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


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

GOP lawmakers ask Mayorkas for documents on warnings from DHS to Biden on immigration


GOP lawmakers ask Mayorkas for documents on warnings from DHS to Biden on immigration
© Getty Images

GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Tom McClintock (Calif.) on Tuesday asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide all documentation of communication between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Biden transition team regarding the administration’s immigration policy.

“As the Biden border crisis continues to worsen by the day, President Biden and his Administration refuse to accept responsibility for the growing humanitarian and security crisis,” the Republican lawmakers said in a letter to Mayorkas. “This refusal to accept responsibility is startling in light of a news report that suggests the Biden Administration was warned that reversing President Trump’s successful immigration policies would lead to a surge at the border. We write to request documentation relating to these warnings.”

Jordan and McClintock, the ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, respectively, cited a report from NPR in which former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said DHS staff members had warned the Biden transition against reversing former President Trump’s immigration policies, saying it could lead to another crisis at the border.

"There is no consequence anymore," Wolf said in the NPR interview. "The administration is treating this as though it's a capacity issue and not an illegal behavior issue, and that's a fundamental difference."

"Instead of heeding these warnings, President Biden signed several executive orders dismantling the Trump Administration’s immigration programs and policies," the lawmakers wrote.

Mayorkas has previously placed blame for the current border crisis on the Trump administration.

"It is difficult because the entire system was dismantled by the prior administration. There was a system in place in both Republican and Democratic administrations, that was torn down during the Trump administration, and that is why the challenge is more acute than it ever has been before," Mayorkas said CNN's "State of the Union" earlier in March. "We are rebuilding the orderly systems that the Trump administration tore down to avoid the need for these children to actually take the perilous journey."

Jordan and McClintock requested that Mayorkas provide "all documents and communications" between the Biden transition team and the DHS as well as any documents created or produced during such meetings. They gave Mayorkas a deadline of 5 p.m. on April 13.

President Biden has shot down suggestions that his policies are to blame for the large influx of migrants arriving at the border, instead painting it as a typical occurrence at this time of year.

“The reason they're coming is that it's the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, No 1. No. 2, they're coming because of the circumstances in their country," he said during his first press conference as president last week. "So we’re building back up the capacity that should have been maintained and built upon that Trump dismantled. It’s going to take time."

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

Most Americans approve of Biden's handling of coronavirus, disapprove on immigration: poll


Most Americans approve of Biden's handling of coronavirus, disapprove on immigration: poll
© Getty Images

Most Americans expressed approval for President Biden and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the president faces majority disapproval on his immigration response, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

An NPR-Marist poll found wide support for Biden’s coronavirus response so far, with 65 percent of respondents expressing approval. This includes almost one-third of Republicans at 31 percent, as well as 94 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents.

A slight majority also reported approval for the president’s overall performance at 52 percent, with 91 percent approval from Democrats. Less than half of independents and Republicans expressed support overall, at 48 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

On immigration, Biden faces more critics, as 54 percent of respondents expressed disapproval for his handling of the issue, including almost a quarter of Democrats. A large majority of Republicans at 89 percent as well as a slight majority of independents at 53 percent said they disagreed with Biden’s management of immigration. 

The poll comes as the U.S. faces a surge of thousands of migrants at its southern border, especially unaccompanied minorswho are not being turned away. CNN reported the number of migrant children in U.S. custody reached a new high on Sunday of 5,767 children since the government began releasing data last week. 

Republicans have labeled the influx of migrants as a “crisis,” saying Biden’s rescission of former President Trump’s immigration restrictions led to the surge. But Biden, who has appointed Vice President Harris to manage the border situation, has pointed fingers at the Trump administration, saying it handed off a broken immigration system.

Support for his coronavirus response comes as the U.S. surpassed 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses earlier this month. Last week, the president set a new goal of reaching 200 million doses in that timeframe.

Congress also passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included direct payments.  

The NPR-Marist poll surveyed 1,309 U.S. adults from March 22 to 25. The margin of error amounted to 3.4 percentage points. 

