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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

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

US, Brazil discuss ways to slow migration

 BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

US, Brazil discuss ways to slow migration
© Getty Images

Top diplomats from the U.S. and Brazil on Tuesday discussed the rise of regional migration between the two countries and ways to slow it. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Franca on collaborating to halt the growing numbers. 

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken held a phone conversation with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Fran├ža to discuss the unprecedented irregular migration movements throughout the hemisphere, and our shared goals for the upcoming Migration Ministerial meeting in Bogota," Price said in a statement shared with The Hill.

Price said Blinken also praised Brazil for assisting vulnerable populations of migrants, including those from Haiti and Venezuela.

"He recognized Brazil’s leadership in assisting vulnerable populations of migrants, including Haitians and Venezuelans. They discussed further collaboration to halt the growing uncontrolled flow of irregular migrants in the region," Price said.

Brazilians have been among a recent wave of Latin American migrants fleeing their countries, many of which have been badly hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Customs and Border Protection data, U.S. officials apprehended 46,280 Brazilian migrants at the southern border during the first 11 months of fiscal 2021, more than two times the 17,893 Brazilian migrants reported in 2019. 

Since 2004, Mexico has not required visas for Brazilian migrants, giving them an easier path to migrate to the U.S., Reuters reported, though the Mexican government has said that is set to change.

The International Organization for Migration last month asked Brazil to host Haitian migrants who were camped at the U.S.-Mexico border, Reuters noted.

Updated: Oct. 20 at 12:55 p.m.

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

Democratic poll: 66 percent of voters would be 'upset' without immigration reform

 BY RAFAEL BERNAL

Democratic poll: 66 percent of voters would be 'upset' without immigration reform
© Getty Images

A new internal poll conducted for a large advocacy group shows that the overwhelming majority of Democratic voters in battleground states would be angered if Congress fails to move the needle on immigration, with some potentially staying home in next year's midterm elections.

The survey, conducted by Democratic consulting firm Global Strategy Council (GSC) for the Immigration Hub, reports that 66 percent of voters — including 90 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents — would be "upset" if immigration reform does not pass.

The poll — conducted in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which have competitive Senate races — found that 13 percent of respondents identified as unmotivated Democrats, who are less likely to vote in 2022.

Of those unmotivated Democrats, 86 percent said they would be upset if no citizenship proposal is passed, and 60 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a senator who votes against such legalization.

Congress is debating a budget reconciliation package that would allow Democrats to pass a broad swath of policies while sidestepping a Republican filibuster.

Among the proposals for that package is a process to grant immigration status to millions of undocumented immigrants and hundreds of thousands of immigrants on temporary humanitarian visas.

Two proposals that would have set millions on a path to citizenship were deemed incompatible with the rules of reconciliation by the Senate parliamentarian, the staff attorney who reviews chamber rules.

A third proposal that would grant temporary work permits without a path to citizenship is under review, but the contents of any final reconciliation bill are still up for debate among Democrats.

Immigration advocates have become increasingly impatient with congressional Democrats and the Biden administration, who they say are hiding behind the parliamentarian to excuse inaction on the issue.

The Senate's presiding officer has the final word on whether to take the parliamentarian's advice, and the full Senate can override the presiding officer's ruling with a 60-vote majority.

In a polling memo reviewed by The Hill, GSC reported to the Immigration Hub that voters overwhelmingly support immigration proposals related to granting a path to citizenship, but express concerns separately over conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Still, support for immigration provisions is clearly split among party lines.

According to the poll, 69 percent of voters support the DREAM Act — a measure to grant a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors — including 89 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents and 50 percent of Republicans.

Similarly, 68 percent of voters support citizenship for essential workers, including 88 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 50 percent of Republicans.

Those numbers are identical in support for citizenship for undocumented farm workers and drop off slightly in support of other undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for more than 10 years.

Only 58 percent of voters support the idea of granting temporary work permits without a path to citizenship, including 79 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independent voters and 38 percent of Republicans.

The current proposal under consideration by the Senate parliamentarian would grant such temporary permits, after the two proposals with a path to citizenship were nixed.

The poll was conducted online among 1,200 voters in the Senate battleground states between Sept. 17-26. The survey had a confidence interval of 2.8 percent.

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

Monday, October 11, 2021

Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden

 BY REBECCA BEITSCH

With Democrats' immigration plans sputtering in Congress, some advocates are increasingly frustrated the Biden administration isn’t taking advantage of existing legal pathways for those seeking to come to the U.S.

They described what they say are shrinking immigration opportunities under Biden as the White House lets visas expire — and as the U.S. hit the lowest number of resettled refugees in the history of the program.

“We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of visas that were meant for people to come here through the employment-based system or to join family members that, because of federal bureaucracy, were not processed in time, which is absolutely unjustifiable,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director for the American Immigration Council.

“One of the things that we consistently ignore in the immigration debate in this country is the reality that a big part of why we have 11 to 12 million undocumented people in the U.S. is because we don't have a meaningful and functional system of legal immigration,” he added. 

Democrats have spent much of the first months of Biden’s presidency attempting to move immigration reform through Congress, but their efforts have been twice batted down by the Senate parliamentarian.

A big part of those efforts is designed at providing protection to millions already in the U.S., shielding them from deportation by ensuring residency and an eventual path to naturalization.

But the close of the fiscal year means more than 200,000 visas will expire without action from Congress.

The government failed to issue some 150,000 family-based visas and as many as 80,000 employment-based visas, according to estimates provided by the State Department in mid-September.

