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


Thursday, April 15, 2021

House Judiciary Democrats advance bill to bar future 'Muslim ban'


House Judiciary Democrats advance bill to bar future 'Muslim ban'

© Greg Nash

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced a bill that would bar the White House from blocking immigrants from entering the U.S. based on their religion.

The bill is a direct response to former President Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, an executive order signed during his first week in office in 2017, which limited visas for those from 13 countries, many with majority-Muslim populations.

President Biden rescinded the ban on his first day in office, but the bill seeks to bar future presidents from taking similar action. 

Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the bill would prevent executive overreach and accused Trump of using “flimsy national security concerns as a pretext for imposing a sweeping ban based on religious elements.”

During a markup of the bill, the Republican committee members introduced multiple amendments that would have recommitted the U.S. to a number of Trump-era policies, including efforts to make it more difficult to apply for asylum at the southern border.

House leadership had briefly considered taking up the No Ban Act during "immigration week" before the spring recess but instead forwarded legislation that would grant citizenship to "Dreamers" and some migrant farmworkers. 

But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced last week that lawmakers would take up the No Ban Act the week of April 19, along with a series of bills “relating to justice and civil rights.”

“The House will consider the No BAN Act, which prevents origin-based discrimination against those seeking to visit our country to do business, see family, or engage in tourism, rejecting the previous administration’s policy of banning arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries,” he wrote in a letter to colleagues.

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

Thomas v. CalPortland

 The unambiguous text of §105(c) of the Mine Safety and Health Act requires a miner asserting a discrimination claim to prove but-for causation.

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Guatemala says it didn't sign deal with US to increase border security


Guatemala says it didn't sign deal with US to increase border security
© Getty Images

The government of Guatemala on Tuesday pushed back against claims from the White House earlier this week that it had signed an agreement with the U.S. to increase security at their border.

The statement, which says there is no “signed document” between the two countries relating to border security, points to an influx in troops sent to the border earlier this year.

It comes after White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday told reporters that the Biden administration had secured a deal with the Central American nation along with Mexico and Honduras to increase the number of personnel at their borders. 

“The objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more more difficult,” Psaki said Monday. “We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey.”

“Guatemala surged 1,500 police and military personnel to its southern border with Honduras and agreed to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory routes,” she added later. 

In its Spanish language statement, Guatemala says the 1,500 troops were sent to the border in January of this year in response to migrant caravans. 

“President Alejandro Guimmattei has committed, since the beginning of his term in January 2020, to strengthen border security as a strategy to battle transnational threats like drug trafficking, human trafficking, and as a preventive measure in the face of the pandemic,” the statement says.

Psaki on Monday had been slim on details about when the agreements had been signed, saying only that they were signed within recent weeks.

“The United States, Mexico and Northern Triangle governments have worked closely together to implement collaborative migration measures to discourage irregular migration. Countries have deployed security personnel, migration officials, and other officials involved in migration management to contend with this shared challenge,” a White House spokesperson said Tuesday when asked about Guatemala’s statement.

White House Domestic Policy Council aide Tyler Moran, who spoke Monday on MSNBC, had characterized the agreements as a way to blunt the influence of cartels. 

"We've secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have all agreed to do this. That not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children," Moran said.

At Monday’s briefing, Paski said Mexico would maintain a presence of 10,000 troops along its southern border while Honduras “surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants.” 

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

US mulling cash payments to help curb migration


US mulling cash payments to help curb migration
© Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

The White House is mulling sending cash payments to certain Central American countries to try to help them battle domestic issues that are leading people to migrate to the U.S.

Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border coordinator, told Reuters in an interview that the possible program would send money to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

“We’re looking at all of the productive options to address both the economic reasons people may be migrating, as well as the protection and security reasons,” she said.

Jacobson declined to state how precisely the program would work, but told Reuters, “The one thing I can promise you is the U.S. government isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people.” 

