About Me

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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

For Many American Families, Abolishing Birthright Citizenship Is ‘Unthinkable’

By Caitlin Dickerson and Miriam Jordan

Cipriano and Josefa moved to the United States in the early 1990s from Guerrero, Mexico, and settled in North Carolina. They got jobs on chicken farms, hoping to secure a chance at the American dream for their growing family.

For three of their children, who were born in the United States, it worked: As American citizens, they have been allowed to drive, attend college at in-state rates, work, and rent apartments legally. One of them served three years in the Marines. They vote in American elections.

But a fourth child, a daughter who was only a year old when the family moved illegally to the United States, had a different experience. Though she is the oldest of her siblings, she was the last to move out of her parents’ home. She waited longer to get a driver’s license and her own place to live. And despite her academic success, she attended community college because she could not afford to pay out-of-state fees at a four-year university.

“It was painful to see her suffer just because she wasn’t born here,” Cipriano, who agreed to be identified only by his first name because of his family’s immigration status, said of his oldest daughter. “Ever since she was a little girl, she was good. She got good grades, followed the rules, met her goals. She always tried to help people. It hurts your heart to see her frustrated.”

The family was split by one of the oldest tenets of American democracy, which automatically grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States, even those whose parents are undocumented. President Trump said he was exploring a plan to abolish birthright citizenship to children born of undocumented parents, a move that could have consequences for a wide variety of families from around the world.

The United States is one of at least 30 countries that automatically grants citizenship to anyone born within its borders. The beneficiaries range from the children of entrepreneurs and academics working in the United States to so-called birth tourists, who travel to the United States while pregnant, often from China, Turkey or the Middle East, in order to give birth to children who will be American citizens.

The latest policy proposal appears to be aimed chiefly at families from Mexico and Central America, who make up three quarters of the undocumented population in the United States and who continue to arrive at the southwest border in substantial numbers.

Upon turning 21, the American children of undocumented immigrants are allowed to sponsor their parents for legal permanent residence, adding to concerns among advocates of stronger immigration laws that newcomers are using “anchor babies” to get public benefits and a foothold toward legal residence.

Many parents who have gained permanent legal residence through their children say they earned it by working and paying taxes, and by maintaining a clean criminal record, one of many legal requirements.

“We came looking for better opportunities for our three children. We knew this country would be very generous if we worked hard,” said Jacqeline Osorno Torres, who was sponsored for a green card, along with her husband, by their daughter, Jackie Aranda, a 30-year-old lawyer in Los Angeles.

“Before that status was possible, we worked hard and did what we could to make sure our kids had access to the best education possible so that they would have a better life,” Ms. Osorno Torres said.

Undocumented immigrants have given birth to about four million children who are United States citizens, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research outlet. The Pew Research Center found that the parents of nine in 10 of those children came to the United States at least two years before giving birth, suggesting that many chose to move here in search of work, rather than simply to give birth to American babies.

“People don’t come here to have a baby,” said Michael Fix, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. “People tend to come here, all the studies indicate, for a better life and economic progress. Babies are more or less a byproduct.”

That may be true, but children born in the United States benefit greatly in comparison to children brought into the country as immigrants.

Mario Pimentel of the Philippines got a green card through his sister, Grace, who had married an American man. Mr. Pimentel arrived in California in 1987 and got a job as a shipping clerk. He later married a woman he met as a pen pal from the Philippines and brought her to the United States by sponsoring her for legal residency. The couple had two children in Oakland: Daisa, 22, and Daryll, 30, who are university graduates.

The idea of abolishing birthright citizenship is “unthinkable,” Daisa Pimentel said, adding that she felt that it would go against the country’s founding ideals.

Ms. Pimentel works at the student affairs office at the University of California, Berkeley, where she said she interacts on a daily basis with other American-born children of immigrants of varying backgrounds who have all achieved substantial academic success. She said she was paying for her education through a combination of grants, loans and part-time work — much like any America student coming from a low-income family.

Isaac Naranjo, 19, a sophomore at Berkeley, said his mother was a teenager when her parents brought her to the United States from Ecuador in the early 1990s. The family overstayed their visas and remained in the country.

Mr. Naranjo, born in Miami, will never forget the day that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided their home when he was five years old. His mother was allowed to stay in the country after a protracted court battle and now has citizenship. But he was never threatened.

“I was fortunate enough to have the 14th Amendment to protect me. As a result, I was able to go to high school without a fear of ever being deported and am now studying at Berkeley,” said Mr. Naranjo, who is studying political science and history.

Many of the beneficiaries of birthright citizenship have served in public office or done other work on behalf of the country.

At least 53 members of Congress were born in the country to immigrant parents, according to Pew. Among them is Representative Mia Love of Utah, the first black female Republican in Congress and the daughter of Haitian immigrants who now have United States citizenship.

Ms. Love defended birthright citizenship on Tuesday. “I have always opposed presidential attempts to change immigration law unilaterally,” she said in a statement, adding, “The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power to ‘establish a uniform rule of naturalization’ and the 14th Amendment makes the conditions of citizenship clear: Individuals born in this country are citizens.”

Sonia Figueroa-Lee, 38, is the daughter of a South Korean immigrant who at the time she gave birth was in the country illegally after overstaying a visa. A United States citizen, Ms. Figueroa-Lee enlisted in the National Guard after the Sept. 11 attacks and served in military intelligence.

“When 9/11 happened, I felt like I had to give back to my country,” said Ms. Figueroa-Lee, who is now an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles. “Being the child of an immigrant, I was proud to defend my country.”

A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 31, 2018, on Page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Move Would Have Widespread Ramifications for Many American Families. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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

A Look at the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States.

Section 1, which contains the Citizenship Clause, of the 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the U.S.

A look at the 14th Amendment:


“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The second sentence contains two of the most important clauses in the Constitution, the due process and equal protection clauses. They apply to everyone in the U.S., not just citizens:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”



The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 after the Civil War and during the period of Reconstruction. The amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 by three-fourths of the states. By extending citizenship to those born in the U.S., the amendment nullified an 1857 Supreme Court decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford), which had held that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.

Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri to the non-slave territories of Wisconsin and Illinois where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.

Scott argued that because he had lived in a free part of the country, he should be declared free.

The Supreme Court disagreed on March 6, 1857, with Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney writing that slaves were property that could not be taken away from their owners. He reasoned that when the Constitution was framed, educated whites generally regarded “negroes” as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race.”

However, Scott’s owner had died and his widow’s new husband, an abolitionist, emancipated Scott and his family in May 1857. Scott lived the last year of his life as a free man.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Migrant And Refugee Advocates Call On Trump To Tone Down Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric


Hours after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, President Trump denounced the attack.

“The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated,” Trump said on Saturday at a campaign rally in Illinois.

But some are still troubled by what the president has not said about the synagogue killings. Authorities say the alleged shooter was motivated by hatred of Jews. On social media, the shooter also raged against immigrants.

“This wasn’t just an anti-Semitic act. But it was also an act against refugees and against immigrants,” said Mark Hetfield, the CEO of HIAS. The Jewish organization was founded in the 1880s as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and now helps resettle refugees from all over the world in the U.S.

The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was one of many across the country that had participated in a “National Refugee Shabbat” this month that was organized by HIAS.

Hateful words always lead to hateful acts. And that’s exactly what happened here.

Mark Hetfield, HIAS

Just before the attack there, the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, posted on social media accusing HIAS of bringing violent “invaders” into the country.

“The reason he had targeted the Jewish community on this particular day is because he saw Jews as helping refugees come into the country,” Hetfield said. “And President Trump didn’t mention that.”

To Hetfield and other critics of the president, there’s a connection between the Pittsburgh shooting and the administration’s rhetoric about immigrants.

“Hateful words always lead to hateful acts. And that’s exactly what happened here,” Hetfield said. “Words matter. And they especially matter when they come from the president of the United States.”

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In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, advocates for migrants and refugees are calling on Trump to tone down his anti-immigrant rhetoric. But with just over a week to go before the midterm elections, there’s no reason to think that the president will heed those calls.

By the end of his speech at the Illinois rally, Trump was back to familiar talking points about “criminal immigrants,” vowing to stop the migrants slowly making their way across Mexico to the Southwest border.

“They have to come in legally. Like all of the millions of people that are waiting on line right now. They’ve can’t break into our borders. They’re not going to,” Trump said.

Monday, the Department of Defense announced that the president is sending thousands of troops to the Southwest border. And the White House is mulling over an executive order that would close the border to migrants.

The president’s supporters dismiss any connection between his rhetoric on immigration and the motivations of the Pittsburgh attacker.

“Trying to understand this kind of behavior is impossible,” said Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors lower levels of immigration.

“It seems very cynical for people to try to take the activity of a deranged person, and turn around and try to alter and shape our national political debate on frankly one of the most important issues of our time,” said Stein.

But immigrant-rights advocates say that debate has been swamped by disinformation and fearmongering. The alleged synagogue shooter, for example, shared conspiracy theories on social media about Jews supporting the migrant caravan.

“There seems to be real fear out there of the ‘other,’ ” said Hetfield. “And rather than addressing this fear and confronting it, these leaders that we have are stoking those fears.”

Trump himself warned, without evidence, that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” mixed in with the caravan. Reporters for NPR and other media on the ground say the only migrants they have seen are those fleeing from violence in Central America, many of whom do want to come to the U.S. legally — by seeking asylum.

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

Police halt 2nd migrant group trying to enter Mexico

TECUN UMAN, Guatemala — Several hundred migrants tried to cross the Suchiate River from Guatemala to Mexico en masse on Monday, but were met by ranks of Mexican federal police who blocked them from entering.

The standoff on the riverbank follow a more violent confrontation that occurred on the nearby bridge over the river the night before, when migrants tossed rocks and used sticks against Mexico police. One migrant was killed Sunday night by a head wound, but the cause was unclear.

While migrants on the bridge had appeared to be preparing for a second day of confrontations early Monday, instead they tried the route taken by the first caravan 10 days ago after it, too, was blocked: turn to the river below.

The first, larger caravan made it across the river by wading or on rafts, and now is advancing through southern Mexico.

But since that crossing, the Mexican Navy has begun patrolling the Suchiate River and Mexican police have taken up positions on the riverbank, insisting migrants register before entering and show travel documents that many do not have.

A Mexican helicopter hovered above a mass of several hundred migrants who had waded across the chest-high river Monday, apparently using the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them.

Earlier Monday, about 600 migrants had gathered on the bridge, where Mexican federal police had blocked one end. The migrants had gasoline bombs made of soft-drink bottles, and improvised PVC tubes to launch fireworks or other projectiles.

On Sunday, the migrants broke through border barriers on the Guatemalan side of the bridge, only to confront Mexican police, who blocked them from entering Mexico.

Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said the second group had wounded Guatemalan police and used children as human shields, and Guatemalan firefighters confirmed that a 26-year-old Honduran had been killed from a blow to the head.

While migrants claimed he was hit by a rubber bullet, Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida denied that his country’s forces had firearms or anything that could fire rubber bullets.

Navarrete Prida said Mexican federal police and immigration agents were attacked with rocks, glass bottles and fireworks when migrants broke through a gate on the Mexican side of the border, but were prevented from entering. Navarrete said some of the attackers carried guns and firebombs. There was no evidence that the first caravan had come with weapons.

“The Mexican government rejects the acts of violence on the border with Guatemala, and reiterates that the only way to enter Mexico is to obey immigration laws,” he said.

Meanwhile, some of the migrants in the initial caravan, now estimated at 4,000 people, began walking, and increasingly riding, from Tapanatepec, to Santiago Niltepec, 54 kilometers (33 miles) to the northwest.

While catching rides from passing trucks had been a largely impromptu habit in the first week of the caravan, it has now become more organized. On Monday, more than 100 migrants lined up at a gas station parking lot to wait for rides.

Mayor Ramiro Nolasco of the town of Zanatepec said local people had organized a bus and several trucks to carry migrants, mainly women and children. “We are helping our brothers from other countries with food, water, and transportation,” Nolasco said. “It is going to be very little, compared to what they need.”

