About Me

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


Friday, March 29, 2019

Barbosa v. Barr

Robbery in the third degree in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes Sec. 164.395 is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude.

Barbosa v. Barr - filed March 28, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 15-72092 

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

California Governor to Visit El Salvador to Talk Immigration

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday he will travel to El Salvador in April to discuss the poverty and violence that’s causing waves of migrants to seek asylum in the United States.

It will be Newsom’s first international trip as governor and his latest effort to position California — not the White House — as the leader on the nation’s toughest issues.

The announcement came days after U.S. and Central American leaders signed a new border security compact. Still, President Donald Trump said Thursday that foreign leaders were “doing nothing” to stop the flow of migrants.

In announcing his trip, Newsom said that while the “Trump administration demonizes those who are fleeing violence from Central America, California is committed to lifting up our immigrant communities and understanding the root causes of migration.”

Newsom, a Democrat, has sparred with Trump on immigration more than any other issue. In his first two months as governor, he withdrew most California National Guard troops from the border and filed a lawsuit over Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to fund a border wall.

Newsom has pledged $25 million to aid asylum seekers and wants to expand access to health care for young people living in California illegally. One of the first bills he signed as governor provided $5 million to help open a migrant support center.

“This is our answer to the White House: No more division, no more xenophobia and no more nativism,” Newsom declared last month in his State of the State address.

He met Thursday with Central American community leaders in Los Angeles to discuss the challenges facing families in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said she appreciated Newsom’s efforts to start dialogue with immigrant groups.

“I think now that as he embarks on this trip to El Salvador, he will have a deeper understanding of our perspective,” she said after the meeting.

California is home to the nation’s busiest border crossing at San Ysidro in San Diego and has more than 400,000 El Salvadoran immigrants — more than any other Central American nation, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The governor will travel there from April 7 to 10.

César Ríos, executive director of the Salvadoran Migrant Institute, welcomed Newsom’s visit to Central America. He said it’s important that officials “pay closer attention to the causes of migration instead of looking for someone to blame for provoking the migration.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen traveled to Honduras this week to meet with leaders from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and offered U.S. support for combating drug and gang violence. The gang MS-13 is active in El Salvador.

The administration also approved $5.8 billion in aid for Central America in December.

Trump on Thursday blunted that message with a darker assessment of the U.S.-Central American partnership.

“Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country,” he tweeted. “They are all talk and no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do Nothing.”

California governors have engaged in international diplomacy before. Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown traveled to China and Russia and served as a special envoy to the United Nations on climate change. Newsom’s trip to El Salvador will expand his national profile and likely fuel speculation about his ambitions for higher political office.

Brown broke with the Trump administration’s immigration policies, particularly by signing a bill limiting local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents.

Newsom has been more aggressive. He reversed Brown’s decision to deploy several hundred California National Guard troops to the border, removing most of them in February to focus on other issues such as preparing for the upcoming wildfire season.

He kept roughly 100 on the border to aid in combating international drug crime and said he’d be willing to work with the Trump administration on that front.

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

Trump Extends Temporary Protection for Liberians in U.S.

By Louise Radnofsky

WASHINGTON—President Trump is reversing course on the fate of thousands of Liberians in the U.S., days before a program shielding them from deportation was set to expire, setting up a fresh fight over the administration’s immigration policy.

The Trump administration had moved to cancel on March 31 the Deferred Enforced Departure program, which had given a legal status to around 4,000 Liberians in the U.S. since 1991. The program was created in a 2007 executive action by President George W. Bush.

Immigration hard-liners in the administration have pushed to terminate several programs that created temporary protections years ago for illegal immigrants from countries facing war or natural disasters, arguing that the programs hadn’t been intended to remain in place for decades. Several of those terminations are subject to litigation.

The Trump administration is also wrangling over whether to expand the broader Temporary Protected Status program to include unauthorized Venezuelans in the U.S., following Washington’s opposition to President Nicolas Maduro. Also undetermined: the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Advocates for immigrants in the U.S. without legal status had mounted a public campaign on the Liberians’ behalf. They sought Thursday to tie the administration’s move to a larger push for a permanent legal status for immigrants with TPS and DACA.

Freshman Rep. Dean Phillips (D., Minn), whose district is home to about 1,000 Liberians with DED legal protection, said hearing the news was “the most joyful moment I’ve had” in Congress so far. Mr. Phillips and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick on Wednesday introduced legislation to move Liberian DED holders to Temporary Protected Status, which would provide them legal status for three years.

“If we can convert that to TPS, we can work on DACA and TPS, and hopefully, find a solution for the millions of people who are in limbo,” Mr. Phillips said.

The shift on the Liberians comes in contrast to the administration’s stance on illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Mr. Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to secure funding for more extensive physical barriers.

Mr. Trump also canceled the Obama-era DACA program, citing concerns over executive overreach.

The Trump administration’s decision on the Liberians is in line with past moves to pull back on hard-line immigration proposals in the face of public pressure or implementation challenges, and quickly drew angry reactions from some supporters of restrictions on immigration.

“If DACA is illegal, why isn’t this illegal? We need to look at the legitimacy of this kind of action, regardless of how many or how few people are affected,” said Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Perhaps the more immediate point is that Trump said he was going to end this. We have one more example of a line in the sand which means nothing.”

Last summer, the president revoked an administration policy of prosecuting parents traveling with their children for illegal entry at the southern border that resulted in the separation of thousands of Central American asylum-seeking families, citing his discomfort with what he was seeing.

Mr. Trump has also spoken approvingly of the immigrants in the DACA program and said he wanted to see a legislative resolution to allow them to remain in the U.S.

In an example of implementation challenges, the Trump administration has curtailed a key component of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, no longer charging first-time illegal border crossers with a crime in a busy stretch of West Texas amid lack of jail space.

Mr. Trump said in a memorandum issued Thursday to the secretary of state and secretary of homeland security that he planned to offer a one-year extension on the lifespan of the program, offering a reprieve through the end of March 2020.

The memorandum said the change of plan was in “the foreign policy interest of the United States,” because “the overall situation in West Africa remains concerning.”

“The reintegration of DED beneficiaries into Liberian civil and political life will be a complex task, and an unsuccessful transition could strain United States-Liberian relations and undermine Liberia’s post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability,” the memo said.

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Trump says he wants skilled immigrants. He’s about to stop 70,000 from working.

By Ike Brannon and Kevin McGee

President Trump insists he wants to attract high-skilled legal immigrants, even while pushing for a wall on the southern U.S. border — but his administration is moving to deprive thousands of highly trained immigrants of the right to work.

The argument for throwing these well-educated newcomers — holders of H-4 visas — out of the workforce is it would open jobs for unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens.

It’s a lousy rationale. Our research shows this proposal would not create a single net job, and it would also cost the U.S. economy — and taxpayers — billions of dollars a year in lost revenue and reduced economic growth. It will also likely force immigrants — actively encouraged, up to now, to move here — to uproot themselves.

Congress created the H-1B visa program in 1990 to attract more high-skilled immigrants into the country. Companies were having trouble filling jobs in technical occupations like systems engineers and software developers, occupations that then (and now) had low unemployment rates. Turning to foreign-born workers is an effective way to plug this hole. Trained, experienced foreign workers are also much more likely to start new businesses, creating new jobs in the process.

Since a good proportion of H-1B workers happen to be married, Congress created an H-4 visa for their spouses. At its inception, the law prohibited H-4 visa holders from working, but the work exclusion came to be a problem. Most spouses of H-1B visa holders also tend to have substantial technical skills, as well, and find coming to the United States without being able to pursue a career a considerable sacrifice. Their inability to work was making it more difficult to attract H-1B visa holders.