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

The remarks come as the U.S. faces a burgeoning crisis at the border.

Border Patrol agents in March picked up about 168,000 people trying to cross the southern border, breaking the record for most monthly encounters since March 2001.

President Biden has vowed to send $4 billion in aid to the so-called Northern Triangle region to try to quell violence and corruption that are sending people fleeing north. The money will be geared toward efforts ranging from curtailing endemic corruption, preventing violence, reducing poverty and expanding economic development opportunities.

Jacobson’s interview comes the same day as the White House announced that she is stepping down from her post at the end of April.

“Ambassador Roberta Jacobson’s leadership in serving as the Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Southwest Border at the National Security Council has been an invaluable contribution to the Biden-Harris Administration and to the United States,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement announcing her departure.

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

Monday, April 12, 2021

Biden budget ends funding for border wall


Biden budget ends funding for border wall

President Biden's discretionary funding request for fiscal 2022 nixed all funding for a border wall, including unused funds previously allocated to the project.

The request's immigration and border enforcement sections reflect the administration's focus on combating the root causes of migration, rather than discouraging immigration through enforcement, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did under former President Trump.

Although Biden requested $1.2 billion for border security and infrastructure, he explicitly declined funding for the border wall, Trump's signature immigration policy.

"The discretionary request includes no additional funding for border wall construction and proposes the cancellation of prior-year balances that are unobligated at the end of 2021," reads the discretionary budget request summary for DHS.

Biden on his first day in office signed an order pausing construction of the border wall. In February, Biden formally rescinded the emergency order Trump had used to justify building the border wall and to divert money from other priorities to fund it.

The Supreme Court has since granted a White House request to cancel a February hearing that would have reviewed the legality of those diversions. The case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Sierra Club and others, challenged the $2.5 billion in Department of Defense funds used for the wall.

Beyond wall funding, the budget request addresses several of Biden's immigration proposals, starting with funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.

In the request, Biden asks for $4.3 billion for ORR and sets a goal for 125,000 refugees to be resettled in the United States in 2022.

That amount would also be used to house and resettle unaccompanied minor migrants encountered at the border by U.S. authorities, a major focus of the Biden administration's border management strategy.

It's a substantial increase from the $2.5 billion former President Trump requested for ORR for the 2021 fiscal year, of which $2 billion was channeled to unaccompanied minors as Trump slashed the refugee program.

Still, Biden has yet to order an increase in refugee numbers, a situation that's vexed immigration policy analysts.

"[The numbers] are a large increase over the 2020 Trump numbers, but Biden has not yet signed the order to start the processing of 62,500 refugees this year. What’s he waiting for? If the refugee agencies can’t get started, they’ll never get to 125,000 next year," said Alex Nowrasteh, the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute.

And despite numerous budget increases, the budget falls slightly short of targets Biden set out to ultimately deliver $4 billion over four years in aid to the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — to address the “root causes” of migration, coming in at $861 million for the first year.

Although Biden administration officials say investment in the region is the key to regularizing migratory flows over the long term, U.S. investment in the region has historically fallen short of its goals.

According to a report by the Root Causes Initiative, a network of faith-based and grassroots organizations in the Northern Triangle, less than 5 percent of U.S. aid over the past decade went to local organizations, instead funding large companies and governments.

And most funding to the region was not conditioned on fighting corruption and impunity, a chronic issue in all three Northern Triangle countries, according to the report.

The budget request calls the $861 million a "first step" toward the four-year $4 billion investment in the region.

"These resources would allow the United States to sustain effective regional partnerships and strengthen host government accountability to bolster service delivery and security by curtailing endemic corruption, preventing violence, reducing poverty, and expanding economic development opportunities," reads the request.

Stateside, Biden's funding request targets changes to immigration processing that have long been demanded by advocates.

It nods to workforce culture issues that have plagued DHS as Biden tries to roll out a more “humane” immigration system.

