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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, May 29, 2020

Chinese grad students may be next hit by US-China tensions

Chinese grad students may be next hit by US-China tensions
by Matthew Lee

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration may soon expel thousands of Chinese graduate students enrolled at U.S. universities and impose other sanctions against Chinese officials in the latest signs of tensions between Washington and Beijing that are raging over trade, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights and the status of Hong Kong.
President Donald Trump said he would make an announcement about China on Friday, and administration officials said he is considering a months-old proposal to revoke the visas of students affiliated with educational institutions in China linked to the People’s Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence.
Trump is also weighing targeted travel and financial sanctions against Chinese officials for actions in Hong Kong, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We’ll be announcing what we’re doing tomorrow with respect to China and we are not happy with China,” Trump told reporters at an unrelated event Thursday, referring mainly to COVID-19. “We are not happy with what’s happened. All over the world people are suffering, 186 countries. All over the world they’re suffering. We’re not happy.”
Although the student expulsions aren’t directly related to Hong Kong and China’s move to assert full control over the former British territory, potential sanctions against officials involved in that effort would be a result of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination that Hong Kong can no longer be considered autonomous from mainland China.
Pompeo notified Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer deserving of the preferential trade and commercial status it has enjoyed from the U.S. since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. Under a joint Sino-British agreement on the handover, Hong Kong was to be governed differently than the mainland for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” policy.
Pompeo’s determination opened the door to possible sanctions and the loss of special perks Hong Kong has received from the United States. But neither Pompeo nor other officials were able Wednesday to describe what action the administration might take, an uncertainty related to the impact that such sanctions would have on U.S. companies that operate in Hong Kong and the city’s position as Asia’s major financial hub. Trump’s comments sparked a drop in U.S. financial markets.
Serious consideration of the visa revocation proposal, first reported by The New York Times, has faced opposition from U.S. universities and scientific organizations who depend on tuition fees paid by Chinese students to offset other costs. In addition, those institutions fear possible reciprocal action from Beijing that could limit their students’ and educators’ access to China.
In a nod to those concerns, the officials said any restrictions would be narrowly tailored to affect only students who present a significant risk of engaging in espionage or intellectual property theft. The officials could not say how many people could ultimately be expelled, although they said it would be only a fraction of the Chinese students in the country.
Still, the possibility that the proposal may be implemented has drawn concerns from educators.
“We’re very worried about how broadly this will be applied, and we’re concerned it could send a message that we no longer welcome talented students and scholars from around the globe,” said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at the American Council on Education.
“We don’t have a lot of details about how they are going to define ties to Chinese universities, what type of universities are they going to target, what would constitute a university having ties to the Chinese military,” she said. If the situation were reversed and another nation imposed limits on students from U.S. universities that receive Defense Department funding, she noted it would affect a wide range of schools.
The U.S. hosted 133,396 graduate students from China in the 2018-19 academic year, and they made up 36.1% of all international graduate students, according to the Institute of International Education. Overall, there were 369,548 students from China, accounting for 33.7% of international students who contributed nearly $15 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018.
The proposal to revoke the visas is not directly related to the dispute over Hong Kong, nor is it tied to U.S. criticism of China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Rather, it is connected to various elements of trade and human rights issues that have seen U.S. officials complain about Chinese industrial espionage and spying and harassment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities.
But the timing of a potential announcement could come at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric about the imposition of national security laws on Hong Hong in violation of the Sino-British accord.
The proposal first began to be discussed last year when the administration moved to require Chinese diplomats based in the United States to report their domestic U.S. travel and meetings with American scientists and academics. At the time, U.S. officials said it was a reciprocal measure to match restrictions that American diplomats face in China.
Those limits were followed by a requirement that Chinese state-run media in the U.S. register as “foreign diplomatic missions” and report their property holdings and employee rosters to the government. That was, in turn, followed by the limiting of the number of visas for Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States.
China retaliated for the visa limitations by expelling several reporters from U.S. media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times.
AP Education Writer Collin Binkley in Boston contributed to this report.
For more information contact us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Mexican Farmworkers Crammed Into Border Tunnel Despite Contagion Risk

Mexican Farmworkers Crammed Into Border Tunnel Despite Contagion Risk
by Reuters

MEXICALI, Mexico — Every night, hundreds of farm workers in Mexico crowd for hours in a cramped tunnel to a border station to reach day jobs in Imperial Valley, California, with no social distancing enforced despite coronavirus cases saturating hospitals in the region.