To remedy this, in 2015, the Obama administration issued a rule that permitted H-4 holders to obtain employment, and nearly 70,000 H-4 visa holders now have a job. However, the Trump administration’s proposed rule would force them to stop working.

To understand the economic impact of a work ban, we asked two different immigration groups to help us survey H-4 visa holders. We received almost 5,000 responses from the roughly 130,000 people who currently have the visa.

Almost five out of six of our respondents had already obtained employment authorization documents (EADs), and three-fourths of these currently hold jobs. Unsurprisingly, most work in occupations tied to technology or engineering in some way. Almost half are employed in IT-math-stats occupations, which have chronic worker shortages. These occupations’ 2018 unemployment rate of 2.13 percent indicates that the only unemployed workers in these areas are the ones in the process of changing jobs.

Another 20 percent of H-4 workers are employed in legal, engineering, management or health-care practitioner occupations, with an even lower average 2018 unemployment rate of 1.67 percent. Less than 4 percent of these workers are employed in occupations with 2018 unemployment rates above the national average last year of 3.9 percent: manufacturing, sales, personal care, transportation, construction, building maintenance, food preparation or farming.

The fact that so many H-4 workers are in such hard-to-fill occupations means the average income for this cohort is quite high — about $80,000 in our sample, fully 30 percent above the median income for U.S. workers. It also means that if these workers lost their ability to work, the jobs they currently hold would mostly go unfilled. We estimate that 7 to 10 percent of the jobs vacated would be filled by U.S. workers.

In addition, about 2 percent of H-4 workers have started their own businesses, which on average employ five workers each. Since their employees’ jobs would also be lost if the H-4 employers could not work, these jobs that would be lost by U.S. workers would almost exactly offset any employment gains from filling empty H-4 jobs.

Interviews we did after our survey revealed a significant number of families with an H-4 visa have made life-altering decisions predicated upon the ability of the visa holder to join their H-1B visa-holding spouse in obtaining work authorization, such as purchasing a house, beginning a business or having a child.

Numerous respondents also told us coming to the United States without being able to work was frustrating and stressful, and it was difficult to contemplate a return to that status.

Ari Banerjee and his wife came to the United States to attend graduate school and decided to remain when she received a job offer that came with an H-1B visa. After receiving his work permit, Ari started a digital marketing firm that now employs nine workers. If he loses his work authorization he would close his company or move it to another country.

Priya Chandrasekaran married her H-1B spouse — a software engineer for Microsoft — in 2010 and came to the United States soon after to be with him. Although Priya had a Bachelors in business management, graduate training and six years of work experience in India, she was initially unable to pursue her career because of the H-4 work ban in place at the time. When that changed Priya jumped at the opportunity to work, and since going to work in 2015 she has become a CPA and had a second child, and their family purchased their first home.

The uncertainty about her work status led Priya to delay plans to pursue an MBA because the couple cannot afford the tuition without her income — even their mortgage may be a stretch. If the administration terminates the H-4 EAD program the family will explore moving to a country where Priya can work as well.

Many H-4 spouses used the word “depressed” to describe their frustration at the prospect of being unable to work while living in the United States.

Besides being harmful to their families, rescinding the work authorization for the H-4 visa would impose costs both on our economy and tax coffers. Executive Order 12866 requires any new rule issued by an administration — or the rescission of an existing rule — must be able to pass a cost-benefit analysis. The data show this does not come close to passing.

We estimate the lost earnings for this group alone would be about $5.5 billion a year. What’s more, fully one-fourth of our respondents said their family would consider leaving the United States if the work authorizations were rescinded. That would cut economic output by another $2 billion. The reduction in employment that would ensue would cost the government about $2 to $3 billion in lost tax revenue annually. Crucially, as we’ve already shown, we find no evidence this action will create jobs for U.S. citizens.

The president is right when he states we should do more to attract skilled immigrants to the country. The United States has a shortage of workers with degrees or training in STEM fields and attracting such workers from abroad would fill jobs that would otherwise go wanting.

However, ending the ability of H-4 visa holders to work goes against the president’s ostensible goal of increasing skilled foreign workers in our economy. It would reduce economic growth and tax revenue while doing absolutely nothing to create new jobs.

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

Border Patrol Stops Prosecuting First-Time Border Crossers in Texas Region

By Alicia A. Caldwell

DEL RIO, Texas—The Trump administration has curtailed a key component of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, no longer charging first-time illegal border crossers with a crime along a busy stretch of West Texas.

Prosecutions of single migrant adults caught crossing the border for the first time in and around Del Rio, Texas, were suspended in February amid lack of jail space, a U.S. Border Patrol official. The policy change hasn’t been previously reported.

Instead of being charged with a misdemeanor, most single migrants, or adults traveling without children, apprehended crossing the border illegally for the first time will face swift deportation without criminal charges. The official said Border Patrol has ceased charging those illegal immigrants amid the increasing number of families crossing the border and seeking asylum and an uptick in other criminal cases that have left them with no detention space.

Misdemeanor prosecutions will resume if more detention space becomes available, the border official added.

Under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy announced last year, most single migrant adults crossing the border illegally for the first time are charged with a misdemeanor that can carry a brief jail sentence. A misdemeanor conviction allows them to be charged with a felony for a second illegal crossing, which could result in a lengthy prison term. The threat of extended imprisonment is meant to deter illegal immigrants from returning.

Felony prosecutions for illegal immigrants apprehended more than once or previously deported are continuing in Del Rio, the official said.

There is no indication that misdemeanor prosecutions have slowed or been suspended in other Border Patrol sectors.

Ruthie Epstein, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said while her organization hasn’t closely monitored priority shifts in each border sector, prosecuting border crossers is “a massive waste of government resources.” She said successive administrations have used prosecutions to deter migrants from coming to the U.S., but there is little evidence the efforts have worked.

Single migrant adults caught crossing the border in Del Rio, about 160 miles west of San Antonio, have faced criminal prosecution since President George W. Bush’s administration launched Operation Streamline in 2005 to help curb illegal border crossings in the area.

Border agents there made about 68,000 arrests during the 2005 budget year. Arrests haven’t eclipsed 25,000 a year since 2007. Between the start of the federal fiscal year in October and February, 12,650 migrants were arrested in Del Rio, compared with 5,734 during the same period a year earlier. The number traveling as families skyrocketed to 5,569 from 933.

The Trump administration launched a zero-tolerance effort along the entire Mexico border in April 2018. Initially, the policy included parents caught crossing the border with their children, which resulted in more than 2,500 children being separated from their parents before family separations were halted in mid-June.

In the earliest stages of the zero-tolerance policy last spring and summer, many federal courtrooms in the Southwest were jammed with criminal cases—primarily misdemeanor charges against people caught crossing the border for the first time. Most pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served before moving to deportation proceedings.

The suspension of misdemeanor prosecutions in Del Rio is another setback for the Trump administration in its efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. Last week, Border Patrol agents in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley stopped passing off some families to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be detained, also due to crowding concerns. The agency has since expanded that practice to other areas including Del Rio, San Diego, El Paso and Yuma, Ariz., a separate Border Patrol official said Wednesday.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that a “breaking point” has arrived as the number of families crossing the border overwhelm his agency’s resources. He warned that more deaths of migrants in government custody were likely as a result.

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

Immigration System At The 'Breaking Point,' Homeland Security Official Warns

By Joel Rose

Immigration authorities are expressing alarm about the growing number of migrants crossing the Southern border.