The caravan still must travel roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) to reach the nearest U.S. border crossing at McAllen, Texas. The trip could be twice as long if the migrants head for the Tijuana-San Diego frontier, as another caravan did earlier this year. Only about 200 in that smaller group made it to the border.

Most of the migrants in the caravan appeared determined to reach the U.S., despite an offer of refuge in Mexico.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto launched a program Friday dubbed “You are home,” which promises shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs to Central Americans who agree to stay in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas or Oaxaca, far from the U.S. border.

Mexico’s interior minister said Sunday that temporary identity numbers had been issued to more than 300 migrants, which would allow them to stay and work in Mexico. The ministry said pregnant women, children and the elderly were among those who had joined the program and were now being attended at shelters.

He said 1,895 had applied for refugee status in Mexico.

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

Trump Wants to End Birthright Citizenship

President Trump said he was preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States, his latest maneuver days before midterm congressional elections to activate his base by clamping down on immigrants and immigration.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump told Axios during an interview that was released in part on Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants was an idea Mr. Trump pitched as a presidential candidate, but it is unclear whether he can do so unilaterally, and doing so would be certain to prompt legal challenges.

At issue is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

But some conservatives have long made the argument that the amendment was meant to apply only to citizens and legal permanent residents, not immigrants who are present in the country without authorization. Mr. Trump told Axios that while he initially believed he needed a constitutional amendment or action by Congress to make the change, the White House Counsel’s Office has advised him he can make the move on his own.

“Now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” Mr. Trump said.

His discussion of the idea comes after the administration announced it was streaming more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern border, part of an election-season rash of executive action Mr. Trump has undertaken as he works to energize his anti-immigrant base.

It also follows action by the Trump administration to try to discourage legal immigrants from using public benefits through a new federal rule that would deny green card status to people who use social safety net services, like food assistance and Medicaid.

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

U.S. Citizen Detained by ICE Is Awarded $55,000 Settlement

By Christine Hauser

For more than three decades, Guadalupe R. Plascencia has been putting down roots in California as a naturalized American. She raised five children, worked in a beauty salon, and welcomed a new generation as her sons and daughters had families of their own.

But last year, according to court documents, Ms. Plascencia was handcuffed, briefly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in San Bernardino County and threatened with deportation.

“Here, you are nobody,” an ICE officer told her, according to the documents. “You are nothing.”

In December 2017, Ms. Plascencia, 60, sued the United States government and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for false arrest and imprisonment, and in September she was awarded $55,000 in a settlement, according to court documents filed in United States District Court in San Bernardino County last week.

The county agreed to pay $35,000 and the federal government agreed to pay $20,000, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Ms. Plascencia in a lawsuit claiming that the detention violated her constitutional rights against unlawful seizure.

The case is the latest to raise the issue of cooperation between law enforcement authorities and ICE. That cooperation sometimes includes enforcing requests known as detainers to hold people who are about to be released so federal authorities can arrest them.

In his first week in office, President Trump signed an executive order threatening to withhold billions of federal dollars from cities and counties that ignored those requests, but state and local authorities have found themselves ensnared in civil liberties lawsuits when they do comply.

“Ms. Plascencia is far from the only U.S. citizen that ICE has wrongfully arrested and detained,” the lawsuit said. It said the agency used incomplete databases to try to confirm naturalization, fingerprints and citizenship before 2008.

Adrienna Wong, the A.C.L.U. attorney who worked on the case, said the ordeal that Ms. Plascencia underwent happens “very frequently.”

“These are ‘on the book’ citizens but ICE’s records of who is a naturalized citizen are incomplete,” she said on Monday.

According to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research center at Syracuse University, ICE requested the detention of 2,965 American citizens from 2004 through April 2018. It is not known how all of the requests turned out.

According to Ms. Wong, the defendants argued that Ms. Plascencia was held based on a detainer that had been issued for someone with a similar name.

Asked about the case, ICE said it would never “knowingly take enforcement action against or detain an individual if there was evidence indicating the person was a U.S. citizen.”

“Should such information come to light, the agency will take immediate action to address the matter,” the department said in an email.

The sheriff’s department did not immediately reply to emails about the case. A lawyer for the federal government declined to comment.

Ms. Plascencia’s ordeal began in March 2017, when she and her daughter went to the Police Department in Ontario, a city about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, to retrieve her registered gun from her car after an accident, the lawsuit says.

After she showed officers her drivers’ license and gun registration, officers told her she had a 10-year old outstanding warrant for disobeying an order to appear in court in an unrelated case.

Ms. Plascencia, who is of Mexican descent, speaks Spanish and became a naturalized citizen on May 28, 1998, was fingerprinted, chained around the waist and spent the night in a detention center.

The next day she was told to sign a document notifying ICE that she was being released from custody. When she asked why a citizen would have to do that, she was told it was a condition for release, the lawsuit said.

She was then placed in another cell. Although its door was ajar, “it was clear to Ms. Plascencia that she was not permitted to walk out of the room,” the lawsuit said. After about 15 minutes, she was told she could go, and as she walked out two ICE officers arrested her at the exit, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said the deputy at the detention center “directed Ms. Plascencia to wait in the cell as a ruse to delay Ms. Plascencia’s departure.” She was handcuffed, placed into an ICE vehicle, and was taken to a field station in San Bernardino.

There, the lawsuit said, Ms. Plascencia asked permission to request that her daughter bring her passport. An agent also made the “you’re nothing” comment around that time, the lawsuit said.

She was released after her daughter brought the passport to the field station.

“This case really highlights how local law enforcement needs to get out of the game of enforcing federal immigration law,” Ms. Wong said. It “goes directly to challenging the ‘arrest first and ask questions later’ that ICE has been operating under.”

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

Immigrants seeking citizenship face growing backlog in applications

LOS ANGELES — More than 700,000 immigrants are waiting on applications to become U.S. citizens, a process that once took about six months but has stretched to more than two years in some places under the Trump administration.

The number of immigrants aspiring to become U.S. citizens surged during 2016, increasing 27 percent from a year earlier as Trump made cracking down on immigration a central theme of his campaign.

