About Me

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


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Texas governor says state will provide $250 million 'down payment' for border wall


Top Texas officials penned a letter on Wednesday authorizing the transfer of $250 million as a "down payment" for the state’s border wall with Mexico.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced plans to build a wall on the southern border to help stem the influx of migrants entering the U.S., declaring, “While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”

The governor on Tuesday said he plans to solicit public donations to fund the construction of the wall.

On Wednesday, however, he and other top Texas officials penned a letter to Bryan Collier, the executive director of Texas’s Department of Criminal Justice, asking the agency to transfer $250 million in general revenue to a disaster fund in an effort to “ensure sufficient funding for Texas’ ongoing response to this crisis.”

The money will then be moved to the Texas Facilities Commission for the wall’s construction, according to local ABC-affiliate KSAT.

“Though securing the international border and protecting the life and property of its citizens surrounding that border is the duty of the federal government, the current administration has shown time and time again an unwillingness to embrace this fundamental responsibility,” the officials wrote in the letter.

“This funding is a down payment to begin design and construction of physical barriers on voluntarily donated private and public lands that border this state and Mexico,” the officials added.

The group went on to list a number of areas where they say the federal government's “failure” has taken effect: increased illegal crossings, damage to Texans’ crops and property, larger rates of human trafficking and smuggling, additional drugs and “a dangerous escalation in cartel violence.”

“These threats to our citizens cannot remain unaddressed; if the federal government refuses to face them, the State will,” the letter wrote.

Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) and the legislature’s top budget writers, Sen. Jane Nelson (R) and Rep. Greg Bonnen (R), all signed the letter.

Abbott on Wednesday also announced that a project manager will be hired to oversee the enterprise, according to KSAT. He directed the Texas Facilities Commission to bring on a project manager, who will then begin looking into how long the wall will be, where it will be built and the total cost of the undertaking.

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

Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions


Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday struck down two immigration opinions penned by his predecessors under the Trump administration, reversing limits on who is eligible for asylum.

Garland’s post gives him the power to review decisions made in the immigration court system housed within the Department of Justice (DOJ), a power attorneys general used frequently under the Trump administration.

Orders he signed Wednesday vacate earlier decisions from former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr that limited asylum for victims of domestic violence as well as those seeking asylum based on ties to persecuted family members — something that could be particularly important to those from countries with serious gang violence.

“By rescinding these opinions from the Trump-era attorneys general, Merrick Garland is restoring asylum protections to people who are victims of domestic abuse and gang persecution where we have seen increasing numbers request protection here in the United States in recent years,” Greg Chen with the American Immigration Lawyers Association told The Hill.

“This is such a critical step, both in practice to protect these people, but also symbolically in that the administration is looking carefully at the U.S. commitment to humanitarian law and protecting those in flight from danger.”

The move follows pressure from immigration advocacy groups to review all of the 17 attorney general-level immigration court decisions made under the Trump administration. 

Both the decisions vacated by Garland limited who could qualify for asylum as a persecuted member of a “particular social group,” setting a precedent in immigration courtrooms across the country where such cases are weighed.

In one case, Barr blocked asylum claims for those who sought it based on a family member’s persecution.

But Garland wrote that Barr’s decision was “inconsistent with the decisions of several courts of appeals that have recognized families as particular social groups.”

Jennifer Quigley, senior director of government affairs with Human Rights First, said the measures could help those whose families have been targeted by gang violence.

“Say they want your brother or your father but they can’t get that person. They were the target, but brother or dad has since fled. They want to get them back in the country or out of hiding, so you end up being targeted,” Quigley said.

“That is very much a target of Central American gangs — if they can't get the person they want, go after a family member.”

Garland also nixed a Sessions decision with regard to domestic violence victims that he said “threatens to create confusion and discourage careful case-by-case adjudication of asylum claims.”

Chen said the Sessions decision made things much more difficult for victims.

“The purpose was to put a forceful thumb on scale of justice against asylum-seekers that may have been abused by partners, subjected to rape or severe violence in domestic relationships and the state was unable to step in and protect them,” he said.

Under the Trump administration, DOJ in a joint rule with the Department of Homeland Security sought to limit asylum protections for both groups through regulation — something Chen hopes the Biden team will soon rescind.