Federal agents apprehended more than 4,000 migrants crossing the border on each of two days this week — the highest daily total recorded in 15 years, according to a senior official with Customs and Border Protection.

“The breaking point has arrived,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a news conference Wednesday in El Paso, Texas.

“CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso,” McAleenan said.

As the weather warms up, immigration authorities warn that the flow of migrants crossing will continue to grow. Federal agents are on pace to apprehend or encounter more than 100,000 migrants in March — the largest monthly total in more than a decade.

CBP will reluctantly begin releasing more migrant families with a notice to appear in immigration court, McAleenan said, instead of first handing them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing and detention.

CBP already had begun releasing some recently apprehended migrants to the streets of cities in the Rio Grande Valley. Senior border officials say they are prepared to extend that practice to other cities such as San Diego; Yuma, Ariz.; and Del Rio and El Paso, Texas.

The majority of these migrants are families and children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. McAleenan says they are straining the resources of Border Patrol facilities, which were designed primarily for single men and are far beyond their official capacity.

“We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy,” McAleenan said. “But with these numbers, with the types of illnesses we’re seeing at the border, I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”

CBP has stepped up medical care for migrants since two children died in custody in December. But McAleenan says efforts to provide that medical attention have diverted Border Patrol agents from their security duties. “Our expanded medical checks and concerted efforts are saving lives,” McAleenan said. “But they have a high cost to our enforcement mission.”

In response, McAleenan says CBP is redirecting 750 blue-uniformed agents who work at ports of entry to help the Border Patrol with the care and custody of migrants. McAleenan warned that could lead to longer wait times at ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border but said that “this is required to help us manage this operational crisis.”

McAleenan spoke in El Paso, which has become the latest hot spot for migrant crossings in recent months, as NPR’s John Burnett reported earlier this week.

CBP will reluctantly begin releasing migrant families with a notice to appear in immigration court, McAleenan said, instead of first handing them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing and detention.

“There’s no questioning why this is happening,” McAleenan said. “The increase in family units is a direct response to the vulnerabilities in our legal framework, where migrants and smugglers know that they will be released and allowed to stay in the U.S. indefinitely pending immigration proceedings that could be many years out.”

But immigrant advocates dispute that. They point out that migrants have a legal right to seek asylum once they’re in the U.S.

Critics say the Trump administration has been too focused on deterring migrants from coming and has not allocated enough resources for humanitarian assistance or adjudicating the migrants’ asylum claims quickly. “The Trump administration’s response to the multidimensional refugee and migration challenge posed by deteriorating conditions in Central America is one-dimensional,” said Frank Sharry, the director of America’s Voice. “No wonder their simplistic and futile strategy has failed so miserably.”

As we have previously reported, there may be several reasons the number of migrants has grown in recent months — including the reach of social media, lower smuggling costs, and unintended consequences of the Trump administration’s own immigration crackdown.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pentagon announces $1 billion transfer for border barriers, angering Democrats

By John Wagner, Paul Sonne and Dan Lamothe

The Pentagon announced Monday night that it has authorized the transfer of up to $1 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers to build additional barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that drew sharp objections from Democratic lawmakers.

The shift in funds, which the Pentagon justified under President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, will facilitate the construction of 57 miles of “pedestrian fencing,” road construction and lighting along stretches of the border in Arizona and Texas.

The money, according to top Pentagon officials, was shifted from the Army after recruiters failed to hit targets that would have required the funds.

Ten senators, including Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, objected to the move, saying in a letter that the Pentagon had not sought approval of congressional defense committees.

“As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military,” said the letter to acting secretary of defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The $1 billion reprogramming that the Department is implementing without congressional approval constitutes a dollar-for-dollar theft from other readiness needs of our Armed Forces.”

Although the clash highlighted ongoing tensions between the Trump administration and Democrats in Congress, the move was in keeping with what the administration has pledged to try to make good on Trump’s marquee promise of a border wall.

Earlier this month, Trump vetoed a measure passed by both the House and Senate to nullify his declaration of a national emergency at the border. Trump is using the measure to spend more on border barrier funding than Congress has authorized.

The Democrat-led House voted Tuesday to override Trump’s veto, but the effort fell short. The finally tally was 248-181, short of the 288 that would have been necessary.

The $1 billion outlay announced Monday night would help “block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of Federal law enforcement agencies,” the Pentagon said.

It’s part of a total of $2.5 billion that the administration plans to take from the Pentagon budget for the wall this year using a counterdrug law that allows the defense secretary to build fences, lighting and roads for other federal agencies in designated drug corridors. The president doesn’t need to invoke a national emergency to use that authority.

Because the counterdrug account at the Pentagon contains little money, the Defense Department is finding funds elsewhere in its budget that can be moved into the account through a process called “reprogramming” to comprise the $2.5 billion. Traditionally, the Pentagon receives sign-off from Congress when it moves significant amounts of money in its budget, though approval isn’t required by law. This time, the Pentagon isn’t asking for sign-off, because lawmakers would reject its request.

The result is a break with a long-standing tradition that Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, pressed Shanahan on during a congressional hearing Tuesday. Smith said that by disregarding the long-standing “gentlemen’s agreement,” the Pentagon would probably lose its authority to reprogram funds from the appropriations committee in the future.

“What was the discussion like in deciding to break that rule, and what is your view of the implications for it going forward in terms of the relationship between the Pentagon and Congress in general?” Smith asked the acting defense secretary. “And specifically how much is it going to hamper you to not have reprogramming authority after this year?”

Shanahan admitted that by moving the money for the wall without agreement from Congress, the Pentagon is risking losing its leeway to move around money longer term. He acknowledged that’s a downside that will “hamper” the Pentagon in the future, and suggested that the White House overruled the Defense Department on the matter.

“It was a very difficult discussion. And we understand the significant downsides of losing what amounts to a privilege,” Shanahan said. “The conversation took place prior to the declaration of a national emergency. It was part of the consulting that went on. We said, ‘Here are the risks longer term to the department,’ and those risks were weighed, and then given a legal order from the commander in chief, we are executing on that order.”

In addition to the $2.5 billion for the wall Trump intends to take from the counterdrug account, he plans to take an additional $3.6 billion from the military construction budget using a law that requires the invocation of emergency powers. Known as Section 2808 of the U.S. code that governs the military, that law allows the defense secretary, in the event of a national emergency requiring the deployment of the armed forces, to take military construction money for projects in support of those troops.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said his office is analyzing the projects the Department of Homeland Security has asked the Pentagon to complete under that law to decide whether they would in fact support forces deployed to the southwest border. Shanahan will then issue a determination on that matter once the analysis is complete.

Shanahan is widely expected to agree that the projects support the troops so as to follow the letter of the law and allow Trump to take military construction funding for the wall.

Meanwhile, questions emerged at a Senate Arms Services Committee hearing Tuesday about the $1 billion the Pentagon said it would be moving from Army personnel funds into the counterdrug-account to fund the wall.

Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the top Democrat on the committee and a former Army officer, said the Army has a $2.3 billion unfunded priority list for fiscal 2020 that comprises projects for which the service does not have money.

Army Secretary Mark T. Esper responded that the money has been reprogrammed from the Army’s military personnel account after it could not find enough soldiers to meet its planned number of recruits.

“In a sense, you are forgoing at least the immediate use of those funds for military purposes like aviation readiness, is that correct?” Reed asked.

“The needs always exceed the means, so yes, we could have used that money as the other services to continue to approve our readiness,” Esper said.