At first, the government kept up with the applications, but then the wait grew.

Backlogs are nothing new in the U.S. immigration system. It often takes years to receive asylum or to be deported. But naturalization — the final step to become a citizen, obtain a U.S. passport and receive voting rights — had not been subject to such delays in recent years.

Now the average wait time for applications is more than 10 months. It takes up to 22 months in Atlanta and as long as 26 months in parts of Texas, according to official estimates.

Trump tweeted Thursday that Central American migrants headed north in a caravan should return home and apply for U.S. citizenship if they wish. “Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!” he posted as thousands continued their trek through Mexico.

But immigrants generally must be legal permanent residents of the United States to apply for citizenship, and obtaining a green card can take years — if a person even qualifies for one.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the longer waits to naturalize are because of the surge in applications, not slower processing. The agency decided 850,000 cases in 2017, up 8 percent from a year before.

Despite “a record and unprecedented” spike in applications, the agency is operating more efficiently and effectively and “outperforming itself,” spokesman Michael Bars said in a statement.

To become a U.S. citizen, immigrants must hold green cards for at least three years, demonstrate good moral character and pass English and civics tests.

Citizenship applications typically rise before an increase in filing fees and during presidential election years as immigrants get excited about the prospect of voting and advocacy groups conduct widespread outreach to get more eligible voters to the polls.

Keeping potential citizens from voting could have an effect on the midterm elections, but it could also drive more of their relatives and friends to the polls.

“The naturalization delays have a huge cost in stopping some people” from voting, but they “have a huge impact in motivating others,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy, a bipartisan group in support of immigration.

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

HIAS, the Jewish Agency Criticized by the Shooting Suspect, Has a History of Aiding Refugees

By Miriam Jordan

When Mazen Hasan had to flee his native Iraq because his work for the American military had drawn threats on his life, it was a Jewish refugee resettlement agency called HIAS that helped him and his family to settle in Pittsburgh.

“They did everything they can to help us and make it easy to adjust to a new life here,” said Mr. Hasan, 61, an engineer who arrived in the United States in 2014.

HIAS is one of nine agencies with contracts from the State Department to help refugees acclimate to the United States. It has aided immigrants with diverse talents from all corners of the world, including the co-founders of Google and WhatsApp.

It is also the target of many anti-Semitic rants posted on social media by Robert Bowers, the suspect in the mass shooting on Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — including one post published only a few hours before the shooting. Eleven worshipers were killed in the attack.

The agency’s local affiliate, Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh, met the Hasans at the airport when they arrived, drove them to the apartment that had been arranged for the family and shepherded them through the process of getting Social Security numbers, securing medical care and learning how to get around the city on public transportation.

The refugees who receive those kinds of services from the nine resettlement agencies, including the International Rescue Committee and several faith-based groups like HIAS, have all been through extensive vetting by the federal government and have been given clearance to enter and reside in the country.

Even so, Mr. Bowers’s writings on social media were bitterly hostile to refugees and to the agency that helped them.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he said in a post hours before the attack. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

In another post, he wrote: “You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided.” Alongside it was a link to information on the National Refugee Shabbat Event, celebrated on Oct. 20 at more than 300 Jewish congregations in 33 states.

Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, said the climate of political rancor over immigration gave impetus to the national refugee event. “We felt that at a time when the U.S. is doing less and less for refugees, that we must demonstrate, as a refugee people, that it is more important than ever to continue to welcome refugees as a community,” he said.

At a gathering at Congregation Shir Hamaolot in Irvine, Calif., Jackie Menter, a co-founder of the Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees, shared her experience working with Middle Eastern and African refugees on the Greek island of Chios last year.

She spoke of a Syrian girl who had watched a land mine kill her mother as they were fleeing captivity by the militant group Islamic State, and a man named Mustafa, who returned home to his apartment in the Syrian city of Aleppo to find the entire building bombed out and his wife, children and mother dead.

Citing biblical passages about welcoming the stranger, Ms. Menter urged congregants to get involved with HIAS’s efforts to support refugees and asylum seekers. On Saturday night, after the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, she said, “Evil, hatred and racism will not keep justice and mercy from prevailing.”

The Trump administration has sharply reduced the number of people fleeing violence and persecution who are admitted to the United States as refugees, lowering the annual ceiling from the 110,000 set before Mr. Trump took office to 45,000 in the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, and just 30,000 for fiscal 2019. Delays caused by extra levels of screening ordered by the Trump administration — targeting especially people from 11 countries, 10 of them predominantly Muslim — meant that only 22,491 refugees actually arrived in fiscal 2018.

Since it began in 1881 in a storefront on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS has assisted millions of people displaced by conflict or persecution, often on account of their religious or political beliefs, to rebuild their lives. Its clients have often been Jews — its first mission was to aid those fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe — but the agency has also helped resettle many other kinds of refugees, including thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians after Communist victories in Southeast Asia in the 1970s.

“We used to welcome refugees because they were Jewish,” Mr. Hetfield said. “Today HIAS welcomes refugees because we are Jewish.”

The organization played a role in resettling more than 400,000 Soviet Jews who reached the United States, including the families of Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, who came in 1979 when he was 6, and Jan Koum, a co-founder of WhatsApp, who arrived as a teenager about a decade later.

“I would have never had the kinds of opportunities I’ve had here in the Soviet Union, or even in Russia today,” Mr. Brin, who has donated to HIAS, said in a 2009 interview. “I would like to see anyone be able to achieve their dreams, and that’s what this organization does.”

Rita Sostrin, an immigration attorney in Los Angeles and a former member of HIAS’s board, was once a client. She and her parents, fleeing anti-Semitism, emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1987. They were met in Vienna by HIAS representatives who helped them travel on to Rome, where United States officials processed them for resettlement.

The family arrived in Minneapolis in 1988. The local HIAS affiliate helped them get on their feet. Ms. Sostrin’s parents found work in their professional fields and she enrolled in college.

“Coming to the U.S. is the biggest miracle of my life, and it’s thanks to HIAS,” said Ms. Sostrin, 48, who is married with two children, 11 and 9.

