About Me

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


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Juan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration?


Juan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration?

Here’s an idea.

You are likely to hear it from President Biden this week when he speaks to a joint session of Congress.

Biden will tell Congress that immigration reform is free money for the American economy.


Citizenship for millions of immigrants already working here opens the door to new tax dollars and increased consumer spending.

Now that’s a new look at immigration.

Suddenly, alarmist talk about scary immigrant caravans seems old. So, too, is former President Trump’s screaming about immigrants as people bringing crime and drugs, and as “rapists” — and don’t forget his call to “Build the Wall.”

The big idea now is that Congress might actually get something done on immigration reform — for the first time in the 35 years since President Reagan’s 1986 bill.

That idea got a boost last week on three fronts.

First, Biden met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and bought into the idea of including immigration reform and its economic benefits in his infrastructure bill.

“I specifically urged the president to lean in on the question of getting some significant reform done in the Senate, if necessary through reconciliation,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters after the White House meeting.

If Biden includes immigration reform as part of the infrastructure deal, and the Senate rule-makers permit it to stay, it will be protected from sure death by a GOP filibuster.

Second, immigration reform gained new life as deals on small pieces of the big package began taking shape.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced a bill to speed up processing for people seeking asylum, give them better legal representation and improve detention facilities. There is no cap on people seeking asylum.

Cornyn and Sinema are both members of a larger, bipartisan Senate group, brought together by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). They are looking for a deal to attract at least 10 Republicans, which would allow a bigger bill to pass even with the filibuster in play.

That bigger bill, along the lines of House legislation that passed earlier, would tighten border security while also granting legal status to young people who arrived in the U.S. as children — the “Dreamers.” People who fled disasters and are currently in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status would also gain protections.

New ideas are also in play on steps to citizenship for the 12 million people in the country without proper authorization.

Americans want the bigger version of immigration reform, according to polls.

A Quinnipiac University poll from February found that 65 percent of adults believe that undocumented immigrants in the United States should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship. Just 20 percent said they should be required to leave.

The same poll found 83 percent support for allowing the “Dreamers” to remain in the United States and apply for citizenship. Just 12 percent were opposed.

The third big change helping immigration reform along is the backlash against anti-immigrant, “replacement theory” fear-mongering from the far right of the GOP.

House Republican leaders had no choice but to condemn a recent proposal to create an anti-immigrant “America First Caucus.”

With the largest share of immigrants currently coming from non-white countries in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the America First group called for limiting immigration to people in line with “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions."

They even praised past “pauses” to immigration intended to slow the arrival of Catholics, Jews and people from southern Europe.

The group, led by far right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), ignored the powerful history of immigrant contributions to the U.S. They said the nation is “threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.”

The antagonism to anyone coming to America from anywhere but white-majority Western Europe is hard to miss.

That forced the GOP House leadership to distance themselves from the haters.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal, and success is earned through honest, hard work,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “It isn’t built on identity, race or religion.”

And Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican in the House, also rebuked the America First Caucus by tweeting that “Racism, nativism and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”

More rebuttals to the anti-immigration Republicans came from two former leaders in the party, former President George W. Bush and former Speaker John Boehner (Ohio). Both said they have major regrets over not passing immigration reform.

The 43rd president tried to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in his second term. He was thwarted when hard-right talk radio hosts used fear to whip up opposition to the bill.

Now Bush is promoting a new book “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants” and urging Congress not to fail again.

After Bush left office, it was the Republican House, then led by Boehner, that killed a Senate-passed bill in 2013 on immigration reform.

Call me an optimist, but this is starting to feel different. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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

Immigration and border initiatives test political alliances


Immigration and border initiatives test political alliances
© Greg Nash

The front lines of political debate on immigration are shifting, as the Biden administration resets the U.S. government's priorities on the issue.

The most drastic shift is in Central America, where Vice President Harris is tasked with reimagining U.S. policy toward the region, and figuring out how to effectively invest $4 billion in three countries with rampant corruption.

Meanwhile in Washington, groups that teamed up with the left against former President Trump's draconian approach to immigration are now lining up behind centrist Republicans and Democrats in an attempt to redefine border security.

Last week, two Democrats — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) — joined two Texas Republicans — Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tony Gonzales — to introduce the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act to streamline border management.

The bill drew praise from right-of-center organizations that had opposed Trump's immigration policy, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but disdain from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who called it an effort "to short-circuit due process."