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

NLRB extends time for filing briefs regarding whether the Board should adhere to or overrule its Johnnie’s Poultry standard

 March 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — In an order issued today, the National Labor Relations Board has extended the time for submitting briefs in response to the notice and invitation to file briefs that it issued on March 1, 2021 in Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.; 18-CA-236643 et al. In the notice and invitation to file briefs, the Board invited the parties and interested amici to address the following questions:

1.   Should the Board adhere to or overrule Johnnie’s Poultry?

2.   If the Board overrules Johnnie’s Poultry, what standard should the Board adopt in its stead?  What factors should it apply in determining whether an employer has violated the Act when questioning an employee in the course of preparing a defense to an unfair labor practice allegation?  Should the Board apply a “totality of the circumstances” standard?  Even if some of the Johnnie’s Poultry safeguards should be dispensed with, are there any that, if breached, should continue to render such questioning unlawful per se?  

Under the extension, parties and interested amici may file briefs, not to exceed 25 pages in length, with the Board in Washington, D.C. on or before April 19, 2021. The parties are permitted to file responsive briefs on or before May 5, 2021. 

The case is Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.; 18-CA-236643 et al. Click here to read the notice and invitation to file briefs.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees and employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.

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

5 immediate migration management steps for Kamala Harris


5 immediate migration management steps for Kamala Harris
© Getty Images

As Vice President Kamala Harris takes the leadership mantle on addressing migration from northern Central America and especially as she turns to address “root causes” of migration, many will lament that it is an impossible task or one that will simply take too long to bear fruit.

They are wrong.

There are at least five immediate steps the Biden-Harris administration can take to help take pressure off the U.S.-Mexico border while it simultaneously stands up a system to manage migration at that border in a safe, humane, and orderly manner. 

Doing so, requires adopting policies that understand that given the levels of despair migrants are fleeing, it is impossible to dissuade migration. Instead, the United States must urgently address the reasons people are on the move in the first place.

To understand why, we need look no further than the legacy of failure of 30 years of fear-based policies aimed at prevention — culminating in the intentional cruelty of the past four years. The number of migrants from northern Central America apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border rose steadily from the low tens of thousands in the early 1990s to more than 600,000 in fiscal year 2019. 

To confront despair, the United States must marshal hope among the people in its “near abroad” — a region that must be prioritized when it comes to crisis response. And do so now in at least five concrete, practical ways.

First, the United States must marshal and deploy immediate, large-scale food assistance to those suffering the impacts of Hurricanes Eta and Iota — two “once-a-century storms” that made landfall 15 miles and two weeks apart in November 2020. While the region is not alone in facing acute food insecurity, it is the only one whose residents can walk to the United States and that must put it at the top of the list of any U.S.-led responses.

Second, those suffering from the impacts of Eta and Iota are also in need of immediate employment opportunities to root them in their communities. Fast disbursing, cash-based programs can and should be stood up to do that.

Third, the people of the Americas cannot wait for COVID-19 vaccines — and certainly should not wait behind more geographically distant partners. The Biden-Harris administration has put Mexico and Canada at the top of the list for excess supply of U.S. manufactured vaccines. The countries of Central America (and the Caribbean) must be next. 

Fourth, potential migrants from the region — people in need of immediate protection, people seeking family reunification and people willing to fill gaps in the U.S. labor market — need alternatives to the dangerous, disordered journey north. Regional protection mechanisms; robust family reunification parole programs; and enhanced temporary labor mechanisms are all within the reach but need U.S. leadership to open the way.

Put into motion — and even if simply announced — such mechanisms generate hope among many would-be migrants that there are viable alternatives to entrusting their life savings and their lives to smugglers even if they will have to wait to access them.

Finally, a strategy of hope requires sending unmistakable signals to the people of northern Central America the United States stands with them and not with the region’s corrupt, predatory elites that treat their fellow citizens as export commodities.

And here again, the level of depravity in northern Central America provides an opportunity. One that Harris, a former prosecutor, should find too compelling to pass up. Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been repeatedly identified by U.S. federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful drug prosecutions of his brother . It seems past time to publicly indict Hernandez or at a bare minimum publicly sanction him under existing authorities.

Sanctioning a president — who to this day tries to hold himself out as a supposed friend of the United States” while he actively undermines U.S. interests — would send as clear a signal as possible that things are different. And it would help foster much-needed hope across Honduras for a better tomorrow.