By 2 a.m. on Tuesday, tense men and women with cloth face masks and bandanas jostled for position in a line hundreds deep through the underpass leading from the city of Mexicali to the U.S. port of entry. Vendors sold tamales. A mariachi player lightened the mood. But the only hand-washing station was broken.

The daily back and forth flow to work in the United States and sleep back in Mexico, essential to both the $2 billion Imperial Valley fruit and vegetable harvests and to thousands of families in Mexico, is a testament to the deeply entwined economies on either side of the border.

But the lack of safety measures and the late night crowds stand in contrast to a curfew imposed in Mexicali this week to try to stem the city's fast rising contagion, as well as to six-feet (1.83 meter) distancing measures in the border station itself.

While no infections have been definitively linked to the Calexico West crossing, both the documented day laborers and U.S. border agents worry the lack of social distancing on the Mexican side and the slow processing at the port of entry put them at risk.Jose Salazar, who earns $500 to $600 harvesting melon in California six days a week, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should add agents to cut the time spent in the line.

"'La migra' has not taken care to put on more officers, and that makes the pandemic grow," he said, using slang for border agents.

The stifling underground tunnel, smelling of sweat and the occasional cigarette and lined with pharmacies advertising Viagra, passes underneath the border fence to a flight of crowded stairs ending at the Calexico West port of entry gate.

Eight farmworkers told Reuters they wait two to three hours each night to cross and worry they are more exposed to the virus before the port of entry than in the fields.Fearful of spending so much time in line, some nights Salazar stays with his son in El Centro, California, rather than head home, he said.

On the U.S. side of the port of entry, CBP agents impose social distancing rules. But some officers said the measures were undermined by the conditions in the tunnel.

"It's kind of pointless for us to be six feet apart if they (the border crossers) are all crowded up first," said one CBP agent, waiting for a test at a Calexico clinic after relatives contracted coronavirus and his son developed a fever.

The officer, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters he was worried about on-the-job exposure.Mexico's National Immigration Institute did not immediately respond to questions about lack of distancing enforcement and other sanitary measures in the tunnel.

A spokeswoman said CBP was "taking every available precaution to minimize the risk of exposure to our workforce and to members of the public." In California, 84 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said. It did not give data specifically for Calexico. Employers have asked for Calexico's second port of entry to open at night to avoid bottlenecks."We have continued to request that CBP increase the hours of its Calexico East Port of Entry as well so that our agricultural employees can utilize that border crossing," said Brea Mohamed, executive director of the Imperial County Farm Bureau.

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown)

For more information contact us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Where Fears of Deportation Made the Pandemic Worse

Where Fears of Deportation Made the Pandemic Worse
by Jeremy Raff

On a friday afternoon in mid-April, Gladys Vega received a disturbing message: A woman hospitalized with COVID-19 needed food for the 11-year-old daughter she’d left at home. Worried that the girl would go hungry, Vega rushed out of her office and into the tangle of downtown Chelsea, Massachusetts, a 1.8-square-mile city across the Mystic River from Boston. The 52-year-old Vega, wearing a black tracksuit, a highlighter-yellow T-shirt, and a little bit of matching eye glitter, jumped out of the car so quickly, I could barely keep up. She approached a narrow brick apartment building and asked the people on the stoop to open the front door. “You don’t have to worry; I’m not immigration,” Vega said in Spanish. “Let me in.”

Vega was accustomed to convincing fearful Chelsea residents to trust her. More and more restrictive federal immigration measures had motivated some locals—day laborers, food-factory workers, janitors, and other employees now deemed “essential”—to leave as few traces of their presence as possible: using P.O. boxes instead of their own mailboxes at home, and steering clear of public buildings where Immigration and Customs Enforcement had made arrests.