The budget calls for an additional $84 million to address culture issues at Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement “to ensure that DHS workforce complaints, including those related to white supremacy or ideological and non-ideological beliefs, are investigated expeditiously.”

Biden's request calls for a $345 million injection for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to address naturalization and asylum backlogs and modernize the agency.

USCIS, where naturalizations, visas and work permits are processed, operates mostly through fees paid by applicants, and has suffered ongoing budget shortfalls because of its funding structure.

Biden's request represents more or less a threefold increase from the $118 million Trump requested in appropriated funds for USCIS in 2021.

Biden’s budget also calls for substantial investments in the immigration court system, meant to grapple with nearly 1.3 million cases — a figure that more than doubled over the course of the Trump administration.

The budget calls for adding 100 new immigration court judges to hear cases, along with a slightly more than 20 percent boost in funding.

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

Friday, April 09, 2021

Democrat: Ex-Trump aide Miller should be jailed for human rights violations


Democrat: Ex-Trump aide Miller should be jailed for human rights violations
© Greg Nash

A House Democrat on Wednesday called for former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller to be jailed, citing what she called "human rights violations" at the southern border.

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said on The Intercept’s “Deconstructed” podcast that Miller should be "behind bars" for his role in the Trump administration's zero-tolerance border policy.

“I think he committed heinous human rights violations, and I think that those around him [who] helped plot this out should be held accountable, as well.” 

Escobar acknowledged that doing so will not be easy.

“That is going to be very difficult, but it kills me that these people could potentially walk away and even potentially rebuild their reputations," she said. "I find them to be just among the most reprehensible, abhorrent people that our generation could have ever produced.”  

The House Judiciary Committee is currently investigating the Trump administration’s immigration record. Miller played a key role in the immigration policy, with a zero-tolerance stance that prosecuted all unauthorized migrant parents who crossed the border and detained them away from their children. 

Escobar's comments come as Miller announced on Wednesday that he will launch a legal nonprofit organization, America First Legal, aimed at “resisting the radical left’s agenda.” 

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

Biden sued over coronavirus visa restrictions initiated under Trump


Biden sued over coronavirus visa restrictions initiated under Trump
© Getty Images

A coalition of immigration advocates is suing the Biden administration over a Trump-era policy that froze visa issuance in 35 different countries due to COVID-19.

Former President Trump signed several orders during the early days of the pandemic barring entry from a number of countries, prompting the State Department to stop issuing visas for both travel and immigration purposes. President Biden expanded on the policy, signing a similar order adding South Africa to the list.

“Due to Defendants’ unlawful refusal to issue visas to individuals in these countries, the plaintiffs are subject to a total, inescapable ban on receiving their visas, or even having these visas adjudicated,” lawyers wrote in their brief.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearly 200 different plaintiffs, including those seeking to come to the U.S. to work or join family members, by a number of immigration lawyers and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Lawyers argue that while the president has a right to suspend entry into the U.S., that does not require the State Department to stop issuing visas, particularly given the large number of people facing lengthy wait times to come to the U.S.

“The broader problem is that the Department of State has an immense -- bigger than it's ever been -- backlog and this is only adding the problem to the problem,” said Jesse Bless with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The State Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, and the White House did not respond to request for comment.

Counties have been added to the list through a series of six different presidential proclamations, five of them signed under Trump. 

“Given the importance of protecting persons within the United States from the threat of this harmful communicable disease, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States,” Trump wrote in his first order in late January of last year restricting the entry of Chinese citizens.

Iran, 26 European countries and Brazil and South Africa were covered by subsequent presidential proclamations.

Lawyers argue the freeze on visa processing is stalling applicants’ lives. 

“Family members remain separated indefinitely,” they wrote, while those seeking K visas to marry a U.S. citizen have been forced to delay their weddings.

“Many are eager to start families, and some worry that they are facing declining fertility due to the prolonged delay.”