In striking down the Trump-era decisions Wednesday, Garland pointed to an order from President Biden directing the two agencies to make their own regulation determining who should qualify for asylum based on their membership in particular a social group.

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

USCIS Clarifies Evidence Requirements Under Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness

 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that it is updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding eligibility for adjustment of status under Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF). The updated guidance clarifies what evidence an applicant may submit to establish Liberian nationality when applying for adjustment of status under LRIF.

The updated guidance includes examples of secondary evidence that could support an applicant’s claim of Liberian nationality, as part of the totality of the evidence. These examples include, but are not limited to, expired Liberian passports, baptismal records or other religious documents, school records, and medical records. USCIS will evaluate all evidence an applicant provides, including the applicant’s testimony during an interview, to evaluate their eligibility for adjustment of status.

Under Section 7611 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020, certain Liberian nationals are eligible for permanent residence (a Green Card). The spouses, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters 21 or older of eligible Liberian nationals who are principal applicants also may be eligible for Green Cards. USCIS will accept properly filed applications from LRIF applicants until Dec. 20, 2021.

Find the updated guidance at USCIS Policy Manual - Volume 7: Adjustment of Status, Part P, Other Adjustment Programs, Chapter 5, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness. For more information about filing for adjustment of status under LRIF, see the LRIF webpage and the webpage for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Harris calls for pathway to citizenship for Dreamers on DACA anniversary


Vice President Harris on Tuesday renewed a push for immigration reform, calling on Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants during a meeting with immigrant care workers. 

The push from Harris came on the ninth anniversary of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“Even with DACA in place, we know that Dreamers live in a constant state of fear about their status and about their future,” Harris said. “It is critically important that we provide a pathway to citizenship to give people a sense of certainty and a sense of security.”

Harris’s meeting with immigrant women who are members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, including two DACA recipients, put the spotlight on an issue that has otherwise taken a backseat to negotiations on infrastructure and President Biden’s Americans Jobs Plan.

Former President Obama created the DACA program in 2012 by executive order to temporarily shield immigrants, often called Dreamers, from deportation. The Dreamers are migrant who were brought to the United States as children and do not have U.S. citizenship or legal residency status.

Biden signed an executive order preserving the DACA program shortly after taking office, after the Trump administration sought to dismantle the program. It has been subject to legal challenges throughout the years, and the Biden administration has pushed for Congress to codify DACA into law and pass a broader immigration overhaul.

At the start of her remarks, Harris said that DACA was “under threat” from the Trump administration, recalling a moment when she as a senator questioned John Kelly, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, about whether he was willing to maintain the program.

“He refused to answer the question directly,” Harris said. “And I will tell you, we are here on this day, on the anniversary of DACA, and I’m here on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration to tell you this administration fully intends to do everything in our power to protect our Dreamers. There will be no question about that. There is no question about that.”

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), both of whom have been key leaders on immigration reform for Democrats.

Menendez is a co-sponsor of Biden-backed legislation, the U.S. Citizenship Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Durbin, earlier Tuesday held a hearing on the American Dream and Promise Act — immigration reform legislation that passed the House earlier this year but faces an uncertain path in the Senate. Democrats have a narrow margin in the upper chamber, and there are longstanding disagreements between the parties on the issue of immigration.

The American Dream and Promise Act would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, individuals with temporary protected status and deferred enforced departure holders. An estimated 2.5 million immigrants would be affected by the bill.

Harris on Tuesday called on the Senate to pass both the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, saying that there is “urgency to this moment.” Both pieces of legislation passed the House earlier this year.

“The immigrants that we are talking about are making incredible contributions to our nation and, dare I say, as we all know, history. This is a nation that was founded by immigrants,” Harris said.

“So, in this regard, there is not much that is new except for some people’s perspective about what should happen at this moment in our history versus what has happened in the past. But it is time for us to correct course. It is time for us to renew our embrace of the traditions and the history of America and create a pathway to citizenship,” she added.

The event came on the heels of Harris’s first trip abroad as vice president, during which she traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to advance her efforts to tackle the root causes of migration. The trip was partly marred by controversy when Harris angered progressives by telling would-be migrants, “Do not come.”

She also withstood criticism for struggling to answer a question during an NBC News interview about why she hadn’t visited the border.