The bill would create structures for surge staffing at the border, while increasing access to legal and translation services for asylum-seekers, but it would also expand the role of Customs and Border Protection agents in asylum determinations.

"We're trying to do this in a more of a middle of the road [bill], which means the far left and the far right are not going to like it," Cuellar told The Hill.

The bill does not dive directly into legalizations of existing undocumented populations or changes into how visas, residency permits and naturalizations are doled out, a core component of the immigration debate.

"They call this an immigration bill but it's more of a border management bill," said Cuellar.

The border bill is one of a series of proposals that promise to change a stagnant conversation on immigration, along with two House-passed proposals that could put millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship, a White House-led comprehensive reform proposal and the Central America policy.

Still, Republicans have an electoral incentive to stay on the offensive against any and all of President Biden's immigration proposals, as polls consistently show the conservative red-meat issue to be the president's top political weakness.

That's one reason why Democrats are attracted to the potential to change the conversation into one about addressing root causes in the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — while improving border infrastructure.

"If we can improve lives of people in the Northern Triangle, we will see a reduction of the symptoms that we see at the southern border," said Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), who came to the United States from Guatemala when she was five years old.

While Trump demanded increased migration enforcement in the Northern Triangle and Mexico under threat of enacting economic pain, Biden's approach seeks to improve the outcomes of the region's inhabitants.

The Trump-Biden contrast is obvious, but Biden's strategy also changes tack from former President Obama's "Alliance for Prosperity" approach, which drew criticism from grassroots observers in the region.

The Alliance for Prosperity focused on creating economic development in the region, but was criticized for its focus on large enterprises, which often ended up overlooking grassroots and civil society organizations. It also, unlike the Biden plan, failed to address acute causes of migration, like hurricanes and other climate change-driven crises. 

"Moving from Alliance for Prosperity to root causes is a positive shift," said Gordon Whitman, an academic and senior advisor to Faith In Action, a grassroots faith-based human rights organization.

A report from Faith In Action released this month found that less than 5 percent of aid to the Northern Triangle countries ended up in the hands of local organizations, with most U.S. aid going to large corporations and government agencies.

Whitman said that's especially damaging in a region where elite groups and government officials are increasingly tied to criminal organizations, and where civil society organizations are plentiful and have the capacity to reach those most vulnerable.

"It's not rocket science to say, 'let's not be arrogant, let's recognize we haven't played historically a helpful role in supporting elites versus working people,' " said Whitman.

As the Biden administration has expanded on its Central America strategy, it's made clear that it views the region's elites with suspicion.

In a call with reporters last week, State Department special envoy for the Northern Triangle Ricardo Zúñiga explicitly threatened potential visa and financial sanctions for corrupt individuals among the region's elites.

"Pulling their visas and freezing assets here in the United States, I find that to be the biggest [threat] we can have when it comes to those top elites," said Torres.

Still, the Biden administration will require quick results out of a long-term strategy to effectively change the conversation from the enforcement-centric focus on border numbers that Republicans are all but certain to drive into the 2022 midterms.

And that could mean getting full cooperation out of regional authorities, precisely the groups the root causes initiative seeks to circumvent.

Cuellar, a moderate Democrat from the border, agreed with Torres and Whitman that programs in the Northern Triangle must be tweaked to reach individuals, rather than intermediaries in the region.

But Cuellar warned that as the federal government gets better at processing asylum seekers at the border, it creates a perverse incentive for more people to come.

"That means you gotta get Mexico, Guatemala — I know the vice president is making phone calls — but you gotta move a little faster on this because every day you've got people coming in and the faster you get them out the more of an incentive [you create]."

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

Harris to speak with Mexican president about tree-planting initiative, poverty, migration


Harris to speak with Mexican president about tree-planting initiative, poverty, migration
© Greg Nash

Vice President Harris will speak with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on May 7 about a tree-planting initiative, poverty and immigration.

Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders said in a statement on Saturday that the virtual meeting will “deepen the partnership between our countries to achieve the common goals of prosperity, good governance, and addressing the root causes of migration.”

The news comes as the Biden administration faces a surge of migrants — in particular unaccompanied minors — to the U.S.-Mexico border. President Biden has put Harris in charge of the issue, leading the efforts to stem the flow of migrants to the area. 

The migrants come up through the "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and through Mexico to arrive at the U.S. border. 

López Obrador will be joined by Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard Casubon and Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, Sanders said.

The meeting follows a phone call with López Obrador earlier in April, where the two agreed to “work together to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – including poverty, violence, and lack of economic opportunity."

