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


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rubio on shutdown: 'It’s possible. But I hope not.'

By Louis Nelson
November 29, 2017
Rubio on shutdown: 'It’s possible. But I hope not.'

Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that a Christmastime government shutdown next month is “possible,” but nonetheless suggested that a hard deadline for a funding bill might motivate the bipartisan deal needed to keep the government open.

Asked if he sees a shutdown coming, Rubio (R-Fla.) told POLITICO Playbook authors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, “I hope not.”

“There’s a lot of posturing in this town. We’ve all — I mean, I haven’t been here that long, but I’ve been here long enough to see multiple times where it looks impossible until it has to happen and everybody realizes it’s the end of the year and they get it done,” he said. “That’s not a guarantee. We’re living in unusual times. But that’s my sense of it, is — I’m not sure anyone benefits from it, but it’s possible. But I hope not. No one wins in that, and it’s certainly disruptive with everything else that’s going on.”

Congress is fast approaching a December deadline to pass legislation to keep the government funded, a bill that will require Democratic support.

Some Democrats have indicated that they will not support a government-funding bill without legislation to address the legal status of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The White House has, in turn, indicated that any bill that offers support to Dreamers must also include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a red line for many Democrats.

Rubio, too, predicted that any long-term immigration deal would have to come with significant concessions from Democrats on border security, potentially including Trump’s wall. The Florida senator, who has played a key role in past immigration proposals, said he believes and hopes there is an immigration deal to be struck.

One option for an immigration deal, Rubio said, is a temporary continuation, “done in a constitutional way,” of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A more permanent solution that includes changes to the immigration status of Dreamers will have to be packaged with permanent border security measures, he said.

“I hope we will want to get something done because these are real people who are now working, some have started businesses, many are in school or about to enter school and this sort of uncertainty isn’t good for them, their families, their employer, or quite frankly, their country,” Rubio said. “A significant percentage of those young people that we would categorize as Dreamers actually fit the profile of the kind of person we want to attract under a merit-based immigration system: Highly educated, employable, ready to go to work.”

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

House Republicans’ Shift on Spending Bill Could Push Dreamer Debate Into Next Year

Wall Street Journal
By Kristina Peterson
November 29, 2017

House GOP leaders are considering trying to pass a short-term spending bill that would keep the government funded into January, lawmakers and aides said Wednesday, potentially pushing debates over immigration and other contentious issues into next year.

The government’s current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 9, and lawmakers previously said they wanted to pass a two-week patch that would expire before Christmas. Lawmakers hoped that would give them enough time to write and approve a more detailed spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The move to extend the short-term patch to January comes as lawmakers haven’t yet hammered out an agreement over the overall spending levels for the longer-term bill, or how much disaster relief should be approved. And Republicans believe they may have more leverage in the negotiations if lawmakers aren’t rushing to get home for the holidays, House GOP aides said Wednesday.

“I‘ve always been in favor of a [continuing resolution] not coming due right before Christmas,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday, referring to a short-term spending bill. “If I had my druthers, I would have it come due in January, rather than December.”

GOP leaders haven’t made any final decision, but are reviewing a range of possible dates in January, aides said. One ramification of keeping the government funded into January might be that it would push into next year a fight over whether to include in the spending bill protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age.

President Donald Trump ended a program protecting the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, in September, but gave Congress until early March to figure out legislation preventing them from being deported.

Some Democrats, as well GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, had said they wouldn’t vote for a year-end spending bill unless it included protections for the Dreamers. Budget talks imploded Tuesday when Mr. Trump said Democrats were trying to cause a government shutdown over immigration and jabbed them over Twitter, causing Democratic leaders to pull out of a White House meeting.

It isn’t clear whether Democrats would vote against a short-term spending bill that pushed the immigration negotiations into January. That is particularly important in the Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats, but most bills require 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles. Even in the House, Republicans often balk at spending bills, forcing GOP leaders to rely on Democratic votes.

Still, lawmakers usually vote for short-term spending bills designed just to avoid a partial government shutdown.