Immediate disaster relief, cash-for-work programs, COVID-19 vaccines, alternatives to irregular migration, and a clear break with predatory elites are certainly not the only elements of a new U.S. approach to managing migration and addressing root causes, but they are essential to building a new, durable and effective approach.

Dan Restrepo served as the principal advisor to President Barack Obama on issues related to Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, serving as special assistant to the president and senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council.

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

Biden 'doesn't care' what Trump does at border


President Biden on Sunday brushed off the possibility of former President Trump making a trip to the southern border to highlight a surge in migrants.

"We are putting in place a plan that I feel very confident about, and I don’t care what the other guy does," Biden told reporters as he departed Delaware to return to Washington, D.C.

Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday that he may visit the border "over the next few weeks," claiming members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol want to see the former president make an appearance.

"I don't think there's a rush for me to go," Trump told Jeanine Pirro.

Trump made cracking down on legal and illegal immigration a cornerstone of his time in office, and the former president has repeatedly criticized his successor over immigration policy in recent weeks as the Biden administration grapples with an influx of young migrants at the southern border.

The Biden administration is turning away many of the thousands of migrants who have made the dangerous journey from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the U.S. under Biden is still accepting unaccompanied minors, who have arrived in record numbers.

The U.S. is in custody of at least 15,000 migrant children as of late last week, and the federal government has struggled to secure enough housing for all of them, particularly during the pandemic.

Biden and his top officials have blamed the Trump administration, saying they inherited a broken immigration system that will take time to reconstruct to adequately address the problem.

But Republicans have argued Biden's swift rollback of Trump-era policies has encouraged migrants to make the journey to the U.S., believing they are more likely to be accepted at the border.

Biden last week announced he was putting Vice President Harris in charge of the border issue. 

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

What Joe Biden can learn from Calvin Coolidge on immigration


What Joe Biden can learn from Calvin Coolidge on immigration
© Istock

One of the most challenging items on President Biden’s policy agenda is comprehensive immigration reform. Debate on any bill will be overshadowed by the current surge in migrants to the southern border, the latest uptick in a secular trend that began in the 1980’s. But looking back even further, the questions of who deserves admission to America and in what numbers were also on the agenda of a new administration 100 years ago.

“Since we are confronted with the clamor of multitudes who desire the opportunity offered by American life,” wrote Calvin Coolidge in February 1921, “we must face the situation unflinchingly, determined to relinquish not one iota of our obligations to others, yet not so sentimental as to overlook our obligations to ourselves.”

Coolidge’s immigration essay, “Whose Country Is This,” was published in, of all places, “Good Housekeeping” shortly before his inauguration as vice president. On the surface, his sentiments were not terribly different from those many might express today. But immigration legislation President Warren Harding would shortly sign set America on a course very different from paths being considered in 2021.  

The 1920 Republican Party platform had declared that “The immigration policy of the U. S. should be such as to insure that the number of foreigners in the country at any one 

time shall not exceed that which can be assimilated with reasonable rapidity, and to favor immigrants whose standards are similar to ours.” But such bland language belied the anti-immigrant fervor that was gripping the nation.  

Between 1900 and 1915, more than 15 million immigrants landed in the U.S. That number was equal to the total who had arrived in the 40 years 1860-1900. The majority after 1900 came from non-English speaking European countries, including Italy, Poland and Russia. Italian arrivals numbered three million, and two million of the East Europeans who landed were Jews. These were not viewed as people “whose standards are similar to ours.”

By 1920, nearly 14 million Americans, 13.2 percent of the population, were foreign born. While a slightly lower percentage than in 1900, the gross number had increased by 3.5 million, or 33 percent, in just two decades. And after a migration hiatus during World War I, arrivals in 1921 were soaring. Exclusionists feared a return to pre-war numbers, when it was not uncommon to see over a million come ashore each year. 

Moves toward immigration restriction had begun in Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Concerned with the broad impact of immigration on both American culture and prevailing wages, Roosevelt signed the Immigration Act of 1907, the first federal statute to restrict new arrivals based on health or moral character. The Act created the Dillingham Commission, whose exhaustive report in 1911 recommended arrivals pass a literacy test and originated the idea of entry quotas based on national origin. 