Ebrard also confirmed the meeting on Twitter, saying the two would discuss expanding the tree-planting program, called “Sembrando Vida” to Central America as a way to deal with forced migration. He also said the meeting will discuss cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Associated Press, the plan aims to pay farmers to plant 1 billion fruits and timer trees to Mexico. It has already been extended to El Salvador, and López Obrador is trying expand it to Honduras. 

Reuters reported last week that López Obrador thinks the program could create 1.3 million jobs in southern Mexico and in the Central American countries that would keep people from forced migration. 

In March alone, border patrol agents have encountered over 170,000 migrants at the border.

Republicans have blasted Biden for the surge, saying his walking back of former President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies contributed to the surge.

Harris has already held a virtual roundtable with experts on the Northern Triangle and is expected to have a virtual meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

The vice president is also expected to travel to the Northern Triangle in June.

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

Friday, April 23, 2021

Texas, Stephen Miller sue to force deportation of children, other migrants due to pandemic


The state of Texas, with assistance by former President Trump aide Stephen Miller, filed another suit challenging President Biden’s immigration policies on Thursday, turning to the courts to force the administration to expel all migrants using a law that allows swift deportation in the name of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden administration has been relying heavily on a Trump-era "Title 42" rule to quickly deport a majority of those who attempt to cross the southern border, but it has made exceptions for unaccompanied children and some families.

Texas’s suit argues that the administration’s “abandonment of their authority” under the law means “more Texans will be exposed to Covid-19, more Texans will contract Covid-19, more Texans will die of Covid-19 and Texas will incur significant costs in terms of health care and law enforcement resources.”

In March alone, the Biden administration used its Title 42 authorities to expel more than 100,000 of the 172,000 people who crossed the southwest border, many of them single adults. Another 68,000-plus were expelled under Title 8, which allows deportation of those who violated immigration law by entering the country between ports of entry.

Still, the Biden administration is dealing with record numbers of children in government custody along with pressure to ensure proper coronavirus protocols in both its facilities and for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workers.

As of Wednesday, the government had more than 21,000 children in custody.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the northern district of Texas, argues the Biden administration violated the Administrative Procedures Act, among other laws, and asks for an injunction to force DHS to “return all covered aliens to Mexico” or detain them for at least 14 days before release. 

DHS did not respond to request for comment. But administration officials have repeatedly said they would not use Title 42 or any other law that would leave children stranded alone on the other side of the border.

“We have a number of unaccompanied minors, children who are coming into the country without their families. What we are not doing, what the last administration did was separate those kids, rip them from the arms of their parents at the border. We are not doing that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in February.

“These kids, we have a couple of options. We can send them back home and do a dangerous journey back. We are not doing that, either. That is also putting them at risk. We can quickly transfer them from CBP to these HHS-run facilities,” she added, referring to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Critics called the Texas suit an attack on children, given that exceptions to Title 42 have largely gone to minors.

"There is no lower order than being one who spends his day finding ways to attack kids who are running for their lives," said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

The suit is one of several from the Lone Star State, which has also challenged the Biden administration’s detainer policy allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to request local authorities to hold foreign national convicts for up to 48 hours after their jail sentences are scheduled to end. The state also sued President Biden for rescinding Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy barring people from applying for asylum within the U.S.

But it’s one of the first from America First Legal, a group founded by Miller to aid conservative causes. 

Miller has been credited with crafting the Trump administration’s child separation policy.

The Biden administration has started a family reunification task force to return more than 500 children who remain separated from their parents. 

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last month that families separated under the policy should be allowed to reunite and remain in the U.S. if they choose to do so. 

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

Cornyn, Sinema unveil bill aimed at confronting border surge


Cornyn, Sinema unveil bill aimed at confronting border surge
© Greg Nash

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced legislation Thursday aimed at responding to a surge of immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The bill, dubbed the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, would establish regional processing centers, prioritize the scheduling of immigrant cases during a surge, create a pilot program to try to establish a "fairer and more efficient" way to decide asylum cases and focus on protections for unaccompanied migrant children. 

It would also increase staff for migrant surges including 150 immigration judges and 300 asylum officers. 

"The crisis at the border is not a Democratic or Republican problem. ... This is an American problem," Sinema told reporters on a call about the legislation. 

In addition to introducing the bill in the Senate, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) filed companion legislation in the House. 

The bipartisan legislation comes after Sinema and Cornyn sent a letter to Biden late last month urging him to use his “full authorities” to respond to a surge of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The administration has been grappling with an influx of migrants at the southern border, many of them unaccompanied children or teenagers. Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 170,000 people at the U.S.-Mexico border in the month of March, the highest number in at least 15 years.