But in this case, extending the government’s funding into January could delay the resolution of a host of issues beyond immigration, complicating December and frustrating many factions.

Lawmakers had eyed some health-care provisions for a year-end bill. Congress must also renew a surveillance law that authorizes a wide array of electronic spying on foreign targets by the end of December, or risk letting key programs lapse. Committee leaders have said they expect the renewal measure to be attached to some sort of spending legislation.

Meanwhile, defense hawks said they don’t want to pass another short-term spending patch, which just extends the current funding.

Top military officials have repeatedly urged Congress to write fresh spending bills that can allocate money to the latest needs.

“The secretary of defense has said it’s devastating to our military to do continuing resolutions,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R., Ohio.).

And lawmakers on the appropriations panels, which write the spending bills, are incensed when Congress ignores their carefully crafted legislation to just pass short-term patches.

“Whenever you do a CR, you’re punting,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R., Fla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s just one more reason why this place doesn’t function the way that it should.”

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

White House Does Not Expect U.S. Government Shutdown

November 29, 2017

The White House said on Wednesday that it does not expect the government to shut down next month, but has contingency plans in place if the U.S. Congress fails to reach a deal on funding the government by a Dec. 8 deadline.

“We are not anticipating a shutdown. We think that we’ll be able to work together. But the developments of the last 24 hours are discouraging,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters traveling with Trump.

Republicans control both chambers of the U.S. Congress, but their leaders will likely need to rely on at least some Democratic votes to pass the funding measure.

“There are always contingencies in place. We hope it doesn’t get to that,” Shah said.

Democratic leaders in Congress skipped a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday that was expected to have been focused on the budget, raising the risk of a government shutdown next month with both sides far apart on the terms of an agreement.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, pulled out of the White House meeting because of a tweet that Trump sent earlier in the day attacking them as weak on illegal immigration and bent on raising taxes.

Democrats have said they will demand help for young people brought to the United States illegally as children as part of their price for providing votes on the budget measure.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How tech is winning the Trump era

By Steven Overly and Nancy Scola
November 28, 2017

The conventional wisdom about the tech industry’s relationship with Donald Trump is that it’s a street brawl, with Silicon Valley’s liberal CEOs clashing with the president on everything from immigration to climate change to transgender rights.

But the reality is that Silicon Valley is getting much of what it wants.

Trump and congressional Republicans are speeding ahead with a tax overhaul that would bring huge benefits for wealthy tech giants and their executives. A White House office headed by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is opening the door to companies like Amazon and IBM gaining a greater share of the federal government’s multibillion-dollar information technology budget.

And the administration’s proposed NAFTA rewrite, criticisms of China’s tech policies and efforts to champion computer science education could also bolster the industry’s bottom line — as has the surging stock market that the president touts at every opportunity.

These successes have flown under the radar amid the furor over social media’s role in enabling Russia to meddle in the 2016 election, a public relations nightmare for an industry that has long viewed itself as a force for good and grown accustomed to deferential treatment in Washington. But behind the scenes, tech companies and their formidable lobbying operations have forged alliances at the White House and in Congress that benefit Silicon Valley — and its continued ability to generate sky-high profits.

Meanwhile, Congress has shown no real appetite for the harsher repercussions that some people have floated for the industry, such as breakups of tech giants or strict regulations on online political ads.

“There are more wins for tech than many would have expected and more than reading the papers generally would suggest,” said Ted Ullyot, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz who formerly served as general counsel of Facebook and as a White House official under President George W. Bush.

Without question, Washington would have been a more predictable, and perhaps more comfortable, environment for tech companies had Hillary Clinton won last year’s election. But amid the volatility of the Trump era, the industry has embraced the opportunity to shape the administration’s thinking and playbook. In doing so, tech is showing signs of becoming a mature industry in the vein of oil or pharmaceuticals, using its influence to mold policy even as it takes hits in the public arena.

One prime example of where Silicon Valley, Trump and Republicans in Congress have found common ground is on overhauling the U.S. tax code.

