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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 30, 2022

Guest opinion: Immigration reform will relieve Florida workforce shortage

Today, more than ever, Florida has been transformed into a thriving economic powerhouse. Companies continue to flock here, and we’re launching more businesses than any other state in America. More businesses mean more jobs, but that is where our state’s challenge lies. There are not enough workers to fill all the open positions or meet the needs of consumers. More:Immokalee Foundation helps immigrant high schoolers push boundaries More:Guest opinion: Essential contributions from immigrants must be met with Congressional action For example, the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) rebounded from an all-time low of 53,379 passengers in April 2020 to set a record yearly high of 10,322,434 passengers from May 2021 to December 2021. We need to meet the demands of our tourism industry for our long-term economic vitality. Without action during this labor shortage, we risk our economic future. The good news is there is an obvious solution built into the foundation of our state’s economy. Janeth Castrejon Florida is widely known as a haven for immigrants. People from across the world, drawn by the unique and unparalleled opportunities afforded by the Sunshine State, have moved here and built lives for themselves. In the process, they have helped build one of the strongest economies in the world. Today, burdensome and outdated government regulations force many immigrants to stay on the sidelines instead of filling open positions and contributing to our continued economic growth. This oversight wastes an opportunity to ensure that Florida’s businesses have the employees they need. Immigration reform would open the doors of opportunities for many professionals from countries in Latin America and beyond to fill critical positions in Florida. Currently, the process for a work or resident visa is quite lengthy and costly. Streamlining the immigration process can help alleviate the wait on getting candidates for many jobs that are critical to our growing economy and tourism industry. But immigration reform is not the only solution. We should also streamline the ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes process for immigrants already in the U.S. who attend these classes to learn English as a Second Language. Many of these ESOL students have bachelors, masters, and even Ph.Ds., but the lack of knowledge of our English language holds them back from getting the job opportunity that they want and we need to fill. I encourage Senators Rubio and Scott to find common ground with their colleagues and enact immigration reforms and policies that help meet the needs of businesses and communities in Florida. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Bill forcing NC sheriffs to aid immigration agents revived

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Another effort by Republican lawmakers to force North Carolina’s sheriffs to learn the immigration status of their jails’ inmates and assist federal agents who want to detain them resurfaced at the General Assembly on Tuesday, more than a year after the legislation passed one chamber. A House judiciary committee voted along party lines for a Senate measure that is only slightly different from a 2019 measure Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper successfully vetoed. Since the GOP’s margins still are not veto-proof, the chances that the latest measure will become law remain low. Tuesday’s measure, which has not changed since it cleared the Senate in March 2021, is a GOP response to Democratic sheriffs in several urban counties who have decided not to work closely with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identity and hold defendants believed to be in the country illegally. The bill states that sheriffs and other jail administrators must determine whether any person charged with felony drug or violent crimes have ICE detainers seeking their custody. If a detainer is listed, deputies must take the inmate quickly to a local magistrate or judge who will decide whether to issue an order holding them. The additional hold would give ICE agents 48 hours to pick up the inmate. Given the recent increase in crime, the bill would “require local law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials in the interest of public safety and growing public concern,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Henderson County Republican, congressional candidate and bill sponsor. Rep. Vernetta Alston, a Durham County Democrat and committee member, questioned the constitutionality of holding alleged offenders using detainers, which is not an arrest warrant. She also brought up the expenses to local jails to hold these defendants. Several groups advocating for the poor and minority groups remain opposed to the bill, saying it would lead to more deportations of people who are in the country unlawfully. “We believe that this bill circumvents the local authority of sheriffs,” Stefania Arteaga with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina told the committee. “This program perpetuates fear and distrust among immigrant communities and local law enforcement.” The measure would have to clear one more House committee before it could reach the chamber floor. Legislative leaders are seeking to end this year’s chief work session by the end of the week. ——— For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

U.S. charges driver and 3 others in deaths of 53 migrants found in tractor-trailer

Federal authorities announced on Wednesday that they had charged four men with human smuggling in the deaths of 53 migrants from Mexico and Central America who were found in a sweltering tractor-trailer in Southwest San Antonio on Monday, a gruesome discovery that has generated outrage in the United States and at least four other nations. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, was arrested Wednesday and charged with involvement in alien smuggling resulting in death. If convicted, he could face life in prison or even the death penalty. Zamorano, who is from Brownsville but now lives in Pasadena, a Houston suburb, abandoned the 18-wheeler on a semirural road near Interstate Highway 35 and tried to flee, officials said. He was “observed hiding in the brush after attempting to abscond,” according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one. A video taken at a federal immigration checkpoint near Laredo had recorded the driver of the truck as wearing a black striped shirt and a hat — Zamorano was wearing the same clothes when he was arrested by San Antonio police. Reached by phone on Wednesday evening, Zamorano’s brother-in-law said he had no idea how Homero — who goes by Homer — was involved in the crime and had no interest in finding out. “His life is really separate from ours,” the brother-in-law told The Texas Tribune. “I have no idea how he got involved in that. He would get lost for years and would come around occasionally. He basically raised himself.” Zamorano’s sister, Tomasita Medina, told the Los Angeles Times that Zamorano was the oldest of three siblings who were raised in Brownsville but later lived in East Texas, South Florida and ultimately the Houston area, where Zamorano worked as a handyman, used drugs and got in trouble with the law. “He’s always had an issue, a problem with drugs,” she told the Times. “He’s always in and out of our lives because of that.” Catch up on race and immigration news with our weekly newsletter Race and Immigration Weekly Roundup newsletter Catch up on race and immigration news with our weekly newsletter Your email address I agree to the terms of service and privacy policy. Browse all newsletters at texastribune.org/subscribe. Federal prosecutors have also charged three other men in connection with the crime: Christian Martinez, 28, who was arrested on Tuesday in Palestine, in East Texas, and two Mexican citizens, Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, 23, and Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao, 48, who were detained on Monday in San Antonio. Federal officials said that 48 migrants died at the scene — including 22 people from Mexico, seven from Guatemala, and two from Honduras. Officials were still scrambling to identify the nationalities of 17 other people who died at the scene, they said. In addition to those 48, 16 other undocumented migrants were taken to hospitals, where 5 of them died. Francisco Garduño Yañez, the head of Mexico’s national migration agency, gave slightly different numbers at a news conference on Wednesday. He said that 67 migrants were inside the trailer; federal prosecutors in San Antonio put the number at 64. Garduño said the victims included 27 Mexicans, 14 Hondurans, seven Guatemalans and two Salvadorans. The gruesome crime and its sheer scale — 64 migrants huddled in a big rig, without water or air conditioning, in heat that reached 100 degrees on Monday — has staggered even veteran law enforcement officials who work along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one. No other smuggling attempt in the United States had ever resulted in so many deaths, according to Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. Court documents revealed several connections among the four men charged. Martinez was arrested after the authorities executed a search warrant on Zamorano’s cellphone and discovered that the two men had been in communication over the smuggling. Martinez was charged in Tyler, in East Texas, with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death. He will be taken to San Antonio for further proceedings, prosecutors said. The two Mexican citizens who were arrested, D’Luna-Mendez and D’Luna-Bilbao, were detained in traffic stops as they drove away from a San Antonio residence linked to the registration for the tractor-trailer. A handgun was found in D’Luna-Bilboa’s truck, and other firearms were found at the residence. The two men, who had overstayed tourist visas and were in the country illegally, were charged with one count of possession of a weapon by an alien illegally in the U.S., a crime that carries up to 10 years in prison. Authorities in at least four countries in addition to the U.S. worked Wednesday to identify the victims begin the grim process of bringing their citizens’ bodies home. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one. Of the 53 dead, 40 were male and 13 were female, according to the Bexar County medical examiner’s office, which said it had “potential identifications” of 37 victims. The deaths far exceeded the toll in two previous migrant smuggling tragedies. In 2017, 39 people were found in a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio. Eight died in the truck, and two later at a hospital. The driver was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In 2003, 19 men, women and children died after being trapped for hours in a suffocating trailer that the driver abandoned in Victoria; the driver is now serving a 34-year prison sentence. A law enforcement source told the San Antonio Express-News that Zamorano “was very high on meth when he was arrested nearby and had to be taken to the hospital.” Garduño, the Mexican migration chief, said the driver initially tried to pretend he was one of the migrants. Mexico’s government has mobilized to investigate the deaths and assist the victims’ families. Its federal migration agency announced Tuesday that it would pay to bring the bodies of its citizens back to their homes and cover funeral costs for the families. The country’s attorney general also announced that it has sent a team to investigate the deaths in cooperation with U.S. authorities. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one. The Mexican Embassy in the U.S. said it was coordinating with consular officials from Guatemala and Honduras to help the survivors and the victims’ families and aid U.S. officials with the criminal investigation. The countries also will form an “action group” to try to dismantle human smuggling organizations, the embassy said. Meanwhile, details about the migrants’ harrowing journey inside the trailer have begun to surface from public officials and interviews with the survivors and their families. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, told The Associated Press that the tractor-trailer passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint outside of Laredo on I-35, but he didn’t know if the migrants were in the trailer when it went through the checkpoint. At a Wednesday press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said the tractor-trailer was not inspected at the checkpoint “because the Border Patrol does not have the resources to be able to inspect all of the trucks.” Abbott announced that the state will add new checkpoints near the border to inspect trucks coming from Mexico to try to spot those smuggling people. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Truck Carrying Dead Migrants Passed Through U.S. Checkpoint