In Pittsburgh, Mr. Hasan’s extended family has grown to 16, including married adults with American-born children, two of whom are his grandchildren.

“We are happy with the life we have here, which the Jewish agency helped us start,” said Mr. Hasan, who is an observant Muslim. “What happened in the synagogue, this is very bad.”

For more information go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Migrants Reach a Crossroads in Mexico, Far From the Raging Debate

By Kirk Semple
October 27, 2018

ARRIAGA, Mexico — The thousands of migrants traveling through southern Mexico toward the United States border poured into the rail town of Arriaga on Friday, filling the town’s main park and the surrounding streets, clustering together in spare shade under a torridly hot sun.

Their arrival came a day after news broke in Washington that President Trump was considering sealing the southwestern border to all migrants. But the revelation barely registered here. The migrants had other things on their minds.

With their arrival in Arriaga, on the 15th day of their journey, they had reached a literal and figurative crossroads.

The town has historically been a place of big decisions for migrants making the northward trek from Central America.

This is near a fork in the road between two northbound migratory routes — one passing through the state of Oaxaca and the other through the state of Veracruz. It also offers a range of travel methods, including La Bestia — The Beast — the infamous freight train that hundreds of thousands of migrants have illegally ridden north.

Acner Adolfo Gutiérrez Rodriguez, 30, a Honduran migrant seeking work in the United States, was sprawled under the low-hanging boughs of a tree, near the railroad tracks that slice through Arriaga.

He said he and his two traveling companions, men he met on the road, were waiting for guidance from the caravan’s de facto leadership, one that has organically emerged among the migrants.

“There are rumors that we are going to be helped with buses,” he said. “Or we will go by train. And if not, on foot.”

The caravan is still at least 2,200 miles by road — and perhaps several weeks — from Tijuana, the likely border destination.

Amid the challenges of the road, the caravan’s migrants have mostly remained oblivious to the noise of American politics; their concerns have been focused on immediate matters of survival.

In Arriaga, some were treated for blisters, dehydration and other ailments at medical tents run by the government and community groups. Several men stripped to their underwear and bathed under a hose connected to a water truck. Most laid down in the shade and tried to nap.

The stop in Arriaga also comes amid a gradual erosion of the caravan. Though still large and robust, the core group has waned in recent days as smaller groups have cleaved off and gone ahead, moving ahead at a faster pace.

Other migrants have fallen behind, slowed by injuries and sickness. Still others have stopped altogether, applying for asylum in Mexico or turning around and heading home.

On Friday, Melvin Josue Gómez, 21, who was killed on Monday when he fell off a truck while traveling with the caravan, was buried in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

“Even though he was young, there weren’t work opportunities for him in this place,” said his father, Melvin Gómez, during the wake. “So, necessity made him leave the country to search for the American dream.”

The caravan’s advocates say attrition is normal.

Furthermore, they say, taken together, the various groups associated with the caravan still number closer to the 7,000 or so at its apparent peak, soon after it crossed into Mexico last week, than to the current count of fewer than 4,000 offered by the Mexican government.

In addition, another smaller caravan is reportedly moving through Guatemala. The Rev. Mauro Verzeletti, director of the Casa Del Migrante shelter in Guatemala City, said a group of about 800 people left the capital on Friday bound for Mexico.

In response, the Mexican government has sent military personnel to the Mexico-Guatemala border to discourage illegal crossings, according to Sergio Seis, an official in charge of immigrants in the border town of Ciudad Hidalgo.

Mr. Seis also said that Mexican immigration officials had detained 350 migrants associated with the second caravan on Friday, suggesting a shift in government strategy. The authorities have generally left the larger caravan alone, though they have encouraged its participants to apply for legal immigration status.

On Friday, President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico announced a plan to offer benefits, including temporary work permits, to Central Americans in the caravan if they applied for refugee status. To qualify, the migrants must be in the southern states of Oaxaca or Chiapas, where most of the caravan is currently located.

Mr. Trump’s repeated criticisms of the caravan since its inception on Oct. 12 in Honduras have not dented the resolve of the group and, indeed, may have hardened it.

They also appeared to have inspired some government officials in Guatemala and Mexico, as well as community groups and ordinary citizens, to double their efforts to help the caravan.

On Thursday, Hector Meneses, the mayor of Pijijiapan, where the caravan stopped for the night, delivered a rousing speech in the town’s central square. He criticized American foreign policy and encouraged the migrants to keep pushing north.

“In Latin America, young people don’t have a future,” he said. “Why would we go looking for it in the United States? Because for many years they took the riches of Latin America.”

He added: “For that, they owe us work.”

The large size of the caravan, though making for slow progress, has provided participants with safety from the thieves and gangs that prey on migrants in Mexico. It has also apparently discouraged the Mexican authorities from trying to detain all of them.

Heriberto Fuentes Rivera, 30, who had traveled with his son from Copán, Honduras, said on Friday that he was hesitant to split from the main group.

“The problem is that if some of us get too far ahead, they’re going to grab us,” he said, speaking of the authorities and the fear of deportation.

But for many, fatigue and illness were proving to be a strong test of will.

On Friday, Evelyn Perdomo Ortiz, 31, a migrant from Puerto Cortez, Honduras, was resting with her mother and her 9-month-old niece in Arriaga’s central square. The infant was running a fever and suffering from bronchitis.

“The children are tired, burned by the sun and sick,” Ms. Perdomo said. “But it’s still worth it to be here.”

She was convinced that Mr. Trump, despite his threats against the group, would eventually open the border to them.

“God will touch the heart of everyone,” she said. “He can turn hearts of stone into ones of flesh.”

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

Friday, October 26, 2018

Pew survey: It’s getting harder to be Latino in America

By Arelis R. Hernández , Abigail Hauslohner and Samantha Schmidt

It is harder to be Latino in America than it was before Donald Trump was elected, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Nearly half of Hispanics say the situation has worsened for people of their ethnicity in the past year — up from about a third just after the 2016 elections. A similar percentage are insecure about their place in the United States with Trump as president, and over 6 in 10 are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country — the highest rate since the 2008 recession.