Tech companies have marshaled hundreds of lobbyists to press their tax priorities and say they’re pleased with the direction of GOP tax reform effort, particularly a provision that would let them bring their huge stashes of overseas money back to the U.S. at a reduced tax rate. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Cisco are among the firms with billions of dollars parked in foreign banks. Apple alone counts more than $250 billion in cash and securities abroad as of Sept. 30.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a recent television interview, sought to create a sense of urgency around corporate tax cuts: “In my view, it should have been fixed years ago,” he said. “But let’s get it done now.”

The industry still has some quibbles with the tax reform effort, including a provision in the House bill that would impose an excise tax on products imported by multinational companies. But tech firms say overall they’re thrilled with the degree to which they’re being heard. The Senate recently dropped a proposed change to taxing stock options that many tech executives warned would make it hard to attract talent.

“If tech were to get a win on tax reform this year, if it were done right and signed into law, that would probably make it a good year,” said Andy Halataei, senior vice president of government affairs for the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle.

Meanwhile, the White House has made a priority of modernizing the U.S. government’s creaky IT systems, an initiative that could bring increased spending on services like cloud computing offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft. And Trump’s executive orders on funding computer science education, expanding apprenticeship programs and accelerating drone testing all serve tech’s business interests.

Such policy wins contrast with Silicon Valley’s string of public confrontations with Trump. The industry’s leading executives have condemned the president’s efforts to bar people from some majority-Muslim countries from traveling to the U.S., withdraw from the Paris climate change accord and ban transgender people from serving in the military, to name just a few.

“Our employees are looking for people to lead,” eBay CEO Devin Wenig told an Internet Association conference in San Francisco earlier this month. “When outrageous statements are made publicly or things that seem to undermine core values, they’re looking for somebody to stand up and say that’s not OK.”

But Wenig distinguished between issues that touch the industry’s business interests, such trade deals, and those that may have an indirect impact, such as LGBT rights. He said CEOs can agree with the administration on the former and still disagree on the latter — a form of compartmentalization that has become the industry’s modus operandi since the 2016 election.

Trump hasn’t made it an easy balancing act. Tech executives like Travis Kalanick of Uber, Elon Musk of Tesla and Ginni Rometty of IBM joined Trump’s CEO advisory councils, but they each wound up withdrawing as controversies piled up and their cooperation with the president drew criticism from customers and employees. Kalanick pulled out in February after the ban on Muslim travelers, Musk did the same in June following the Paris climate decision, and Rometty departed in August along with other CEOs after Trump’s remarks about racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va.

In practice, that meant that Silicon Valley was no longer enthused about taking part in public White House roundtables, like one in June with Apple’s Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. But the discussions with the administration continued — out of the public glare.

“What we moved away from was the political nature of public involvement, kind of ‘photo opportunity’ council meetings, because those became too politicized and no longer could be a frank exchange of ideas,” Reed Cordish, the president’s assistant for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, said at the Internet Association conference.

“What’s been clear over the last 11 months is that when we are focused on policies that the tech community feels [are] right, feels brings the country forward, feels helps them add jobs and innovate, they’re right there to support them,” he continued.

The industry says it’s encouraged by how seriously the Trump administration is working to change how the government buys technology. Key to that effort is the White House Office of American Innovation, headed by Kushner, which released a plan in August to shift federal agencies to more modern technologies.

The U.S. spends about $82 billion on IT products and services per year, but much of that goes to traditional D.C.-based contractors, and Silicon Valley has complained it’s too complicated and frustrating to sell its cutting-edge products to the feds. If the government does reform how federal agencies buy technology, it could benefit companies like Oracle, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft that sell everything from networking equipment to productivity software to cloud computing services.

The industry also gives high marks to a bipartisan bill, championed by the White House and making its way to the president’s desk, that would give chief information officers of federal agencies a new fund they can use to pay for upgrading their legacy technology systems.

