About Me

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


Thursday, October 31, 2019

DACA recipient faces deportation because of new ICE policy

TUCSON – A local DACA recipient is concerned as she could face deportation because of the latest policy changes from the Trump administration.

The latest change could mean immigration courts could get a heavy increase of cases just like hers.

Zoila Pelayo is a mother of four. She moved to Tucson from Mexico when she was six years old.

Pelayo attended Flowing Wells High School and is now a special education teacher there.

“In the morning, I get one kid and then the second hour, I get two,” said Pelayo.

Despite the challenges that come with being a full-time teacher and mother, Pelayo said she had to overcome her disability. She is legally blind and has trouble reading and writing.

“I feel like I’ve been here long enough to be an American citizen,” said Pelayo. “I came here so I don’t. I don’t know I’m scared to go back to Mexico because like I said I don’t know nobody.”

In 2012, Pelayo faced deportation because of a traffic violation. The case was dismissed and she became a DACA recipient.

Now with the latest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies, she is facing deportation again.

ICE notified Pelayo that they plan to re-calendar her case.

“Any case that got administratively closed under Barack Obama and his presidency are now being, what they cal, l re-calendared,” said Mo Goldman, an immigration attorney. “Or their filing requests to the court to re-calendar them and that’s because we’ve had a drastic shift in policy.”

Pelayo’s biggest fear is leaving her family.

“If they stop me, I think I’m going to be scared,” Pelayo said. “I just want to stay here and everything like that because it’s scary.”

Pelayo is not alone. Goldman said he is starting to see more cases like Pelayo’s.

“We still have a Supreme Court case about the constitutionality about the program the DACA program and that’s still pending,” said Goldman. “We have people who actually have this legitimately authorized documents that say they’re allowed to be here in the United States and allow them to work in the U.S. Now, another prong of the Department of Homeland Security is telling these individuals no your not supposed to be here we want to deport you.”

News 4 Tucson reached out to ICE about Pelayo’s case and the current policies, but have not yet received a statement back.

Pelayo is still waiting for a court date to be set in her immigration case.

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

Top Trump Official Regrets Immigrant Medical Relief Decision

BOSTON — A top federal immigration official is taking responsibility for his agency's now rescinded decision to stop considering requests from immigrants seeking to defer deportation for medical treatment and other hardships.

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said in congressional testimony Wednesday that he was solely responsible for the widely criticized Aug. 7 policy change.

He said "it was a mistake" how the initial decision was rolled out, but defended its rationale, citing his agency's heavy caseload.

Cuccinelli also stressed he didn't foresee further changes to the policy.

The former Virginia Attorney General is on Trump's shortlist to succeed outgoing Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

McAleenan had reversed Cuccinelli's decision last month after Boston civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit and the House Oversight Committee held a contentious hearing .

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

US sued over health insurance rule for immigrant families

A lawsuit Wednesday accused the Trump administration of preventing Americans from bringing their foreign spouses and parents to live with them in the United States by requiring those immigrants to prove they can afford health care before they get visas.

Seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit organization filed the federal lawsuit in Portland, Oregon, over the rule that’s set to take effect Sunday. It applies to people seeking immigrant visas from abroad, not those already in the country, and doesn’t affect asylum seekers, refugees or children.

“Congress makes laws, the president executes them. This is an egregious attempt to supercede and overturn congressional will, not only in the immigration realm but in the health care realm,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association who helped file the case.

Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The rule is the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit immigrant access to public programs while trying to move the country away from a family-based immigration system and into a merit-based system.

Earlier this year, the administration made sweeping changes to regulations that would deny green cards to immigrants who use some forms of public assistance, but the courts have blocked that measure.

Under the government’s visa rule, the required insurance can be bought individually or provided by an employer and it can be short-term coverage or catastrophic.

Medicaid doesn’t count, and an immigrant can’t get a visa if using the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies when buying insurance. The federal government pays for those subsidies.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status and to block the rule from taking effect.

The rule is a problem for Iris Angelina Castro, an American citizen from Springfield, Illinois. The former teacher has applied for her husband, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, to obtain an immigrant visa to join her in the United States.

He’s been preparing paperwork for a consular interview, but now they doubt he will qualify because she quit her job after her son got sick and now has state health insurance, according to the complaint.

She is pregnant with her second child and wants her husband to be there for the birth of their daughter.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are trying to bring their spouses to live with them from Mexico and Germany. One woman is trying to bring her parents from Nicaragua and hasn’t been able to find them reasonable health insurance.

“It’s an impossibility,” said Bless, the attorney. “There’s been no standards provided to show: ‘How much money do I need to show that I can pay for my own care?’”

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

USCIS Makes Another Form Available for Online Filing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that petitioners can now complete and file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, online. Online filing allows aliens to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case, and receive notices from USCIS.

“Form I-130 is one of the most widely filed USCIS forms,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “As we continue our transition to paperless operations, petitioners can now experience the convenience of filing electronically. USCIS is increasing the number of forms available for online filing to make our agency more effective and efficient.”

With today’s addition, individuals can now file eight USCIS forms online:

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539 is the first online application filing that uses USCIS’ eProcessing strategy. Check your eligibility for online filing of this form at uscis.gov/i539online.)
Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322
To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov. This free account allows them to:

Submit and track the status of their forms;
Pay their fees;
Track the status of their case;
Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; and
Respond to requests for evidence.
USCIS still accepts the latest paper version of all forms by mail.

USCIS is using innovation and technology to meet the needs of applicants, petitioners, employees, and stakeholders. Regardless of the paper or electronic format of an application or petition, USCIS is committed to ensuring a secure and efficient process for all.

“I Need to Work”

While the Southern California Getty Fire continues to rage, Brittny Mejia at the Los Angeles Times spoke to immigrants who seemed to be heading to work as normal — even in neighborhoods facing mandatory evacuation orders. Mejia met and assisted several housekeepers and gardeners who were either unaware of the blaze due to the language barrier or who had not yet been told by their bosses to leave. A few were simply determined to finish the day’s work: “If they say I have to evacuate, I will,” said Chon Ortiz, a gardener. “But I need to work.”

USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced beginning on Nov. 29, it is adjusting the fee to request premium processing for certain employment-based petitions.

The premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410 for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, reflects the full amount of inflation from the implementation of the premium processing fee in June 2001 through August 2019 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). USCIS last increased the fee in 2018.

Premium processing is an optional service currently authorized for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The system allows petitioners to request 15-day processing of these forms if they pay an extra fee. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee and any other applicable fees. It cannot be waived.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

AILA Relaunches Consumer Website to Combat Notario Fraud

AILA has long worked to educate immigrants on the dangers of trusting a notary or immigration consultant and the benefits of engaging an immigration attorney to help them achieve their American dream. To this end, we are excited to officially relaunch the Stop Notario Fraud website, redesigned to be more informative and user friendly. Share it with your community today!