Biden similarly met with recipients of the DACA program in May as part of a renewed push for action on immigration reform, even as the White House remained chiefly focused on bipartisan infrastructure talks.

The White House may be less willing to spend tremendous political capital on immigration given the difficulty of passing bills. Immigration has long been a divisive political issue, and bipartisan immigration talks in the past have collapsed.

Durbin said at the outset of Tuesday’s hearing that passing the American Dream and Promise Act would help grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.

“We need a functioning immigration system that welcomes immigrants so we can grow our economy and put America on track to be a winner in the 21st century,” Durbin said. “There is no excuse for inaction. For too many years congress has looked the other way and found another excuse to put off this decision.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), meanwhile, criticized the bill shortly thereafter, arguing that it would extend a pathway to citizenship to adults, not just Dreamers, and incentivize illegal immigration.

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

Skepticism abounds of Biden moves to reform ICE, immigration courts


Skepticism abounds of Biden moves to reform ICE, immigration courts
© Getty Images

Advocates are expressing skepticism that steps taken by the Biden administration to address the immigration court backlog will have much impact for the more than 1.3 million people waiting to have their cases decided. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced earlier this month that it was giving its attorneys more discretion to drop cases, a reversal of a Trump-era push to widely seek deportation. 

Instead, it directed agency lawyers to weigh how long someone had been in the country and their ties to the community along with other humanitarian factors. 

The memo was followed by another notice to immigration court judges late last week pushing them to spur action on backlogged cases where appropriate and respect agreements brokered by ICE lawyers. It’s a directive that could be key for a court system that saw two-thirds of its bench appointed under Trump. 

“The memo repeats the word justice several times and says the [ICE] attorneys have an obligation to adhere to principles of justice and fairness in their work which doesn’t mean pushing every possible case or fighting every case in an adversarial posture,” said Greg Chen with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. 

Immigration advocates say its implementation by ICE will be key in determining if it will make a difference. More than half of migrants now go unrepresented in the overwhelmed immigration court system and have no guaranteed right to counsel. 

Also at issue is ICE’s secrecy around the memo, which was signed May 27 but not publicly shared for more than a week. 

“The heart of the memo is a method that attorneys and individuals facing deportation proceedings can use to ask the agency to exercise direction in their cases. This memo and others like it need to be publicly available for people to effectively make use of that process,” said Heidi Altman, policy director for the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).  

“In immigration court lives are at stake, family unity is at stake and a lot can happen in a week. People were deported in that week. Families were separated in that week.” 

The memo encourages lawyers to use their discretion “at the earliest point possible.”  

ICE did not respond to questions about the delay in sharing the memo, its implementation, nor did it supply another guidance document referenced within it.

The memo in theory applies to a wide variety of cases, allowing the agency’s lawyers to drop cases against green card holders and those who are elderly, pregnant or have serious health conditions, have been in the U.S. from an early age, or have ties to the military. 

It also tells them to consider whether someone might gain legal status through other methods, particularly since many people with cases before the immigration court have also applied for some sort of status to remain in the country through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

But much of the burden for requesting discretion falls not on ICE lawyers, but the migrants moving their way through the court system.  

“There is the enduring issue where by and large the people that have to navigate detention and removal don’t have right to appointed counsel and the vast majority aren’t represented by an attorney,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council. 

“This outlines a process to seek and request discretion that in many ways will be unavailable to people that don’t have an attorney, that don’t have a foundational understanding of the detention and removal system, and therefore it will be out of reach for many people that can and should benefit from it.” 

When it comes to those who are already sitting in detention, the memo largely advises ICE attorneys to defer to officers in the field on whether someone should remain in custody while they await their case. 

“The problem is that ICE is an enforcement agency whose knee-jerk reaction over the past more than a decade now is increasingly to detain people even when it’s just not necessary in the case. And is this memo going to do enough to push them in the other direction? That remains to be seen,” Chen said. 

The number of those in detention has risen to 25,000 under President Biden, even as many migrants are swiftly expelled after crossing the border due to a Trump-era policy still in use by the new administration.  

“That’s the piece that’s concerning because this memo is not in a vacuum and it exists at the same time NIJC and others have been documenting the systemic problems with a case review system allowing people to languish in detention,” Altman said, pointing to Department of Homeland Security data showing this year migrants have waited an average of more than three months in detention. 