The survey — of citizens and noncitizens, immigrants, and native-born people — comes in the final days before the midterm elections, as the Trump administration has moved to curb both legal and illegal immigration and is threatening to close the southwest border to stop a caravan of Central American migrants hoping to seek asylum in the United States.

Two-thirds of Hispanics say the government’s actions — which include lowering the bar for deportations, a now-rescinded effort to separate families at the border, scaling back protections for immigrants brought to the United States as children and reversing parts of the Affordable Care Act — have been harmful to Hispanics.

Eyhvy Osorio of Prince George’s County, Md., with her son Andretti. (Osorio family)
They describe an anxiety that is increasingly familiar to Eyhvy Osorio, 41, of Prince George’s County, Md., a legal resident from Guatemala who has grown more worried about her own status and that of her undocumented relatives since Trump took office.

“I don’t even know how to advise them anymore,” said Osorio, recalling a time when a relative needed surgery but was too scared to seek medical attention. “In my mind, I know they should be safe going to a hospital, but I can’t tell them that for certain. These days, anything can happen.”

Though political engagement varies among subgroups, the survey found that Latinos are generally more interested in and focused on the midterm elections than they have been in the past. Latinos historically turn out at lower rates than other groups of voters — with still-lower turnout in nonpresidential years — but the survey found that 52 percent of the nation’s 29 million eligible Hispanic voters say they have thought a lot about the midterms, up sharply from 35 percent in 2014.

Among the 23 percent of Hispanic adults who identify or lean Republican, roughly 6 in 10 approve of Trump’s performance, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 Latino Democrats. U.S.-born Latinos are considerably more confident about their place in this country than their foreign-born counterparts, although about 4 in 10 of those born here also say they have serious concerns now that Trump is president. Nearly 3 in 4 Hispanic women are dissatisfied with the way things are going, compared with half of Hispanic men.

Traditionally, Latinos have reported feeling more optimistic than other demographic groups about life in the United States — and the overwhelming majority of Hispanics continue to see the United States as a place of opportunity. But in the past three years, the share of Hispanics who expect their children to be better off financially than they are declined by 18 points — including drops among both Republicans and Democrats.

Law student Isabel Mendoza was brought to North Carolina from Mexico by her parents two decades ago. Even though they were undocumented, they never discussed going back. Now, however, that option is part of the family contingency plan.

“The fear of deportation has never been so in my face as it is now,” said Mendoza, who is protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration is trying to terminate.

Immigrant arrests and deportations of longtime residents have surged under Trump, heightening fear and mistrust of law enforcement in Latino communities, advocates say. Some 55 percent of Latinos say they worry that a relative or close friend will be deported, up from 47 percent a year ago. The number of Latinos born outside the country who say they would migrate again declined from 79 percent to 70 percent.

Tatiana Torres, 36, migrated to the United States at age 5, fleeing drug violence in Colombia. Now a naturalized citizen working for a D.C. health-care company, Torres said she feels deeply connected to young DACA recipients worried about their future status.

“That could have been me,” said Torres, who lives in Northeast Washington. “That could have been my life.”

Bob Libal, who leads a Texas-based community organization that opposes raids, detentions and deportations, said reports of arrests at courthouses and outside school buildings have left Latinos feeling as though their community is under “huge assault.”

“One of the things that has become clear is that any arrest can lead to a deportation,” Libal said.

The government has made it harder for immigrants to seek asylum, obtain legal residency or apply for visas to enter the country legally, in part by adding new vetting requirements and restricting access to those whom the government believes could become “public charges.”

Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, the deputy vice president of policy and advocacy at UNIDOS US, the country’s largest Latino civil rights group, said the Trump administration has effectively “weaponized” the issue of immigration “to demonize not just the population of immigrants but any population they deem to be immigrant.”

Nearly 4 in 10 Latinos said they had experienced one of five types of discrimination in the past year, according to the Pew survey, such as being told to go back to their countries or being mistreated for things such as speaking Spanish or displaying symbols of Hispanic identity. An equal number said someone had expressed support for them during that period because they are Hispanic.

After Trump was elected, Torres said, her green-card-holding mother started bringing along all her residency papers every time she left the house.

“In the years that we have lived in this country, she has never done that,” Torres said of her mother, who became a citizen in May. “What if my parents are speaking in Spanish at a store and someone gets upset with them and beats them?”

Gerson Quinteros, a DACA recipient from El Salvador who lives in the District, leads protesters from United We Dream at a rally outside the White House in June. (Andre Chung for The Washington Post)
Chris Chu de León, a 25-year-old field manager for the U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), said he and his friends feel a surging sense of empowerment to push back against policies that hurt their communities and, at the same time, the pressure to avoid conflict.

“There is this sense that if I say something wrong or do something wrong, someone could react really violently or in an incredibly hurtful and pernicious way,” said de León, the son of Chinese and Mexican parents. “It’s difficult to be living in a time when we are being validated by some and dismissed by the majority.”

Retired trucker Fred Gonzales said he experienced racism as a child in Ohio, when he was the only Latino in his school. But the 57-year-old San Antonio resident said he was surprised to experience it more recently, when he went inside a restaurant and was refused service.

“I had some choice words for the manager,” Gonzales said. “But I couldn’t believe we were still doing this today, and in — of all places — Texas? It’s full of Mexicans.”

Despite his strong opinions, Gonzales steers clear of politics. He has never voted, and he says he has yet to meet a politician he thinks can accurately represent his experience.

That dissatisfaction was reflected in the Pew survey, with the share of Latino registered voters who say the Democratic Party is more concerned about them declining 11 points since 2015, to 48 percent. Fourteen percent of Latinos said the Republican Party had more concern for them, a small change from 12 percent three years ago. The share who see no difference jumped from 22 percent to 32 percent.

Increased enthusiasm for the midterms among Latinos dissipates among the young, theless educated and those voters who are naturalized citizens born outside the United States.

Yolidia Escalante, 43, of Herndon, Va., said she is torn between her Christian, antiabortion views and her experiences as a Nicaraguan immigrant. “I don’t even know who the candidates are, I have no idea who is the Democratic Party, and who is running for the other party,” she said.