In late February, new Trump-administration regulations took effect that radically expand whom immigration officials judge to be a “public charge”—permanently dependent on government aid—and thus ineligible for a green card. The rules allow officials to deny green-card applicants if they have used food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, or other safety-net programs that were previously exempt from consideration.
Vega, the executive director of a social-justice organization called the Chelsea Collaborative, believes that these measures have made it more difficult for immigrants to get the care and support they need to stop the spread of COVID-19. Out of fear of triggering the new public-charge rule, immigrants in Chelsea have been disenrolling from public services, worsening the overcrowding, food insecurity, and poor access to health care that make the area so vulnerable to the coronavirus.
By mid-April, the infection rate in Chelsea was six times higher than the state average, comparable to the rate in the hardest-hit boroughs of New York City. With the support of local officials, Vega is trying to use the credibility she’s earned over decades of fighting slumlords, predatory bosses, and scammers to persuade the hardest-hit families to use a makeshift social safety net—and to go to the hospital despite their fear that doing so will be weaponized against them later.
“Because they’re afraid of their status,” Vega said, “they will not speak up.”
The message about the girl in need of food, Vega learned, was outdated: Her mother had returned home earlier that day, after spending a week in the hospital. Still wheezing, the woman stood in the doorway wearing pajama pants, a gray overcoat, and a surgical mask. She told me she had deferred care for two weeks, and went to the hospital only when she could no longer breathe. Vega had prepared a box of bread, corn flour, beans, cookies, cooking oil, and milk. “God bless you,” the woman said. One floor below, several families who appeared sick were crammed into a handful of rooms. Vega gave them a box too.
Forty-two years ago, in the midst of the blizzard of 1978, Vega’s parents moved her from a farm in Puerto Rico to their own cramped apartment in Chelsea. The city, the climate, the language—it was “a nightmare,” she told me.
Her cousins in town spoke only English, so she became close with the other Spanish-speaking kids in school—mostly children who had fled the Central American civil wars of the 1980s with their families. Vega came to understand that her classmates didn’t see parents or relatives left behind for years at a time, because of immigration restrictions. “My passion for organizing came from those classrooms,” she said. By seventh grade, Vega was protesting cuts to bilingual education with a 700-student walkout she’d organized.

The newly formed Chelsea Collaborative hired her as a receptionist in 1990, when she was 21. From the beginning, she was a troublemaker. “I liked to challenge the status quo,” she told me. She set about trying to “manage up,” and to persuade her boss, the executive director, to put Latinos on the board. Her playbook: She’d gently inquire about a retirement party for a current board member. Then she’d line up a replacement, drop hints about all the funding her new pick could bring in, and order a plaque for the presumptive retiree. She tried to make it effortless for her boss to take her advice. “That’s how I moved out all of these older white men,” she said with a laugh.
Vega witnessed the first major wave of immigrant disenrollment from safety-net programs when Congress passed the Clinton administration’s welfare-reform law in 1996. The legislation, along with an immigration bill passed the following month, restricted green-card holders from using some federal benefits during their first five years in the country. Vega was working as a community organizer for the Chelsea Collaborative by then, holding large meetings at the Saint Rose of Lima Catholic church, where she was connecting immigrants with employment and educational opportunities. After the new laws passed, Vega recalled, immigrants felt that “to take any public assistance, you needed to bleed for [the government] to trust you. It was similar to what is happening now in terms of public charge.”
Around the same time that Vega was organizing at Saint Rose, Michael Fix, who is now a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, received a sheaf of data from public-health officials in Los Angeles County that showed just how many noncitizens used public benefits before and after the laws took effect. The impact was apparent immediately, he recalled when we spoke. “I thought, Holy hell, what’s going on here?” Immigrant participation in health services had dropped sharply even among those who technically still qualified. Refugees, for instance, were unaffected by the new rules, but their participation in Medicaid fell 39 percent.
Fix and other researchers began to study these spillover consequences, concluding that they represented a chilling effect. Even immigration authorities were worried, especially about what the chilling effect would mean for public health. “Growing confusion is creating significant, negative public health consequences across the country,” the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which granted green cards at the time, wrote in 1999. “This situation is becoming particularly acute with respect to … the treatment of communicable diseases.”
Last summer, as the Trump administration’s beefed-up version of the public-charge rule sped toward approval, doctors and social workers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s clinic in Chelsea contacted Vega because they were concerned that immigrants were avoiding health care. The chilling effect was at work again. She brought clinic representatives to a street fair at Saint Rose full of food stalls and kids playing games on a warm evening. They walked around greeting attendees. “Please come back to MGH Chelsea,” Vega recalled the providers saying. “We miss you as patients.”
The expansion of the public-charge rule, Fix told me, is best understood as a way to favor affluent immigrants without having to go through Congress—a major victory for immigration hard-liners. According to an estimate by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the new standards are so restrictive that if they were applied to everyone in the United States, up to half of all Americans could be deemed a public charge and thus not qualify to settle in the country.
The current chilling effect has not been measured. But Tiffany Joseph, a sociologist at Northeastern University who studies health access in Boston’s immigrant neighborhoods, told me, “You should not underestimate how much the fear of ICE raids and the public-charge rule worsened the pandemic in Chelsea.”
Jessica Zeidman, a primary-care doctor at MGH Chelsea, told me that she saw disenrollment continue to intensify in the months before the pandemic hit. In December, for instance, a newly pregnant patient ended a checkup with a goodbye: She told Zeidman that she wouldn’t be seeing her anymore, for fear of triggering the rule, which would go into effect two months later. Zeidman tried to persuade her not to withdraw from WIC, the federal nutrition program for women, infants, and children, because the new restrictions wouldn’t apply to pregnant women.
“Most of the patients I have that have talked about disenrolling are not even actually affected by the rule; they just think they are,” Zeidman told me. “Part of its power is [that] it affects many, many more people than it’s actually written to affect.”
Around the same time, another one of her patients, a man in his 50s, opted to remove his name from a public-housing waiting list, even though he was eligible for the benefit, because he was afraid of somehow triggering the rule and preventing other family members from obtaining green cards. As the pandemic spread, Zeidman wondered whether he was still stuck in overcrowded housing, risking infection.
By early April, immigrant patients showed signs of serious illness, after waiting as long as possible to seek care, Zeidman said. Almost all of them had labored breathing and a high fever.
“We’re reaping what we’ve sown,” she said.
In March, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that issues green cards, announced that it would not penalize immigrants who sought health care for COVID-19 under the public-charge rule. But the agency stopped short of putting the rule on hold; instead, it’s giving immigrants an opportunity to prove to authorities that the health care they use is directly related to the pandemic before they are deemed a public charge. “If you go to the hospital and it turns out you’re [COVID-19]-negative, and actually what you have is some other ailment, you’re screwed,” Wendy Parmet, a law professor at Northeastern, told me. At a hearing last week for a legal challenge to the public-charge rule, a federal judge put it this way: “Basically, the rule right now is: If I’m dying from coronavirus, it’s not used against me, but if I’m dying of cancer, it is used against me.”