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

Facilities Part II

Migrants detained by ICE in a Georgia detention facility have filed a lawsuit against the agency for violating their human rights, reports Nick Wooten in the Ledger-Enquirer. The lawsuit, written by the detained men, was filed with the help of Project South, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Detention Watch Network, and Georgia Detention Watch. “We are desperate,” The complaint reads. “Many of us came in search of freedom, fleeing persecution and torture by dictators in countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. And we find all these abuses that cause us to suffer even more.”

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

Facilities Part I

Homestead, once the nation’s largest for-profit detention center for unaccompanied migrant children, will be closing on Nov. 30, Lisette Voytko reports in Forbes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not renew the Florida-based Homestead’s federal contract once recommended for closure by Amnesty International. In addition, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has requested an internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation into the conditions at Otero County Processing Center in southern New Mexico, reports theAssociated Press.

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Exclusive: Texas immigration center guard accused of assaulting boy, five

A private prison guard physically assaulted a five-year-old boy at an immigration detention center in Texas, according to a complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Advocates for the boy and his mother expect the family to be deported on Friday and asked the US government to halt the deportation to investigate the alleged assault. The advocates also said the family, who are anonymous for safety reasons, face imminent harm or death in their home country of Honduras.

The alleged assault occurred in late September, when the boy was playing with a guard employed by the private prison company CoreCivic who had played with the boy before.

The five-year-old tried to give the guard a high-five, but accidentally hit him instead, angering the guard, according to a complaint seen by the Guardian. The guard then allegedly grabbed the boy’s wrist “very hard” and would not let go.

“The boy’s mother told the guard to let go and tried to pull her son’s hand away, but the guard kept holding on,” according to the complaint. “He finally released the boy and threatened to punish him if he hit him again.”

The complaint said the boy’s hand was swollen and bruised and he was treated with pain medication and ice at the South Texas family residential center in Dilley, in a remote part of the state about 100 miles from the US-Mexico border.

The Dilley detention center has been controversial since it opened in 2014. Dilley can hold 2,400 people, the most of any family detention center in the country, and in March 2019 held at least 15 babies under one year old.

“Since the assault, the boy is afraid of male officials at the jail, goes to the bathroom in his pants, bites his nails until they bleed, and does not want to play, sleep, eat, or bathe,” the complaint said.

Ice spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said in an email that the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility does not comment on pending investigations.

“However, the agency is committed to ensuring all individuals in our custody are treated in a safe, secure and humane manner. Accusations of alleged unlawful conduct are investigated thoroughly and appropriate action is taken, if necessary, to ensure the safety and security of those in ICE custody,” Pruneda said.

Katy Murdza, advocacy manager for the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which sends volunteers into the Dilley detention center to help families, met with the mother on Wednesday.

Murdza said the mother is fearful of her imminent deportation and is upset about what happened to her son because she had little power to protect him.

“She was unable to prevent someone from hurting her child and while she has tried to report it, she hasn’t received any information on what the results are, so she still does not have control of whether the detention center let that staff member back in,” Murdza said.

“When people are detained and it’s hidden from the public, these sorts of things happen and there are probably many other cases that we have never learned about that could be similar to this,” Murdza added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said in March 2017 that no migrant child in the custody of their parent should ever be detained because the conditions could harm or retraumatize them.

The US government can release asylum-seeking families in the US while they wait for their cases to be heard in court, but Donald Trump’s administration favors expanding detention and has tried to extend how long children can be held in detention centers.

Katie Shepherd, national advocacy counsel with the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign, filed the complaint on Thursday with the DHS watchdog, the office of the inspector general, and with its office for civil rights and civil liberties.

“The government has a long history demonstrating it’s not capable of holding people in their custody responsibly and certainly not children who require special protections and safeguards,” Shepherd said. “They require a different environment, not one where guards are going to be physically abusing them.”

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

Wall Update

The Trump administration has acquired only 16% of the private land it needs to build the president’s signature border wall — “casting doubt on his campaign promise to complete nearly 500 miles of new fencing by the end of next year,” Nick Miroff and Arelis R. Hernández report for The Washington Post. In Texas, 162 of the 166 miles of planned border barrier lie on private property, and landowners are reluctant to give up property for the project. David Acevedo, a rancher and businessman, granted government officials access to his property but does not want a wall built on it:  “I want border security. Put up more cameras, sensors, send more agents and give them drones … But we don’t need a wall.”

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


Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will head to the Supreme Court next month to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Tucker Higgins reports at CNBC. The move is seen as controversial by some immigration advocates who argue that Napolitano, who was instrumental in creating the DACA program under President Obama, did not do enough to avoid deporting “innocent immigrants” (more than half of the 419,000 people deported in fiscal year 2012 were not criminals). Per Napolitano: “I think we had the right priorities and were enforcing the right priorities, and I think the approach of this administration, that anybody is fair game, is not good policy and it’s not consistent with our values.”

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

Friday, October 25, 2019


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a report last week celebrating the results of Trump’s immigration agenda during fiscal year 2019, per Daniel Shoer Roth in the Miami Herald. Specifically, there were five changes USCIS touted in its “historic year:” (1) reducing asylum claims, (2) denying residence to immigrants considered a “public charge,” (3) increasing the minimum financial requirement for investor-based residency, (4) analyzing social media use of citizenship and visa applications, and (5) increasing the investigation and screening of immigrants. Meanwhile, the president plans to “hit the gas” on his immigration agenda in 2020, Paul Bedard reports in the Washington Examiner: “Topping his list will be the construction of one mile a day of new border wall, aggressive challenges to judicial hurdles, and a new merit-based green card for foreign workers.”

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


Europe’s cramped, “hellish” refugee camps are “an expression of the continent’s self-inflicted helplessness,” Yiannis Baboulias writes in an opinion piece for Foreign Policy, arguing that the EU’s populist politicians and internal disputes have left the continent weaker: Europe relies on Turkey to act as a buffer for Syrian refugees, straining diplomatic relations and giving Turkey “the upper hand in any conversation about migration” as the region continues to receive millions of people fleeing war. If the continent is going to solve this crisis, populist immigration hardliners “cannot be allowed to obstruct Europe’s ability to resolve coming geostrategic challenges. A continent as wealthy and peaceful as Europe cannot possibly continue to claim it can’t accommodate the few thousands stuck in Greece and whoever else arrives to its shores from active war zones.”