“It doesn't sound like big deal but what 80,000 visas means is these are people stuck in employment-based or family-based green card backlogs for decades, and they are waiting for their chance to be able to apply,” said Shev Dalal-Dheini with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, noting that the government is just getting to visa applications first initiated in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Also lost at the end of the fiscal year were 40,000 diversity visas, given out via lottery to as many as 55,000 people each year to help diversify the pool of immigrants coming to the U.S. The low processing rate has spurred lawsuits, with a court ordering the State Department to still issue nearly 7,000 from last fiscal year.

And the Biden administration resettled just 11,411 refugees this year, the lowest figure on record. Though the administration had doubts it would reach the 62,500 cap it set after the program atrophied during the Trump administration, the low totals nonetheless mean some 50,000 slots went unused.

“The loss of over 150,000 visas in the family-based category and potentially 80,000 visas in the employment-based category coupled with the record low resettlement of refugees this year equates to one of the sharpest decreases in legal immigration in modern history,” Loweree said.

It’s something he warned could have “cascading consequences for many people in the pipeline.”

The lost visa numbers were especially high this year as the coronavirus pandemic slowed processing both at the State Department, where some consulates remain closed, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. caps the number of both family- and employment-based visas every year. However, any family-based visas that aren’t used are then added to the employment-based cap for the following year — a feature that can surge employment-based opportunities.

The expiration of the visas furthers a trend sought by former President Trump, who wanted to limit family-based migration in favor of that tied to employment.

“The government can issue these visas whenever it wants to. It just doesn't want to do anything that would enable it to get them out the door. It’s just that simple,” said David Bier, an immigration research fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute.

“The Biden administration came in with a set of promises, and they’re not fulfilling those promises so far. They haven't restored the immigration system to what it was before Trump and they're aren't really even trying. It’s a lot of very tiny, marginal improvements,” Bier told The Hill.

Some have been pushing the administration to include visa recapture in Democrats' budget reconciliation bill as a way to ensure the visas are not permanently lost and can instead be used in the fiscal year ahead. It’s a process lawmakers haven’t done since 2005, when Congress recaptured 50,000 visas through the REAL ID Act.

“It’s really irresponsible for Congress to let these numbers go to waste because these are numbers that they already authorized, and they're going to waste because of the pandemic and because agencies can’t get their act together fast enough to adjudicate cases,” Dalal-Dheini said.

“I think this is something long overdue, and it's trying to fix a problem that's unintentional,” she added, saying that lawmakers expected the visas they authorized to be used.

But that could hit a roadblock in Congress.

After the parliamentarian for the second time shot down passing a Democratic immigration proposal through reconciliation, some leaders indicated little appetite for forwarding a proposal that didn’t deal with the undocumented.

“Other immigration things, especially for businesses, that’s not going to happen if we’re not going to have any pathway to some form of status adjustment for the undocumented,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters.

He later clarified to Bloomberg, “If we’re talking about recapturing visas for family backlogs ... I certainly would consider that. If we’re talking about getting visas so we can take care of businesses’ problems, I’m not supportive — in the absence of getting anything else done."

Menendez's comments nodded to a legislative effort from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and others that would preserve employment-based visas, which already receive the rolled over family-based visas, rather than those meant to help people obtain green cards to join family in the U.S.

Bier said the hesitation to advance efforts for visa recapture without other legalization pathways in part reflects broader lobbying efforts for the undocumented.

“The pro-immigrant side is so heavily dominated by organizations focused on helping immigrants already in the U.S. — it’s people helping out with the asylum-seekers and people helping people without legal status here. So much of the advocacy organization and legal aid is all devoted to just preventing removals of people who are already here as opposed to helping people outside the country get here legally,” he said.

But Dalal-Dheini said any efforts to cure the ills of the immigration system will be a benefit to all who interact with it, including Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status looking to change their status. She warned that many in the U.S. with legal status are at risk of losing it while encountering the same overwhelmed system as those outside the U.S.

“With a big system like that if you improve some aspects of it other pieces can get ready for change,” she said. “You’re going to an agency that's pretty drained, and so to help people in the backlog and fund it better while anticipating a legalization package — it’s like clearing off the deck so that the big things can be taken care of by a ship that's in better shape.” 

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

Biden administration knew in July that thousands of Haitians were headed toward border: report

 BY SARAKSHI RAIBiden administration knew in July that thousands of Haitians were headed toward border: report

© Getty Images

U.S. agencies had prior knowledge that thousands of Haitian refugees were headed to the southern border in July, according to an NBC News report.

Officials with knowledge of the matter told the news outlet that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has acknowledged the failures internally and is discussing steps to prevent similar situations in the future.

The report further added that Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis knew in July that there was a large contingent of Haitians moving toward the U.S. border from South and Central America well before it was on the national radar last month.

However, the three officials said the intelligence was not shared extensively within DHS and there was a lack of interagency communication.

The officials said that a lack of action on the issue stemmed from disagreements within the administration on whether they should deport the refugees, the report added.

A Guardian report on the issue said that upon taking office, the Biden Administration ordered a 100-day suspension on deportations while procedures related to the removal of migrants and asylum-seekers were subject to review.

The Biden administration faced intense scrutiny in September after thousands of Haitian migrants gathered on the border in Del Rio, Texas. Widely circulated images of border agents interacting with migrants while on horseback caused further outrage.

Deportation flights to Haiti were restarted mid-September amid the surge, and it is unclear how such a large number gathered at the border, The Associated Press reported.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also missed a self-imposed deadline to review and investigate officers on horseback who were photographed grabbing the Haitian migrants.

Last month, President Biden acknowledged that the scenes at the U.S.-Mexico border were “an embarrassment.”

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