In his 2019 study “The Guarded Gate,” Daniel Okrent has documented the anti-immigrant pseudoscience of eugenics that had been gaining credibility since the turn of the century. “Our obligations to others” notwithstanding, Calvin Coolidge’s 1921 “Good Housekeeping” column went on to argue that “biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend” in America. The eugenicists provided data alleging to prove those “biological laws.”

On May 19, 1921, Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. The force behind the legislation was Washington state Rep. Albert Johnson, Republican chair of the House Immigration and Nationalization Committee. The committee’s “Expert Eugenics Agent,” was Harry Laughlin, a former school principal, superintendent of the notorious Eugenics Record Office and a national advocate for compulsory sterilization laws. 

But even among those for whom blatant racial arguments held little appeal, there was bipartisan support for restriction across the political spectrum. With the economy slipping into a sharp postwar depression, the Senate vote for the Act was an overwhelming 78-1, with 17 abstentions, and the measure passed the House by acclamation. Harding signed it the same day.

The bill mandated that no more than 3 percent of the total number of immigrants from any specific country already living in the United States in 1910 could now migrate to America in the year ending June 30, 1922. The math effectively capped total immigration to America at fewer than 400,000 for 1922, compared with 800,000 in 1921. But arrivals from eastern and southern Europe would feel the brunt of the impact: Italian immigration in 1922 would be limited to 40,000, compared with 220,000 in 1921. 

The Emergency Act of 1921 would be one-upped by the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, signed by Coolidge as president. That legislation enacted an even more severe formula, capping a nation’s immigration quota at 2 percent of its U.S. population in 1890 (and formally excluded all immigration from Asia). For Italians, the 40,000 cap from the 1921 Act would be further reduced to 4,000.

The long-term impact of the 1921 and 1924 legislation could be seen half a century later. By 1970, the foreign-born population had plunged to 9.6 million, from 13.9 million in 1920. The percentage of the population that was foreign born dropped to an all-time low of 4.7 percent, down from 13.2 percent in 1920. It took until 1965 for legislation to pass reversing that trend. Today, the incidence of foreign-born residents is again approaching 14 percent.

In 2021, America is open to those “divergent people” who so troubled Calvin Coolidge and his contemporaries. And the case for immigrants to augment the country’s labor force and national wealth is stronger than ever.  But in the long term, any comprehensive legislation still must confront the thorny issues of exactly what kind of documented immigrants America wants, and in what numbers they should arrive.

The system today offers preference to applicants who are members of families already resident in the U.S. But there is strong support for a merit-based system, used in Canada and Australia, that awards application points based on education, employment history and language ability. While not based on race or ethnicity, these criteria would represent a contemporary answer to the call in 1920 to favor “immigrants whose standards are similar to ours.”

Americans agree in principle with the Coolidge maxim that the nation should “relinquish not one iota of our obligations to others.” But balancing those responsibilities with “our obligations to ourselves” will remain a complex policy challenge.

Paul C. Atkinson, a former executive at The Wall Street Journal, is a contributing editor of the New York Sun.

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

Dallas 'decompression center' can't become another prison for migrant youth


Dallas 'decompression center' can't become another prison for migrant youth
© Getty Images

The green cots  — 2,300 of them to be exact — are what throw you off when you enter the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

The venue usually hosts auto shows or conventions where industry types talk shop. But this March weekend, the cavernous Hall D morphed into a temporary home for thousands of unaccompanied boys from Central America — fresh faces and reminders of generations of failed immigration policy that continues to afflict the lives of migrants in the margins.  

I spent the weekend volunteering at this “decompression center.” It was established after the shelters that normally house unaccompanied children filled to capacity. Volunteer groups such as the Red Cross and government agencies like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are doing a heroic job managing the hastily assembled site. The facility is currently focused on meeting the kids’ basic needs: showers, food, medical care and clean clothes. The boys are bored, desperate for any distraction to keep their minds off the seemingly interminable wait to be released to sponsors, but at least they are safe. In the meantime, they have push-up contests, draw on their masks and play with the few decks of cards circulating through the facility.

Although the situation at the convention center is adequate, but it, not the border, is the true “crisis” that the federal government must address. These boys should never have needed to make the trip to Dallas. A series of destructive decisions by the Trump administration led us to this humanitarian emergency.