Border Patrol officials say truck traffic is too voluminous to check every vehicle at the dozens of immigration checkpoints on roadways near the border. Officials said that at least 53 people died from extreme heat inside a tractor-trailer that was abandoned in San Antonio, including migrants from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Officials said that at least 53 people died from extreme heat inside a tractor-trailer that was abandoned in San Antonio, including migrants from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.Credit...Lisa Krantz for The New York Times By James Dobbins, J. David Goodman and Miriam Jordan June 29, 2022 SAN ANTONIO — A tractor-trailer that ended up in San Antonio with more than 50 dead or dying migrants passed through a federal immigration checkpoint inside the United States without being inspected, a top Mexican official said on Wednesday. The truck crossed the checkpoint, operated by the Border Patrol, shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday as it drove north along Interstate 35 from the border region, the official, Francisco Garduño Yáñez, the head of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, said at a news conference that featured images of the truck and its driver at the checkpoint. The Mexican official also said that the rig had driven by a Border Patrol station in the town of Cotulla; that station does not operate a highway checkpoint. The truck stopped roughly three hours later along a desolate road just off the highway, with the people inside either already dead or struggling to stay alive. A young girl managed to climb out and cry for help. “I didn’t get her name or think to ask where she came from,” said Roberto Quintero, who came upon the truck and called 911. “She just kept hanging on my arms, screaming, ‘Help me, help me,’ in Spanish.” Officials said on Wednesday that at least 53 of the 64 people inside, men, women and some children who came from countries including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, died from the extreme heat inside the truck, which did not have any working cooling system on a day that temperatures topped 100 degrees. Several others were still being treated in local hospitals. Gov. Greg Abbott, citing the failure of the federal checkpoint to detect the people being smuggled inside the tractor-trailer, announced that he had ordered the Texas State Police to create their own checkpoints to inspect trucks. He did not say what those inspections would entail or what portion of trucks would be stopped. Editors’ Picks You’re Still on Mute Jayson Tatum Knew He Could Have Had His Moment Drake Rebuilt Hip-Hop in His Image. Now He Wants You to Dance. ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story The governor also said that Texas police officers would increase their searches for stash houses that hide migrants and so-called cloned vehicles, which are used by smugglers but made to look legitimate. Officials have said the San Antonio truck had been disguised in that way. Image Crosses at the scene in San Antonio. Crosses at the scene in San Antonio.Credit...Lisa Krantz for The New York Times Federal immigration officials have claimed success at capturing migrants seeking to enter the country illegally and have cited the use of audio and video surveillance and a network of vehicle checkpoints at the border and miles away from it. But the fact that a tractor-trailer hauling scores of migrants could elude detection underscored just how difficult such interdiction is, particularly amid the seemingly endless stream of truck traffic up and down the commercial corridors linking the United States and Mexico. A spokeswoman for Homeland Security Investigations declined to comment on how the tractor-trailer, which had Texas plates, smoothly passed through a federal checkpoint in Encinal, Texas, about 40 miles from the border. But current and former officials said that most drivers pass through without being subjected to a thorough inspection, both because of legal limits on police searches and the sheer volume of truck traffic. Roughly 20,000 trucks pass through the corridor from Laredo to San Antonio every day. “We know vehicles make it through,” said Jack Staton, a former senior executive with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which also includes the Border Patrol. “They don’t have the staffing, resources and capabilities to check every single truck,” he said. “They search if they have suspicion of illegal activity. If they don’t, they let the vehicle go. They make sure traffic moves.” Image Shoes and water bottles that were left behind. Shoes and water bottles that were left behind.Credit...Lisa Krantz for The New York Times Gov. Abbott’s announcement of the new checkpoints comes a little more than two months after he briefly introduced a similar strategy near international crossings, directing the state police to conduct vehicle safety checks of all commercial trucks arriving from Mexico. The universal truck inspections snarled traffic and caused economic damage both in Mexico and in Texas. State police officers are not legally permitted to make universal inspections of vehicles for hidden people or other contraband, areas that are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and so the officers were looking for violations of safety regulations for vehicles. The effort, in April, resulted in many unsafe trucks being taken off the road, but few if any discoveries of contraband or people being smuggled. Federal border agents are also limited in the searches they conduct. “They have to have suspicion or reason to believe there is illegal activity,” Mr. Staton said. The Border Patrol operates more than 100 checkpoints, most of them along highways and secondary roads that are 25 to 100 miles from the southern and northern borders. As vehicles approach a checkpoint, agents ask only some of them to stop, and typically ask occupants whether they are U.S. citizens or residents to identify people who are potentially deportable. Agents may walk around the vehicles they stop to conduct a visual check. If they are suspicious of illegal activity or alerted by sniffer dogs of possible illicit cargo, the agents send the vehicles to secondary inspection. From the 2016 through 2020 fiscal years, the Border Patrol apprehended about 35,700 potentially removable people at checkpoints and made about 17,970 drug seizures, according to agency data. Truckloads of migrants have been known to pass through the checkpoint at Encinal. Last week, agents there were beginning to conduct an inspection of a tractor-trailer when the driver attempted to flee. After the vehicle crashed, dozens of migrants were found huddled inside. The appearance of the ill-fated truck in San Antonio on Monday did not initially draw attention in the industrial area where it had stopped. But soon those inside were struggling to get out. Mr. Quintero was wrapping up his day at a trucking company nearby when around 5:45 p.m. a co-worker came in shouting for someone to call 911. Mr. Quintero came out to see the tractor-trailer parked just outside the company’s gate. By the truck, he saw the girl of about 10 or 11 sitting on the pavement, pounding the ground and screaming for help. The smell coming from the truck’s open doors was powerful. He looked inside. “All these people were in a pile like they were trying to get out,” he said in an interview. A man on the far side of the human pile coughed like he could not breathe and stood up briefly but appeared too weak to pull himself over the bodies, he said. Image The San Antonio police said they arrested the driver in a field near the truck. The San Antonio police said they arrested the driver in a field near the truck.Credit...Lisa Krantz for The New York Times A man in a black shirt, whom Mr. Quintero took to be the driver, emerged from the roadside brush at a distance from the truck, talking on his cellphone. Several of Mr. Quintero’s co-workers chased after him, but he disappeared into a field, Mr. Quintero said. The San Antonio police said they arrested a man identified as the driver in a field near the truck. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged the man, Homero Zamorano, 45, with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death. Prosecutors said they matched Mr. Zamorano, originally from the border city of Brownsville, Texas, to surveillance video of the driver of the truck as it passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint. Mr. Zamorano had communicated about transporting the migrants with another man, Christian Martinez, 28, according to prosecutors, who charged Mr. Martinez with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death. The charges against both men could result in a life sentence or the death penalty. Two other men with connections to the truck were charged on Tuesday with weapons possession after they were arrested on Monday at a home in San Antonio. Neither is a legal resident of the United States. Officials have said that smugglers follow a well-worn pattern for bringing migrants into the country. Small groups cross the river on foot and are then brought to hide-outs often known as stash houses. When a large enough number have been assembled, they may be brought by car, van or large truck to major cities such as San Antonio, Los Angeles, Houston or Phoenix. As they move further from the border, detection becomes more difficult. It was not immediately clear where or precisely when the people found inside the truck in San Antonio had gotten aboard. The Mexican officials, in their news conference, said the truck might have driven from the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas. “Just because it went through a Border Patrol checkpoint, that doesn’t mean it was loaded with aliens at that time,” said Jerry Robinette, a former special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. “We know for a fact it is very common for aliens to be smuggled around the checkpoint and then they are married with a transport to take them further north.” The border with Mexico and the criminal gangs that operate around it have been a focus of Republican politicians, even in states far away, who have blamed President Biden for the increasing number of people trying to cross. This month in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the state’s Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate whether families, local governments and criminal organizations were conspiring to transport migrants to Florida. On Wednesday, the court granted his request. In Texas, Mr. Abbott has poured police resources and billions of dollars in state funds into disrupting smuggling networks and has claimed credit for helping to apprehend hundreds of thousands of migrants along with large quantities of drugs. But the effort has not reduced the total number of crossings. The border city of Eagle Pass, where Mr. Abbott held his news conference on Wednesday, has been a particular focus of the governor’s efforts. For months, concertina wire has lined the banks of the Rio Grande in areas of the city and National Guard troops have watched the shores. Nevertheless, the area around Eagle Pass had by June become the top spot in the United States for illegal crossings from Mexico. For more information, please contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Durbin: Migrant deaths in Texas a ‘Uvalde moment’ for immigration reform