Silicon Valley has scored as well with the White House campaign to promote computer science and coding. While interest in the STEM fields — science, technology, education and math — has grown in Washington in recent years, the tech industry has cheered the Trump administration for throwing its weight behind the “T.” In September, Trump issued an executive order directing the Education Department to award at least $200 million a year in STEM grants, “including computer science in particular.”

“A tech CEO ultimately has to be pretty practical on these things,” said Nick Sinai, a partner at Insight Venture Partners in Boston who served as President Barack Obama’s deputy chief technology officer. “They have to live their values, but most of them also believe it makes sense to engage the federal government to some degree.”

But Sinai said the Trump administration so far has a “pretty lousy record on a number of these longer-term but really fundamental issues,” such as research funding and immigration, that will be key to the tech industry’s future success.

Immigration has been a particular sticking point — but even there, friction is just part of the story.

Tech firms have been at the forefront of the fight against Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the International Entrepreneur Rule, which grants temporary stays to immigrants with promising business ideas. But on the issue of H-1B visas — which arguably has a more direct impact on the industry — Trump has pushed for reforms that may ultimately benefit the biggest tech firms, by restricting the visas to workers with in-demand skills that command high pay.

Even when Congress takes a stab at regulating the tech industry, Silicon Valley has so far managed to blunt some of the impact. A bipartisan bill to require new disclosures for online political ads — including who paid for them — has languished since its introduction, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he’s “skeptical” of such proposals. The tech industry also managed to negotiate some key concessions in the Senate version of an anti-sex trafficking bill that Silicon Valley companies have warned could spark a wave of litigation.

On trade, the Trump administration’s priorities in the NAFTA renegotiation got a tech-friendly update earlier this month. The U.S. is seeking guarantees that Canada and Mexico won’t require tech companies to turn over sensitive algorithms or impose rules that make them vulnerable to lawsuits over content posted by users.

Similarly, the industry largely applauds steps the administration has taken to investigate China over its actions on the American tech industry, including requiring the companies to hand over trade secrets in return for being allowed to operate in the Chinese market.

For the tech industry, some of the president’s most offensive moves — such as the travel ban and the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord — are hung up in court or years away from taking effect. The more immediate effect of the Trump era has been a stock market boost. Since Trump’s election as president, what investors call the FANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — have increased an average of nearly 60 percent, resulting in a market capitalization increase of more than $600 billion for the four companies, according to investment research firm Morningstar Direct.

“Soon after the election and at the beginning of the administration, it was unknown how much the White House would engage with the tech sector,” said TechNet CEO Linda Moore, whose group represents companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. But, she said, it quickly became clear the industry had an opening: “With a relatively new team in the White House and in the agencies, that opportunity was there and we seized it.”

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

Trump, honoring Navajos, revives ‘Pocahontas’ jab at Warren

Associated Press
By Laurie Kellman and Catherine Lucey
November 27, 2017

President Donald Trump returned to his own kind of code talking Monday by deriding Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” at a White House event honoring Native American war heroes.

“You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said as he honored three Navajo code talkers from World War II. And then he added, without naming Warren: “We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you.”

In fact, Trump deployed that nickname for the Massachusetts senator repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign and, as president, as recently as a Nov. 3 tweet. Native American leaders have called Trump’s past attacks on Warren offensive and distasteful. Some Democrats have called the nickname racist.

Trump made the comment as he stood near a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, which he hung in the Oval Office in January. Trump admires the seventh president’s populism. But Jackson also is known for signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, in which the Cherokee Nation was removed from its lands in what is now known as the “trail of tears.”

The Navajo Nation suggested Trump’s remark Monday was an example of “cultural insensitivity” and resolved to stay out of the “ongoing feud between the senator and President Trump.”

“All tribal nations still battle insensitive references to our people. The prejudice that Native American people face is an unfortunate historical legacy,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement. He added that the Navajo Nation remains honored by the White House recognition of the code talkers.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about criticism of Trump’s remarks, said a racial slur “was certainly not the president’s intent.”