These children in Dallas are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — all countries long plagued with unimaginable violence and poverty and now they are navigating natural disasters and the global pandemic. Instead of providing assistance, the Trump administration slashed millions of dollars in aid. This left many with no choice but to flee, but in March 2020, President Trump used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to expel migrants, claiming that doing so was in the “interest of public health.” 

In the final years of the Trump presidency, everyone seeking admission to the U.S. was turned away, many under the Title 42 public health restriction and others pursuant to a range of policies designed to shut out asylum seekers. Thus, when President Biden allowed migrant children to enter the U.S., a massive backlog of desperate kids lay waiting. While HHS-run shelters can typically accommodate variable flows of unaccompanied minors, this surge quickly overwhelmed their capacity.

The situation is dire, but there are four things we as a country can do immediately to address this humanitarian crisis.

First, we must release children from the decompression center as efficiently as possible. Every boy I spoke to last weekend has a family member in the United States that he longs to reunite with. Vetting of these sponsors ensures that kids are released to safe adults, but every effort must be made to expedite the process. The Biden administration should be commended for ceasing HHS’s cooperation with immigration enforcement, which had a chilling effect on undocumented family members coming forward to sponsor children and for allowing shelter operators to pay for sponsors’ transportation costs. But children have been in Dallas since March 17 and as of March 19, according to what officials told me, phone calls to families were sporadic and case managers were not yet on-site to facilitate the reunification process.

Second, care should be taken that this decompression center remains more like a shelter than a prison. I have represented immigrants detained by law enforcement in this country and can safely say that the Dallas Convention Center is not and does not feel like a jail. I saw only two uniformed Homeland Security officers when I was at the facility. But strict rules are already in place, meal and shower times are fixed and the children are monitored at all times. It is not difficult to imagine a path that leads to lockdowns and a more combative, custodial setting, which would be both unlawful and unconscionable. 

Third, sites like the one in Dallas should be temporary solutions. Volunteers are moving mountains to make the convention center as comfortable as possible. They have scrambled to find books, religious leaders to hold Sunday mass and even donated basketball equipment. But the facility does not compare to a licensed shelter that affords privacy, safety and critical services such as mental health counseling. Pop-up decompression centers cannot become the norm.

Finally, we as a country must rediscover our compassion. Pragmatism supports providing aid to our neighbors in Central America; financial support for these countries may stem the tide of migrants. But it is also the right and moral thing to do. We must remember that the children who are at our borders likely would not have made the dangerous journey were it not safer than the perilous risks they fled their homes to escape. We must face this crisis not with finger-pointing or political gamesmanship, but with empathy and love for our neighbors.

Natalie Nanasi is the director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women and assistant professor of law at the SMU Dallas Dedman School of Law. She researches and writes at the intersection of immigration, gender and feminist legal theory.

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

Trump-era order expelled more than half of migrants at US-Mexico border: report


Trump-era order expelled more than half of migrants at US-Mexico border: report
© Getty Images

A Trump-era health order that has been continued by President Biden’s administration was used to expel more than half of the migrants at the southern border in recent weeks, according to a report from CNN.

Although Biden said at his first press conference as president on Thursday that he makes “no apologies” for nixing many of Trump’s immigration policies, he has kept Trump’s health order and has used it to send away thousands of migrants.

Biden at that press conference also emphasized that most of the people arriving at the border are being sent back.

He said the "vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people coming to the border and crossing are being sent back," and later said that the "vast majority of the families that are coming" are being sent back. 

The data in CNN's report showed that more than 61,000 migrants out of 103,000 were turned away at the border in the last three weeks through March 17 under the Trump health order. 

However, CNN also found that 21,000 family members were apprehended and processed into the United States, while 7,600 family members were expelled. 

"This administration draws the line when it comes to children. We don't expel young children back into violence or further trauma," an official told CNN.

However, due to the influx of migrants, many are being let into the country without a “notice to appear,” sources told CNN. This makes it hard for the U.S. to track who was let into the country and it makes it hard for migrants to push their asylum case. 

The Biden administration has had to open six new facilities in the past month in order to house all the migrants coming across the border.

A DHS official told CNN the migrants have to start their own immigration process when they do not receive a “notice to appear.” This is a new practice under Biden as this process was only used on a case-by-case basis before.