Like its predecessor agency did in 1999, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged last year that expanding the public-charge rule could lead to “worse health outcomes” and “increased prevalence of communicable diseases.” However, those risks are worthwhile, the agency argued, because they increase “self-sufficiency” among immigrants.
But “none of us can be self-sufficient in the face of a widespread epidemic,” Parmet said almost two years ago, in a Health Affairs column that warned against the impacts of the public-charge rule. These were easy dots to connect after a decade studying immigration and infectious disease, she told me. “It was obvious,” she said. “Should a pandemic arise, you have a perfect time bomb.” But “it’s getting a little scary when Cassandra proves true.”
Before the pandemic hit, Vega felt like she was on the verge of two big victories. A bill Chelsea Collaborative was backing that would allow undocumented Massachusetts residents to get a driver’s license was gaining momentum. And, after two years of preparation, she was ready to mobilize an army of staff and volunteers to ensure a historic response level to the U.S. census. She was already imagining the new roads and fixed-up schools that census-driven funding would bring, once her people managed to convince Chelsea residents that their information wouldn’t be shared with ICE.
Now her volunteers are instead trying to get the community to quarantine safely. In mid-April, the city of Chelsea partnered with neighboring towns to rent space at a Quality Inn where sick residents could convalesce without spreading the disease to family members in overcrowded housing. Hardly anyone showed up. “The rhetoric from Washington over the last four years has made people fearful of seeking help,” Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea’s city manager, told me. “That’s where efforts are stymied.”
Vega learned that a 48-year-old undocumented food-factory worker was self-isolating in a basement, sleeping on a piece of plywood next to a space heater despite the scattered April snow showers. When we spoke a week later, after Vega intervened, the man was comfortable and feeling better, spending the day watching TV in the Quality Inn. MGH nurses checked on him at intervals. He didn’t know what would happen to his job at a frozen-fish processing plant, or how he would make the $350 rent he pays for the room he shares with another man in a two-bedroom apartment.
By early May, the makeshift safety net seemed almost institutional. The Chelsea Collaborative’s storefront headquarters on Broadway Street looked something like the stockroom of a grocery store, ripening bananas and mangoes stacked along walls brightly painted with murals. A tower of donated Pampers reached the ceiling.