But the remark is the latest in a long list of remarks Trump has made about people from specific ethnic and racial groups. Announcing his longshot campaign for president in 2015, Trump said many Mexican immigrants are rapists. He’s sought to ban immigrants from certain Muslim majority nations. He’s come under fire for what some said was a too-slow federal response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. Trump also raised eyebrows for apparently having some fun in October with the name of the U.S. territory — “Puerrrto Rico,” he said — at an East Room event for Puerto Ricans.

Those in the Oval Office for Monday’s event gave no visible reaction to Trump’s “Pocahontas” comments. But Warren and other Democrats were quick to respond.

“This was supposed to be an event to honor heroes, people who put it all on the line for our country, who, because of their incredible work, saved the lives of countless Americans and our allies,” Warren said in an interview on MSNBC. “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”

New Mexico Sen. Sen. Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Indian Affairs committee, added: “Donald Trump’s latest racist joke — during Native American Heritage Month no less — demeaned the contributions that the code talkers and countless other Native American patriots and citizens have made to our great country.”

The president has long feuded with Warren, an outspoken Wall Street critic who leveled blistering attacks on Trump during the campaign. Trump seized on questions about Warren’s heritage, which surfaced during her 2012 Senate race challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

During that campaign, law school directories from the Association of American Law Schools from 1986 to 1995 surfaced that put Warren on the association’s list of “minority law teachers” when she was teaching at the University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania. Warren said she listed herself with Native American heritage because she hoped to meet people with similar roots.

In a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, Warren said she and her brothers were told of the family’s heritage by their parents, the late Don and Pauline Herring.

Brown pressed Warren to release more information about how she described her heritage to potential employers. Warren said she never sought proof of ancestry because she didn’t think it was necessary.

Sanders said Monday that Warren was the offensive one when “she lied about something specifically to advance her career.”

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

Call this hotline if ICE is at your door

By Judy Silber
November 27, 2017

The San Francisco Rapid Response Network hotline, (415) 200-1548, supports people faced with imminent deportation or immigration issues, and is part of a wave of regional support for immigrants living in the Bay Area.

You can get a full list of rapid-response hotlines for the greater Bay Area and adjacent regions at the end of this article. This story originally aired in March of 2017, and has been updated online.

All over the Bay Area, faith groups are stepping up to oppose the Trump administration’s executive orders that could clear the way for massive deportations.

Some are joining a growing network of sanctuary churches where those at risk of deportation could stay indefinitely. Others are offering support like food or references to legal aid.

In San Francisco, the Catholic Archdiocese is also pushing hard to address the needs. Two parishes say they will offer sanctuary. Every week “Know Your Rights” meetings are hosted on church grounds. In addition, there’s another effort afoot: a hotline for people to call should immigration officers show up in their neighborhoods, home or work. The hotline is a collaboration between nonprofits and the San Francisco Archdiocese. It’s funded by the city of San Francisco.

A Bright Idea

The Archdiocese got involved when an idea came to Violeta Roman on her way to a Sacramento meeting of immigration advocates. It was November, and Donald Trump had just been elected. Roman is a San Francisco resident. She’s originally from Mexico. She’s also an organizer. She was sitting in the car, thinking about the very real threat of deportation when she suddenly blurted out, “What if there were an emergency hotline?”

She was thinking of something like 911, that you could use if ICE, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arm of Homeland Security, showed up at your door.

“A number,” she says in Spanish. “Where in this moment when immigration is at my house,” you could ask, “What can I do?”

Lorena Melgarejo works for the San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese, coordinating help for the immigrant community. She was Roman’s companion in the car that day.

“We laughed,” Melgarejo says. “And then we were like, ‘Huh, how do you make that happen?’”

Violeta Roman’s vision for a hotline was guided by personal experience. Two and a half years ago, at five in the morning, ICE agents came to her house for her father, who was undocumented. Roman was at work.

“My daughter said they were knocking really hard on the door and said they were police. They never said that they were immigration,” Roman says.

Frightened, her daughter opened the door. The officers handcuffed and took away Roman’s father.