The deaths of more than 50 migrants in a truck outside San Antonio are galvanizing calls to reform an immigration system that many say shares blame in the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe along the U.S.-Mexico border. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday told Politico that he hopes the tragedy will spur legislative action in the same way the May mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, led to the first major federal legislation on gun safety in decades. “We’ve been talking the last couple days about reviving that effort,” Durbin told Politico on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid. “And I think what happened at the border with finding 51 dead migrants in that tractor trailer is what I would call a ‘Uvalde moment.’ I hope it sparks an interest in finding a bipartisan approach to dealing with immigration.” Durbin has for more than two decades led the push for major immigration reform in the Senate, though little has come of it. But the Illinois senator has been meeting this year with GOP Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) and fellow Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla (Calif.) to hash out an outline for a potential bipartisan immigration solution. Those talks were briefly interrupted by gun safety talks that led to the bill signed by President Biden on Saturday. The Uvalde mass shooting and the migrant deaths in San Antonio shook a small sense of optimism into a political class that had all but given up on the deeply partisan issues of immigration and gun safety. Similar to gun safety, each party has different views on the causes and solutions that brought about the migrants’ deaths. Democrats and immigration advocates largely blame the quasi-militarized border and slow immigration system for creating an artificial bottleneck that benefits smugglers “We cannot ignore the human tragedy and gruesome deaths of 50 migrants found in the back of [a] tractor-trailer in San Antonio,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement. “How many more human rights cruelties will our nation endure before we finally address our broken immigration system? The mass deaths of migrants seeking refuge in our country, regardless of immigration status, is nothing less than a national tragedy. It’s ​a blatant reminder of the ​continued costs of militarized borders and xenophobic policies,” Grijalva added. But many Republicans contend an “open border” brought on by Biden’s policies is being exploited by organized crime. “Biden says he’s doing everything possible to stop human smuggling. That’s a lie. What happened in San Antonio is a tragedy & it’s not going to stop until Biden enforces our immigration laws. As he does nothing, Texas will continue to secure our border,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted on Wednesday. That division, and the politicization of border security, will complicate any bipartisan deal on the matter. Still, the secret to the gun safety bill’s success was to set a low bar that would be acceptable to both parties. While big issues on immigration like border wall construction or a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants are unlikely to be on the table, both the immigration system and border security are rife with technicalities that could be politically safe to address. Meanwhile, migrant deaths are spiking at the border: Border Patrol found 557 migrant remains in 2021, and 2022 is gearing up to be an even deadlier year. “While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not reported official border-wide deaths data since 2020 (despite a legal requirement to do so), partial information points to this being the worst year yet,” wrote Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office for Latin America. The San Antonio incident — far from the first case of migrants suffocating in a smuggler’s vehicle — joins a spate of drownings, exposure deaths and falls from the border wall as the main causes of death and injury to migrants. According to Isacson, the main culprit is the 1990s-vintage “prevention through deterrence” mantra that guides CBP operations. “As current migration statistics show, this policy didn’t reduce migration. But it caused the number of migrant deaths to explode, first in deserts east of San Diego in California, and in Arizona, then later in Texas,” Isacson wrote. Any political negotiation will further be complicated by the need for international cooperation. Supreme Court rules for Biden in clash over Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy Roe v. Wade decision weighs on Hispanic voters before midterms Top U.S., Mexican, Guatemalan and Honduran officials met Wednesday at the Mexican Embassy in Washington to hash out an agreement to coordinate the investigation and assistance to bereaved families. Still, the issue is certain to create more friction on migration between the United States and its closest southern neighbors. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is due to visit Biden on July 12, and he has already said he will bring up migrant safety. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Deported Veterans Are ‘Dilemma of Conscience’ for US, Panel Told

Easier citizenship process sought for service members Deported veterans face health concerns, poverty June 29, 2022 5:00 PM By Mia McCarthy Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more. Lawmakers are aiming to advance legislation to streamline the process for granting citizenship to veterans and service members after federal officials called for improvements. Representatives of the Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Homeland Security departments laid out their efforts to create a faster naturalization process for veterans, reach out to noncitizen veterans, and help immigrant veterans receive government benefits during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. “The issue of removing veterans from the United States is not just a legal or administrative challenge; it is a dilemma of conscience,” Debra Rogers, director of the Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative, said in written testimony. She represents an interagency working group established to fulfill a 2021 executive order from President Joe Biden. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images Ivan Ocon, 44, a Mexican veteran of the United States Army deported to Mexico in 2016, ties a banner with pictures of deported veterans who died outside the US in front of the border wall in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Nov. 4, 2021. Noncitizen veterans are eligible for citizenship but not all meet every requirement or apply. A Government Accountability Office report found 92 were deported from 2013 to 2019. Noncitizen veterans may be deported due to criminal convictions, many of which are drug-related. These veterans often cope with service-related mental and physical health issues through drug use, members of the committee said. “I’m hopeful that we can move forward to pass legislation to honor our veterans to make sure that they get the respect that they earned through their service to our country,” Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said. Lawmakers introduced several bills on the issue earlier this year. Read More: Bipartisan Lawmakers Eye Permanent Fix for Deported Veterans Lawmakers and government officials stressed the importance of ensuring that immigrant veterans keep their health care. Many deported veterans with mental or physical health issues are unable to access VA health care due to their immigration status, Rogers said. She noted this can lead to homelessness and poverty. “The stories of veterans who have been removed from the United States are complex, and often reflect the societal challenges we all must work to resolve,” Rogers said in her testimony. The hearing came a day after the American Civil Liberties Union wrote to Biden, criticizing his administration for slow-walking the rollback of a Trump-era policy that restricted military naturalization. A 2017 policy from the Trump administration required immigrant service members to serve for a minimum period before applying for citizenship. A 2020 District Court order ended the policy, but the administration is appealing the decision and hasn’t rescinded the policy, the ACLU reported. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Toll now at 53 in San Antonio as families wait for answers