Even amid concerns, experts say the memo surpasses the relief that has been offered by previous administrations. 

“It is a lot broader and a lot more generous than the comparable prosecutorial discretion guidelines we got under the Obama administration,” said Lily Axelrod, an immigration attorney with Siskind Susser in Memphis, Tenn. She noted that most of her clients would be considered low priority for deportation under the new memo. 

But she said the memo is unnecessarily harsh when it comes to recent arrivals. Listed among the national security priorities ICE attorneys are directed to focus on are anyone who illegally crossed the border after Nov. 1 of last year. 

“This nonsense about recent arrivals being high priorities — I understand the politics of that and trying to say, ‘We don’t want to help anyone coming to the U.S. because of Biden; we have to deter them,’ ” Axelrod said. 

“But why does it matter that somebody came if they have a meritorious asylum claim or came to unite with family? He’s not going to score any points with Republicans. Republican senators aren’t saying, ‘Oh thank god there’s no prosecutorial discretion for people that came after November. Now we’re going to vote for an immigration reform bill.’ ... There’s no way to gain points from being cruel.” 

But even with the wide variety of people eligible to get their cases dismissed, experts aren’t sure it will make much of a dent in the backlog in terms of sheer numbers. 

“In the end it’s really going to come down to whether the attorneys do a rigorous job reviewing their cases consistent with the memo,” Chen said, adding that a similar memo under Obama produced “mixed results.” 

Regardless, he thinks the directive will fall far short of the approach he’s advocated: nixing from the docket any case where the defendant has already applied for status with USCIS or others that have already lingered on the docket in excess of five years. In total, he estimates the government could cut about 660,000 cases that way. 

“We’re not talking about the tens or hundreds of thousands of cases a systematic database review could effectuate,” Chen said of the memo, “which could be much more efficient and effective in moving a massive number of cases taking up space on docket and taking up government time.”

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Report: Pathway to citizenship for 10 million would boost GDP by $1.7 trillion


Granting a pathway to citizenship to all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would boost the nation's economy by $1.7 trillion over the next decade while creating 438,800 new jobs, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the University of California, Davis. 

The report published by CAP, a progressive think tank, modeled different economic outcomes based on scenarios where different groups of undocumented immigrants were granted a pathway to citizenship. 

According to the report, the 10.2 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the United States have lived in the country for an average of 16 years.

Granting a pathway to citizenship for all the 10.2 million would boost the gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.7 trillion, according to the report, and raise the average wage of those immigrants by $4,300 over five years and $11,800 over 10 years.

While President Biden's original immigration plan, the U.S. Citizenship Act introduced in the House by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sen Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), would grant a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, that bill is not expected to get standalone consideration as-is, although the idea of a blanket pathway to citizenship has gained some steam, particularly among progressive and libertarian circles.

Immigration advocates are increasingly bullish about the prospects of including a pathway to citizenship for specific groups of undocumented immigrants in a Senate reconciliation package, which would avoid the need for Republican support but would require unanimous Democratic approval. 

The House has already passed a set of bills, with modest bipartisan support, that would grant legalization with a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers  undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors  beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program and, separately, immigrant farmworkers.

Another bill to grant a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers deemed essential during the pandemic has broad support among Democrats.

The CAP-UC Davis report analyzed the potential economic impact of full legalization, as well as a pathway to citizenship just for essential workers; the American Dream and Promise Act, which would grant papers to Dreamers and TPS holders; and legalization of Dreamers, TPS holders and essential workers together.

Passage of the American Dream and Promise Act would boost the national GDP by $799 billion and create 285,400 new jobs over the next decade. The average salary of covered Dreamers and TPS holders would rise by $16,800 over that time span, while nationwide average salaries would be pushed up by $400.

Legalization targeting essential workers would boost the economy by $989 billion, creating 203,200 new jobs, raising beneficiaries' wages by $11,800 and average national wages by $300 over the next decade.

According to the report, 5 million undocumented immigrants are considered essential workers, based on Census Bureau data and a Department of Homeland Security definition of "essential workers." 

A combination of the American Dream and Promise Act plus pathway to citizenship for essential workers would boost GDP by $1.5 trillion, create 400,800 new jobs raise the immigrants' wages by $13,500 and nationwide average wages by $600.