Just hours after the suit was filed, the State Department announced the presidential proclamations would no longer apply to those seeking fiance visas.

Bless said the move was another example of the administration picking and choosing what categories of potential immigrants would be exempted from the bans.

The suit comes as Biden has otherwise pushed for massive immigration reform, pushing Congress to pass an immigration package that would provide a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million people already in the U.S. while expanding a number of other immigration caps.

Biden recently allowed a separate Trump-era order to expire that restricted certain work and research-related visas.

That policy barred those seeking to come to the U.S. under a number of visa categories from entering the country, arguing that the impact of COVID-19 on the economy required limiting foreign workers.

Updated at 3:36 p.m.

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

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Omar slams Biden admin for continuing 'the construction of Trump's xenophobic and racist wall'


Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) criticized the Biden administration for the continued construction of the former administration's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which she called “xenophobic and racist.” 

The criticism comes after The Washington Times reported that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees that the administration was considering finishing certain “gaps” in construction.

The outlet reported that Customs and Border Protection has submitted plans for further construction.

“It’s shameful and unacceptable for @POTUS to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall,” Omar said on Twitter.

President Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office pausing some funds related to constructing the wall, and later rescinded the emergency order that former President Trump used to justify constructing the wall.

According to The Times, Mayorkas told ICE employees that the cancellation of funds “leaves room to make decision” on finishing “some gaps in the wall.”

“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of [Department of Defense] funds to the construction of the border wall is ended,” Mayorkas was reported in the Times as saying. “But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

When asked about plans to fill in “gaps” where construction was halted, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration was reviewing funds that were allocated for the wall. However, she made clear that the administration planned on investing in “smart security” at the border, rather than finishing the wall.

“We have never believed the wall as an answer to addressing the challenges -- immigration challenges at the border.  That's why we're proposing an investment in smart --investments in smart security at the border,” she said. “What we see as 21st century solutions for border management, and why we believe we should build a functioning immigration system.”

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

Five reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border


Conditions on the southwest border represent a serious political challenge to President Biden, with illegal crossings and asylum requests increasing significantly in March.

The situation mirrors immigration flashpoints such as the unaccompanied minor crises faced by former President Trump in 2019 and former President Obama in 2014.

Here are five reasons why the United States faces a chronic state of crisis at the southwest border.

Conditions in Central America

Living conditions in Central America and Mexico have historically been the biggest driver of human migration in the Western Hemisphere.

While Mexican migration has mostly ebbed over the past five years — with the notable exception of a pandemic-driven spike — the number of people fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America has consistently risen.

Each of the three Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — faces its unique set of environmental, economic and governance challenges, but the overwhelming cause of migration to the United States remains economic opportunity.

“A Central American working [in the United States] can earn three to six times as much as in Central America, even accounting for the cost of living,” said Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute.

Added to the economic demand are various governance and environmental factors that can trigger an individual’s decision to leave the region or a family’s decision to send its children to the United States.

José Villalta, a Salvadoran migrant who came to the United States as a 17-year-old in 2006, told The Hill he made the dangerous trek through Mexico shortly after his father died in 2005.

Villalta said his mother approved the move despite its dangers, spurred by the worsening security situation in El Salvador and the promise of economic betterment in the United States.

“The overarching condition here is that America remains a powerful magnet,” said Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Initiative, a group within the political network of GOP mega-donor Charles Koch.

“Throughout the arc of history, the lives of immigrants that have come before them have in fact improved. That's the draw. There's nothing we can do about that other than to improve on it,” added Garza.

El Salvador's security situation has improved on paper since the election of President Nayib Bukele in 2019, but the gang violence has been replaced by what opponents say is an increasingly authoritarian government.

Bukele last week traded barbs on Twitter with Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) that concluded with Bukele calling on Hispanics not to vote for the four-term congresswoman.

Guatemala has long faced governance issues, and climate change-driven droughts in its highlands have pushed out migrants, many of whom speak Mayan languages, rather than Spanish, making their interactions in Mexico and at the U.S. border more difficult.