Reed said the Army also has identified more than $500 million in unfunded infrastructure projects, and asked how detrimental it would be to readiness if they are not completed.

“Senator, we need to see what projects will be teed up for repurposing, and I think that once we see those initial requests, we can better see what the impact will be,” Esper said.

In the same hearing, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) pressed Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, who has been selected to be Trump’s next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying it appears that the administration is pulling an “end-around” by reprogramming money from the Army to the Pentagon’s counterdrug fund, which in turn will be used to fund the wall.

“How is the southern border a greater priority for the Army than readiness and modernization?” he asked.

Esper said that the Army met its goals for readiness and modernization in the 2019 budget, and said he “doesn’t see it the way that you have characterized it, if you will.” But he agreed under questioning that the money also could have been reprogrammed to meet shortfalls elsewhere in the Army.

“But you’re saying that the southern border is more important than readiness,” Peters pressed.

“I’m not saying that,” Esper said. “I’m saying that the Department of Defense made decisions based on what the president set as priorities, and we are following through. We are executing.”

Milley said that maintaining a ready Army is the service’s top priority and modernizing is its second, but he cited the need for civilian control of the government.

“It is not for me to say one is important than the other relative to the whole national security of the United States,” Milley said. “Within the Army, we have said that priority one is readiness and priority two is modernization. But within the nation, that is not our call.”

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

House fails to override Trump veto on southern border emergency

By Erica Werner

President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border survived a critical vote in the House on Tuesday, as Democrats failed to override his veto, shifting the focus of the fight over money for the wall to the courts.

The vote was 248 to 181, well short of the 288 that would have been required. The vote effectively ends — for now — legislative attempts to strike down Trump’s national emergency declaration.

Trump welcomed the outcome, writing on Twitter: “Thank you to the House Republicans for sticking together and the BIG WIN today on the Border. Today’s vote simply reaffirms Congressional Democrats are the party of Open Borders, Drugs and Crime!”

The dispute over the president’s attempt to circumvent Congress to get billions of dollars to build the border wall will be fought in federal courts, with states and landowners at the border determined to stop Trump. At least seven lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of Trump’s emergency declaration and his plans to spend funds on the wall that have not been appropriated by Congress for that purpose.

The government has yet to reply to them, and no hearings have been scheduled.

“President Trump can’t take taxpayer dollars to build his wall without Congress’s permission,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former congressman who has filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s declaration, said following the vote. “The 20 states standing with us in court are ready to fight long and hard to stop his fabricated emergency in its tracks.”

The plaintiffs in the suits, filed in U.S. district courts in California, Texas and the District of Columbia, include California and 18 other states, the city of El Paso, landowners in the path of the proposed wall, conservation groups such as the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, and advocacy organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

This month, Congress sent Trump a bipartisan disapproval resolution that sought to nullify his national emergency declaration, but Trump used the first veto of his presidency to strike it down. Trump announced the national emergency in February, following a record-long government shutdown and weeks of negotiations that resulted in a deal giving him billions less than he sought for barriers along the border.

Lawmakers of both parties said the emergency declaration — which allows Trump to redirect money Congress appropriated for other purposes and use it for border construction instead — represented a dramatic intrusion into Congress’s authority over government spending.

In floor debate ahead of the vote Tuesday, Democrats insisted Trump was violating the Constitution’s separation of powers, while Republicans argued he was acting within his authority under the National Emergencies Act to address a genuine crisis at the southern border.

“What we have here is an act of constitutional vandalism — the executive trying to steal the power of the purse from Congress,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.). He warned that if lawmakers allow it to happen, future presidents of both parties will have great power to ignore Congress.

Fourteen Republicans broke ranks to vote with Democrats in attempting to overturn Trump’s veto, but they represented a small minority as most GOP lawmakers stood with the president, arguing he was addressing an emergency Democrats had ignored.

“The radical left in this House would dissolve our borders entirely if given the chance,” declared Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “They care more about defending the Iraqi border than defending our own.”

Border apprehensions have spiked and are on pace for the highest level since 2008, although they remain below peak rates in the 1990s and early 2000s. Lawmakers of both parties generally agree that there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis at the border, with many families from Central America attempting to enter the United States, but Democrats argue that a wall won’t help.

Republicans disagree, and Trump has continually argued that a wall — the central issue he campaigned on — is needed to stop illegal immigration and drugs. Trump long claimed Mexico would pay for the wall, but the national emergency declaration allows him to take $3.6 billion appropriated by Congress for military construction projects nationwide and use it to build barriers along the border instead.

The Pentagon still has not told lawmakers which military construction projects will be canceled or delayed in the process, frustrating lawmakers of both parties.

Escalating the fight, the Pentagon announced Monday night it was authorizing the transfer of up to $1 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers to build additional barriers along the border.

That money comes from a separate Pentagon fund aimed at combating drug smuggling that Trump was able to access without a national emergency declaration. Still, it drew sharp objections from Democratic lawmakers, who said the Pentagon had not sought the approval of congressional committees.

It is rare for Congress to successfully override a presidential veto, something that happened only once during the Obama administration, and Tuesday’s outcome was expected. Because the veto override vote failed in the House, it will not go to the Senate — sparing senators from having to take another vote on an issue that deeply divided Republicans in the chamber.

However, the National Emergencies Act does allow Democrats to bring up another disapproval resolution six months from now, something House Democrats are actively considering. Democrats are also considering trying to include language in upcoming spending bills to restrict the Trump administration’s ability to redirect money toward border construction going forward.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Gay, transgender detainees allege abuse at ICE facility in New Mexico

By Robert Moore

EL PASO — Gay and transgender people held at a large Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in New Mexico have faced physical and verbal abuse and were placed in solitary confinement after complaining about it, according to a complaint civil rights groups sent to the U.S. agency Monday.

The letter from lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Santa Fe Dreamers Project alleges that 12 gay and transgender detainees at the Otero County Processing Center, a 1,000-bed facility about 30 miles north of this border city, routinely suffered sexual harassment and abuse from other detainees, that guards verbally assaulted them and that ICE officials violated their own regulations in denying hormone therapy to transgender detainees. They also allege that they were placed in solitary confinement after complaining about their treatment.

“ICE’s practices at Otero have created an unsafe environment for transgender women and gay men who are detained there,” the letter said.

ICE officials declined to comment on the specific allegations in the letter, but spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the agency follows national standards for medical care and has specific policies for caring for transgender detainees in its custody.

“ICE is committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe, secure and human environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement,” Zamarripa said.

A 21-year-old Honduran man who identifies as gay said in an interview that he was continually sexually harassed and fondled by other detainees after arriving at the Otero facility in December. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because his family in the United States doesn’t know that he is gay.

The man said he didn’t file a complaint with officials because he feared retaliation. When a friend filed a complaint alleging that he was being sexually harassed and abused by fellow detainees, he and his friend were both placed in solitary confinement, he said. He said that after four days in solitary, officials told him that he could be released into the general population but that if he complained again, he would be put back into solitary. He was then placed in an area where detainees routinely harassed him.

“I asked for a change of barracks, but I was afraid to write specifically what was happening to me because I had already been warned that if I made another complaint, I’d be sent to solitary,” said the detainee, who was released on bond last week after he endured three months of abuse

In 2018, 37 Democratic members of Congress wrote a letter to ICE with similar allegations of mistreatment of detained gay and transgender people. That letter said 13 percent of the 300 transgender people detained by ICE in fiscal year 2017 were placed in solitary confinement.