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

USCIS Updates Fee Waiver Requirements

Revised Criteria Provides Clarity for Demonstrating Eligibility

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has revised Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, by removing the means-tested benefit criteria that was previously used as a factor in determining whether an applicant was exempt from paying for filing fees or biometric services. Individuals may still request a fee waiver if their documented annual household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or they demonstrate financial hardship.

A means-tested benefit is a public benefit—offered by federal, state, or local agencies—for which eligibility and amount considerations are based on a person’s income and resources. USCIS formerly considered Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income during eligibility evaluations.

USCIS has determined that receiving a means-based benefit is not an appropriate criteria in reviewing fee-waiver requests because income levels used to decide local assistance eligibility vary greatly from state to state.

“USCIS relies on fees to cover the costs of adjudicating applications and petitions, implementing operational efforts, and ensuring the nation’s lawful immigration system is properly administered,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “USCIS waives hundreds of millions of dollars in fees annually. The revised fee waiver process will improve the integrity of the program and the quality and consistency of fee waiver approvals going forward. Providing clear direction to agency adjudicators for more uniform determinations will help us to uphold our mission of efficiently and fairly adjudicating immigration requests.”

USCIS has estimated that the annual dollar amount of fee waivers increased from around $344.3 million in fiscal year 2016 to $367.9 million in FY 2017. In FY 2018, the estimated annual dollar amount of fee waivers USCIS granted was $293.5 million. Fee revenues account for more than 95% of the USCIS budget.

Under the revised criteria, individuals may still request a fee waiver if:

Their documented annual household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; or
They demonstrate financial hardship.
However, USCIS will require applicants to complete Form I-912 and submit supporting documentation, including federal income tax transcripts. USCIS will not accept a letter stating the applicant is unable to afford filing fees or biometric services without a completed Form I-912.

As of Dec. 2, those seeking a fee waiver must submit the 10/24/19 version of this form to request a waiver of a required fee for immigration benefits. After Dec. 2, USCIS will reject any Form I-912 with an edition date of 03/13/18 or earlier, a fee waiver request submitted with a letter, or documentation of receipt of means-tested benefit to show eligibility for a fee waiver. USCIS will adjudicate any fee waiver request postmarked before Dec. 2 under the previous policy, AFM 10.9, Waiver of Fees.

The new form does not change the applications and petitions that are eligible for a fee waiver. For the list of eligible applications and petitions, see the Form I-912 Instructions. In addition, USCIS has updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to accompany this form revision. The updated policy guidance is effective on Dec. 2.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Man v. Barr

In removal proceedings commenced against a noncitizen after the non-citizen has already entered the country, an immigration judge lacks authority to grant the non-citizen a U visa waiver of inadmissibility under 8 U.S.C. §1182(d)(3)(A)(ii). An alien’s conviction under California Health and Safety Code §11359 was a drug trafficking aggravated felony that made him inadmissible and ineligible for adjustment of status.

Man v. Barr - filed Oct. 24, 2019
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 13-70840

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

USCIS Begins Producing Security-Enhanced Travel Documents

To prevent secure document tampering, counterfeiting, and fraud, we will begin producing on Oct. 24 a new security-enhanced U.S. travel document, which is a booklet that looks similar to a U.S. passport and serves dual purposes. The travel document can serve in place of:

Form I-327, Permit to Reenter the United States: Lawful permanent residents use the Reentry Permit to return from temporary travel outside of the United States and, in some cases, may use a Reentry Permit for travel in place of a passport; and
Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document: Those with refugee or asylum status use a Refugee Travel Document if they wish to temporarily travel outside of the United States and, in some cases, may use a Refugee Travel Document for travel in place of a passport.
The new travel document will include a variety of secure features:

Redesigned booklet cover
Four montages containing three images, each of notable U.S. architecture, used throughout the booklet
A combination of first-, second- and third-level security features (overt, covert and forensic)
Overt is something you can see with the eye, such as the central image of the Statue of Liberty.
Covert is something that requires a tool, such as a magnifying glass, to see fine detail artwork.
Forensic is something that requires laboratory examination. 
Prior versions of the travel document will remain valid until their expiration date.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Private prisons in Louisiana are making a hefty profit by locking up thousands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, Bryn Stole reports for The Times-Picayune. As the number of Louisiana state inmates has declined, controversial private prison operators like LaSalle Corrections are turning to ICE detainees, most of whom are seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, to boost their revenues. Meanwhile, Julia Ainsley at NBC reports that the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) — the nation’s largest public pension fund — joined other businesses in pledging to divest from GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two for-profit prison companies that run the most ICE detention facilities. Follow the money.

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


In a significant reversal, the Trump administration announced it has withdrawn fines for undocumented immigrants seeking refuge in churches across the country, Franco Ordoñez reports for NPR. ICE had previously issued fines ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 to immigrants for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” Attorney Lizbeth Mateo is now calling on ICE to reverse its position toward these immigrants: “ICE has demonstrated with this that they have the power to exercise discretion – the same way they can use discretion to drop these finds, they can use it to release sanctuary families.”

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


Dozens of immigrants will begin a march from New York City to Washington, D.C. this Saturday to highlight the Supreme Court case that will decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Stephen Rex Brown and Michael Gartland write for the New York Daily News. Oral arguments are set to begin at SCOTUS on Nov. 12. “My biggest concern as a parent is losing deportation protections,” said Eliana Fernandez, a DACA recipient and mother of two who will participate in the march. “What will happen if I’m taken away from my kids?” 

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Visa Bulletin for November 2019

DOS released the November 2019 Visa Bulletin. In addition to final action dates and dates for filing applications, it includes notes on the November availability of numbers in the Diversity Immigrant (DV) category and December rank cut-offs, as well as information on the November 21, 2019, expiration of the SR religious worker and the I5 and R5 visa categories. Further legislative action is needed to extend these categories for FY2020.

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

Trump Outstripping Obama on Pace of Executive Orders

WASHINGTON — It wasn't too long ago that Donald Trump derided presidential executive orders as "power grabs" and a "basic disaster."

He's switched sides in a big way: In each year of his presidency, he has issued more executive orders than did former President Barack Obama during the same time span. He surpassed Obama's third-year total just recently.

Back in 2012, Trump had tweeted: "Why Is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?"

That criticism continued once he entered the presidential race.

"The country wasn't based on executive orders," Trump said at a South Carolina campaign stop in February 2016. "Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can't even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It's a basic disaster. You can't do it."

But Trump appears to have learned what his predecessors discovered as well: It's easier and often more satisfying to get things done through administrative action than to get Congress to go along, said Andrew Rudalevige, a professor at Bowdoin College who studies the history and effectiveness of presidential executive actions.