And the Honduran government is the constant target of accusations of corruption and coalition with transnational drug gangs, including accusations that President Juan Orlando Hernández is directly involved in international drug trafficking.

His brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, was last month sentenced to life in prison in the United States for drug trafficking.

“I'm back again here today to continue on this process of addressing the symptoms of the problems we have in the Northern Triangle of Central America,” said Torres on a trip to the border Tuesday organized by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

“We're never going to alleviate the problem we see at our southern border until we begin to see improved conditions — quality-of-life conditions — in the Northern Triangle,” said Torres.

Human smuggling is a business

Biden administration officials have endlessly repeated the phrase “the border is closed” in English and in Spanish at nearly all forums where immigration is discussed.

The advisory has fallen on deaf ears even among the administration's allies, as it has done little to stave off Republican criticism of Biden's border policies and has had no discernible effect on messaging used by smugglers to recruit potential clients.

“These are cold, calculating criminals who are out to make billions. They're going to hustle their customers, and they’ll lie and manipulate to build their business,” said Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy group.

“There's a silly debate in Washington about Biden’s messaging. Trump’s messaging was as cruel as could be and you had the highest spike in border apprehensions in recent history,” added Sharry.

According to a study commissioned by the Rand Corporation, human smuggling networks in the region vary from large transnational criminal organizations to local groups that can sometimes outsource work to the larger groups.

The 2017 study found little evidence that the smuggling groups are directly linked to drug cartels, but they do commonly pay cartels a tax to operate in their territories.

The Northern Triangle's human smuggling business in 2017 netted between $200 million and $2.3 billion, according to the report.

No legal pathways

Despite the regional demand for immigration pathways to the United States, the number of legal permanent residency permits given to citizens of the Northern Triangle remains relatively low.

In 2019, 27,656 Salvadorans, 13,453 Guatemalans and 15,901 Hondurans were granted green cards by the United States, out of 1,031,765 green cards granted in total, according to data compiled by the Migration Policy Institute.

“They have virtually no visas on which to come legally, so they come illegally or try to game the asylum system. We can’t stop this flow, nor should we try, as immigrants make America more prosperous. Only more visas for these people will channel this illegal flow into a legal and regulated market,” said Nowrasteh.

While Biden has some executive options at his disposal to grant legal status or deportation deferral to certain groups of migrants, a permanent change in the visa process will require legislative action.

And it's unlikely that any immigration proposal will clear the 60-vote threshold of the Senate, particularly while immigration remains Biden's top political liability.

Decades of stunted negotiations on the issue have also taken their toll, leaving immigration as one of the most partisan and divisive issues in Washington.

“There have been opportunities for the last 15 years for Republicans to work with Democrats to fix the broken immigration system, and and every single time the number of Republicans who want to block a solution to score political points is far more than the John McCains and Jeff Flakes,” said Sharry, referring to former Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of whom supported immigration reform.

Garza blamed Democrats for an unwillingness to reach across the aisle on the issue.

“They're playing the good guys, but we're getting tired of that schtick,” he said. “We're getting tired of that [Republican] schtick too of just pure security.”

Border infrastructure

Biden has faced charges of hypocrisy over his criticism of Trump’s policies as his administration has been forced to process unaccompanied minors in Border Patrol facilities designed to detain adults.

Republicans have called for a return to Trump’s policies, including reinstatement of the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the "Remain in Mexico" program, where asylum-seekers from third countries waited out their asylum cases in Mexico.

The Biden administration has shifted its border priorities to quickly process minors out of Customs and Border Protection custody to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Still, reforming border infrastructure to more family-friendly environments would require huge investments and provide only temporary relief.

“The main question is, what are we doing to improve the system and the process so people can know quickly what their asylum situation is?” said Garza. “We need to improve legal channels. It's a balance of security and how we improve our entry system.”