Carmen Sanchez, 53, a Peruvian immigrant who works in banking in Northern Virginia, said she won’t be voting because she lost faith in Democrats after they failed to pass promised immigration reforms.

“I didn’t see changes for our people, for Latinos, under Obama,” she said, adding that her undocumented friends were “waiting for any hope or good news. But there’s no hope for them.”

The Pew survey was conducted July 26 to Sept. 9 among a random national sample of 1,501 adults who identify as Hispanic or Latino, reached on cell and landline phones. Interviews were conducted in Spanish and English; the margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson Discusses What He Thinks Are Solutions To Immigration

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chair of the Homeland Security Committee, about the caravan of migrants from Central America en route to the U.S.-Mexico border.


Eight hundred U.S. troops are headed to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Trump administration is sending them to assist with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this as a caravan of about a thousand migrants tries to make its way to that border. That caravan and how the U.S. should respond have become a central issue in the quickly approaching midterms.


We’re going to dig into this with Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee. And we reached him in Racine, Wis., today.

Senator Johnson, welcome. And good to speak with you.

RON JOHNSON: Hello, Mary Louise. How are you doing?

KELLY: I am all right. Thank you.

But I want to start with the immediate situation on the border, which, as you know, President Trump is calling a national emergency. In your mind, is it?

JOHNSON: Well, it’s certainly troubling that we have created incentives in our immigration system. It’s partly because we literally reward illegal immigration. What we really need to have is a legal immigration system that works and where there are consequences for illegal immigration.

KELLY: And I want to get to some of your ideas for fixing the system writ large. But just to drill down on what exactly is unfolding in Mexico as this so-called caravan makes its way north, Mexican officials say we’re talking 3,000 to 4,000 people, that they are a thousand miles from the U.S. border. So let me press you. Is it a national emergency, as the president says it is?

JOHNSON: Well, I don’t know why he’d call it a national emergency. But again, what is a national emergency is the multi-year flood of individuals coming from Central America, is unaccompanied children and now it’s family units incentivized by laws we have passed, by legal precedent and loopholes that, again, reward people coming into this country illegally because, once they get here, our legal system allows them to stay.

KELLY: In the interest of sorting fact from fiction, a couple of questions – to your knowledge, Senator, are unknown Middle Easterners part of this caravan and marching toward the U.S. border?

JOHNSON: I don’t know about this caravan. But I know when I toured the Northern Triangle countries with then-Southern Command General Kelly, I heard a new term I’d never heard before, SIAs, special interest aliens.

KELLY: When was this?

JOHNSON: And that – that was back in, probably about 2014, 2015. And I’d never heard the term special interest alien. And it really did refer to Middle Easterners – you know, other than Mexican, other than Central American immigrants. And we’ve been tracking that. Now, truthfully, it’s a relatively low number. It’s in the hundreds as opposed to – we’re dealing with tens of thousands of people coming in from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

KELLY: You would not disagree, though, that it’s important to deal with the facts as they are in 2018.


KELLY: So I just…

JOHNSON: I’m definitely a very fact-based individual, absolutely.

KELLY: Of course.

JOHNSON: So again…

KELLY: So yes or no, any evidence of Middle Easterners in this caravan…

JOHNSON: No, I said…

KELLY: …That’s in the headlines today?

JOHNSON: …I do not have any specific evidence in this caravan. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some.

KELLY: Let me fact-check a second claim with you. President Trump has suggested that Democrats are somehow involved with instigating this caravan. Let me play you what he said.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans. A lot of people say, I wonder who started that caravan.

KELLY: That’s President Trump speaking five days ago. Senator, is there evidence to support that Democrats somehow started this caravan?

JOHNSON: Well, they certainly are not helping us change the laws so we can end these incentives. I mean, let’s face it. Some of them, their solution is supporting sanctuary cities, which is another incentive for people to come to this country legally. And a lot of them want to abolish ICE, which would be completely counterproductive.

KELLY: I do want to get to the policy changes that you feel are needed. But let me just, before we move on from this, ask you the direct question that is on some people’s minds, that this so-called caravan is a manufactured controversy drummed up to energize Republican voters before the midterms.

JOHNSON: I have no evidence of that whatsoever. Again, what I’ve read about is this occurred in Honduras. There are people opposed to President Hernandez down there. And in some way, shape or form, that’s how this all got started. But that’s just what I’ve heard – read in news reports.

KELLY: Let me ask you about Congress’ role in trying to fix this. Are you optimistic that something will happen in this next term when Congress wasn’t able to get it done these last two years?

JOHNSON: Well, part of my problem as chairman of Homeland Security, most of these laws aren’t under my committee’s jurisdiction. We’ve got it under my committee’s jurisdiction because Senate Judiciary wasn’t able to move forward. And working with my colleagues, I got their agreement that I could start handling this. So I’m trying to go through this as a businessperson would, a problem-solver – gather the information, find the areas of agreement. In our committee, you know, we all agree we want to secure the border, that we have to have reasonable asylum standards that are maintained, that we want to enforce our laws and that we don’t separate families. So trying to go through a problem-solving process very transparent, very open, very detailed – and see if we just can’t fix one aspect of this. And then maybe success will breed success.

KELLY: Senator, thanks so much for your time

JOHNSON: Have a great day.

KELLY: That’s Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson. We reached him in Racine, Wis.

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

A Toddler Who Appeared in Immigration Court Goes Home to Honduras. ‘Mi Amor,’ Her Mother Cries.

By Jeff Ernst and Miriam Jordan

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — The passengers from American Airlines Flight 941 trickled out, alone, in couples and in groups — all but the small girl whose family was nervously awaiting her in the arrivals area. It had been three months since 2-year-old Fernanda Jacqueline Davila had been whisked away with her grandmother on a journey to the United States that had gone badly wrong.

For months, the child’s mother, Alison Michell Davila, had been trying with the rest of the family in Honduras to navigate the labyrinth of the American immigration system from afar. They pleaded for the release of the child, who was being held in foster care in New York. She doesn’t need to stay in America, the family told the authorities. Just let her come home.