"Most candidates don't realize the utility of executive actions while campaigning," Rudalevige said. "When they become president, they quickly gain an appreciation of how difficult it is to get things done in government."

The White House declined to comment on Trump's use of executive orders. He surpassed Obama's third-year total when, in the last two weeks, he issued five executive orders relating to Medicare, government transparency, federal spending and imposing sanctions on Turkish officials.

An executive order can have the same effect as a federal law — but its impact can be fleeting. Congress can pass a new law to override an executive order and future presidents can undo them.

Every president since George Washington has used the executive order power, according to the National Constitution Center, and some of those orders played a critical role in American history. President Franklin Roosevelt established internment camps during World War II. President Harry Truman mandated equal treatment of all members of the armed forces through executive orders. And President Dwight Eisenhower used an executive order to enforce school desegregation in Little Rock.

When Obama became frustrated with how difficult it was to push legislation through Congress, he warned Republicans he would take executive action when he considered it necessary.

He famously declared in 2014: "We're not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help they need. I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."

Few candidates for office have placed so much emphasis on criticizing a predecessor's executive orders as Trump did. He reasoned that Obama's use of executive orders made him look like a weak negotiator. But Trump himself has had little success with Congress in that regard. His biggest legislative achievement so far, a $1.5 trillion tax cut, failed to gain one Democratic vote.

Trump has so far issued 130 executive orders. By comparison, Obama issued 108 in his first three years.

Still, Rudalevige says that comparing executive orders from one president to the next can provide a misleading snapshot of a president's propensity for taking executive action. That's because presidents also use memoranda and proclamations to achieve policy goals or to get the message out about their priorities. One president's executive order might be another's memoranda, or phone call even.

Obama relied on memoranda and proclamations for some of his most disputed executive actions, so just counting his executive orders understates his efforts to take action without Congress passing a bill.

For example, protections for young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children came about through a Department of Homeland Security memorandum. That effort allowed eligible individuals to request temporary relief from deportation and apply for authorization to work in the U.S.

Obama took the action after Congress had declined to pass the Dream Act, legislation that would have helped a similar group of migrants. Republicans argued Obama overstepped his constitutional authority. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over the Trump administration's plan to end the program, which has protected roughly 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. Lower courts have so far blocked the administration from ending the program.

Obama also issued proclamations to declare new national monuments in Utah and Nevada in his final days in office. In all, he issued 34 monument proclamations, including designating 29 new monuments and enlargement of five existing monuments as he brandished his conservation legacy. Some of the largest monument designations were heavily criticized by state and local officials.

Rudalevige said that Trump appears to favor the pomp and ceremony that often comes with an executive order. He routinely makes a speech, administration officials and potentially affected Americans get to thank him for taking action and Trump often signs the order before the cameras, holding it up in the air for photographers to capture the moment.

"I think it fits his personality," Rudalevige said.

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

Supreme Court Takes Up Case Over Quick Deportations

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will review a lower court ruling in favor of a man seeking asylum and which the Trump administration says could further clog the U.S. immigration court system.

The justices said Friday they will hear the administration's appeal of a ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco that blocked the quick deportation of a man from Sri Lanka.

The high court's decision should come by early summer in the middle of the presidential campaign. It could have major implications for those seeking asylum and administration efforts to speed up deportations for many who enter the U.S. and claim they'll be harmed if they are sent home.

The court's intervention comes in the case of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He is a member of the Tamil ethnic minority who says he was jailed and tortured for political activity during the civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

He fled the country in 2016, after he was tortured again by intelligence officers, he said in court papers. He crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 17, 2017 where he was arrested by a Border Patrol agent 25 yards into the U.S.

He requested asylum. But he did not pass his initial screening, a "credible fear" interview where he had to show a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death if he were to return to his home country. Nearly 90 percent of all asylum seekers pass their initial interview, and then are generally released into the country where they await court proceedings.

But since 2004, asylum seekers who don't pass and who are arrested within 100 miles of the border and two weeks of arriving in the United States are subject to "expedited removal," or quick deportation. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, representing Thuraissigiam, say the system lacks basic protections for immigrants, in violation of the Constitution.

The Trump administration has proposed expanding expedited removal to undocumented immigrants encountered anywhere in the U.S. if they have been in the country for under two years. The policy is not in effect, pending a court challenge.

Thuraissigiam, who remains in the United States while his legal case continues, probably would be entitled to a federal court hearing if he prevails at the Supreme Court.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mother Jones: The Trump Administration Is Denying H‑1B Visas at a Dizzying Rate, but It's Hit a Snag

Mother Jones reports that as the Trump administration has been aggressively denying applications for H‑1B visas, a record number of those denials have been overturned on appeal, suggesting that the administration has been wrongfully rejecting qualified applicants. Between FY2014 and FY2017, the AAO reversed about 3 percent of the H‑1B decisions it reviewed. Yet in 2018, it overruled USCIS in nearly 15 percent of H‑1B appeals. AILA Associate Director of Government Relations Diane Rish explained, "The agency wouldn't apply the regulation correctly and erroneously denied applications, whether it's the fault of training or an analysis not properly done." See the H-1B wage level and specialty occupation documents that AILA obtained through a FOIA lawsuit. Find this story and more in AILA's daily immigration news clips.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Family From Netflix's 'Living Undocumented' Says They're Being Targeted By ICE

A Colombian family told Newsweek that, since the series aired, their father has been deported and their two sons have left school to go into hiding.

Netflix’s Living Undocumented series presents a rare view of the citizenship crisis many families quietly battle by letting cameras follow the daily struggles of eight undocumented families. The Colombia-born Dunoyer family is one of them, but the price of their participation has been steep: Newsweek reports that they're now living in fear of being targeted by ICE.

The family explained in the series that they fled to the U.S. in 2002 and applied for asylum through San Diego's immigration system because their father Roberto's life was being threatened by drug traffickers. (The series even stated that guerillas in Colombia were still sending Roberto threats at the time the documentary was made.) But in 2008 a judge denied their asylum request. After the Netflix series aired, Roberto was picked up by authorities in the parking lot of his job and he was deported, the family tells Newsweek. Now, his sons Camilo and Pablo, who are 18 and 21, have dropped out of school and are living in separate hideaway locations. Camilo told Newsweek, "I don't feel safe anywhere. [...] I barely leave the house I'm in."

The Dunoyer family's plight highlights an issue in documentary filmmaking: what happens when a project puts its subjects at risk? In Living Undocumented, Roberto's background story of narrowly escaping murderous drug traffickers heightens the drama and suspense of the series. But for the Dunoyer family, that's their reality.