"As the findings above show, creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants not only is the right thing to do but also would be a substantial stimulus to the U.S. economy," reads the report.

The report comes as immigrant advocates push for inclusion in what is likely to be a last reconciliation bill allowed by Senate rules in fiscal 2021, potentially including immigration proposals in an infrastructure package.

Democratic Senate leaders were hoping to get up to three reconciliation bills approved by the Senate parliamentarian, but were dealt a blow earlier this month when Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued a ruling allowing only one more such attempt this year.

While some immigration proposals, including the American Dream and Promise Act and the farmworker bill, have some bipartisan backing, it's unlikely they'll find the support of 10 Republican senators needed to overcome a filibuster. 

Still, Democratic leadership and the White House are eager to deliver some form of immigration relief, particularly to energize mixed-status constituencies in Texas and Florida ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

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

US expanding work permits, deportation relief for crime victims


US expanding work permits, deportation relief for crime victims

New U.S. immigration policy will expand work permits for migrants and offer deportation relief to some immigrants who become the victims of crimes while they wait for their visa cases to be reviewed.

In a statement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that the updated policies would provide victims of crimes in the U.S. with quicker access to employment authorization in order to give them "stability" and to allow them to cooperate with law enforcement investigations.

Specifically, the employment authorization will be provided to immigrants with pending "bona fide" U visa petitions. U visas are set aside for immigrants who are victims of "mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials" in their investigations and prosecutions of crimes.

A petitioner will be considered bona fide if they have properly filed Form I-918 from USCIS, have filed a statement describing the facts of their "victimization" and submit their biometric data.

“Today we are taking steps to help victims of crime and promote public safety,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

“These are individuals who have come forward to help law enforcement keep us all safe, but who are in need of a measure of protection for themselves as well," Mayorkas added. "The Bona Fide Determination process is consistent with the Department’s statutory authorities and will ensure these individuals receive the support they need.”

The new guidance will go into effect immediately and will apply to all petitioners who filed Form I-918 and Form I-918A petitions on or after June 14.

"This reform is one of a number of initiatives designed to eliminate complex, costly, and unjustified administrative burdens and barriers, and thus to improve our immigration processes," the statement from USCIS read.

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

Tools Outage

 USCIS will conduct system maintenance to the Contact Relationship Interface System (CRIS) on Tuesday, June 15, at 11:50 p.m. through Wednesday, June 16, at 3:00 a.m. Eastern.

During this time frame, users may experience technical difficulties with one or more of the following online tools:

  • Check My Case Status
  • e-Request
  • Change of Address Online
  • Check Processing Time
  • Civil Surgeon Locator
  • Office Locator
  • File Online
  • myUSCIS Online Account

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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

Monday, June 14, 2021

The press has its own border problem


The press has its own border problem
© Getty Images

If the news media want to regain the public trust and genuinely improve the national conversation, they need to improve their analysis game. Case in point: the most recent flap involving Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Central America and her answers to reporters’ questions regarding her role as the Biden administration’s point person on immigration policy. 

The majority of the coverage involved an insiders-style critique of her performance: How did she sound? Was she a good messenger or testy? What questions did she answer? A few news outlets even questioned the cookies that she handed out on Air Force Two, which had her image replicated in icing. In other words, it was almost all about style and very little about substance. 

Even the criticism of her decision not to visit the U.S.-Mexico border broke down along partisan style lines, with the majority of questions and discussions centered around how it looked. How much better would the coverage have been if the press had asked what were the pros and cons of a border visit, what would the visit have entailed, and what do political leaders learn on such visits? 

For Harris’s critics, who contend that flying over the border at 35,000 or 40,000 feet “doesn't count as a visit,” the other side is that no president or vice president can ever make a simple visit. There are major security considerations, roadways have to be cleared, people contained, and it is a burden to local residents. Any time a president or vice president travels, the motorcade frequently ties up traffic not for minutes, but for hours. Secret Service planning can turn any location upside down. 

Thus, when critics decry trips as “photo ops,” “political stunts” or “political theater,” the problem is that a secure, unvarnished alternative does not exist. That’s true whether the place being visited is a factory, a convenience store, or the U.S.-Mexican border. Being realistic about explaining why leaders’ visits are staged would be a good start. 