ICE guidelines allow for use of solitary confinement for people vulnerable to sexual abuse or assault “when no other viable housing options exist, as a last resort.” The 2018 congressional letter raised concerns about the length of time that LGBT migrants were kept in solitary confinement.

“This is not a new problem. Sadly, from our conversations with the detainees in Otero, we’ve learned that this level of unlawful abuse, mistreatment and harassment is more widespread and common than we had imagined,” said Nicolas Palazzo, an attorney for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso.

The attorneys representing gay and transgender detainees at the New Mexico facility are asking for a Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation. A 2017 report by the inspector general found “potential misuse” of solitary confinement for gay and transgender detainees at Otero and other facilities.

The attorneys also asked for a meeting with ICE officials to discuss proposed reforms at the Otero facility, which is operated for ICE by Management and Training Corporation, one of the nation’s largest private-prison companies.

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

Border Patrol Takes a Rare Step in Shutting Down Inland Checkpoints

By Simon Romero

ALBUQUERQUE — The Border Patrol is taking the unusual step of shutting down its interior checkpoints across New Mexico and a swath of West Texas as officials scramble to respond to a surge in families requesting asylum along the Southwest border.

A spokesman for the Border Patrol said the temporary measure was intended to help provide “appropriate care” for migrants apprehended at the border. The closing of checkpoints — not at the border, but up to 100 miles inland — reflects the strain on border operations as the number of migrants entering the country, which in February reached an 11-year high, continues to climb.

The authorities closed checkpoints across the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes 121,000 square miles in New Mexico and 4,500 square miles in Texas, in order to free more agents to work directly on the border.

“To process and ensure appropriate care for those in custody, resources including personnel have been diverted from other border security priorities,” Customs and Border Protection officials said in a statement on the closings, first reported by Texas Monthly. “This is intended as a temporary measure. Checkpoints are integral to U.S.B.P.’s border security mission.”

At some of the checkpoints on major highways, orange cones could be seen blocking off access to the roads along which motorists normally are funneled to checkpoints for queries about citizenship status and visual inspection of vehicles.

Agents at the Border Patrol checkpoints arrest relatively few unauthorized migrants, and most of those who are seeking asylum quickly surrender to the authorities at the border. The agents at the checkpoints deal largely with seizures of marijuana and other drugs from motorists.

The checkpoints have emerged as a source of contention with human rights groups, which have contended that Border Patrol agents routinely ignore their legal authority during the traffic stops to search people without warrants. By law, agents must have probable cause to search the interior of a vehicle, though an alert from a drug-sniffing dog “legitimately” alerts to the presence of drugs, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Border Patrol operates about 170 checkpoints throughout the country. Checkpoints outside the El Paso sector are thought to be operating normally.

The influx of asylum seekers is placing stress on immigration officials, volunteer shelters and religious charities along much of the Southwest border, as they struggle to assist the migrants.

Border Patrol agents in El Paso said last week that they had apprehended more than 400 unauthorized immigrants during a five-minute period. Most of them were unaccompanied youths or people traveling in family units, the agency said.

“We do not have a way to care for the numbers who are coming,” the Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said during a visit to South Texas this month. “We don’t have the facilities, we don’t have the legal processes, we don’t have the laws that enable us to quickly process their claims to protect them.”

Immigrants recently released by federal authorities in South Texas overflowed a respite center run by Catholic Charities this month, bathing their babies in sinks and waiting in long lines for food, bus tickets and medical attention. The immigrants, most fleeing poverty and gang violence in Central America, described the conditions they faced in custody as cold and crowded.

“It was freezing,” Cecilio, a 31-year-old from Guatemala, said while sitting behind the respite center with his 7-year-old son. The Border Patrol’s processing centers, like the one in McAllen, Tex., where immigrants are housed temporarily after being apprehended, are known in the immigrant community as “las hieleras,” or iceboxes, because they are often kept so cold.

The authorities in most cases are supposed to hold immigrants for no longer than 72 hours, yet five immigrants last week, interviewed by The New York Times, said they were held longer than that. One of them, Cecilio, who asked to be referred to by only his first name, said he and his son were in custody for eight days.

President Trump has pointed to the influx of migrants as evidence of a crisis justifying his call for building a wall on the border.

But elected officials in parts of the borderlands, including Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat, say that the recent mass releases of migrants without plans for housing them amounts to a fabricated crisis aimed at mustering support for the administration’s plans.

In any case, more migrant families are continuing to make their way toward the United States. A new caravan of about 1,200 migrants began moving toward the border over the weekend from southern Mexico.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained at Border for 30 Hours Despite Being a U.S. Citizen

By Matt Stevens

A 9-year-old United States citizen was detained at a Southern California border checkpoint for more than 30 hours this week while the authorities said they worked to verify her identity.

The girl, identified by NBC 7 San Diego as Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, had been making her daily commute from Tijuana, Mexico — where she and her 14-year-old brother, Oscar, live — to school in San Ysidro, Calif., on Monday, the news station said. Because traffic was moving slowly, Julia and Oscar opted to walk across the border rather than wait in the car and risk tardiness, according to NBC 7, which first reported the story.

In an email on Friday, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said two children arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. on Monday. The children, whom the spokesman did not identify, presented a C.B.P. officer with United States passport cards, according to the spokesman, Ralph DeSio.

“The younger child provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and C.B.P. officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship,” Mr. DeSio said.

He did not elaborate on what information was inconsistent, saying only: “Some specifics of our techniques for determining the true identity of a person crossing the border are law enforcement sensitive information. In addition, some details of this case are restricted from release due to privacy concerns.”

A federal official with knowledge of the case who was not authorized to speak about it said the 9-year-old had provided inaccurate information to border agents, which prompted a series of protocols that agents were required to conduct. The need to go through that process and ensure that the girl was not a victim of human trafficking contributed to the length of her detainment, the official said.

Eventually, border agents confirmed that the teenager was a United States citizen and he was permitted to enter the country, Mr. DeSio said. Then, around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the 9-year-old girl was admitted to the United States and released to her mother after the authorities confirmed her identity and her citizenship, Mr. DeSio said.

“C.B.P. prioritizes the safety of the minors we encounter,” he said. “It’s important that C.B.P. officials positively confirm the identity of a child traveling without a parent or legal guardian.”

The episode involving the children came as the agency is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of two American women who were stopped by a border agent who said he was asking for their identification because he had heard them speaking Spanish.

The cases have highlighted concerns over the power of Customs and Border Protection, whose agents have come under increased scrutiny as the Trump administration has sought to keep immigrants from crossing the country’s southern border. Thousands of people travel through the Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing every day for school or work.

Julia’s mother, Thelma Galaxia, told NBC 7 that while Julia was detained, agents accused her of lying about her identity, saying that her passport photo did not look like her. Julia told NBC 7 that the authorities accused her of being her cousin rather than herself, and said she was told that if she would admit that she had lied about her identity she would be released.

“I was scared,” Julia told NBC 7. “I was sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

The children also told the station that agents had accused Oscar of smuggling and other crimes.

The federal official with knowledge of the case declined to comment on the specific allegations made by Ms. Galaxia and her children but said that, in general, a person who appears to be lying to Customs and Border Protection officers is subject to increased scrutiny.

Attempts to reach Ms. Galaxia on Friday were unsuccessful.

In a statement, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego said that it “gave prompt assistance; in this regard, we supported the child’s mother within the framework of our consular protection programs, in observance to the protocols of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

ICE Has Been Wrongly Detaining U.S. Citizens In Florida Jails, Says ACLU

By Dominique Mosbergen

A troubling new report by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests many U.S. citizens — potentially numbering in the hundreds — are being wrongly detained for deportation every year after Immigration and Customs Enforcement misidentifies them as undocumented immigrants.