Cornyn and Sinema are both taking part in a bipartisan group trying to figure out if there's an immigration deal that could get 60 votes in the Senate, the amount needed to overcome a filibuster. 

The House passed legislation earlier this year on dreamers — immigrants brought into the country as children — and agricultural workers. 

But Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told The Hill this week that in order to pass the Senate, those topics would need to be merged with border security in order to pick up enough GOP votes. 

"I think we've got to have a credible southern border effort to make this work," he said, referring to ways to get 10 GOP votes. 

Durbin is leading the bipartisan talks, with senators meeting for a second time this week. 

Cornyn and Sinema are meeting with Durbin next week to talk about their border proposal. 

They both said that they were open to trying to pass it as either a larger agreement or as a stand-alone, but that, given the immediacy, it should happen quickly. 

"I do think that given what's happening and the concerns that the public has about it, I think it would be well advised to try to do this now," Cornyn said. 

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

Thursday, April 22, 2021

House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban


House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban
© Getty

The House passed legislation on Wednesday that would limit executive authority to issue future travel bans like the one imposed by former President Trump against several Muslim-majority countries.

Lawmakers passed the bill along party lines, 218-208, with only one Republican joining with Democrats in support.

The legislation, titled the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act, would explicitly prohibit religious discrimination in immigration-related decisions. Any immigration restrictions could only be issued by the executive branch if there is a "compelling government interest."

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security would have to consult with Congress and provide specific evidence justifying the immigration restriction and its proposed duration before imposing it.

"We must make sure no president is ever able to ban people from coming to the U.S. simply because of their religion," said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the bill's author and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Republicans warned that the legislation would unnecessarily undermine executive authority and called for action to address the current surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border instead.

"It is the president in whom all executive power vests, who should determine whether to suspend entry and not just in consultation, with the permission, with State and Homeland Security," said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

The House also passed legislation later Wednesday by a 217-207 party-line vote to ensure that citizens and other people with legal status who are detained at U.S. ports of entry can consult with an attorney to help understand their rights.

Trump signed an executive order during his first week in office in 2017 which limited visas from several predominantly Muslim countries. The travel ban was revised numerous times to eventually include five countries with majority-Muslim populations — Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia — as well as North Korea and Venezuela before the Supreme Court upheld it in 2018.

The ban came after Trump called in 2015 during his presidential campaign for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

President Biden rescinded the ban on his first day in office in a fulfillment of one of his campaign pledges.

"Make no mistake: Where there are threats to our nation, we will address them. Where there are opportunities to strengthen information-sharing with partners, we will pursue them. And when visa applicants request entry to the United States, we will apply a rigorous, individualized vetting system. But we will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States," Biden said in a proclamation reversing Trump's actions.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, first introduced the bill to ensure people detained at ports of entry have access to counsel in response to Trump's travel ban, which sparked confusion at airports across the U.S. as refugees and people with visas were detained by Customs and Border Protection.

"It brings us one step closer to upholding our country's principles of due process and fairness," Jayapal said.

But Republicans expressed concern that the measure would restrict law enforcement's ability to screen people flagged for additional scrutiny.

"This bill does nothing to enhance our border security and furthermore hampers their ability to carry out their mission," said Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).

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

Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge


Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge
© Bloomberg/Pool

A bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) met Wednesday afternoon to explore the possibility of immigration reform legislation that could address the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Senators praised the meeting afterward as “constructive” and a promising start but said they didn’t reach agreement on any core elements.

The talks come amid what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says is on pace to be the biggest migrant surge in 20 years. 

The starting points include the Republican demand that the asylum process at the southern border be streamlined so fewer migrant children are released into the United States to await the processing of immigration courts and the Democratic demand that immigrants who were brought into the country illegally at a young age, "Dreamers," be given a path to citizenship. 

“It was a good meeting. It was a very positive meeting and bipartisan, obviously,” Durbin said. “We did not reach any conclusions. We want to pursue a number of elements: the bills that came over from the House as well as border security.” 

He was referring to two immigration reform bills passed by the House in March. 

The American Dream and Promise Act would let immigrants who entered the country as children earn permanent legal status and eventual citizenship.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would grant temporary legal status with the option to become permanent residents to farm workers and reform the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.

Durbin said that “many of the ideas are on the table, and we invite the administration to look at them, join us in this conversations.” 

Wednesday was the second time the group of senators has met this year.