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

Guatemalan migrant who was shot in the head and detained has been granted asylum

A Guatemalan migrant who was shot in the head, then detained for months by the US, has been granted asylum, marking a major victory for an indigenous man whose story sparked widespread outrage.

Rolando, 27, won his asylum case on Tuesday after a lengthy trial in San Diego about the persecution he faced in Guatemala, which included physical abuse by police and attempts on his life after his father’s murder. Rolando first spoke to the Guardian last month about surviving a gunshot wound to the head and fleeing to a US port of entry, which resulted in his long-term detention and a series of medical crises behind bars.

His case caught the attention of lawmakers , rights groups and news organizations across the country. His Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) medical records showed that he was repeatedly bleeding from his eyes, ears and nose, and sometimes losing consciousness – and that medical staff were mainly responding by prescribing him ibuprofen. He was also placed in solitary confinement.

“It’s really exciting,” said Anne Rios, his attorney with Al Otro Lado, an organization that provides services for migrants on both sides of the border. “Many people are fighting so hard to win their case, and when it happens, it’s almost like they are in shock, which is what I found with him. It’s also about what’s next.”

Rolando, who asked not to use his full name to protect his safety, has no family, continues to suffer from undiagnosed and serious medical conditions and only speaks limited Spanish, since his native Mayan language is Qʼeqchiʼ.

“He still has a very long journey in front of him,” said Rios, who said she was working to find him a permanent home and is exploring options across the US. “It’s really about where he can go to be safe and comfortable.”

Ice had repeatedly refused to release Rolando from the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego while his asylum case was pending this year, even though he had presented himself at a port of entry, had no criminal record or immigration violations, and was suffering from complex and potentially life-threatening medical crises. Al Otro Lado was able to get him released in September, but only after paying a $5,000 bond, covered by the organization’s revolving fund.

At trial, the US continued to argue that he should be denied asylum and sent back to Guatemala despite forensic evidence of the torture he survived, as well as the detailed claims of violence he faced as an indigenous Guatemalan, Rios said. Rolando told the Guardian that returning to Guatemala would mean a certain death. A judge ultimately sided with Rolando and granted asylum.

Ice has repeatedly defended its healthcare, saying all detainees receive timely access to medical services and treatment. A spokeswoman declined to comment on Rolando’s case on Wednesday.

His victory comes as the Trump administration has continued its aggressive attacks on migrants and efforts to dramatically restrict asylum seekers with policies that advocates say are escalating humanitarian crises.

Rios said she was grateful that Rolando’s story had spread and that she wanted people to know his case was common.

“This is very difficult work,” she said, noting that people like Rolando can struggle to get legal representation and support. “This is not an isolated case. We have thousands of people in detention and tens of thousands of people stuck at the border.”

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

Democrats Protest $200M in Additional Border Wall Transfers

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has quietly transferred more than $200 million from Pentagon counterdrug efforts toward building his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing protests from Democrats who say he is again abusing his powers.

The move would shift $129 million to wall construction from anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan — the source of perhaps 90 percent of the world's heroin — along with $90 million freed up by passage of a stopgap funding bill, top Democrats said in a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

The Defense Department "was faced with a simple choice: either additional funds be used for their intended purpose, to accelerate our military's efforts to combat heroin production in Afghanistan; or divert these funds to pay for cost increases of a border wall project that does not have the support of the American people," the Democrats wrote.

Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont took the lead, noting that the heroin trade is a major funding source for the Taliban and urging the Pentagon to "redouble its efforts to starve the Taliban of a vital funding source and reduce the scourge of heroin abuse in this country and abroad."

Trump has shifted more than $6 billion from Pentagon accounts to pay for border fence construction, considerably more than lawmakers have provided through annual appropriations bills.

Wall funding has been a major source of conflict between Capitol Hill Democrats and Trump as they negotiate agency funding bills each year. For instance, Trump was forced to settle for just $1.4 billion in wall funding in talks this winter. He issued a controversial declaration of a national emergency shortly afterward that allowed him to shift almost three times as much money from military construction accounts to wall building.

A fight over the wall issue is tying up efforts to begin serious negotiations on wrapping up $1.4 trillion worth of agency appropriations by Thanksgiving.

Separately, the Senate is expected to vote Thursday to sustain Trump's veto Tuesday of legislation to reject his emergency declaration.

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

This travel fund helps lawyers fly to the border and help asylum seekers


SAN DIEGO —  From her home in northern Wisconsin, Charlene D’Cruz has to drive two hours to Duluth, Minn., and take a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to St. Paul, where she hops on a four-hour flight to San Diego so that she can represent migrants stranded in the U.S.-Mexico border.
“There’s a saying in Wisconsin,” she said. “If you don’t drive 60 miles away you haven’t left your house.”

D’Cruz, an immigration lawyer, has been doing this for more than a year to volunteer with other attorneys trying to help asylum seekers in Mexico. Each trip takes hours to complete and costs hundreds of dollars.

For D’Cruz, who runs her own small, private firm, it wasn’t exactly sustainable.

“Doing that on my own account can get really expensive,” she said.

Fortunately for her, a group called Lawyers for Good Government has been trying to pick up the tab. Through the Project Corazon Travel Fund, it has collected over 45 million air miles to help cover transportation for lawyers trying to help migrants along the southwest border. The organization is currently accepting more donations on its website.

The fund has already flown more than 40 lawyers to the border or detention centers using donated airline miles and organizers are currently matching 26 more attorneys with donors. By the end of the year, the travel fund is expected to purchase flights for more than 100 volunteer lawyers, organizers said.

With the help of those airline miles, lawyers have flown into places like Tijuana and Matamoros to help migrants.

Part of that works includes running know-your-rights workshops, helping people fill out complex legal documents in their native language, getting those documents translated into English, and preparing migrants to make their asylum claims before an immigration judge.

Ideally, some of the volunteer lawyers like D’Cruz would like to represent some of the migrants in immigration court. However, because they only fly out for a couple of days and asylum cases are heard over a span of several months, it is very difficult for a lawyer to be involved throughout the process.

On her trips along the border — D’Cruz now spends more time in Matamoros than in Tijuana — she has seen lawyers from New York City, Grand Junction, Col., San Francisco, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota and Arizona.

The travel fund has been particularly helpful for lawyers who do not live in border states, particularly because it can get very expensive to fly south in the winter, said Veronica Walthers, a Minneapolis-based lawyer.

On a recent trip to San Diego, Walthers didn’t realize she had planned a volunteer trip to Tijuana during the same weekend as Comic Con and ended up paying higher airfare and hotel rates than normal.

Before using the travel fund, Walthers would crowdfund and pay out of pocket for volunteer trips to the border. But the fund is a game changer, she said.

