states, including Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey that have not taken sides on the issue, opting not to file any legal briefs.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Leslie Adler)

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

Indian Techies, IT Firms Fret as Trump Orders U.S. Visa Review

By Sunil Nair
April 21, 2017

MUMBAI — For Grishma, an Indian software designer, President Donald Trump’s review of the visa programme for bringing highly skilled workers into the United States comes at a bad time.

Fresh from gaining a master’s degree in Europe, and with an offer of employment from a well-known U.S. design firm, she was well on her way to fulfilling the ambition of many young Indian IT workers – a dream job in America.

But as she waits in the H-1B visa queue for the green light, she is caught in a bind.

“It’s a weird time to be applying, with all the scrutiny,” said Grishma, who gave only her first name for fear of jeopardizing her chances of getting a visa.

The United States has already suspended the “expedited processing option” for applicants, under which she may have received a visa in weeks.

More broadly, uncertainty over the review announced this week has unsettled Grishma and many others like her.

She will have to wait until at least around August to learn her fate, but having accepted the U.S. job offer she is not in a position to apply for positions elsewhere, including in Europe.

“It’s pretty debilitating,” Grishma told Reuters. “I’d like to start work to mitigate the financial damage.”

Trump’s decision was not a huge surprise, given his election campaign pledge to put American jobs first.

But the executive order he signed, though vague in many areas, has prompted thousands of foreign workers already in the United States or applying for visas to work there to re-think their plans. Companies who send them also face huge uncertainty.

The concerns are particularly acute in India, where IT firms like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd are top beneficiaries of the H-1B visa programme, using it to send computer engineers to service clients in the United States, their largest overseas market.


Experts say Trump’s order to review visa processes is aimed at firms like TCS, Infosys and Wipro, which from 2005-14 snagged around 86,000 H-1B visas, roughly equivalent to the number of H-1B visas the United States issues in total each year.

Two industry sources said Infosys, India’s No. 2 information technology (IT) services company, is applying for just under 1,000 H-1B visas this year, which one of the sources said was down from 6,500 applications in 2016 and some 9,000 in 2015.

It was not clear whether the sharp reduction in 2017 was in direct response to Trump’s presidency, although the company has said for some time it wanted to cut dependence on “fly-in” staff.

TCS, Infosys and Wipro said they would not share data on the number of H-1B visas they had applied for this year.

With fewer visas going to Infosys, more might become available for smaller IT companies and big U.S. tech companies, like Facebook and Microsoft Corp, that typically send in fewer H-1B applications each year.

U.S.-based immigration lawyer Murali Bashyam, managing partner of Bashyam Spiro LLP which advises and works with small to mid-sized Indian IT firms, said clients had been in contact seeking clarity, while the number of visa applicants had fallen.

“I think the reason for that is they get the sense that it’s going to get so much tougher to comply with all of the changes … that it might not be worth their money,” he said.

“There is a fear that radical immigration changes are coming, and if those radical immigration changes come then it could completely change the way IT staffing companies do business.”

Bashyam said the number of people on H-1B visas already working in the United States who were considering returning to their home country had risen.

An engineer working at Cisco, who has been in the United States since 2011, said that three months ago he would not have considered returning to India.

But the review of the visa system, and any rule change that revoked the right for his wife to work in the United States on a dependent visa, could force him to change his mind.

“If that happens, then I would definitely be interested in going back to India. Even though I’m secure, I don’t want to be in a situation where my wife cannot work,” said the engineer, who declined to be named.

“Those who have heavily invested here, who’ve bought houses, property and are still on visas, are afraid.”


According to Bashyam, some Indians on H-1B visas were cancelling plans to return home to visit their families in case they had problems getting back into the United States.

“With everything that’s going on, traveling outside the U.S. is the biggest fear for a lot of the H-1B workers working in the IT staffing industry,” he said.

And the uncertainty is not limited to IT.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric around tighter visa rules has led some Indian students considering studying abroad to look beyond the United States, which typically draws in over 100,000 Indian students annually.

One Canadian official said the number of student visa applications for certain courses in Canada had spiked over 250 percent since Trump’s election win in November.

Akshay Baliga, a management consultant with a H-1B visa that is valid until 2018, said he was not considering returning to the United States for work any time soon.

“As a professional I’m looking eastward,” said Baliga, now based in India but who earlier studied and lived for years in America.

(Additional reporting by Sunil Nair in BENGALURU and Euan Rocha in MUMBAI; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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