Regional enforcement

Biden last month assigned Vice President Harris the task of coordinating relations with the Northern Triangle countries to address the root causes of migration.

The task has turned Harris into a political lightning rod, with activists on the right and left making demands of the vice president on all facets of immigration policy, not just her assigned portfolio.

“We need to hear from Kamala Harris. The more she's absent, the more we get the feeling they have nothing,” said Garza.

Harris on Wednesday held a call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was accused of having a transactional approach to immigration in his dealings with Trump.

In a readout of the call, the State Department said Harris and López Obrador discussed targeting human smuggling and trafficking, an issue that's been given little more than lip service in the past.

“We don't have a border crisis. The crisis is in Central America. Kamala Harris's job is to focus on the source of the crisis, which is in Central America,” said Sharry, who praised the administration's root-causes approach.

“We'll see if they follow through. They could panic and do stupid things like every other administration has always done,” said Sharry.

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

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Biden administration opens emergency migrant facility near overcrowded CBP site


Biden administration opens emergency migrant facility near overcrowded CBP site
© Getty Images

The Biden administration on Tuesday opened a new emergency intake facility for unaccompanied minors near an overcrowded Customs and Border Protection (CPB) facility in Texas.

The Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) said in an emailed statement that it is opening the Delphi Emergency Intake Site in Donna, Texas, to provide shelter for unaccompanied teenagers ages 13 to 17 years old.

The site will receive approximately 375 children on Tuesday, and has a potential capacity of up to 1,500 beds.

ORR said in a fact sheet that the Delphi site is a temporary measure that “provides needed capacity to accept children referred by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) into ORR care where they can be safely processed, cared for, and either released to a sponsor or transferred to an appropriate ORR shelter for longer-term care.”

A COVID-19 screening protocol will be implemented at the site, the office said.

The Delphi Emergency Intake Site was first reported Tuesday by Axios, which noted that it is next to a CBP processing center where photos and videos have revealed less-than-ideal conditions at the border.

Photos that were first released by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) showed crowded conditions at a makeshift facility in Donna. The photos were released amid criticisms that the administration is not being fully transparent about conditions at the border amid a surge of unaccompanied minors.

The Biden administration released photos and videos from the facility in Donna, as well as a facility in El Paso, the next day.

The administration is seeking to move unaccompanied children out of CBP custody as quickly as possible. The most recent data from the administration sent to reporters on Tuesday shows that there are only 4,231 children in CBP custody, and 15,193 in HHS care.

Aside from Delphi, the administration has opened up 10 influx care and emergency sites since late February to accommodate the surge, most recently including an emergency intake site in Pecos, Texas.

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

Monday, April 05, 2021

Harris in difficult starring role on border


Vice President Harris finds herself in a precarious position when it comes to helping to solve the migrant crisis at the border, particularly as someone with presidential aspirations. 

The issue could pose major challenges for a future White House bid, especially if it goes poorly, opening Harris up to attacks from the right as well as potential scrutiny from those on the left who have been unhappy with the Biden administration’s handling of immigrant children. 

“Taking on immigration as a niche issue is filled with both opportunity and risk for the vice president,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “This is especially true for someone with her public profile, which is relatively new to a huge swath of the country."

Payne added that it’s particularly thorny for Democrats, if history is any indication. They point to former President Obama’s difficulty on the issue within his own party.

“Immigration is a much trickier issue within the Democratic Party than conventional wisdom would suggest,” he said. “There’s a lot of scar tissue from Obama-era immigration policies that many activists are still very animated over.”

Allies to Harris also fear the worse, when it comes to the outcome.

“It isn’t the greatest assignment,” said one ally who has worked alongside Harris. “It’s a big assignment but it won’t be easy.” 

As the White House came under growing pressure over a surge in migrant children being housed at border facilities, Biden announced late last month that he would task Harris to lead engagements with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. southern border.