The report, published Wednesday, focused specifically on alleged wrongful detention of Americans in the Miami area. “ICE appears to be asking Miami-Dade County to jail a number of U.S. citizens every month, even though citizens can’t be deported or held by ICE,” the ACLU said.

As the nonprofit explained, ICE can issue requests, known as “detainers,” to local jails asking them to hold inmates they suspect of being in the country illegally until the federal agency can assume custody of them.

Jails then decide whether to honor these requests, which require detaining inmates for up to 48 business hours beyond the time they would otherwise be released. But, as the Orlando Sentinel notes, no jurisdiction in Florida refuses to comply with these requests.

Between February 2017 and February 2019, ICE issued detainers for 420 people listed in Miami-Dade County jail records as U.S. citizens, according to the ACLU report. ICE rescinded its request in at least 83 of these cases — a strong indication that it had wrongly identified dozens of U.S. citizens as being undocumented, the civil liberties group said.

As the Sentinel pointed out, ICE could choose to cancel a detainer for other reasons, such as an inability to “practically pick up an inmate” or “because ICE determines they have no interest in holding an inmate.” The ACLU insisted, however, that it’s “highly unlikely” that ICE ― particularly under the Trump administration ― would choose not to pursue valid cases.

Additionally, since “ICE often fails to cancel detainers for U.S. citizens, including in Miami and other Florida counties … the total number of U.S. citizens the agency targeted likely exceeds this figure [of 83],” the ACLU argued.

ICE has not responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.

The ACLU noted that other investigations have revealed that ICE wrongfully detains U.S. citizens elsewhere in the country.

According to an August Cato Institute report, ICE issued 814 detainers for people listed as U.S. citizens between 2005 and 2017 in Travis County, Texas. The agency eventually canceled about one-quarter of those requests.

“Based on statements from ICE officials, the best explanation for not executing these detainers is that ICE targeted at least 228 U.S. citizens in the county before canceling or declining to execute those detainers,” the institute said.

Using the Travis County data, the Cato Institute extrapolated that ICE may have wrongly called for the detention of almost 20,000 U.S. citizens nationwide between 2005 and 2017.

The ACLU came to a similar conclusion in its recent investigation. “If Miami’s experience is representative, ICE may now be targeting hundreds of U.S. citizens each year in states like Florida,” the report said.

The ACLU noted that ICE’s mistakes “can have profound consequences, both for the people who are wrongly held and for the state and local agencies that hold them. As recent cases illustrate, U.S. citizens have been kept in jail away from their jobs and families, and they have faced the terror of being told they would soon be deported from their only home.”

Two U.S. citizens in Florida recently sued local authorities for detaining them for deportation at ICE’s request.

In December, Peter Sean Brown, who was born in Philadelphia, filed a lawsuit against Richard Ramsay, the sheriff of Monroe County, for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be “secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures” after he the sheriff’s office detained him and threatened him with deportation.

“I am a U.S. citizen. How is this even possible?” Brown demanded of Ramsay in a written complaint, according to The Washington Post. Brown said he did not receive a response.

U.S. citizen Garland Creedle sued Miami-Dade County in 2017 after he was detained for two days at a Miami correctional facility at ICE’s behest.

“It goes to show just how sloppy [the detainer system] is,” Rebecca Sharpless, Creedle’s lawyer and the head of the University of Miami Law School’s immigration clinic, told the The New York Times that year. “What immigration does is check a box on a boilerplate form saying they have probable cause to hold someone in custody, and that is supposed to be constitutionally sufficient to detain them.”

“That’s what we’re saying is wrong,” Sharpless said.

The Florida legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 168, a bill that would force county jails to honor ICE detainers.

The ACLU has urged Floridians to reject the legislation.

“It essentially calls on law enforcement to provide literally unlimited compliance with detainers,” Amien Kacou, an attorney for the ACLU of Florida, told the Sentinel. “It amplifies the problems inherent in the detainer system and provides no safeguards to limit ICE’s mistakes.”

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

New US Asylum Policy Dealt Setback in Immigration Court

SAN DIEGO — Scheduling glitches led an immigration judge to deny the Trump administration’s request to order four Central American migrants deported because they failed to show for initial hearings Wednesday in the U.S. while being forced to wait in Mexico.

The judge’s refusal was a setback for the administration’s highly touted initiative to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.

One migrant came to court with a notice to appear on Saturday, March 30 and said he later learned that he was supposed to show up Wednesday. He reported in the morning to U.S. authorities at the main crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.

“I almost didn’t make it because I had two dates,” he said.

Similar snafus marred the first hearings last week when migrants who were initially told to show up Tuesday had their dates bumped up several days.

Judge Scott Simpson told administration lawyers to file a brief by April 10 that explains how it can assure migrants are properly notified of appointments. The judge postponed initial appearances for the four no-shows to April 22, which raised more questions about they would learn about the new date.

Government documents had no street address for the four men in Tijuana and indicated that correspondence was to be sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Simpson asked how the administration would alert them.

“I don’t have a response to that,” said Robert Wities, an attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At least two others were given notices to appear Tuesday but, when they showed up at the border, were told by U.S. authorities that they were not on the schedule that day. Their attorneys quickly got new dates for Wednesday but Mexico refused to take them back, forcing them to stay overnight in U.S. custody.

Laura Sanchez, an attorney for one of the men, said she called a court toll-free number to confirm her client’s initial hearing Tuesday but his name didn’t appear anywhere in the system. Later, she learned that it was Wednesday.

Sanchez said after Wednesday’s hearing that she didn’t know if Mexico would take her client back. Mexican officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Homeland Security Department representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

The snafus came two days before a federal judge in San Francisco hears oral arguments to halt enforcement of the “Migration Protection Protocols” policy in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

The policy shift, which followed months of high-level talks between the U.S. and Mexico, was launched in San Diego on Jan. 29 amid growing numbers of asylum-seeking families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt.

Families are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court and stay until their cases are resolved, which can take years. The new policy aims to change that by making people wait in Mexico, though it is off to a modest start with 240 migrants being sent back to Tijuana from San Diego in the first six weeks. U.S. officials say they plan to sharply expand the policy across the entire border.

Mexican officials have expressed concern about what both governments say is a unilateral move by the Trump administration but has allowed asylum seekers to wait in Mexico with humanitarian visas.

U.S. officials call the new policy an unprecedented effort that aims to discourage weak asylum claims and reduce a court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.

Several migrants who appeared Wednesday said they fear that waiting in Mexico for their next hearings would jeopardize their personal safety. The government attorney said they would be interviewed by an asylum officer to determine if their concerns justified staying in the U.S.

Some told the judge they struggled to find attorneys and were granted more time to find one. Asylum seekers are entitled to legal representation but not at government expense.

U.S. authorities give migrants who are returned to Mexico a list of no-cost legal providers in the U.S. but some migrants told the judge that calls went unanswered or they were told that services were unavailable from Mexico.

A 48-year-old man said under the judge’s questioning that he had headaches and throat ailments. The judge noted that migrants with medical issues are exempt from waiting in Mexico and ordered a medical exam.

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

Poll: More Americans Want Immigration to Stay the Same

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A growing number of Americans say immigration levels should remain the same or increase, according to a major U.S. survey, a shift that comes as the Trump administration has ramped up immigration enforcement.