“And when this happened to my father, the first place I ran was my church,” Roman says.

Her priest introduced her to Melgarejo, who helped find a lawyer. Church members went to court with her father. They listened to her. Her father eventually gave up fighting his case and returned to Mexico. Even so, Roman feels lucky. She knows not everyone has access to that kind of help — which is where the hotline idea came in.

It turns out Melgarejo, who was there in the car, was just the person who could help make a hotline happen. She’s well-connected to other immigrant advocates. In addition to her job at the Archdiocese, she works for nonprofit Faith in Action as a community organizer.

“This reality of regular, everyday people being targeted by immigration is not something that just started after the elections,” she says.

Still, she says it’s a different era. After Trump’s election and executive orders, the threat is higher in San Francisco. A collaboration of nonprofits called the Immigration Legal and Education Network had already begun putting together a hotline. It connected undocumented people who had been arrested by ICE with legal help. Roman and Melgarejo decided to team up with them. The nonprofits had lawyers and city government funds to pay for the hotline. The Archdiocese and its partners could help spread the word. They also began recruiting volunteers who would provide support for families, and witnesses who would physically be there as ICE made its arrests.

“We don’t even know what it’s going to take to stop deportations under this new administration,” Melgarejo says. “But if we don’t know about the deportations in real time, they’re going to be disappeared.”

Melgarejo says she knows this fear from the inside. Her own family lived for years in the U.S. without papers. They came from Paraguay on a temporary visa in 1993.

“Just like when many of us came to this country, we came running away from these repressive governments that would knock at the door and take your dad and disappear him in the middle of the night,” Melgarejo says. “This is the same thing.”

Volunteer Training

On a rainy weekday evening, about 60 people are gathered in the vast cathedral of Saint Agnes Church in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood. They’re here for a volunteer training. Some are church members, others not, but all are inspired to help a community that’s become more vulnerable under the Trump administration. From a podium, Melgarejo asks how many people know someone who was deported in the past eight years. In San Francisco, Homeland Security reported more than 31,000 enforcement and removal operations in 2011. Only a few hands go up.

“In a city that has a huge amount of immigrants, we don’t know one another, we don’t hold one another,” Melgarejo says to the crowd. “This city is too small for us not to know what’s happening to our neighbor.”

This is the moment to forge community connections, she says. Then she tells them about the hotline and how the volunteer part will work. After someone calls, volunteers will go to where that person is — their home or place of work. First, they’ll verify that it’s not a false alarm. If they arrive after an arrest, they’ll connect with the detainee’s family. If ICE is still there, they’ll turn into observers and videotape. They won’t interfere with what’s happening, but the videotapes can be used as evidence in immigration court, if necessary.

“I think initially it feels scary,” says Monica Floyd, who is here to volunteer. ”But I think really it’s just about being there and observing.”

Floyd says she grew up in Oakland, where some of her friends’ parents lacked papers. “And so I’ve had a few friends whose parents have been detained and one friend, their father was deported.”

At the time, she says she didn’t understand the full impact.

“My response was, ‘Oh, that’s awful,’ but I didn’t understand how long-term it was,” Floyd says. “So just learning about it is important, but also figuring out how to be part of the solution is also now far more important to me.”

Being part of a solution is also the intent of Saint Agnes, the church where tonight’s training takes place. Its congregation has few, if any undocumented members. Even so, it has decided to stand up to mass deportations. This is its second volunteer training — the first attracted more than 350 people. It’s also declared itself a sanctuary church, willing to shelter people with final deportation orders.

The Church’s Role

Natalie Terry, director of Saint Agnes’ Spiritual Life Center, is heading up the effort. She says she thinks the Catholic Church hasn’t always done the right thing.

“Because the church hasn’t done historically a good job at responding to the cries of people on the margin,” Terry says. “It hasn’t done a good job with recognizing women’s equality or women’s roles in leadership. It hasn’t done a good job at upholding the dignity of the LGBTQ community. And many, many other communities.”

She says Christian teachings are guiding her church’s actions now to help the undocumented community.