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — In the chaotic minutes after dozens of migrants were found dead inside a tractor-trailer sweltering under the Texas sun, the driver tried to slip away by pretending to be one of the survivors, a Mexican immigration official said Wednesday. The American truck driver, along with another U.S. citizen and two other men, remained in custody as the investigation continued into the tragedy that killed 53 people in the nation’s deadliest smuggling episode on the U.S.-Mexico border. Federal prosecutors said two of the suspects, including the driver, face charges that carry a potential sentence of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted. Two more people died Wednesday as the death toll slowly climbed since the discovery of 46 bodies Monday at the scene near auto salvage yards on the edge of San Antonio. The truck had been packed with 67 people, and the dead included 27 from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, said Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute. Officials had potential identifications on 37 of the victims as of Wednesday, pending verification with authorities in other countries, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. Forty of the victims were male, it said. Identifying the dead has been challenging because some were found without identification documents and in one case a stolen ID. Remote villages where some of the migrants came from in Mexico and Central America have no phone service to reach family members and fingerprint data has to be shared and matched by the governments involved. Javier Flores López’s family was waiting to find out whether he was on the truck. He had returned home to see his wife and three small children in southern Mexico and was going back to Ohio where his father and a brother live and he worked in construction. He is now among the missing and his cousin, José Luis Vásquez Guzmán, is hospitalized in San Antonio, the family said. The tragedy occurred at a time when huge numbers of migrants have been coming to the U.S., many of them taking perilous risks to cross swift rivers and canals and scorching desert landscapes. Migrants were stopped nearly 240,000 times in May, up by one-third from a year ago. Youtube video thumbnail While it’s not clear when or where the migrants boarded the truck bound for San Antonio, Homeland Security investigators believe it was on U.S. soil, near or in Laredo, Texas, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar told The Associated Press. The truck went through a Border Patrol checkpoint northeast of Laredo on Interstate 35 on Monday, Cuellar and Mexican officials confirmed. It was registered in Alamo, Texas, but had fake plates and logos, Garduño said. Officials in Mexico also released a surveillance photo showing the driver smiling at the checkpoint during the more than two-hour trip to San Antonio. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that state troopers would set up additional truck checkpoints on highways, but he did not say how many. In April, Abbott gridlocked the 1,200-mile Texas border for a week by requiring every truck entering the state to underdo additional inspections as part of his ongoing fight with the Biden administration over immigration policy. Authorities were looking into whether the truck had mechanical problems when it was left next to a railroad track. The driver was apprehended after trying to disguise himself as one of the migrants, Garduño said. Federal prosecutors identified the driver as Homero Zamorano Jr., 45, who was charged with smuggling resulting in death. Zamorano lives in suburban Houston and is originally from the Texas border city of Brownsville, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio. He faces the most serious charges along with Christian Martinez, 28, who is accused of conspiracy and allegedly communicated with Zamorano about transporting the migrants. Martinez was arrested in East Texas and will be transported to San Antonio. Zamorano was scheduled to have his first court appearance Thursday. It was not immediately known if either suspect had an attorney. Two other men who are not U.S. citizens were also arrested on charges of illegal weapons possession. Prosecutors say investigators found the men at a San Antonio address where the truck was registered. Some of the more than a dozen people transported to hospitals were found suffering from brain damage and internal bleeding, according to Rubén Minutti, the Mexico consul general in San Antonio. Migrants typically pay $8,000 to $10,000 to be taken across the border, loaded into a tractor-trailer and driven to San Antonio, where they transfer to smaller vehicles for their final destinations across the United States, said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. The death count from Monday’s tragedy in San Antonio was the highest ever from a smuggling attempt in the U.S., he said. Four years ago, 10 died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck parked at a San Antonio Walmart. In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of the city. Temperatures in San Antonio on Monday approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), and those taken to the hospital were hot to the touch and dehydrated, authorities said. It wouldn’t have taken long for the temperature inside the truck to become deadly, said Jennifer Vanos, an assistant professor at Arizona State University who has researched child deaths in hot vehicles. The tractor-trailer likely would have been hot even before anyone got inside and because of the high humidity, lack of air flow and so many people inside, their sweat couldn’t evaporate to cool their bodies and they would have dehydrated quickly, she said. With little information about the victims, desperate families from Mexico and Central America frantically sought word of their loved ones. Felicitos Garcia, who owns a grocery store in the remote community of San Miguel Huautla in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, said the mother of Vásquez Guzmán, who was hospitalized in Texas, had gone to the state capital to learn more about her son’s condition and the whereabouts of his cousin, who is missing. “Life is tough here,” Garcia said. “People survive by growing their own crops like corn, beans and wheat. Sometimes the land gives and sometimes it doesn’t when the rains arrive late. There is nothing in place for people to have other resources. People live one day to the next.” Identifying the victims was painstaking because among the pitfalls were fake or stolen documents. Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary identified two people Tuesday who were hospitalized in San Antonio. But it turned out one of the identification cards he shared on Twitter had been stolen last year in the southern state of Chiapas. Haneydi Antonio Guzman, 23, was safe in a mountain community more than 1,300 miles (2,092 kilometers) away from San Antonio when she began receiving messages from family and friends anxious over her fate. “That’s me on the ID, but I am not the person that was in the trailer and they say is hospitalized,” Antonio Guzman said. “My relatives were contacting me worried, asking where I was.” In some regions of Mexico, attempting to cross into the United States is a tradition that most youths in heavily migrant towns at least consider. “All of the young people start to think about going (to the U.S.) as soon as they turn 18,” said migrant activist Carmelo Castañeda, who works with the nonprofit Casa del Migrante. “If there aren’t more visas, our people are going to keep dying.” For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Supreme Court allows Biden to end Trump-era 'Remain in Mexico' policy

By Pete Williams WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court handed President Joe Biden a victory Thursday, ruling that he can shut down a Trump administration program designed to restrict immigration at the southern border. The court said in a 5-4 ruling that the Biden administration acted properly in seeking to end the "Remain in Mexico" policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. It required people seeking asylum at the southern border, mainly from Central America, to wait in Mexico while their claims were decided. From late January 2019 until Biden suspended the program, more than 68,000 people were shuttled back to Mexico. Tent cities sprang up near border entry stations on the Mexican side of the border. Human rights groups said hundreds of asylum-seekers were kidnapped, raped, tortured or assaulted. Immediately after taking office, Biden ordered an end to the program. He cited the dangerous conditions along the border, the difficulty migrants faced in getting help from lawyers in the United States and the complications the program produced for America’s foreign policy dealings with Mexico. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Greg Abbott blames Joe Biden for migrant deaths, but the governor’s own border security efforts have fallen short