“It really opens the door,” she said. “Especially for self-employed lawyers. If we’re not working, we aren’t making money. Plus, if you’re getting an extra financial hit on top of that it is very very difficult.”

Walthers has used the travel fund to volunteer in Tijuana and Matamoros. She plans to return to Tijuana within a month.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


The Department of Homeland Security will soon be under new management, following the resignation of acting secretary Kevin McAleenan. Acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ken Cuccinelli and acting commissioner of CBP Mark Morgan are the top contenders for the position — both have previously advocated for harsher immigration policies, and either pick would likely result in more court challenges, to say the least. As I told The Wall Street Journal’s Michelle Hackman, “The rhetoric coming from the top of DHS will likely now more closely match the president.”

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


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) centers in San Diego are detaining children for longer than the law permits, Gustavo Solis reports in the Los Angeles Times. The Flores Settlement Agreement states that “CBP should not hold children for more than 72 hours,” yet asylum-seeking children are “routinely” held for longer than 72 hours in San Diego. One asylum seeker “said the conditions inside CBP custody were so poor that she asked to be sent back to Mexico.

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

Cuccinelli Announces USCIS’ FY 2019 Accomplishments and Efforts to Implement President Trump’s Goals

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today released preliminary fiscal year 2019 agency statistics, accomplishments and efforts to implement President Trump’s agenda. These preliminary statistics highlight important immigration trends and illustrate the work accomplished by USCIS in FY 2019. The agency will publish final, verified FY 2019 statistics later next month.

“FY 2019 has been a historic year for USCIS and we have achieved many of President Trump’s goals to make our immigration system work better for America. As an agency, we have worked hand-in-hand with our fellow DHS components to answer President Trump’s call to address the ongoing crisis at our southern border. In the face of congressional inaction, we’ve taken significant steps to mitigate the loopholes in our asylum system, combat fraudulent claims and strengthen the protections we have in place to preserve humanitarian assistance for those truly in need of it,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Meanwhile, the men and women of USCIS continue to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, processing a large number of applications and requests while naturalizing 833,000 new U.S. citizens, an 11-year high.

“In the coming year, we will continue to use every tool available to us to deliver on President Trump’s promises to the American people. We will continue to fulfill his goals to strengthen our nation’s strained immigration system and alleviate the crisis at our border while the agency continues to fairly and efficiently adjudicate the applications of those seeking lawful status in the U.S.”

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hundreds of Migrants Corralled at Detention Center in Mexico

By The Associated Press

TAPACHULA, Mexico — Hundreds of migrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Central America found themselves corralled in a migrant detention facility in southern Mexico on Sunday after a futile attempt to head north as part of a caravan aiming to reach the United States.

The group set out before sunrise Saturday from the town of Tapachula, where many had been marooned for months unsuccessfully trying to get transit visas. They carried heavy backpacks, babies and parcels on their heads.

Just before dusk, after having trudged more than 20 miles north, they were surrounded by hundreds of National Guard agents and police who persuaded the exhausted migrants to board vans back to Tapachula. Children cried, and women complained angrily about waiting months for papers. It was unclear if any would be deported.

The crackdown on the caravan, many of whose members were of African descent, underlined the sharp reversal from the immigration policy at work in Mexico a year ago, when officials looked the other way as large groups of migrants traversed the country heading for the U.S. But under pressure from Washington, the government has been taking a tougher stance in dealing with migrants, and many Mexicans are being less welcoming.

Salva Lacruz, from the Fray Matías de Córdova Human Rights Center in Tapachula, called the roundup a "human hunt" and noted officials waited until the migrants had tired out before forcing them into vans.

Sending the migrants back south was an "exercise in cruelty," Lacruz said, saying the migrants have come to Mexico because "they need international protection."

About half of the migrants in the caravan were black, including Haitians, estimated Lacruz, who accompanied the group.

Wilner Metelus, a Mexican activist who was born in Haiti, described the government's behavior toward migrants of African descent as "shameful."

"Today the Afro-descendants are alone," he said.

"Migrants of African descent don't represent a threat to Mexicans. Many of them are highly educated and could offer a lot to the country," Metelus added.

The National Migration Institute said in a statement Saturday that each member of the caravan "will be treated in a personalized manner" and that some will be returned to their countries of origin.

The situation for migrants in Mexico has changed dramatically since a caravan set out exactly a year ago from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. That group swelled at its height to 7,000 migrants who banded together to find safety in numbers as they trudged through Guatemala and then Mexico in an attempt to reach the U.S.

Mexican townspeople greeted that caravan with fruit, tortillas and water, while mayors cleared space for the large group to sleep in town squares. Some cities even received the caravan with live music.

The caravans' unfettered passage north also earned Mexican officials the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico failed to staunch the flow of migrants.

Mexico's export-driven economy is highly dependent on commerce with the U.S., and the government has become far less hospitable to migrants. In June, officials broke up a large caravan, pulled migrants heading north from trains and detained two migrant advocates for questioning. Migrants also have received less help from townspeople, while governments in Central America have agreed to work to slow the tide of migrants.

"It seems like there is increased enforcement across the region in response to U.S. pressure," said Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Migrants from conflict-wracked African countries set their sights on the Americas after doors began to shut in Europe. A typical journey from Africa involves a flight to Brazil, which has been amenable to granting visas, followed by a long and perilous trip north. The worst patch, many African migrants say, is the trek through Panama's Darien Gap, a dense tropical forest inhabited by venomous snakes and ruthless robbers.

Now, southern Mexico has become a frustrating waystation for thousands of Africans, most of whom would prefer to start anew in the U.S. or Canada because of language and cultural barriers in Mexico.

"These are individuals that have gone through numerous horrors both in their home countries and then on their journey," said Meyer.

Most of the Haitians arriving at Mexico's southern border, meanwhile, have lived in South America for several years after some nations granted them protected immigration status. Now such policies are less favorable, propelling the Haitians to seek a new home at a time when their country is mired in an intense political crisis. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Mexico has offered refugees the possibility of obtaining work and residency permits to stay in southern Mexico, far from the U.S. border. But those asylum permits are slow-coming in an overstretched immigration system. Also, southern Mexico is the country's poorest region, so job opportunities there are scarce.

Hundreds of African migrants stranded in Tapachula opted against joining the caravan on Saturday and continue to bide their time on the streets.

Joseph Pele Meza, a father of two from Congo, said he feels it's important to respect Mexican laws and wait for a permit to head north.

"Here I am waiting calmly," he said Sunday. "We just ask the authorities to open their hearts, to open the doors to give us documents."

Associated Press video journalist Benjamin Alfaro reported this story in Tapachula and AP writer Amy Guthrie reported from Mexico City.