"The oversaturation is so great that in order to move people fast enough, that is what we have had to resort to," a DHS official said. "Resources are stretched so thin."

Biden is fighting back against claims from Republicans that the influx in migrants is due to his policies.

"I'd like to think it's because I'm a nice guy, but it's not," Biden said. “The reason they're coming is that it's the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, No 1. No. 2, they're coming because of the circumstances in their country.”

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Graham seeks to impose strict limitations on asylum system


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) plans to reintroduce a bill that would redesign the asylum system, seeking to block migrants from entering the U.S. by establishing refugee processing centers abroad.

It would also make it harder for refugees to claim they are fleeing due to a “credible fear” — upping the standards for migrants to gain asylum status.

“What we're trying to do is basically say, if you come to America, you will no longer be allowed to apply for asylum here,” Graham said.

“We want you to apply for asylum in your home country. If you’re a child and you show up at our border, we’re going to send you to your home country. You can apply for asylum there, we’ll give you a court date here. You can show up for your court date. But you won't be released within the United States,” he said.

The changes would be a shift from a system that recognizes some may need to flee their country immediately in order to avoid danger or persecution.

Though Graham attributed the need for the bill due to historic levels of unaccompanied children crossing the border, he previously introduced the bill in 2019. The bill advanced out of committee amid cries from Democrats that Graham skirted rules, but negotiations on the legislation died out just a few months later.

“I am for dealing realistically with people who've been here for a long time. I’m for doing something for the Dream Act population,” he said, referring to those without legal status who were brought to the U.S. as children. “The price is to control the border.”

Graham’s bill calls for appointing 500 new immigration judges in an effort to clear the backlog of immigration cases. 

But his bill would also likely limit the number of asylum cases that go before a judge, changing the screening test so that only those who can show they are “more likely than not” to face harm would be advanced to a hearing.

“The credible fear standard is too low,” Graham said. “Most asylum seekers are not coming because of fear but because of economic distress.”

The legislation also takes a number of steps aimed at reducing the number of children in U.S. custody, allowing the U.S. to return children to their home country rather than house them.

“We have a quirk in our law. If you're a minor child from Mexico or Canada, we have the legal authority to send you back,” he said. “But if you’re from a noncontiguous country ... there’s no authority for us to send the unaccompanied minor back. I’ve changed that.”

The bill would also give the government 100 days instead of 20 to detain children — a major change to the Flores Agreement signed under the Clinton administration designed to limit the amount of time the government keeps children, including those arriving with their parents, in custody.

Graham said the extra time would give the government more time to process families without releasing them into the U.S.

The legislation comes as prospects for Democratic-led immigration bills are increasingly uncertain.

The House last week passed two bills that would grant a path to citizenship for some 5 million people, including Dreamers and some migrant farmworkers. But it faces opposition in the Senate without an agreement for stricter border measures.

Meanwhile, President Biden’s plan to grant citizenship to some 11 million people while lifting a number of immigration caps may not have enough support in either chamber.

Graham’s bill is the second major proposal from Republicans seeking to push Democrats to agree to tougher border control measures in exchange for status for Dreamers.

Legislation from Rep. Maria E. Salazar (R-Fla.) provides citizenship for Dreamers but calls for “enhanced physical barriers” at the border and swifter deportation of those with a criminal history. The legislation also includes a so-called trigger mechanism to “ensure border security is completed before other reforms take place.”

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Fixing three loopholes would solve our border crisis


Fixing three loopholes would solve our border crisis
© Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

For the past two years, there has been a concerted effort to vilify the Trump administration for declaring a national emergency on the southern border and then dealing with it. The left continues to talk about “cages” and “tearing babies from the arms of their mothers.”

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas brought this up during congressional testimony, in an effort to deflect a question about why the current administration ended all the agreements with Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) and Mexico, which had helped to control illegal migration. The White House jumped on the bandwagon, describing the Trump administration’s actions as mean-spirited, racist and xenophobic.

This is all an attempt to deflect from the truth that President Trump made historic agreements with several countries which no previous president achieved. We ended up having the most secure border in my lifetime — and yet, within weeks, the Biden administration destroyed that success and now faces an unprecedented crisis while continuing to deny a crisis exists.