In April, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state police to inspect every commercial vehicle entering Texas through a port of entry, saying the painful step was needed because the Biden administration was not doing its job to secure the border. Drug cartels, Abbott said, were using “dangerous commercial trucks” to smuggle “immigrants, deadly fentanyl and other illegal cargo” into the state. The “enhanced commercial vehicle inspections” at the border caused hourslong delays at the inland ports, essentially grinding trade with Mexico to a halt and costing Texas businesses millions in losses. After a week and a half, Abbott ended the inspections, announcing what he called historic security agreements with governors from border states in northern Mexico that he said would slow the flow of drugs and immigrants across the border. But three months later, in a harrowing reminder of the risks migrants are taking to enter the country, authorities on Monday night discovered an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio that contained the bodies of 46 dead migrants — another five died after being transported to local hospitals. To immigration experts, the astounding loss of life inside the same kind of commercial vehicle Abbott had targeted in his inspections illustrates just how difficult it is to stem migration into the country, even as he has spent the last year pouring billions of state dollars into securing the border. “Every data point we’ve seen about migration into Texas from Mexico shows that migrants are getting to the border in the same numbers as before,” said Adam Isacson, a regional security expert at the Washington Office on Latin America. “There’s no numerical evidence that it’s had any numerical impact on migrant flows.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents had more encounters with migrants on the southwestern border of the country in the month that followed Abbott’s mandated vehicle inspections and agreements with Mexican governors. The agency reported 239,416 encounters in May compared to 235,478 encounters in April, when Abbott announced his new border security efforts. In March, the agency had 222,339 encounters. Catch up on race and immigration news with our weekly newsletter Race and Immigration Weekly Roundup newsletter Catch up on race and immigration news with our weekly newsletter Abbott’s commercial vehicle inspections were just one of a slew of border security efforts the governor took in April as he attempted to put pressure on President Joe Biden to keep in place Title 42, a Trump-era public health order the federal government had used during the COVID-19 pandemic to turn away millions of migrants at the border, even those seeking asylum. Biden had planned to end the order in May, but a federal judge blocked him from doing so days before its planned end. Abbott’s other plans included busing migrants to Washington, D.C., placing state troopers in riot gear at the border to meet migrants and installing concertina wire at low-water crossings on the Rio Grande to deter migrants. After news broke about the migrant deaths on Monday, Abbott, a Republican, pointed the finger squarely at the Democratic president. “These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott tweeted Monday night. “They are the result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.” Abbott’s tone was notably softer when a similar tragedy played out in 2017. Thirty-nine migrants were found in sweltering conditions in the back of a commercial truck in San Antonio — 10 ultimately died. “Human trafficking is an epidemic that Texas is working to eradicate,” Abbott said at the time, when Donald Trump was still president. “To that end, Texas will continue to provide protection for the victims who have been robbed of their most basic rights, and bring down the full weight of the law for the perpetrators of this despicable crime.” Responding to questions about whether his April border security moves had been successful, Abbott again said “this horrific tragedy” could have been prevented “if President Biden would do his job and secure the border” and added that the federal government “is complicit in Mexican cartels’ human smuggling enterprise, encouraging migrants to risk their lives by not enforcing our nation’s laws and allowing historic levels of illegal crossings.” “Texas continues responding to the border disaster created by President Biden by deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers as part of Operation Lone Star to seize millions of lethal doses of fentanyl and stop illegal crossings between checkpoints and points of entry,” Abbott said in a statement. “President Biden swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation — it’s time he starts living up to that oath and secures our southern border.” Abbott did not answer questions about the efficacy of his border security efforts or whether he would again impose “enhanced commercial vehicle inspections” at ports of entry as he had warned he would if the number of migrants at the border did not decrease. The state is slated to spend more than $4 billion on border security during its current two-year budget cycle, which will go toward the construction of a state-funded border wall with Mexico and the deployment of thousands of police and state National Guard members. For years, Democrats, who are in the minority in the Legislature, have complained that there are no metrics to justify the billions of dollars the Republican majority allocates to border security efforts every biennium. Immigration experts said Abbott’s argument that Biden isn’t enforcing immigration laws doesn’t hold up. Title 42, the public health order implemented by Trump, is still in effect because a federal judge blocked Biden’s efforts to lift it. The policy has been used more than 2 million times since March 2020 to turn away a majority of people attempting to enter the U.S., including those seeking asylum. Another Trump administration program, the Migration Protection Protocols, also remains in effect after a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to reinstate it in December. The Abbott-backed program, also called “Remain in Mexico,” allows immigration officials to send asylum-seeking migrants back to Mexico while they await the determination of their cases. Since its reinstatement, officials have sent more than 5,100 migrants back to Mexico under the program, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Isacson said attempts to enter the country by traveling inside a tractor-trailer show that migrants are no longer attempting to seek asylum because they know they could be turned away under Title 42. Instead, he said, they are turning to more dangerous ways of entering the country. “The very fact that people are desperate enough to travel in the back of a cargo container tells you that the border is not open,” Isacson said. “If the border was open, no one would have to do that.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 557 migrant deaths along the southwestern border for the last fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. Other organizations like the International Organization for Migration, which is a part of the United Nations, has the death toll at 650, its highest count since the organization started counting in 2014. Gil Kerlikowske, who led U.S. Customs and Border Protection from 2014 to 2017, said the recent death of migrants in the back of a tractor-trailer shows how it is nearly impossible to stop all border crossing attempts by migrants. “Even with all the electronics and increases in the Border Patrol number of agents, it’s very difficult,” Kerlikowske said. The criminal organizations involved in human smuggling are transnational entities that have tremendous financial resources, which they use to evade immigration authorities, he said. Instead of putting the migrants through checkpoints and points of entry, he said, they make migrants walk around checkpoints to avoid authorities or keep them in stash houses inland before loading them into other vehicles, including 18-wheelers, to drive them into the country’s interior. The drivers transporting the migrants often don’t know much about the people they’re driving or who is paying them, Kerlikowske said. But the payout is enough to make them take the risk. “It’s such an incredibly financially rewarding system,” he said. “For a truck driver to get an envelope of cash of thousands and thousands of dollars, that’s a pretty powerful incentive.” Isacson said authorities should not expect the number of migrants at the border to go down in the near future. Countries like Nicaragua, Cuba and El Salvador are experiencing political turmoil and others are struggling to recover economically from COVID-19. Those problems at home are leading to mass migration into the United States. “We’re in this moment of historic migration everywhere,” Isacson said. “You’ve got countries from Colombia to Costa Rica to Mexico having more migrants who want to settle there.” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University who studies U.S.-Mexico relations, said Abbott’s April border security efforts were more about “spectacle” and politics than addressing the complex problem of immigration. In the months since, he’s touted his security agreements with Mexican governors, saying no governor has done more to address border security. “You cannot deal with one single cause at the border,” Correa-Cabrera said of Abbott’s push to inspect every commercial vehicle that crossed the border. “It doesn’t actually deal with the multiple factors that affect immigration.” On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern about the number of migrant deaths occurring as people try to cross the border from Mexico to the United States in the first half of the year, which they said has hit 290 with Monday’s deaths. The international organization warned that migrants were being preyed upon by smugglers in their efforts to cross borders to flee violence, persecution and human rights abuses. “What is needed are safer alternatives to these dangerous irregular movements, ensuring expedient access to asylum procedures for those seeking international protection,” said Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR representative to the United States and the Caribbean. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Immigration Enforcement Bill clears public safety committee

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)– For the second legislative session in a row, a bill that would limit local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities has earned a late-session favorable committee report but still faces a long road to becoming law. The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on Friday reported that the legislation (H 2418 / S 1579), dubbed the “Safe Communities Act” by supporters, ought to pass and sent it to the House for further consideration. The bill, which has drawn fierce testimony over the years and stalled out in the Legislature at least twice before, restricts local and state law enforcement officials from asking about a person’s immigration status and limits their cooperation with federal immigration officials. Train service resumes after weekend work, inspections Legislative leaders have not signaled plans for floor votes on the bill, but did choose this session to move another major bill sought by immigrant advocates. Over Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto, the Legislature enacted a law making undocumented immigrants eligible to obtain driver’s licenses, a law that opponents want to roll back if they can get a repeal measure on the ballot. “We are thrilled to see the Safe Communities Act advance one step closer to becoming law,” Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said. “This legislation is a public safety and public health imperative, and that’s why it has widespread support from health care providers, law enforcement, immigrant leaders and advocates, the business community and more.” The same committee gave a substantially similar version of the bill a favorable report last session, too, but it did not rise to the top of the priority list for legislative leaders as that two-year lawmaking cycle came to an end. Backers have said that limiting local police departments’ ability to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement would help immigrants feel safe seeking needed medical care, a point that was made repeatedly during the pandemic. Officials urge state not to sit on ARPA funds Gov. Charlie Baker has previously said that local communities should be able to make their own decisions and that he would not sign the bill if it reaches his desk. That means that the Democrats who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature would have to ensure that they have veto-proof margins in favor of the bill if it is to become law over Baker’s objections For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