At the same time, the latest data from the General Social Survey — a widely respected poll that has measured trends on American attitudes since the 1970s — shows a growing partisan divide on the topic over the past decade.

The 2018 survey was released this week and shows 34 percent of Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, down from 41 percent in 2016, according to an analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and GSS staff.

That’s compared with 23 percent of Americans who want more immigration, up from 17 percent in 2016. Forty-one percent say they want immigration levels to stay the same.

It’s the first time since the survey question was first asked in 2004 that more Americans want immigration to remain the same than to be reduced.

The survey is conducted every two years, and the question was last asked before President Donald Trump took office and made it harder for people to immigrate to the United States.

Trump — who made immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his election campaign — has repeatedly called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his push for wall funding last year drove the federal government to a monthlong shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of government workers.

The administration enacted a travel ban for citizens of mostly Muslim countries, including Iran and Yemen, that has torn many families apart. And officials last year separated immigrant parents from their children to prosecute illegal border crossers, a move that sparked an international outcry.

“People are more tolerant of immigration than the president and the far right would have us believe,” said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

According to the survey, nearly three times as many Democrats as Republicans want more immigrants allowed into the country, while Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to favor less immigration.

But fewer Republicans want a reduction in immigration than did in 2016. In 2018, 52 percent of Republicans said they wanted less immigration, down from 62 percent two years earlier.

Forty-four percent of Democrats say they want immigration levels to remain the same, while 34 percent want an increase in immigration.

The survey — which does not distinguish between illegal and legal immigration — also looked at Americans’ views on the issue by race. About 41 percent of whites want a decrease in immigration, while only 24 percent of blacks and 22 percent of Hispanics say the same.

Trump has made immigration an intensely political issue, and also an issue of race, said Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

“Trump is trying to create a Republican Party that’s much more based in an older, white electorate in nonmetropolitan areas of the country,” Pastor said. “The Democrats are trying to put together political coalitions that have a deep base in metropolitan areas, and that includes many more people of color.”


The General Social Survey has been conducted since 1972 by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing.

Sample sizes for each year’s survey vary from about 1,500 to about 3,000 adults, with margins of error falling between plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The most recent survey was conducted April 12 through November 10, 2018 and includes interviews with 2,348 American adults.

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

Duran-Rodriguez v. Barr

A Mexican police officer seeking asylum did not establish past harm rising to the level of persecution, where he received two death threats from hitmen for drug cartel, to cooperate with them in transporting drugs to the Mexican border. While death threats can constitute persecution, they constitute persecution in only a small category of cases, and only when the threats are so menacing as to cause significant actual suffering or harm.

Duran-Rodriguez v. Barr - filed March 20, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 16-72957 

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Nielsen v. Preap

The class of people referenced in 8 U. S. C. Sec. 1226(c)(1) as the alien is fixed by the predicate offenses identified in subparagraphs (A)–(D).

Nielsen v. Preap - filed March 18, 2019 
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 16-1363 

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez asks Wells Fargo CEO why the bank finances the ‘caging of children’

By Hamza Shaban

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took aim at Wells Fargo on Tuesday, accusing the banking giant of “financing the caging of children,” during a congressional hearing with chief executive Tim Sloan.

During Sloan’s appearance before the House Financial Services Committee, which is examining the company’s “pattern of consumer abuses,” Ocasio-Cortez pressed the CEO to explain why his company was financially supporting detention facilities where migrant children were held.

“Why was the bank involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?” she asked, referring to the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border under President Trump’s controversial immigration policy.

Sloan responded, “I don’t know how to answer that question, because we weren’t.”

Sloan acknowledged that Wells Fargo provided financing for two firms that run detention facilities used by the government, with one of those partnerships still active. However, he added, “I’m not familiar with the specific assertion that you are making, but we weren’t involved with that.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded: “These companies run private detention facilities run by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], which is involved in caging children but I’ll move on.”

The exchange highlighted the divisiveness over the family separation policy, but also the dispute over the language used to describe the detention facilities. Government officials have previously requested the media not refer to them as “cages.” As recently as last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen got into a semantic back-and-forth with members of Congress about what constitutes a cage.

“Sir, we don’t use cages for children,” Nielsen said in response to a question during a Homeland Security Committee hearing. She used her arms to gesture that only a smaller enclosure would qualify as a cage. “Sir, they’re not cages.”

But she was pressed on the issue later in the hearing. “What is a chain-link fence, enclosed into a chamber on a concrete floor represent to you?” asked Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) “Is that a cage?”

More than 2,700 children were separated from their parents last year as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy to deter migrant families from crossing the border. The separations stem from the administration’s decision to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible. Since government lawyers can’t prosecute children along with their parents, the efforts led to a drastic rise in children being taken away from their families.

Facing an intense public backlash against the separations, including from lawmakers and advocates who said the policy was harming children, Trump rescinded the order in June. But the U.S. deported about 430 parents without their children, and at least 200 of them still remain separated.

Last week a federal judge ruled that all migrant families separated during the border crackdown should be included in a class-action lawsuit against the administration.

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

ICE supervisors sometimes skip required review of detention warrants, emails show

By Bob Ortega

(CNN)Brent Oxley, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer in Little Rock, Arkansas, was happy in his work, which he says “gave me the feeling that I was helping protect my country.” A big part of his job: Look through rosters from local jails for people who might be deportable, ask for them to be held for ICE to pick up, then go get them.

But last May, ICE fired Oxley, for a variety of charges that included forging his supervisor’s signature on arrest warrants for undocumented immigrants. Federal immigration law requires each warrant to be signed by an authorized supervisor. By signing them himself, an ICE administrator wrote to Oxley, he had exposed ICE to the possibility of “numerous unlawful detention lawsuits” over illegal arrests, had they not reissued the warrants.

Oxley challenged his termination, convinced he had not been alone in skipping the warrant-review process, which could be inconvenient when supervisors weren’t in the office and the 48-hour time limit to release people was nearing its end. And he turned up evidence he was right.

Internal emails and other ICE documents he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, since reviewed by CNN, show that other officers across the five-state region where Oxley worked had improperly signed warrants on behalf of their supervisors — especially on evenings or weekends. Some supervisors even gave their officers pre-signed blank warrants — in effect, illegally handing them the authority to begin the deportation process.

Brent Oxley, who was fired from ICE in part for improperly signing detention warrants, at his graduation from the ICE Academy in Georgia, in January 2010.
Unlike Oxley, who outright forged his supervisor’s signature, the other officers generally signed for their supervisors after getting their permission via text or phone. But in such cases — or when officers were given blank, pre-signed warrants — it’s unclear how closely or even whether a supervisor would have reviewed an individual case.

Legally, the signature on a warrant attests that an authorized supervisor reviewed it and determined that there was probable cause to believe the person named was deportable. The Immigration and Naturalization Act doesn’t offer the option of letting unauthorized officers sign for supervisors.

Two other ICE employees told CNN that they’re aware of similar incidents of supervisors elsewhere in the country providing pre-signed blank warrants or telling officers to sign for them without full review, and that the practice is ongoing.

Lawyers and advocates interviewed by CNN expressed surprise about the improperly signed warrants, which could be used to challenge individual deportation orders at immigration hearings.

“If there’s evidence of that, that’s a big deal,” said Jeremy McKinney, a member of the executive committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, whose members represent clients in deportations and immigration matters. “That’s the root of an illegal arrest.”

More broadly, improperly signed warrants could become a point of contention in several ongoing lawsuits over ICE’s practice of asking law enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants in detention up to 48 hours longer than they otherwise would. With each such request, called a detainer, ICE sends along a warrant.