Vega had sliced her hand open while unloading a pallet of pineapples and wore a hot-pink bandage over a dozen stitches. She’d swapped her business-casual attire for sweats weeks ago, and her perfume for disinfectant. “I used to wear Chanel,” she said. “Now it’s Lysol.” Her voice had worn down to a squeak.
But she seemed energized by the work. “They rely heavily on us because they trust us,” she said. “These families have an urgent need, and I have to find it in me to make things happen for them.”
Stimulus checks would not be arriving for the undocumented. For now, they would wait for food and diapers in a line that stretched down the street, around the block, and back to the front door of La Collaborativa.
For more information contact us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Immigrant doctors prepare for family's deportation if they die of coronavirus

Immigrant doctors prepare for family's deportation if they die of coronavirus
by Marty Johnson

Immigrant doctors prepare for family's deportation if they die of coronavirus
© Getty Images
Immigrant doctors practicing in the United States are bracing for their family's deportation, should the doctors die from coronavirus.
“If I get sick and if something happens to me, it’s basically over for my family,” Parth Mehta, a hospitalist in Peoria, Ill., told NBC Asian America
He added, “It’s kind of weird that we are considered essential when it comes to saving lives, but we are considered nonessential when it comes to immigration purposes, and your family faces the risk of deportation if you die."
There are roughly 127,000 immigrant physicians serving in the United States, making up nearly a quarter of all licensed physicians in the country.
The majority of the doctors come from India, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and the Caribbean, according to the 2018 Federation of State Medical Boards census. However, if a physician is working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and something happens to them, their families run the risk of being deported.
All immigrant physicians like Mehta are authorized to work in the U.S. through H-1B visas. These visas are tied to their employment, so if something happens and they become disabled or unable to work, their families, who are in the country on H-4 dependent visas, become subject to deportation.
Similarly, if the doctors were to die, their families would immediately become lose their legal immigration status and subject to deportation.
“You have doctors that are basically sitting for 20 years in this precarious situation of being on a temporary visa that, should something happen so that the person can’t continue on the temporary visa, their family is potentially subject to deportation,” Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer who specializes in physician immigration cases, told the network.
“It’s a completely legitimate concern that these doctors have.”
A bipartisan bill called the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was introduced last month in Congress that would offer more visas for immigrant nurses and physicians. If signed into law, the bill would reallocate 40,000 unused immigrant visas to doctors and nurses in an effort to combat COVID-19.
For more information contact us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Thursday, May 28, 2020

House Democrats demand Trump administration stop rushing through deportations of migrant children

House Democrats demand Trump administration stop rushing through deportations of migrant children
by Texas Tribune Lomi Kriel

Asylum-seeking children swing in a hammock along the banks of the Rio Grande at a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, on May 15. Verónica G. Cárdenas for The Texas Tribune/ProPublica