Now, what about the media analysis of the legitimate question: Should she have gone? Here, I think the media can do a better and more useful job by explaining the value of something we have experience with: on-the-scene coverage. Seeing the situation for yourself, having even a few minutes to speak to people on the ground, understanding the topography and even the weather conditions are all invaluable and cannot be replaced by staff reports, briefing books, or even video reports. It is the same reason that a good criminal lawyer — prosecutor or defense attorney — goes to the scene of a crime before a trial. There is no substitute for seeing something with your own eyes. 

When I have traveled to the border as part of my own reporting, I have come away with a much better understanding of the issues, whether it be what people trying to enter the U.S. are willing to endure or what the challenges are for the Americans living along the border as outsiders make unauthorized crossings. On my trip earlier this year, I was surprised to see how dangerous the very narrow Rio Grande River is to navigate. 

The “good news” for the media is that the border crisis is not going away. Journalists and commentators will get a do-over. Good reporters learn to focus on the six key questions: who, what, when, where, how and why. But when it comes to complex, longstanding issues, perhaps it is time to focus a little less airtime and ink on only the who, what, when and where, and start asking more about the how and the why. 

And if you want my analysis: yes, Harris should have visited the border. More information and understanding of a problem from visiting the scene firsthand is always better. Just ask any good reporter. 

Greta Van Susteren is a lawyer and chief national political analyst for Gray Television. She previously hosted legal affairs and news programs on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. Follow her on Twitter @greta.

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

Vermont Service Center Address Change

 Effective June 14, 2021, the Vermont Service Center will no longer receive any incoming mail at the St. Albans, VT facility, which is being decommissioned.

Mail sent to the previous addresses will be forwarded for one year, but any mail sent to the previous addresses after June 2022 may be returned to the sender by the United States Postal Service or the courier service used.

Please refer to the chart below for the updated addresses.


Previous Address

New Address

Premium Processing Mail

Premium Processing Service
USCIS Vermont Service Center
30 Houghton Street
St. Albans, VT 05478-2399

Premium Processing Service
USCIS Vermont Service Center
30 River Road
Essex Junction, VT 05452-3808

H-1B Cap Mail

USCIS Vermont Service Center
4 Lemnah Drive
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

USCIS Vermont Service Center
38 River Road
Suite 1000
Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001

All Other Mail

USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

USCIS Vermont Service Center
38 River Road
Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001

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

Pentagon to redirect $2.2B in border wall funds back to military projects


Pentagon to redirect $2.2B in border wall funds back to military projects

The Pentagon will restore $2.2 billion to military construction projects that were stripped by the Trump administration to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Defense Department announced Friday.  

The money will go to 66 projects in 16 countries, 11 U.S. states and three U.S. territories in fiscal 2021, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote in a memorandum.

Among those is $79 million for an elementary school for children of military personnel in Germany, $94 million for another such school in Japan, $50 million for a Marine Corps machine gun range in Guam, $10 million for a missile field expansion at Fort Greely, Alaska, as well as numerous other schools, hangars, housing, shops and facilities.

The Biden administration in late April announced it would cancel border wall projects that had been funded through the Defense Department and return the funds to the military construction projects from which they were pulled during the Trump administration.

Former President Trump had diverted billions in Pentagon construction, weapons and counterdrug funds — including $3.6 billion in construction dollars — toward building the wall, using emergency powers after Congress refused to fully fund the project directly.

But President Biden in his first day in office canceled the state of emergency Trump had declared along the southern border and paused construction on the wall in order to conduct a review.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday that of an original 123 projects that had been stripped of their funds, the money meant for more than 50 of those had already been used for the border wall.

The 66 remaining projects will receive funds that were not yet spent.

Kirby said the department determined which projects were going to get a piece of the $2.2 billion after speaking with Pentagon and service leaders as well as operational commanders.

“We did this all across the department to make sure we chose those carefully,” he said.

He added that the money is meant for military construction projects and would not go toward any research and development or buying weapons or equipment.

It is unclear whether the Pentagon will have to pay any penalties to get out of any border wall contracts, and Kirby said he was “not aware” of such fines. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers head Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon told lawmakers this week the Department of Defense (DOD) is in the midst of canceling 20 contracts for border wall construction.