There are three things we could do — should have done, nearly a decade ago — to avoid this.

The administration’s projection of nearly 1 million aliens attempting to enter this country illegally is based on previous months of apprehensions, which will be less than this month for sure. We must remember that the 1 million figure is only for those actually caught; no one really knows how many get away, but the Border Patrol estimates that more than 1,000 get away every day based on sensor traffic, foot traffic and camera images. Border Patrol officers cannot respond to many of these illegal entries because, in many instances, they are too busy with the huge numbers of families and children overcrowding their facilities.

We also know that most of these migrants are coming here to reunite with family already here illegally, or to obtain work illegally — not because they are escaping fear and persecution at home. All you have to do is look at studies conducted by nonpartisan groups. The International Organization of Migration, an arm of the United Nations, found that the leading reasons why aliens migrated are economic (64.1 percent), family reunification (9.1 percent), violence (3.3 percent) and because of sexual diversity discrimination.

Add to that the data prepared by federal immigration courts, showing that out of every 100 who claim “credible fear” in their home countries, on average, only about 12 result in a grant of asylum. On average, at least half of aliens who make a credible fear claim and are subsequently placed in removal proceedings do not actually apply for asylum. Also, the data show that 44 percent of all non-detained removal cases end with an in absentia order of removal because the alien failed to attend a scheduled immigration hearing.

We all know there is a crisis at the border and it is all over the media, even though the Biden administration continues to deny it. But I want to focus on what could have been done seven years ago to help prevent any of these surges from happening.

When I was Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, I met numerous times with members of Congress to discuss the three loopholes exploited by criminal cartels to bring millions of people into our country illegally. These three loopholes could be fixed in one day, but Congress refuses to act.

The first loophole fix would be to change the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act so that children in Central America follow the same process that children from Mexico do. If you are a child from Mexico and it is determined you are not a victim of trafficking, you could be quickly returned home. However, if you are a child from Central America, you have an entirely different process that could take years. The parents and sponsors already in the U.S. knew this and took advantage of it, knowing that the government would eventually deliver the child to them as required by this outdated law.

On top of that, congressional Democrats demanded language in the appropriations funding bill for DHS the past two years that does not allow ICE to investigate the parents, sponsors or anyone in a household where an unaccompanied alien child (UAC) is delivered. Therefore, there is no consequence when parents hire a criminal organization to smuggle their child in a car trunk or the back of a tractor-trailer, which is a felony. (We’re talking about contracting with criminal organizations — and yet, the left says the U.S. government treats these people inhumanely?) When that language was put into the funding bill, I said publicly that it would cause an unprecedented surge in unaccompanied children being smuggled into the U.S., and I was right.

The second loophole also is simple to fix, but Congress has done nothing: Allow ICE to hold families in a family residential center long enough to see a judge, usually 40 to 45 days. Not in a jail but in a facility designed for families, with educational programs, pediatricians, doctors, recreational activities, freedom of movement, etc. We did exactly that under the Obama administration, holding them long enough to see a judge; during my service in ICE at that time, I reviewed internal data which showed that up to 90 percent lost their cases and were sent home. As a result, illegal crossings declined almost instantly. Then a judge in the Ninth Circuit decided we could only hold them for 20 days, not long enough to see a judge. I said at the time that the ruling would cause a large surge in families coming to the U.S., and the numbers indeed surged.

The third loophole to fix is changing the threshold for asylum cases to prove that a person is fleeing persecution from their homeland. The fact is that most pass their first interview at the border because the threshold is so low and because they are instructed by smugglers on exactly what to say in order to be released to see a judge at a later time. However, if they show up in court, 88 percent fail the higher threshold requirement. All that needs to be done is to close that gap and make that first interview more meaningful, closer to what is required by the courts.

Because of Congress’ inaction on these three loopholes, the Trump administration took action. It had to address a myriad of challenges, including national security and humanitarian crises, sexual assaults of women, children who were dying and opioids flowing across the border, causing tens of thousands of overdose deaths annually.

Today, the Biden administration is doing the opposite of what was demonstrably successful in securing our border. Not only is it not trying to secure the border, but it is facilitating a lawless border. This will only produce bad outcomes for our country and those seeking to enter it. 

Tom Homan is the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a senior fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

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