California to become first state offering health care to all undocumented residents

California will become the first state to remove immigration status as a barrier to health care, making all low-income undocumented residents eligible for state-subsidized insurance regardless of age. Gov. Gavin Newsom late Sunday announced a budget deal he struck with the Legislature included a new Medi-Cal expansion that would cover more undocumented adults. The program’s launch, starting no later than Jan. 1, 2024, is expected to provide full coverage for approximately 700,000 undocumented residents ages 26-49 and lead to the largest drop in the rate of uninsured Californians in a decade. TOP VIDEOS × “This historic investment speaks to California’s commitment to health care as a human right,” said Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles. The state already allows many undocumented residents to join Medi-Cal. In 2015, California began allowing undocumented children to join Medi-Cal. Four years later, eligibility broadened to those younger than 26. And in May, the state started covering people aged 50 and over. The Medi-Cal expansion is expected to cost $2.6 billion annually. Californians generally are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage based on their income. The income cap for a family of four this year is $36,156. California also opens Medi-Cal eligibility to people with certain medical conditions. It’s available to people who are pregnant, blind, disabled, under age 21, living in a nursing home or are a recently settled refugee. Opening up Medi-Cal to all undocumented Californians has been a goal for health and immigration advocates for years. “This budget investment reflects California’s values of inclusion and fairness and should be a model for the rest of the nation,” said Sarah Dar, director of Health and Public Benefits Policy at the California Immigrant Policy Center. “All Californians, regardless of their age or where they were born, should have access to basic necessities like food and fair, steady wages.” Read more at: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article262935493.html#storylink=cpy For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Death toll rises to 51 among people found in trailer in San Antonio heat

Authorities identified the nationalities of some of the dozens of people found dead in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio on Monday, with the death toll rising to 51. About a dozen others were taken to hospitals, including four children. Among the dead were 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans, Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón said in a tweet Tuesday. Ebrard Casaubón did not identify the nationalities of the other victims, who were all apparently migrants. The death count was the highest ever from a smuggling incident in the United States, according to Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. “This is a horror that surpasses anything we’ve experienced before,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “And it’s sadly a preventable tragedy.” Ebrard Casaubón said the Mexican government is coordinating an investigation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Ebrard Casaubón also said a meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and U.S. President Joe Biden has been set for next month. A San Antonio city worker found the gruesome scene on a back road shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, police Chief William McManus said. Hours later, body bags lay spread on the ground near the trailer and bodies remained inside as authorities responded to the calamity. Those taken to the hospital were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the trailer, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. Temperatures in San Antonio on Monday approached 100 degrees. “They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” Hood said. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.” In recent decades, similar tragedies have claimed thousands of lives as people attempt to cross the U.S. border from Mexico. Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio. Related:Biden blasts ‘grandstanding’ as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blames him for 51 migrant deaths The driver of the truck and two other people were arrested, according to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas. The trailer was gone Tuesday morning, but access to the area where it was found remained blocked. Migrants — largely from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been expelled more than 2 million times under Title 42, a pandemic-era rule in effect since March 2020 that denies a chance to seek asylum but encourages repeat attempts because there are no legal consequences for getting caught. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the county’s top elected official, said Tuesday that the truck appeared to come from Laredo, a border city more than 150 miles to the south. “They had just parked it on the side of the road,” Wolff said. “Apparently had mechanical problems and left it there.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 557 deaths on the Southwest border in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, more than double the 247 deaths reported in the previous year and the highest since it began keeping track in 1998. Most were related to heat exposure. CBP has not published a death tally for this year but said the Border Patrol performed more than 14,000 “search-and-rescue missions” through May, exceeding the nearly 13,000 missions during the previous 12-month period. “This is a human tragedy,” said Mario Carrillo, the Texas director of America’s Voice, an advocacy group. “At least 50 people have lost their lives, each of whom had dreams, families and futures. They each represented the most basic human desire — to make the most of their time on this earth to make a contribution to their loved ones. They risked everything for a better life.” The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

To the migrants who died in Texas, Biden is no different than Trump on immigration

More than 50 men and women – the current count is 51, but it may well climb – were killed on Monday. They died trapped in a tractor-trailer rig and abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, in 100F (38C) heat. More than a dozen are in hospital, including children. The dead were migrants from Mexico and Central America. The local fire chief, Charles Hood, said the people in the truck were “hot to the touch” and that they had no water and no air conditioning inside the truck. That is how they died, but that is not why they died. They died because they had no safe route into the United States. And why is that? It is because of border controls and deadly, racist migration policies created and upheld by our government, Democrats and Republicans alike. Many of these policies, such as Title 42, which effectively bans people from seeking asylum under cover of Covid restrictions, are the same under Joe Biden as they were under Donald Trump. The same goes for Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico”, which allows US border officers to return non-Mexican asylum seekers to dangerous locations in Mexico. Successive US governments have deliberately and relentlessly pushed against the human right to asylum. The post-mortem results will show whether heat, dehydration or suffocation killed the people in that truck. But, fundamentally, they were killed by this nation’s migration policies, our exclusionary laws and our multibillion-dollar obsession with the southern border and keeping Black and brown people out. Border security is primarily a federal responsibility, and in claiming that, the federal government must accept responsibility for the injury and deaths of migrants. State lawmakers are also to blame. At 6pm on Monday, the same time the truck was discovered, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, released a statement about ‘Operation Lone Star’, a controversial $2bn border security operation he launched last year. The statement claims that the multi-agency effort “has led to more than 265,500 migrant apprehensions” and leads with a boast that law enforcement has turned back 22,000 migrants from the border. That is what the people who died yesterday were up against; a need to move and few options to do so is what drove them to get into that truck. People move. We always have, we always will. We are just one species out of many in which migration is a natural event. What is not natural is the disproportionate death and suffering of people who cross borders – that is artificial, caused by dehumanizing migration policy. The same heat radiating through the truck in San Antonio is forcing people worldwide to move. The extreme temperatures caused by climate chaos and growing numbers of wars and conflicts mean more of us are on the move today than at any time since the second world war. The US is not alone in targeting and victimizing Black and brown migrants. Because of Europe’s draconian anti-migrant policies, people are regularly pushed back from European shores, with thousands left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea last year alone. Treating people as disposable has knock-on effects, and none are good. The Guardian’s reporting on the thousands of migrant worker deaths in Qatar shows that once our life is reduced to “migrant” status, it is in peril. How can we tolerate this? The people our governments exclude and target are rarely white; we see that clearly as Ukrainian refugees (the majority of whom are white) can fly into the US to claim asylum. Meanwhile, crossing by land, migrants on the border (predominantly Black and brown) are blocked from doing the same thing. The secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, states on Twitter that he is a “Husband. Dad. Immigrant.” He puts those identifiers before his government role in his bio. And it was on Twitter that the husband, the dad, the immigrant, Mayorkas made a short statement about the deaths last night. He said he was heartbroken, called it a tragedy, and put it on smugglers. In this way, Mayorkas and the US government, past and present, dodge responsibility while actively endangering people on the move. They blame these deaths on the symptoms of an illness, but it’s an illness they cause. Among yesterday’s dead were husbands, dads and immigrants, too. Now they are ghosts and will haunt us until we make this right. Maeve Higgins is a Guardian US columnist For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