Finally, more than an hour after the plane landed, an immigration officer emerged bearing the toddler in his arms. Ms. Davila wept. “Mi amor,” she called out, “my love.”

There was no smile of recognition — just a blank stare.

Mother, grandparents and aunts put away the welcome poster, the balloon and candy from her favorite movie, “Frozen,” all brought to celebrate the end of a venture that some had hoped might be a new beginning for Fernanda — but that had proved more painful than any of them had ever imagined.

The girl flew to the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Thursday with seven other children, most of whom had been separated from their families at the southwest border, among nearly 3,000 such separations that happened this year under a controversial Trump administration policy intended to deter migration from Central America. President Trump halted the practice in June after it came under attack, but four months later, federal authorities have been unable to return all the children to their families.

The eight children who flew from New York on Thursday were among more than 100 still living in shelters and temporary foster care, according to volunteer and advocacy groups working with migrant families.

In some cases, the adults who accompanied the children still in custody are themselves in immigration detention; others were deported, while their children were left behind.

Reuniting children with families overseas is a complicated process involving extensive paperwork from shelters, documents from the children’s families and approval from both governments. Often, permission must also be granted by a United States immigration judge.

Before Fernanda’s mother could even touch her daughter at the airport, immigration officers ushered the arriving children into a windowed room. It would be nearly 40 minutes more before they would emerge.

Tears streaming down their cheeks, the families pressed their faces against the glass, trying to catch their children’s attention. They waved. “Show us your teeth!” one shouted. “Look how much you have grown! We’ll be together soon.” Two little boys, who looked overwhelmed, took cover under a desk.

Fernanda’s mother held up her new daughter, Mia Charlotte, who was just a few days old when Fernanda had last seen her. Fernanda did not react.

Finally, a while later, she cracked a smile.

“She looked confused in the beginning, but after, she wanted to come with us,” Ms. Davila said, sounding like she was trying to convince herself.

Hector Enrique Lazo, the child’s grandfather, was exuberant. “I am overjoyed to have her again. We were very worried because we heard she could be given up for adoption,” he said.

Later, his smile faded. Everyone had been taken aback by the child’s failure to respond to them. “I need to take her to a psychologist tomorrow,” Mr. Lazo said.

Fernanda had embarked with her maternal grandmother on a two-week journey to reach the United States in late July, only to be separated at the border in Texas. The grandmother, Nubia Archaga, said in an interview earlier this month that she had hoped to forge a new life in the United States with her granddaughter.

After two days in a holding facility at the border, Fernanda was flown to New York City, where she was under the care of Cayuga Centers, a child welfare agency in New York, and living with a foster family.

After locating her with the help of a toll-free number publicized on local television, the family in Honduras immediately began to fight for Fernanda’s return, scrambling to collect documents to prove that she was theirs.

Fernanda had been doted on by the entire family. She and her mother had lived with Mr. Lazo and his wife, who bought her toys and a tricycle, celebrated her birthdays and baptism.

Fernanda had been born four months after their son, Fernanda’s father, died in a car accident; she was a piece of their son they still had. “She came back to fill the void that our son left,” said Mr. Lazo.

The family had been furious over Ms. Archaga’s decision to take the child with her to the United States, a decision, they believed, made with the hope that having a child with her would facilitate her entry, albeit illegally, into the United States.

Last month, they were told that the little girl would go before a judge, who would decide her fate.

On Oct. 8, Fernanda was the youngest child that day to appear in a federal immigration courtroom in New York, so small she had to be lifted onto the chair. A lawyer for Catholic Charities, who had volunteered to take her case, asked the judge to grant the child “voluntary departure,” a kind of voluntary deportation that would enable Fernanda to return quickly to Honduras. It took two weeks to get all her travel documents together.

Early this week, her family was notified by the case manager in New York that she would be flown to Honduras on Thursday morning. Her aunt, Karenn Lazo, shared the news in an email, saying, “Our Fernandita is finally coming back.”

Ms. Davila and Mr. Lazo, along with his wife, two daughters and Ms. Davila’s new baby crammed into their old green pickup truck and set out in the wee hours from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, where they live in a working-class suburb, to San Pedro Sula.

A few other families also were awaiting children who had been separated from a loved one at the border. Sandra Isabel Pagoada said her son Carlos, 9, had crossed the border with his uncle, with her consent. “I wanted him to have a better life,” she said, sobbing and clutching a balloon.

But they were separated, the uncle summarily deported and Carlos transferred to a shelter, where he would end up spending five months. “I am so glad he is back here,” Ms. Pagoada said.

All the families waited tensely for the children’s first appearance after the plane landed. Every time the silhouette of a child appeared behind a privacy screen, the families took a deep breath.

Then suddenly all eight children, including Fernanda, were escorted to a room where their documents were reviewed.

The children ranged in age from about 2 to 16. It seemed that several of them had no one to pick them up, but authorities declined to answer any questions.

Even after the 40-minute processing, it was not over. A Honduran official stepped out and announced that all of those who had arrived would have to travel to a center for migrant children for additional screening before they could be officially returned to their families.

As Fernanda was carried toward a beige van that idled outside, the distance between her and her family growing, she began to squeal and flap her arms in protest. Her mother slipped into the group and climbed in the van along with her. Her grandparents and aunts followed in their truck.

After a couple of hours, mother and daughter came out.

Fernanda had counted “all the numbers” in English while they were inside, Ms. Davila said. “She told me all about what they did over there.”

Mr. Lazo grabbed his granddaughter. “Who am I?” he asked her.

She did not respond. “Soy tu papá, mi amor,” he said. “It’s your papa, my love.”

On closer inspection, they noticed her body was covered in red spots and scabs, apparently from scratching herself. A nurse at the center said it was an allergy, Ms. Davila said, and prescribed skin cream. But Fernanda had never had such an allergy, they said.

Weary but happy, the family stopped for a celebratory meal of fried fish near Lago de Yojoa, a big lake.

On the way, they picked up drinks at a gas station. Ms. Davila, her daughter propped on her lap, handed her some “Frozen”-themed candy.

“Mommy, is this a gift?” Fernanda asked.

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