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

San Diego County refugee arrivals increase in 2019 as Trump lowers refugee arrival cap


SAN DIEGO —  The Trump administration’s recent announcement that it would lower the ceiling of refugees permitted into the U.S. to a historic low reflects the reduction of refugee arrivals both in San Diego County and nationwide. Now, refugee resettlement agencies and refugees are predicting fewer arrivals to the U.S. again this year.

This cap will affect not only refugees hoping to come to the U.S., but also those who are already here. Nadine Toppozada, who directs Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigrant Services in San Diego, said the new cap may prolong family separation because refugees have the right to request that their family overseas come stay with them in the U.S.

“With the cuts in number of arrivals, we have people here in San Diego waiting much longer in order to be reunited with their families who are in refugee camps across seas,” Toppozada said.

The cap has dropped down from 30,000 to 18,000 this fiscal year. It dropped from 45,000 to 30,000 last fiscal year.

The number of refugees who came to San Diego County rose by 27% between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019, even though President Trump lowered the ceiling by a third. This is largely because the U.S. did not bring in nearly as many refugees as it said it would in 2018.

This fiscal year, the U.S. welcomed 29,999 refugees, exactly one short of the 30,000 cap. Last year, despite the 45,000 ceiling, only 22,491 refugees resettled.

The low number of refugees in fiscal year 2018 is likely due to the travel ban that the Supreme Court upheld in December 2017, restricting most travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad from coming to the U.S. and temporarily pausing the refugee resettlement program. In San Diego County, refugee arrival counts dropped immediately to single digits in the months after the ban went into effect.

Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo remained the largest group to come to San Diego County this year, followed by Afghans, keeping the same trend from last year.

The number of Syrians arriving in the country increased to 29 this year in comparison to only two arrivals in fiscal year 2018.

Samar is one of those refugees who came from Syria this year. She does not want her last name used for fear that her family in Lebanon and Syria could be targeted.

Seven months ago, she came to San Diego from Jordan, where she had been waiting to move to the U.S. She brought her husband and her two daughters, 14 and 6, with her.

Samar and her family fled Syria’s civil war, which has raged on for nearly a decade. Before she left, she had pulled her daughter out of school and stopped going to work. She was a teacher and was so afraid her daughter’s schools would be bombed that they both stayed home.

“I prefer to stay at home, to die with all my family,” Samar said. “I prefer to stay with them. To stay together, to live together, or to die together.”

She still remembers the sounds of the war in Syria, even though she hasn’t lived there for years — the sounds of bombs, screams and violence.

Many of Samar’s siblings are still in Syria and Lebanon. When she speaks with one of her sisters in Lebanon, they talk about life in the U.S.

“She dreams, and I hope to help her,” Samar said.

The new cap for 2020 will make it even more difficult for Samar to bring the rest of her family to the U.S.

Samar and her family were refugees in Jordan when she received her first phone call from the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration, asking if they wanted to come to the U.S. That was seven years before she stepped foot in the country.

According to Donna Duvin, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in San Diego, the average length of time that a family spends in a refugee camp before it is offered an opportunity for resettlement is 17 years.

For Samar, the period between that first call and her arrival to the country was a time of worry, frustration and anxiety. Some days, she thought she would never make it to the U.S. At the same time, she felt stuck in Jordan. If she left, she couldn’t return. But she didn’t want to stay, either.

Today, Samar is volunteering at the IRC in San Diego, conducting driving classes for refugees. Her husband is working and her children are in school, and she dreams of owning her own business one day.

In defending the lower refugee cap to Congress, the State Department said that “the current burdens on the U.S. immigration system must be alleviated before it is again possible to resettle large number of refugees.”

Its report to Congress says diplomatic tools such as foreign assistance, economic and political engagement, and alliance-building would help more people, and more quickly, than resettling refugees or granting asylum in the U.S.

The increasingly lower ceiling is worrying to Duvin and refugee resettlement agencies like the IRC.

“It’s very disruptive,” Duvin said. “It’s a system, when you think about it, that has really been formulated to succeed over a great period of time. Now that the pace has been disrupted, the chance of seeing that system also dismantled is great, and a significant concern for all of us.”

Resettlement agencies work with partners to secure housing and employment for incoming refugees, and by drastically adjusting the number of refugees allowed in the country, relationships with their partners and the flow of the system suffer.

Jewish Family Service of San Diego is another resettlement agency heavily affected by the new cap.

“We are astounded and dismayed that the federal administration has lowered — yet again — the refugee admissions ceiling from 30,000 last year to now only 18,000 for Fiscal Year 2020,” Chief Executive Michael Hopkins said in a statement. “To repeatedly gouge this number betrays our nation’s founding principles and turns away our brothers and sisters seeking safety, freedom and hope.”

The slash in the refugee ceiling also affects funding for refugee resettlement agencies. Agencies are paid for each refugee they help resettle. With fewer refugees comes less revenue.

“At some point, you can barely sustain staff, let alone a vehicle to pick up clients from the airport,” Toppozada said.

The White House has also set priorities for certain nationalities for fiscal year 2020. The U.S. will allow 5,000 refugees under the Lautenberg Amendment, which is a program from the 1990s that includes refugee Jews from the former Soviet Union, as well as persecuted religious minorities in other countries, such as Bahais from Iran and evangelical Christians from Ukraine.

The number of Ukrainians coming to the U.S. in recent months has been increasing, specifically to Sacramento County — last year, it overtook San Diego as the top refugee resettling county.

The U.S. is also planning on bringing 4,000 Iraqis and 1,500 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. It is unclear how the U.S. will track refugees from the Central American countries, as there’s not much infrastructure in place to identify refugees in the region, unlike the Middle East and Africa.

About 7,500 will be left for all other nationalities.

These priorities are a departure from previous years, as people from Africa and the Middle East have historically made up the largest groups of refugees.

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

USCIS Clarifies Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification to Better Ensure Victims of Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment Receive Protection

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today clarified requirements regarding the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. 

To ensure consistency surrounding this classification, USCIS is issuing three Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) adopted decisions. Through these adopted decisions, USCIS clarifies that it requires evidence of a court’s intervention to provide relief from abuse, neglect or abandonment beyond a statement that the juvenile is dependent on the court. This level of intervention from the court serves as an indicator as to whether the SIJ classification is sought for its intended purpose of relief from parental abuse, neglect or abandonment and not primarily to obtain an immigration benefit. Many juvenile court orders already contain this level of detail.