This article is co-published with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.
Democratic congressional leaders expressed alarm Wednesday at a sudden acceleration in the deportation of migrant children and in a strongly worded letter requested that the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement “cease this practice immediately.”
The letter signed by five key House leaders overseeing immigration cited a May 18 ProPublica/Texas Tribune story that found the U.S. government has aggressively begun to rush the deportations of unaccompanied children in its care to countries where they have been raped, beaten or had a parent killed, according to attorneys, court filings and congressional staff.
That comes on top of more than 900 unaccompanied children the government has turned back at the border under an emergency declaration in March by President Donald Trump’s administration to stop the spread of COVID-19. Usually children traveling alone qualify for expansive protections under the law.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and helped author the letter, said in a statement that the United States has both a legal and moral responsibility to protect migrant children from possible abuse and human trafficking.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that the Trump administration is deporting and denying due process protections to the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable people — unaccompanied children who were forced to wait in Mexico for a chance at asylum in America,” Castro said. “President Trump is using the guise of public health to advance his anti-immigrant agenda.”
The letter was signed by four other House Democrats holding leadership positions, including Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee with oversight over DHS.
The other members were Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut, who chairs a subcommittee overseeing appropriations for Health and Human Services in charge of migrant children; Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee over Homeland Security; and Californian Zoe Lofgren, who chairs a judiciary subcommittee over immigration and citizenship.
DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
April Grant, a spokeswoman for ICE, said in a statement that correspondence between members of Congress and her agency is handled through official channels and “will be addressed by appropriate officials at the department.”
In recent weeks, federal authorities have stalled the release of migrant children in the U.S. to relatives and in late-night moves have attempted to deport some of them with scant notice to their attorneys.
The government seems particularly focused on children who had been required to stay in Mexico with their families under a controversial 2019 Trump administration program named the Migrant Protection Protocols, in which most had no access to lawyers.
As violence surged in Mexican border towns and some parents were assaulted, kidnapped or even killed, many children streamed into the U.S. alone.
Since March, the administration has tried to quickly deport at least 15 such children, according to their lawyers, and removed at least seven, including one who was 10.
At least two children sent back in recent weeks, including a 16-year-old who had been raped by her father in Honduras, have been tracked down by international refugee agencies after U.S. counterparts asked them for help. One boy is locked down in a relative’s home in Honduras and said in an interview that he fears going outside because of abuse related to his sexual orientation.
At least six more such children are fighting deportation with last-minute court appeals after their lawyers said the U.S. moved suddenly to put them on planes home.
“It is especially galling that DHS would choose a time of global pandemic to target such vulnerable children, denying them access to basic due process protections and a meaningful chance to have their cases reopened and appropriately considered,” the congressional letter said.
The government has said children are subject to deportation if they and their family already have been denied asylum in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols program — even if the minors later cross the border by themselves under different circumstances.
In court filings, attorneys for the administration have maintained federal law did not require that these children receive new cases as unaccompanied minors with the broad rights that status affords.
But attorneys in lawsuits across the country argue that is a violation of both a 2008 law intended to protect migrant children from trafficking and a 1997 federal settlement forcing the government to hold such minors in “safe” conditions and make “prompt” efforts to release them. The attorneys contend the government is breaking the law by not granting children entering the U.S. alone a new bid at asylum.
They include two Salvadoran girls, 8 and 11, who their mother and lawyers said had come to the Texas border with their father after local gang members threatened to kill them. A U.S. immigration judge denied their asylum case in January. In March, the father was attacked in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, after leaving work.
When he didn’t return for two days, a neighbor feared the worst and told the girls to cross the border alone to find their mother in Houston.
U.S. authorities placed them in temporary foster care through a federal shelter and approved their release to their mother. They were about to be reunified with her in mid-May when, abruptly, the government moved to deport them.
The children have said they were victims of sexual assault in El Salvador, and the mother told authorities the only relative left there is connected to those allegations. The mother said ICE informed Salvadoran consular officials that they could go to foster care in their home country if they had to.
The children’s pro bono lawyers challenged their deportation in federal court and to the Board of Immigration Appeals. ICE agreed to pause their deportation until those legal actions are resolved, said their lawyer, Elizabeth Sanchez Kennedy of YMCA International Services in Houston. The girls were temporarily released to their mother this month.
Congressional Democrats in the letter said the Migrant Protection Protocols program has imperiled many of the more than 60,000 people who have been returned to Mexico under that 2019 initiative. Of those, more than 1,100 have been kidnapped, raped or assaulted in Mexico, including children, according to Human Rights First, an advocacy group.
The White House has been trying since 2017 to undo federal protections for immigrant families and children, who the administration contends are wrongly allowed to stay in the U.S. for years because of loopholes in federal law. The government, which tried separating immigrant parents from their children at the border before federal litigation halted the practice, is seeking changes to a settlement decree governing the care of migrant children and expediting their cases in immigration courts.
“It has tried tactic after tactic, from separating children from their parents to forcing asylum-seeking families to wait indefinitely in dangerous conditions in Mexico,” said Jennifer Nagda, policy director for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which provides guardians ad litem for minors. “But COVID provided cover for the administration’s ultimate strategy — closing the door to all children.”
For more information contact us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

ACLU Condemns Trump Administration’s Restriction Of Asylum Process For Migrants At US-Mexico Border

ACLU Condemns Trump Administration’s Restriction Of Asylum Process For Migrants At US-Mexico Border
by James E. Garcia