“We have 20 contracts that we've terminated for the government's convenience. And we're in negotiations now with each of those 20 vendors to work through what those final bills will be,” Spellmon told the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development subcommittee Wednesday.

Kirby also said he did not have information on the $2.5 billion Trump took from the department’s counterdrug funds or whether a portion of the money would be returned as with the construction dollars.

Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell later said the funds ran through this year but had expired, adding the DOD "has no mechanism to recapture these funds made available for border barrier projects.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced separately that it will redirect border wall funds appropriated directly to its agencies to repair infrastructure damaged by wall construction.

"In doing so, DHS will prioritize the remaining border barrier funds to address and remediate urgent life, safety, and environmental issues resulting from the previous administration’s border wall construction," reads a DHS release.

According to the release, DHS will prioritize repairing breaches along the Rio Grande Valley Levee System in Texas, where the Trump administration excavated along the region's flood mitigation system.

A similar project will address soil erosion near San Diego, where DHS claims "improper compaction of soil and construction materials" along border wall construction sites is causing dangerous erosion that could affect border communities.

And DHS will review environmental and remediation strategies for abandoned construction sites that don't present an immediate danger, with input from local residents and community leaders, including tribal communities affected by border wall construction.

More than 340 miles of border wall had been built since 2019 using Pentagon dollars, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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

USCIS Issues Policy Providing Further Protections for Victims of Crime

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to implement a new process, referred to as Bona Fide Determination, which will give victims of crime in the United States access to employment authorization sooner, providing them with stability and better equipping them to cooperate with and assist law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. 

“Today we are taking steps to help victims of crime and promote public safety,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “These are individuals who have come forward to help law enforcement keep us all safe, but who are in need of a measure of protection for themselves as well. The Bona Fide Determination process is consistent with the Department’s statutory authorities and will ensure these individuals receive the support they need.”

“Victims of crime need a way to support themselves as they heal and continue their pursuit of justice,” said USCIS Acting Director Tracy Renaud. “This Bona Fide Determination process will allow U visa petitioners to work while they remain safely in the United States, providing valuable support to law enforcement to detect, investigate, or prosecute the serious crimes they have survived or witnessed.” 

Through this new process, USCIS will issue employment authorization and grant deferred action to petitioners in the United States with pending U visa petitions that it determines are bona fide (made in good faith and without intention of deceit or fraud) and who merit a favorable exercise of discretion. To be considered bona fide, the petition must include a certification from law enforcement that the petitioner was a victim of a crime and that the victim has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of that crime.

Congress has capped the number of principal U visas available each fiscal year at 10,000, but since 2010 USCIS has received more than 10,000 U visa petitions each year. As a result of this high case volume, U visa petitioners now wait approximately five years before receiving a determination that allows them access to an employment authorization document and deferred action. This wait time not only leaves these individuals vulnerable to financial instability and fear of deportation, but it also can disincentivize victims from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement. Through this policy update, victims with pending bona fide petitions will receive the stability they need as they rebuild their lives while working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. This increase in victim cooperation will further fortify law enforcement’s ability to protect communities throughout the United States.  

USCIS will deem a petition bona fide if: 

  • The principal petitioner properly filed Form I-918, including Form I-918B U Nonimmigrant Status Certification
  • The principal petitioner properly filed a personal statement from the petitioner describing the facts of the victimization; and 
  • The result of the principal petitioner’s biometrics has been received.

USCIS will issue employment authorization and deferred action if, after conducting and reviewing background checks, the agency determines, in its discretion, that petitioners merit a favorable exercise of discretion and do not pose a risk to national security or public safety. 

This guidance is effective immediately and applies to all Form I-918 and Form I-918A petitions that are currently pending or filed on or after June 14, 2021. 

Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and other qualifying crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and who cooperate with law enforcement authorities during the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. In the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Congress specifically authorized DHS to grant employment authorization to a noncitizen who has a pending, bona fide petition for U nonimmigrant status. This guidance implements that authority.

This reform is one of a number of initiatives designed to eliminate complex, costly, and unjustified administrative burdens and barriers, and thus to improve our immigration processes. 

Visit Victims of Human Trafficking and Other Crimes to learn more about other protections for victims of crime, human trafficking and domestic violence. 

For more information see the policy alert

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on TwitterInstagramYouTubeFacebook, and LinkedIn

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