It plans to schedule another meeting soon, but Durbin declined to set a deadline for reaching a deal.

On the issue of border security, Durbin said that “it’s not a simple issue of ‘do this and it’s fixed.’ It involves so many things.”

He said there needs to be cooperation with the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to stem the flow of migrants fleeing violence and poverty.

He also acknowledged Republican calls to reform the immigration courts in the United States.

“Most of these we’ve been through before. We got to sit down. We agree, I think we agree, on a bipartisan basis that we got to reform the system, as far as we can take it,” he added.

Durbin declined to talk about the prospect of attaching immigration reform to an infrastructure package that Democratic leaders plan to pass through the Senate under budget reconciliation to bypass an expected GOP filibuster.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, said he was encouraged by the meeting.

“It was a very constructive conversation with a group of interested individuals,” he said. 

Other lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s meeting were Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). 

Collins, Murkowski and Graham were three of the 14 Senate Republicans who voted for a comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.

Notably, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight that crafted the 2013 immigration bill, did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. 

Asked about Rubio’s absence, Durbin said, “I hope he will be” involved.

“I’ll ask him to,” he added. 

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

Biden to offer 22K additional guest worker visas, 6K targeted toward Northern Triangle


Biden to offer 22K additional guest worker visas, 6K targeted toward Northern Triangle
© Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to offer 22,000 extra guest worker visas for the rest of the year, setting aside 6,000 for countries where the president has pledged to address the surge of migration to the U.S. 

If finalized, the rule forwarded by the Department of Homeland Security is one of the few avenues to temporarily increase the number of legal pathways for those seeking to come to the U.S. without getting congressional approval.

The number is a substantial increase in the number of H-2B visas. These visas otherwise cap at 66,000 per year and allow people to enter the U.S. for seasonal work in industries such as tourism and landscaping.

Those from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, collectively called the Northern Triangle, would be able to apply for the 6,000 visas specially set aside.

“The H-2B program is designed to help U.S. employers fill temporary seasonal jobs, while safeguarding the livelihoods of American workers,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a release announcing the proposal. 

“This supplemental increase also demonstrates DHS’s commitment to expanding lawful pathways for opportunity in the United States to individuals from the Northern Triangle,” he added.

Nearly 85,000 of the 172,000 southwest border encounters in March were between U.S. Border Patrol and migrants from the Northern Triangle countries, compared with 62,000 with those from Mexico.

President Biden has pledged to spend $4 billion in the Northern Triangle over the course of his administration on efforts to boost the region’s economy and address violence and corruption.

Though Tuesday’s move is designed to increase legal pathways for those interested in temporarily working in the U.S., some are concerned major visa processing delays at the State Department — an issue exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic — will limit the impact of the increased cap.

“It’s certainly a welcome development and something that could provide a great deal of meaningful assistance to businesses and people in the Northern Triangle,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

“But its impact remains unclear due to the fact that visa processing abroad still remains sparse following disruption from COVID-19 pandemic and the Department of State has not outlined a clear plan for moving forward,” he added.

Research released earlier this month by the Cato Institute found some 76 percent of consulates remain partially closed to visa processing, while a review of State Department data shows that this February employees processed a just under a third of the number of visas processed at the same time last year.

The proposal secured some Republican backing.

"Expanding the H-2B visa program will strengthen economic growth and help ensure our small businesses have the seasonal workers needed to meet demand," Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) tweeted.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Biden overruled Blinken, top officials on initial refugee cap decision: report


Biden overruled Blinken, top officials on initial refugee cap decision: report

President Biden reportedly overruled several of his top officials when he decided to keep in place the Trump administration’s cap on refugee admissions. 

Biden’s decision defied advice from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top advisers and was fueled in part by concerns about the crisis at the Mexican border, according to The Washington Post.

Blinken reportedly personally appealed to Biden in support of raising the cap of 15,000 refugees that the Trump administration had put in place, highlighting his family’s history surviving the Holocaust..

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The president later wavered for two months after the consultations before initially arriving at the decision to keep the cap as it was.

That decision sparked a wave of backlash from Democrats and activists who accused Biden of breaking his promise to raise the ceiling on the number of refugees admitted into the U.S.

The president had initially vowed to allow 62,500 refugees into the country this year, with the ultimate goal of raising the cap to 125,000 people in fiscal year 2022. 

Following the backlash, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the cap would be raised but not as high as 62,500.

“For the past few weeks, [Biden] has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” Psaki said in a statement last week.