'Horrific': 50 Migrants Found Dead in Abandoned Trailer Truck in Texas

"We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening," said Rep. Chuy García. "People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life." JAKE JOHNSON June 28, 2022 Lawmakers and rights advocates mourned the loss of life and decried the United States' inhumane immigration system late Monday after an abandoned tractor-trailer rig containing at least 50 dead people and 16 survivors—including four children—was discovered in San Antonio, Texas. Local authorities said it appears that the rig, which was found after a worker in the area heard a yell for help, was being used for a smuggling operation. Citing one law enforcement official, The Texas Tribune reported that evidence suggests "people were trying to jump out of the tractor-trailer because some of the deceased were found along several blocks." "We must end Title 42 which has put desperate, oppressed people in grave danger of death." "The tractor-trailer had a refrigeration system, the official said, but it did not appear to be working," the Tribune added. "Many of the people found inside the vehicle appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning, the official said, in perhaps an attempt to cover up the smell of people as the smugglers were transporting them." On Monday, the temperature in San Antonio reached a high of 101°F. The 16 survivors were transported to a nearby hospital. According to Mexico's foreign minister, 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans, and two Hondurans were among the deceased. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, wrote on Twitter that the smuggling incident appears to be the deadliest along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last five years. In 2017, 10 people died in a truck carrying nearly 40 migrants in the sweltering San Antonio heat. In 2003, 19 migrants died in a similarly devastating case in Victoria, Texas that was at the time considered the "deadliest smuggling incident in U.S. history." "Been dreading another tragedy like this for months now," wrote Reichlin-Melnick. "With the border shut as tightly as it is today for migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, people have been pushed into more and more dangerous routes. Truck smuggling is way up." "Truck smuggling is VERY dangerous," he continued. "It has the possibility to go horribly wrong. And when its use goes up, the possibility of mass-death incidents go up as well." As federal, state, and local authorities investigated the incident and details continued to emerge, Texas' Republican Gov. Greg Abbott wasted no time blaming the deaths on President Joe Biden, claiming that "they are a result of his deadly open border policies." Experts and rights organizations were quick to respond—scathingly, in most cases. Shouan Zhoobin Riahi, an immigration attorney, tweeted that "if the border was 'open,' people wouldn't feel the need to pack themselves like fucking sardines in the back of an unventilated trailer in the middle of the god damn summer in order to enter the country." Frank Sharry, executive director of immigrant rights group America's Voice, added: "How low can this man go? People seeking opportunities lose their lives. A tragedy of immense proportions. A time to rethink the myopic and stupid border debate. And this lowlife turns it into a despicable tweet to score cheap points. He's the governor of Texas? Good God." The appalling discovery in southwest San Antonio also drew the attention of members of Congress, who demanded an end to the Trump-era border expulsion policy known as Title 42. "This is horrific," said Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.). "We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening. People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life. Que descansen en paz." Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), who represents San Antonio, echoed García. "The tragedy in San Antonio tonight, the loss of life, is horrific," Castro wrote on Twitter. "My prayers are with the victims, their families, and the survivors being treated in our community. May God bless them. We must end Title 42, which has put desperate, oppressed people in grave danger of death." For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Activist Esder Chong reflects on 10-year anniversary of DACA

by Lia Reichmann, AsAmNews Intern Ten years ago, an immigration policy introduced by then-President Obama would change Esder Chong’s life. Now, she’s working to transform the lives of other undocumented immigrants. Chong immigrated to the US with her parents from South Korea in 2005 at the age of six. From then on she was raised in central New Jersey. During the 2008 economic recession, her family lost their visa and overstayed it, officially making them undocumented immigrants. Chong and her family’s story is one that is more common than you’d expect. Data from the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, showed that visa overstayers represent around “46 percent of the 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.” In 2012, Obama introduced the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which protects eligible immigrants who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. Since then the program has granted 800,000 people DACA status, allowing them to get things like a driver’s license or a social security number. Only those that meet the criteria set by the program become eligible. Chong applied for and received protection under DACA in high school. She said she started understanding what it meant to be an undocumented immigrant when she was applying to college. “I couldn’t apply for FAFSA, and I wasn’t eligible for state or federal financial aid loans, grants, a lot of scholarships were limited to LPR’s or citizens,” Chong said. “And so I struggled with that, like in terms of the academic part of my life, without status.” During her senior year, Chong was accepted to Rutgers University-Newark. From there she earned a national scholarship through the Dream.US, an organization that partners with American colleges to provide financial aid to DACA recipients. Chong and her family’s story is one that is more common than you’d expect. Data from the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, showed that visa overstayers represent around “46 percent of the 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.” During her freshman year at Rutgers University, Chong created the student organization RU Dreamers and became an immigration advocate. It was the same year Donald Trump was elected President, which she said put more pressure on the organization. “I just wanted a space for myself and other undocumented students on campus to have the opportunity to share out our fears, our hopes, and just use it as a space to rant.” At the organization, Chong became the student liaison between Dreamers and the Rutger’s University administration. She worked with the administration to hire an immigrant rights lawyer for all three campuses after President Trump rescinded the DACA program. Together they also were able to establish an Undocumented Student Service Office with additional staff members to help support undocumented students. RU Dreamers also collaborated with state and local organizations to push for bills that would provide financial aid and to expand access to higher education for DACA recipients. Chong speaking at an event. (Photo courtesy of Esder Chong) Chong said that it was both challenging and rewarding to be a part of RU Dreamers during college. “I had to balance myself being a DACA recipient, and also being affected by this stuff [and] it was mentally challenging, for sure. I was also a leader on campus and leading this organization, so the dozens of students that would sort of come to me and express their concerns, fears, anxieties, I had to sort of take it on too,” Chong said. “But it was also rewarding, [the] bonding through community trauma and the solidarity that I experienced with the students, but also with the administration that was so supportive of the work we were doing and what we were advocating for.” It has been ten years since Obama introduced DACA. Many immigration activists have begun to campaign for legislation that would provide citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. Chong believes national leaders need to consider more immediate solutions first. “I think a realistic alternative solution like lawful permanent residency status, like pushing for residency for all would grant the undocumented community a right to work, the safety net to live in this country indefinitely without the fear and stress and uncertainty that comes with just waiting and waiting for Congress to pass a citizenship granting legislation,” Chong said. She added this is something that movement leaders need to seriously consider on “a local, state and national level.” “And this goes for Asian DACA undocumented folks, goes for Latin X, black undocumented folks, it goes for all the members of our community, where if the affected members of our community were afforded the means to make an informed decision I believe that more would choose a strategy for residency for all than citizenship for all,” Chong said. “When you look at the movement leaders, messaging and push it’s all about citizenship. Right. But I think they’re overlooking the immediate needs, and upcoming needs of our community, which is like health care, things that affect the daily lives of these folks.” Chong chalks the heavy push for citizenship for all up to the lack of “representation of undocumented immigrants in movement leadership.” DACA recipients only comprise 6 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrant population. Chong is concerned that DACA recipients are “speaking on behalf of the [other] undocumented population.” “I really want to turn our attention to those who don’t have DACA [statust]. “DACA is and has been under threat for the past five years. A probably a negative court decision will come out on July of next week and it’ll probably be rescinded again by the Supreme Court by next summer,” Chong said. “For actual immigration reform, we need to shift the spotlight from DACA to the 11 million. And then what do we talk about not citizenship for all this catch phrase knee jerk reaction that we have had for the past 20 years, but a residency for all solution. And I think it’s it’s just DACA recipients, citizens, [and] allies speaking on behalf of the 94% of the undocumented population without DACA [status] is foolish and just not right.” Since creating RU Dreamers in 2016 Chong has graduated from Rutgers-Newark with a Bachelor’s degree, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and received her first masters from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar. Chong is currently working as a project consultant for a startup philanthropy consulting group, Boldly Go Philanthropy, that helps support philanthropists’ “social issues and address inequities.” Chong said that without DACA she could not have been able to complete or pursue “educational” or “professional opportunities.” “I’m not denying the transformative effects that DACA had on a couple of us in the community at large but again, DACA was an exclusive program and it was too and for the most marketable, in our community at large,” Chong said. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Another 50 migrant deaths and an ever-climbing body count on the border