USCIS also clarifies that it will consider qualifying orders from state courts, provided the petitioner met the applicable definition of a juvenile under state law when the order was issued and the court determined the juvenile was subject to parental abuse, neglect, abandonment or similar maltreatment. These clarifications will provide guidance to adjudicators in evaluating juvenile court orders issued under different state laws in the adjudication of petitions for federal SIJ classification. 

Additionally, USCIS is no longer requiring evidence that a state court had the authority to place a petitioner in the custody of an unfit parent in order to make a qualifying determination regarding parental reunification for purposes of SIJ classification.

“Through these clarifications, USCIS adjudicators will help ensure those who are victims and truly need protection from abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law receive the assistance they need,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “These new clarifications will better protect deserving juvenile immigrants while also promoting program integrity and upholding our laws.  Congress needs to address loopholes in the SIJ program to better protect children.”

USCIS will also reopen the comment period for the proposed rule, Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions, for 30 days to gather more information so it can clarify SIJ requirements by rulemaking. USCIS will accept comments through Nov. 15, 2019.  In recent years, the SIJ classification has increasingly been sought by juvenile and young adult immigrants solely for the purposes of obtaining lawful immigration status and not due to abuse, neglect or abandonment by their parents.  Through this rulemaking, USCIS seeks to realign the SIJ classification with congressional intent, implement statutorily mandated changes and address shortcomings in the regulations that threaten the integrity of the SIJ program.

USCIS acknowledges the potential for reliance interests; however, these three adopted AAO decisions do not create legally binding rights or change substantive requirements. They will go into effect on Oct. 15, 2019 and will apply to pending and future petitions. Related materials are available to the public: the three adopted AAO decisions, and the Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions proposed rule, 76 FR 54978 (PDF).

The SIJ classification was established by Congress in 1990 to provide a pathway to legal status for children in the U.S. foster care system who required court intervention to protect them from parental abuse, abandonment or neglect. While there is no limit on the number of SIJ petitions that USCIS is able to approve each year, there is a limit to the number of SIJ-based adjustments that USCIS may approve due to visa availability. For the past several years, USCIS has granted approximately 5,000 SIJ adjustments each year.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sharp Cuts in Immigration Threaten U.S. Economy and Innovation

By Austan Goolsbee

The long-run health of the United States economy is in serious danger from a self-inflicted wound: the Trump administration’s big cuts in immigration.

The latest data indicate that immigration to the United States fell 70 percent last year to only 200,000 people — the lowest level in more than a decade. Major causes of the decline, experts say, are the administration’s restrictions as well as the unwelcoming tone set by the president himself.

On top of this, the White House has announced that the United States will accept only 18,000 refugees in the coming year, down from the current limit of 30,000 and a small fraction of the 110,000 President Barack Obama said should be allowed into the United States in 2016.

The Trump administration may find the falling immigration numbers a cause for celebration. But, more than any drop in the stock market or fall in manufacturing sentiment or consumer confidence, they present the scariest economic news we have seen in some time. The impact of low immigration on the American economy will be profoundly negative, both now and in the future.

The first reason is the simplest. The growth rate of the economy comes from two parts: income growth per capita and population growth.

Birthrates generally plunge when countries get rich. Scholars debate the causes, but the inescapable fact of fewer babies results in an aging population in advanced economies. And the overall population is already shrinking, or will soon most likely be, in Japan, China, South Korea and much of Europe.

But that hasn’t been happening in the United States, at least not until now. Yes, the country is aging, and the baby boomers are retiring. But its population is expected to continue to grow by 90 million, from 327 million today, over the next 40 years or so, assuming immigration continues at its historical rates.

That assumption is critical, however. The only way the United States has avoided the demographic pressure facing other rich countries is through immigration. The census estimate of population growth includes around 1.4 million immigrants a year.

The birthrates for women born in the United States have been dropping, just as they have in other rich countries. The fertility “replacement rate” needed to sustain the existing population level is around 2.1 children per woman. But last year, the birthrate in the United States dropped to 1.73, approaching the dwindling rates in the European Union, China and Japan.

Without sustained immigration, economic growth will be notably slower. Moody Analytics analyzed the data and estimated that if annual United States immigration stayed at only 200,000 rather than a more normal one million, gross domestic product would be $1 trillion lower a decade from now.

In addition, lower immigration portends big problems because the basic American retirement system — Social Security and Medicare — relies on workers to pay for retirees, and the entire expansion of the work force over the next 15 years will come from immigration. Lower immigration rates will mean serious funding shortfalls for older Americans.

The final reason the low immigration number is so frightening is not really about population growth at all. It’s that the evidence increasingly says having immigrants here makes workers born in the United States more successful.

That’s partly because immigrants start companies at twice the rate of native Americans. Almost half the companies in the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants or their children, and without them, jobs are likely to be scarcer in the future.

Also, as the American economy becomes more dominated by knowledge work, immigration restrictions are likely to have an increasingly severe impact. In recent research, the New York University economists Petra Moser and Shmuel San examined the economic effects of the national quota system of the 1920s. That was the last time the United States engaged in mass immigration restrictions based on ethnicity.

These laws of the 1920s were designed to block the entry of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe and from Asia in order to preserve the ethnic “character” of the United States. With these laws, immigration fell below 300,000 in 1925, from more than 800,000 in 1921, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Quotas remained until the 1960s, and the United States did not return to 1921 immigrant levels until 1989.

Professor Moser and Professor San have found that those quotas seriously curtailed immigration of scientists and inventors of specific ethnicities (Jews from Eastern Europe, for example). The scholars gathered biographical information on 82,000 scientists and inventors in the United States from 1921 to 1956, including details on their areas of specialty, the number of patents they received and their places of birth. They wanted to know how excluding immigrants affected American-born scientists and inventors.

In reality, they found, the quotas didn’t protect domestic scientists and inventors. It hurt them, and it decimated their work. Patents for American scientists who worked in fields with many East European scientists fell almost 60 percent compared with those in other fields. And, over time, fewer American-born people became scientists and inventors at all. The net effect was a substantial reduction in invention in the United States.

The essence of knowledge work is building on others’ ideas, and having fewer creative people from different backgrounds in the United States undermined the entire enterprise.

I asked Professor Moser what she considered the most important lesson from the 1920s immigration experience. “Don’t keep people out based on ethnicity,” she said. “They did it to preserve the ethnic character of the country, but the different perspectives and approaches of immigrants were actually quite important.”

Because knowledge builds on itself and scientists train the next generation, she said, “the damage that restricted immigration had on American science lasted a very long time.”

That keeping foreign ideas out makes domestic workers worse off is a lesson we should not forget. Making outsiders feel unwelcome, blocking asylum seekers or putting their children in cages may succeed in reducing the flow of immigration to the United States. But the American economy will suffer.

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