In making the announcement, Biden noted that he fulfilled a similar role during his time as vice president under Obama. He also described Harris as the best fit for the job, noting both her past work as attorney general of California and advocacy for human rights. 

“I gave you a tough job, and you’re smiling, but there’s no one better capable of trying to organize this for us,” Biden said to Harris. 

In the first two months of the administration, Democrats pondered why Harris hadn’t been given a specific policy role at the White House, particularly as others took other possible posts, such as overseeing the coronavirus relief package. 

“A lot of people have been wondering what her portfolio will look like,” said one Democratic donor who was surprised by the lack of a role for Harris. 

When it comes to the situation at the border, the White House has been careful to specify that Harris is not in charge per se but is instead leading the diplomatic piece in trying to work with the other countries to address the root causes of migration.

“The vice president is not doing the border,” Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders told reporters during a trip to Connecticut last week, noting that Biden had tasked Harris with handling the “diplomatic issues.” 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated that during a briefing on Friday when asked how Biden viewed Harris’s role, saying the vice president “is really focused on the Northern Triangle” and that Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra are overseeing the shelters for young migrants crossing into the U.S. 

One Democratic strategist surmised that the White House was trying to take the attention off the situation at the border and focus on the international aspect of the challenge.  

“They’re not very sure what they can do to solve the situation at the border but by couching this more as a foreign policy issue, it makes it less tangible for the voter because voters don’t always pay attention to foreign policy issues,” the strategist said. 

The Washington Post reported Friday on preliminary data showing more than 171,000 migrants were taken into U.S. custody along the border during the month of March — the highest level for any one month in more than a decade. 

Psaki said Friday that the Biden administration’s message continues to be that now is not the time to come. 

“We are not naive about the challenge, but what our focus is on is solutions and actions to help address the unaccompanied minors coming across the border and making it less of an incentive to come,” she said.

The role does give Harris the opportunity to show she is taking charge of a pressing and difficult issue regardless of the political risks. Some advocates are also hopeful that Harris will carry forward the views she held as a senator, including by advocating for due process rights for migrants who are detained upon entering the U.S.

“I feel cautiously optimistic,” said Clara Long, who focuses on immigration and border policy at Human Rights Watch. “She was a strong voice for due process, access to attorneys, the idea that a protection system should exist and I hope she takes that same perspective to her engagement with other countries.”

Harris held her first call with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday. She has no immediate plans to travel to the border, however, and Biden has suggested he could do so at some point but the White House has not offered a particular timeline. 

While Biden maintains high approval ratings for his handling of the economy and the coronavirus pandemic, his handling of immigration is a weak spot. A recent NPR/Marist poll found that 53 percent of U.S. adults disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration, while only 34 percent approve. 

Republicans have hammered the administration, accusing the new president of encouraging the surge of migrants as the White House has sought to shift blame back to the Trump administration. Biden reversed many of the former president’s immigration policies, including by accepting unaccompanied children at the border.

“It’s more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last month during a border trip.

Doug Heye, former Republican National Committee communications director, described the border situation as a “hot potato” not just for Harris but for the Biden administration writ large. 

“As we’ve seen in the past with the Trump administration, as those images come of people crossing the border, of families being separated, voters react very negatively to that. Trump fueled some of that by constantly having divisive rhetoric on immigration, but because Biden’s rhetoric is nicer, those images don’t change,” Heye said. 

Still, he surmised that Harris would not be the only target of Republicans unless it becomes more clear that Biden is unlikely to seek a second term, which he said recently that he intends to do.

“Otherwise it would be a bit like attacking Mike Pence three years ago,” Heye said. “The vice president is not your target.”

But Harris, who is 56, is expected to have longer term political ambitions even if Biden does seek a second term in the White House. 

“If she ever decides to run for president again, how she handles this may very well be an issue that she’ll have to wrestle with in her own campaign,” the Democratic strategist said. “I’m sure she’s managing it day to day with an eye to her political future.”