“We look to Jesus to understand who we should be in the world,” Terry says. “And when we look to the Gospel stories, to the stories of Jesus’ birth, of his life, of his suffering, of his death, it’s very clear that Jesus was a friend to all. Open to all people. And this is really important for us to remember right now.”

Members of the Catholic Church played a big role in bringing attention to the brutal Central American civil wars of the 1980s, and the U.S. role in them. But the Church was far from united in its criticism of government policies. Not all priests supported the civil disobedience at the heart of the sanctuary movement, which sheltered refugees without papers on the safety of church grounds.

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops released a strong statement against policies that target undocumented immigrants at the end of February. But individual bishops are divided on how much action to take. In San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is taking a proactive stance. That includes supporting churches that want to be sanctuary spaces, and those providing other types of support, like the hotline idea.

Know Your Rights

Sunday Mass is ending at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, high on a hill in San Francisco’s Western Addition. But today, many of the Latino congregants will not go home. Instead they’re heading downstairs for a workshop to learn about their constitutional rights.

More than 200 people have crowded into the space, which is standing-room-only in the back. The church’s priest, Father Arturo Albano, begins to speak.

“Good afternoon,” he says in Spanish. The audience laughs and claps when he says that he is of Filipino blood, but with a Latino heart. They laugh again when he says that his dog, whom he holds by a leash in his hand, is from Juarez, Mexico and is undocumented.

“President Trump wants to arrest him,” he says.

Attorney Mark Silverman takes the pulse of the audience. He’s with the nonprofit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, one of the groups that is providing legal support to the San Francisco hotline. He asks people to raise their hands if they have no fear about immigration.

Only a few hands go up. He asks if anyone feels panic. Far more people raise their hands. Then he says something reassuring. He tells the group that for the majority of undocumented people, the risk of being deported is small.

They still need to be informed, he says, and they need to know their rights, such as the right to stay silent if asked for papers, or where they were born. He also says that if detained, they should fight in court. They may not win the case, but it will buy time and by then, there could be a new administration.

During the presentations, an older man in the front row stands up.

He asks in Spanish if there is someone connected to the Mexican consulate who can speak for him, if he is detained.

Lorena Melgarejo points to a poster that advertises the hotline for the San Francisco Rapid Response Network.

If ICE comes, you can call this number and there will be help, she says. The older man’s name is Francisco, he didn’t want us to use his last name because of fears about his immigration status. He’s originally from Mexico, but has lived in the United States for 17 years. He says he arrived to the meeting worried, but feels a lot better now.

“I feel happy knowing I can get help through people at the church,” he says in Spanish. “Frankly, what we feel is terror.”

But after the meeting, he says he feels different. In a place like this, he’s among friends.

That’s also what Violeta Roman felt when she received support after her father was detained. Now her dream of the hotline promises to help others feel less alone. Lorena Melgarejo says it’s appropriate and important for the church to take an active role. In her mind, this is a spiritual crisis.

“For me, speaking as a person of faith, I’m talking about something that seems immoral,” Melgarejo says. “The Catholic Church, the way the bishops have spoken about it, there is a need, a crisis — we need fix the broken immigration system.”

San Francisco is the first county in the Bay Area to organize a hotline like this, but Melgarejo says it won’t be the last. Already Alameda has launched a similar program. And she’s working to help San Mateo, Marin and San Jose do the same.

Rapid Response Hotlines Around the Bay Area San Francisco: 415-200-1548 Alameda (ACILEP): 510-241-4011 Santa Clara County: 408-290-1144 Sacramento County: 916-245-6773 San Mateo: 203-666-4472 Fresno County: 559-206-0151 Marin County: 415-991-4545 Sonoma & Napa 707-800-4544 Santa Cruz County and Watsonville area: 831-239-4289 SIREN-Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network Texting Platform for North and Central CACommunity: 201-468-6088Allies: 918-609-4480 San Francisco Immigrant Legal Education Network sfilen.org

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error about the legal status of Violeta Roman. She is legally here on a visa.

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