“This is very relevant to those cases,” said Lena Graber, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, in San Francisco. “When we think about what a warrant is, it’s based on preapproval from a neutral party determining that there are facts supporting an arrest. When there isn’t even an administrative review, that’s pretty egregious.”

A new front in the battle over detainers
ICE’s practice of asking law enforcement to hold immigrants — some being released from jail or prison, some picked up by sheriffs or police without ever being charged with a crime — has long been a source of concern for civil rights groups and city governments. Many jurisdictions have refused to comply with the requests, and immigrant-rights groups have sued the agency over the practice multiple times.

Two years ago, in an attempt to address those concerns and to conform with court rulings, ICE implemented a new rule that required that every detainer be accompanied by a warrant, and that authorized supervisors review and sign the warrants.

But the policy immediately came under fire from the ICE union. Supervisors weren’t always around when warrants needed to be signed. According to National ICE Council President Chris Crane, who is also an ICE deportation officer, some supervisors handled that by telling officers to sign warrants themselves or by pre-signing blank warrants, which undermined the intent of requiring higher-level scrutiny. Officers were frustrated by other cases that hit the 48-hour limit to hold suspected undocumented immigrants, Crane said: “It took so long for supervisors to respond that the criminals were being released by jails before a warrant and detainer could be obtained.”

“We believe that hundreds if not thousands of violations of this policy have taken place,” Crane told CNN. He believes the infractions are still happening across the country, far beyond the five states — Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee — covered by the New Orleans field office under which Oxley worked and from which he recovered internal documents.

One ICE deportation officer in the Northwestern United States, who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak for the agency, said his supervisors were not reviewing and signing individual warrants, called I-200s, as prescribed.

“I’ve had two supervisors since the memo came out. Both do it different ways, neither in the way that’s outlined in the policy,” the officer said. “My first supervisor would just sign the I-200s; he’d leave them blank and I would fill in the name later. My current supervisor tells us to sign his name for him.” Most supervisors in that office do the same, he added.

“There’s zero review,” the officer said. “They trust me and everybody on my team. They don’t review any of it. [The warrants] are only reviewed when [the detainees] are already in our custody and we place the files in front of them.”

ICE spokesman Vincent Picard acknowledged that federal law requires a supervisor to review and sign each warrant. But despite examples to the contrary cited by CNN, he dismissed the notion that improper signing of the warrants is widespread.

Picard said that ICE leaders “are not aware of any widespread confusion or instances of improperly issued warrants.” ICE deportation officers get training on the use of warrants during basic training, he said, and receive refreshers on the policy “as part of their professional development.”

“We have no evidence beyond the ICE union’s defense of a terminated employee that indicates ICE Deportation Officers are violating the law or associated policy,” Picard wrote in an emailed response to CNN. “If the union is aware of other employees who have violated the law by forging supervisory signatures on warrants, they should immediately be reported to the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.”

Picard also said that to deal with the scarcity of supervisors on nights and weekends, “ICE Field Offices instituted a number of solutions, all of which have been deemed legally sufficient.” He declined to share with CNN any written legal guidance for ICE agents on those solutions.

“Providing flexibility to officers in the field, such as getting verbal authorization from a supervisor to file a warrant, is legally sufficient in the same way that a magistrate can verbally approve a criminal warrant,” he added.

Out of 14 immigration attorneys across the country contacted by CNN, none was previously aware of ICE supervisors asking officers to sign warrants for them or providing pre-signed blank warrants. All 14 said they believed such practices may make the warrants invalid.

‘You can sign for me’
The emails and documents that Oxley uncovered from the New Orleans office region show how officers and supervisors were struggling with the policy — and sometimes skirting the law as a result.

On June 18 of last year, an ICE removals supervisor in Mobile, Alabama, emailed a higher-up asking how to handle the issue of the warrants, which the agency calls I-200s. His office was seeing supervisors “be on leave when assigned duty, not have capability of signing 200’s, or just not doing it until days later or at all over the weekend until Monday morning. Obviously, that has led to verbal approvals to ‘sign for me 200’s,'” he wrote. He cited an email that day from one of his officers, saying, “FYI, I didn’t get back a signed 200 all weekend due to the duty [supervisor] not able to send me one back. Verbal approvals via text.”

An officer in Nashville, Tennessee, complained to a higher-up that one supervisor had asked him to sign a warrant for him, and that another supervisor was unreachable. “If an alien is let go in the meantime that will be on him. He should be required to answer calls in the middle of the night if case be, the same way that I am,” he wrote.

After Oxley was terminated in May 2018, union Executive Vice President LeAnn Mezzacapo warned the head of the New Orleans field office that she was hearing of a “panic in the field with other officers (and supervisors) who have been doing the exact things he was fired for.”

“I understand you are aware of the extent of the problems now, so maybe we can have a candid call about how to fix the problems,” Mezzacapo wrote.

In fact, Oxley went further than colleagues who got supervisors’ signoff permission via text or phone call. “Pretty much … from the get-go, from when the policy came out,” he told CNN, he put his supervisor’s signature on warrants directly himself, rather than wait for his supervisor to sign them.

“You look every day to see who’s locked up in the jails — it’s racial profiling, really. You’re looking for odd names: a Carlos Lopez, not a John Smith,” Oxley said. “We were putting detainers on every illegal alien coming across the radar.”

He said that when he started signing the warrants himself, “I just did that, figuring it was permissible.” But he conceded that his supervisor was right in saying it wasn’t. Oxley’s termination letter cited five instances of him forging his supervisor’s signature on warrants, but Oxley said those were not the only instances.

Still, he said, the emails he obtained showed him he was not the only one signing improperly on a supervisor’s behalf. “I found out that people all throughout the field office had been doing it, and that on the record, the warrants were legally insufficient,” he said.

In a ruling for a government board that upheld Oxley’s termination, Administrative Judge Marie Malouf confirmed there were examples of supervisors giving officers pre-signed warrants, leaving the detainer decision in their hands. She wrote that Oxley’s supervisor testified that he “provided an electronically signed I-200 to the DOs [deportation officers] under his supervision. He explained that he provided the electronically signed I-200 to use in the event he was not available to sign it,” with the understanding that officers would contact him for approval before using them. Another officer, however, testified that she was given no guidance on checking with supervisors before using pre-signed I-200s.

All the same, Malouf upheld Oxley’s termination — in part because she said that, unlike other agents, he hadn’t gotten permission from his supervisor before signing the warrants.

Oxley now works as a schoolteacher in South Carolina. He is pursuing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, seeking reinstatement.

Crane, at the National ICE Council, said he is considering sending a complaint to Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General that unauthorized officers are continuing to sign warrants. “ICE is flat-out lying about this,” he said.

The improperly signed warrants mean that some undocumented immigrants may already have been deported without ever knowing there could be a legal problem with their detention. But Graber, at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said the internal emails may not provide enough information to dispute specific warrants from the past. “It looks pretty uphill to do anything, since the names are redacted,” she said. “The likelihood that all the pieces fit together to find the person and file the motions for that to happen seems very low.”

Still, immigration attorneys say a pattern of improperly or pre-signed warrants may become a front in the ongoing legal battles over ICE’s calls for local law enforcement to hold immigrants for them — and their efforts may expose whether the problem has, as Crane said, extended nationwide. “To the extent there are cases, and there are quite a number, that are challenging detainer practices,” said Jennie Pasquarella, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, “this is going to be explored in discovery.”

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