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Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job


Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say Congress has little role to play in fixing the border crisis, arguing the responsibility falls largely on President Biden and federal agencies.

While most members say they’ll provide more resources if the president asks, they also point out that there’s not much they can do on the legislative front.

Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), a moderate Democrat, says he doesn’t know what Congress can do immediately to address the surge of migrants at the border, many of them unaccompanied children.

“I don’t know you need legislation. I think what we need is to make sure we get the people and the technology down there to stop it,” he said.

“We also need to work with the other countries to make sure that they’re not sending folks up,” he said. “That’s how I would approach it.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Most of what’s going on there is within the purview of the executive branch.”

“If they feel they need additional resources, obviously we’re here to help,” he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), often an outlier in the Democratic caucus, said after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border last week that it’s “past time” for Congress to take up immigration reform to address the growing crisis. 

But most Democrats aren’t eager to dive into a divisive and politically dangerous debate over immigration when it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster and pass legislation in the Senate.

Democratic senators say they see little real desire from Republicans to work with them on bipartisan immigration legislation and seem more interested in seizing on the border crisis to score political points.

A delegation of 19 Senate Republicans traveled to the southern border last week to call public attention to the growing problem. They said migrant children are being kept in cramped conditions and criticized the Biden administration for not allowing media to access the facilities.

Republicans want to keep the focus on Biden’s policies instead of highlighting their own opposition to various Democratic ideas to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Some of the president’s senior advisers are discussing potential reforms to the nation’s asylum system to address a backlog of more than 1 million cases clogging up the courts. One approach under discussion would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to process more cases.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who played a key role in crafting comprehensive immigration reform that the Senate passed in 2013 before failing in the GOP-led House, said there “could be” a role for Congress to play now.

But he argued the problem would be addressed more quickly if Biden returned to the Trump-era policies he rescinded. 

“They need to go back to the policies that were working,” Graham said.

In a departure from former President Trump’s immigration agenda, the Biden administration is allowing migrant children or teenagers to enter the country.

The Department of Homeland Security has also reversed Trump’s policy of requiring immigrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in U.S. immigration courts.

Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection for February separately showed that fewer than half of the families apprehended at the southern border have been sent back to Mexico or their home countries under a federal statute that allows for closing the border to nonessential travel based on public health concerns. The Trump administration made wide use of the statute after the coronavirus pandemic took hold. 

Additionally, Biden ordered a halt to the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a signature policy of the Trump administration that sparked debate over its efficacy.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform and a co-sponsor of the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill, said Congress can provide more resources and oversight but that the White House needs to approach lawmakers with a formal request.

“There’s resources. There’s the question of standing up the places in Central America where people can apply [for asylum] directly,” he said of things Congress can do. 

“If the administration says that’s what they need, then they should come to Congress,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made only a passing mention of immigration reform in the “Dear Colleague” letter he circulated before the April recess when he laid out the agenda for when lawmakers return on April 12.

“In the coming weeks and months, the Senate will consider legislation to rebuild our infrastructure and fight climate change, boost R&D and domestic manufacturing, reform our broken immigration system, and grow the power of American workers,” Schumer wrote on March 25.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters last month that the prospects of passing a comprehensive immigration bill aren’t good, citing the challenges facing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"I think Speaker Pelosi has discovered that she doesn't have support for the comprehensive bill in the House," Durbin told reporters. "And it indicates where it is in the Senate as well."

Some Democrats argue that the current border surge began before Biden took office and that Republicans are exaggerating the situation on the ground for political purposes.

Biden asserted at a press conference last month that there’s nothing unusual about the flow of migrants from Central America, many of whom are fleeing violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

“The truth of the matter is nothing has changed,” Biden said. “It happens every single solitary year.”

The number of migrants apprehended at the border reached a 15-year high in March, with more than 170,000 crossings, up from 78,000 in January, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Washington Post and The New York Times on Friday.

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