Claiming it is protecting the U.S. against COVID-19-related health risks, the Trump Administration is using a Centers for Diseases and Control warning to effectively ban all asylum requests at the Southwest border. The American Civil Liberties Union is condemning the administration’s  “indefinite extension of its order allowing for the deportation of thousands of migrants,” including hundreds of children, in some cases without notifying parents.
“These now indefinite restrictions have nothing to do with curbing the spread of COVID-19,” said Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the ACLU, in a statement. “[Trump] is hellbent on exploiting a public health crisis to achieve his long-held goal of ending asylum at the border.”
Flores and other critics of President Trump’s immigration agenda say his administration is taking advantage of the pandemic to implement its hard-right stance against asylum seekers from Central American and other nations he regards as undesirable.
ProPublica reports that even as the U.S. responds to the coronavirus, “the U.S. government has aggressively begun to rush the deportations of some of the most vulnerable migrant children in its care to countries where they have been raped, beaten or had a parent killed.”
Families Belong Together, a national coalition of immigrants rights organizations, has accused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of trying to launch a “Family Separation 2.0” program, a reference to the Trump Administration’s controversial and purportedly suspended policy of separating migrant children from their parents when families are detained at the border.
In early May, CBS News reported, “Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said migrants arriving at the Mexico border would immediately be returned to Mexico or Canada or quickly deported to their home countries,” based on what he said were warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Critics say the practice is illegal. 

With Tens Of Thousands Dead, Latin America Is The Hemisphere’s New Coronavirus Pandemic Epicenter

The U.S. has banned flights from Brazil, which now has “the second-highest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the world,” overtaking Russia for the No. 2 coronavirus hotspot in the world, the New York Times reports. 
Like President Trump, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has largely ignored the warnings of health experts about COVID-19 and is now insisting the country reopen all businesses. 
Brazil is rapidly approaching 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 25,000 deaths. A University of Washington study predicts Brazil’s death toll from the virus could top 125,000 by August.
In Mexico, nearly 75,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, along with more than 8,000 deaths. In a televised speech Sunday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said because of the coronavirus “a million jobs will be lost.”
Elsewhere in Latin America, “Peru and Chile rank among the hardest-hit countries in the world in terms of infections per capita, around 1 in 300,” according to the Times.
The World Health Organization is warning of the virus’ rapid spread in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. And in Ecuador, where bodies have been found abandoned on the sidewalk, more than 37,000 cases of COVID-19 and some 3,200 deaths have been confirmed, according to the latest tally by John Hopkins University.
On Monday, more than 2,000 Ecuadorans marched to protest wage and job cuts tied to the government’s response to COVID-19’s rapid spread.

Julián Castro Says He’ll Work To Boost Latino Voter Turnout

Former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro has joined Voto Latino as a senior advisor to help get out the Latino vote in November’s general election.
Voto Latino, led by Maria Teresa Kumar, has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president. Castro dropped out of the presidential race in early January, but has yet to endorse Biden.
“I wanted to join forces with an organization that has an unparalleled record of actually registering and mobilizing Latinos, particularly young Latinos,” Castro told Politico, adding that he also plans to create a political action committee aimed at backing young, progressive candidates in battleground states.

An Interview With SOMOS Healthcare Co-Founder Henry Munoz III

In a wide-ranging podcast interview, Henry Muñoz, III talks to Vanguardia America’s Editor & Publisher James E. Garcia about a new Latino Decisions survey commissioned by SOMOS, UnidosUS and MoveOn regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Latinos, Muñoz’s approach to activism, his work as a member of the Democratic National Committee, and the prospects of former Vice President Joe Biden selecting a Latina running mate. 

LULAC And Univision News To Host ‘Together With Puerto Rico,” A Virtual Town Hall

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) will host a virtual town hall on how Puerto Rico has been impacted by COVID-19 and needed efforts to include funding for the island in the next congressional stimulus package. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 2, at 7 p.m. E.T. 
The panelists will be: LULAC National President Domingo Garcia; LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides; U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, Puerto Rico Sen. Dr. Carlos J. Rodríguez Mateo; Puerto Rico House of Representatives Member At-Large José Enrique Meléndez; Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jennifer González-Colón; Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez; and retired Col. Michelle M. Hernández De Fraley. 

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