“While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today’s order did that,” she added. “With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.” 

Biden explained the reversal by discussing his focus on the administration’s handling of an influx of unaccompanied child migrants at the southern border.

“We’re going to increase the number. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,” Biden said over the weekend.

“We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number,” he added.

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

Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees


Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees

Liberals are feeling empowered after the White House backtracked on plans to keep the cap on refugees at the same level of the Trump administration following a swell of public pressure from the left.

Progressives and advocates for refugees say that the White House’s quick course correction demonstrates their growing power in Washington over the Biden agenda. 

“We take this victory, now let’s protect this victory,” said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of progressive group Indivisible. “Now let’s hold these elected officials accountable.” 

The White House initially announced Friday the cap on refugees would be kept at the record-low level set by the Trump administration, or 15,000. After an explosive blowback from Democrats, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who described the figure as shameful, White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement saying that Biden would release a new, increased cap within the month. 

Days later, there are lingering concerns among some liberal Democrats who said they were shocked at the initial decision to keep Trump’s cap in place.

“There was no warning. I had been in pretty close touch about it with the White House. I was completely surprised,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Jayapal, who previously worked at a refugee camp on the border of Laos and Cambodia, said the progressives have thus far had “great experiences” working with the administration on a host of issues.  

“On this one, what makes me really worried is that this is probably the most bipartisan piece of immigration legislation you can imagine,” she said. “If we are going to balk at doing this, what does that mean for the rest of immigration?”

Other progressives, while voicing the same initial outrage, said they’ve been heartened by the administration’s near immediate decision to revisit the issue, with intentions of raising the cap.

“Because of the quick reversal, it still shows that the administration is receptive. It’s not easy to reverse a position like that. And the fact that they did so — and that they did so the same day — it shows that they are responsive,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“But it also shows that the advocacy and organizing cannot take a break during the Biden administration,” she quickly added.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a former chairman of the Progressive Caucus, said liberals were given what in retrospect constituted an explanation for keeping the current cap in place when they met with chief of staff Ron Klain at the White House earlier in the month. Still, he opposed the move not to raise the ceiling and said he’s heartened by the administration’s responsiveness to the liberal outcry.

“The fact that he listened to us so quick, I’m not used to that,” Pocan said. 

The White House has struggled to explain the shift, sidestepping questions this week about whether it resulted from Democratic pressure. Psaki on Monday even suggested that the walk back did notrepresent a change in policy, saying that Biden’s intention was always to raise the number. 

And while the White House has been clear in the days since that it plans to raise the cap expediently, officials have not telegraphed a specific number for the increase beyond indicating it won’t be 62,500 — the figure the State Department proposed to Congress in February. 

“We are actually going to set a large cap soon and I expect it’s going to be before May 15,” Psaki said Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers and other advocates have plans to continue pressuring Biden to follow through on his commitment to admit a larger number of refugees.

Ann Hollingsworth, director of government relations and senior policy adviser at Refugees International, said that she welcomes the White House’s clarification but argued that the steps the White House took on Friday should have come months ago at the beginning of the administration. 

“We continue to push for the commitment that was made in February,” Hollingsworth said. “Agencies and voluntary organizations that assist in resettlement do have substantial capacity to resettle. They have been waiting for this moment.” 

Still, liberals see the swift reversal as an initial win in what is likely to be a longer fight over the refugee cap. 

“It can be difficult as grassroots advocates to know when you apply pressure, did it actually have an effect?” said Levin. “To the administration’s credit, they heard loud and clear.” 

Progressives have racked up some wins, especially on the domestic policy front, under Biden, and recent surveys have shown the president with broad support among the Democratic Party. 

Biden was able to unite his party behind his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to get it passed without Republican support. His infrastructure proposal, while falling short of a loftier price tag demanded by some progressives, includes substantial investments in the fight against climate change sought by liberals. 

The president also won accolades from progressives for his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in September, even as it was met with concerns from more hawkish members of the party. 

That’s why the pushback on Friday to Biden’s decision was so striking — it was an early and rare example of the president receiving a public rebuke from members of his party, and particularly the progressive wing. 

One Democratic strategist argued that the issue would not continue to significantly divide Democrats even if they are unsatisfied with Biden’s overall response, however, noting that party officials understand that Biden’s policies are preferable even when flawed when compared to what a Republican president would enact. 

“If Democrats have learned anything over the past four years, they have to stick together,” the strategist said. “I think Democrats across the country have learned to be able to manage policy they don’t like versus policy positions they may never get under different leadership.”

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