Including those found dead in a truck Monday, 290 people have died trying to cross the border in 2022. By Nicole Narea on June 28, 2022 4:50 pm Police and other first responders work at the scene near San Antonion where officials say dozens of migrants were found dead in a truck on June 27. Eric Gay/AP At least 50 migrants who were driven across the border in a tractor-trailer that was abandoned near San Antonio have died as of Tuesday, from apparent overheating. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), whose district includes San Antonio, told CNN that the truck had passed through a checkpoint north of Laredo, Texas, on Monday. Among the victims were 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans, and two Hondurans, with at least two children. Most of the bodies were recovered inside or around the trailer, though some were found strewn across the road up to 75 feet away. At least 16 others were found alive, suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees, and taken to nearby hospitals, where three later died. It’s the largest mass casualty event involving migrants crossing the US border in recent memory. But it’s by no means the only one: In the first six months of 2022, 290 people have died trying to cross the border, according to data from the International Organization for Migration, a division of the United Nations. Another 650 migrants died crossing the border in 2021, more than in any other year since the UN began tracking the data in 2014. Over the past two decades, the number of deaths is estimated to be just under 8,000 according to Border Patrol figures, though the actual number could be much larger since US immigration agencies have not kept complete records. President Joe Biden, in a statement on Tuesday, blamed smugglers who have “no regard for the lives they endanger and exploit to make a profit” for the tragedy. “This incident underscores the need to go after the multibillion-dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths,” Biden said. Immigrant advocates have argued that it’s the result of restrictive US border policies that have failed at their intended purpose of deterring migration. Trump-era policies, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy (otherwise known as the Migrant Protection Protocols) and pandemic-related border restrictions, have remained in place, effectively closing the border to the vast majority of migrants and asylum seekers and exposing them to danger in Mexico. Over the last six months, some 5,000 asylum seekers have been forced to stay in Mexico while awaiting their court hearings under the Remain in Mexico policy. The US Supreme Court is set to decide a case on whether the Biden administration can rescind that policy within the coming weeks. And the so-called “Title 42” policy has allowed the US to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants at the southern border under the guise of curbing the spread of Covid-19. The refugee advocacy group Human Rights First documented 8,705 reports of kidnappings and other violent attacks against migrants sent back to Mexico under those policies, as of January 2022. Those policies haven’t dissuaded migrants from continuing to attempt to cross the border without authorization. Immigration authorities have encountered migrants at the border more than 1.53 million times this fiscal year so far, already well exceeding the 977,000 total encounters in fiscal year 2019, before the Title 42 policy went into effect. But it has driven migrants to rely more heavily on smugglers and to resort to increasingly dangerous means of attempting to cross the border. “Cruel immigration policies like Title 42 have decimated our asylum system, and forced people to make unimaginable choices in their journey to seek safety and refuge in the US. Seeking asylum is a human right and President Biden should have ended Title 42 on day one of his administration,” the organization RAICES Texas, which was among the first legal service providers on the scene, said in a statement. What happens now to the survivors in San Antonio remains to be seen. The migrants could be sent to immigration detention and placed in deportation proceedings. So far, three people have reportedly been taken into police custody, one of whom was the driver. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Proposed border budget has more money for agents, less for detaining migrants

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The House Appropriations Committee has voted to increase funding for two border agencies by nearly $3 billion while slashing their funding for migrant detention and monitoring in the Fiscal Year 2023. The committee on Friday voted to increase the budgets for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to $85.6 billion, a 3% increase of $2.79 billion from Fiscal Year 2022, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told Border Report on Monday. Cuellar wins recount in Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 28th Congressional District The funding bill still must pass Congress, but if approved, that money could mean the hiring of 250 new CBP officers; 300 new Border Patrol agents; 300 border processing officers, plus 1,000 new technicians and support staff for these agencies, said Cuellar, who is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Committee. This would mean “both the men and women in green and the men and women in blue got money for new agents but also the support staff to make sure that they do the work at the airport, at the bridges and also in between the ports also,” Cuellar said via zoom as he was traveling from South Texas back to Washington, D.C. Border Patrol agents and DHS officials escort migrants on May 7, 2022, to a deportation flight in Harlingen, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo) Cuellar said the Appropriations Committee last week voted on the budgets for six agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security; and this week is scheduled to vote on six other agency budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Because homeland security is such a divisive topic, he said, DHS funding always gets put into the omnibus budget bill at year’s end and often undergoes changes between the House and Senate. Cuellar is hoping that during that time, funds can be increased for the Alternatives to Detention Case Management Program for Fiscal Year 2023. Currently, only $30 million is slated for the program, which received $75 million in the current Fiscal 2022 year. Nonprofits to take a more active role in ‘case management’ of migrants after concerns ICE isn’t doing enough with funds provided This program allows some asylum-seekers who are not considered a risk to American communities to be released in the United States with special government-issued cellular devices that require them to check in with ICE agents every few hours or to be tracked via GPS ankle monitors. Phones assigned to released migrants can’t make, take calls unless it’s ICE The Appropriations Committee also voted to cut funding for migrant detentions in Fiscal Year 2023. Currently, they have approved funds to house 34,000; but if this budget bill passes, there would be funds for no more than 25,000 migrants to be detained, Cuellar said. “It’s a decrease and I was the only Democrat to vote in favor of increasing it to put it back to about 34,000, the usual normal amount,” Cuellar said. There were 23,290 migrants in U.S. detention facilities as of June 20, according to the latest data by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Cuellar said he fears that if there isn’t adequate detention facility space for migrants who are deemed a threat, and not enough electronic monitoring devices dolled out to asylum-seekers, then thousands who cross the Southwest border could be given humanitarian parole and the U.S. government would rely on their word to show up for immigration court hearings and to regularly check in with ICE officials. “The ones we want to keep in detention are the ones who might be a risk to the communities. But the ones that we can put a monitor on that is something I’ve been adding money to provide a more humane way for the ones who are a low-risk to communities,” Cuellar said. Life After ‘Remain in Mexico’: Migrant family’s case terminated but future remains uncertain A DHS investigator guards a migrant court facility on Sept. 12, 2019, in Brownsville, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo) Regarding the partisan divide over border security, Cuellar said lawmakers often make their positions known when the vote comes down to money. “Some people feel we do too much; some people feel we don’t do enough,” he said. “So it’s been reduced but we’re hoping in conference we can get some of that back.” Conference talks will likely begin in December as the government approaches the deadline for funding the federal workforce. A five-week government shutdown occurred in early 2019 when lawmakers sparred over funding the border wall. The Biden administration has halted border wall construction, and this budget bill instead has increased funds for virtual technology and includes: $100 million for border technology and $15 million for “innovative technology.” $165 million for the construction of a third Joint Processing Center on the southern border. $35 million for body cameras for ICE agents. $7 million for child exploitation investigations by ICE Homeland Security Investigations. $6 million for Carrizo cane control for Border Patrol agents to patrol the banks of the Rio Grande. “With this bill, we are securing our borders by funding smart and effective investments in technology and operations. We are respecting the dignity of children and families by making border processing quicker and more efficient and improving conditions in short-term holding facilities,” Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, said in a statement. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

How U.S. immigration policy is pushing migrants to take more dangerous route

The U.S. and Mexican governments are investigating the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history. At least 51 people died after they were trapped in a sweltering tractor-trailer abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director of the American Immigration Council, joins Stephanie Sy to discuss the context in which these migrant deaths occurred. Read the Full Transcript Judy Woodruff: The governments of both the U.S. and Mexico are investigating the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history. At least 51 people died after they were trapped in a sweltering tractor-trailer abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio. Authorities are still working to identify the victims. Stephanie Sy has more. Stephanie Sy: It was a worker in the area who heard the cries for help and found the tractor trailer, doors partially open and, inside, people piled on top of each other. Bodies were also found strewn along the road near the scene. More than a dozen other victims, including several children, were taken to the hospital. Charles Hood, Fire Chief, San Antonio Fire Department: The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heatstroke, heat exhaustion, no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor trailer, but there was no visible working A.C. unit on that rig. The heat index was more than 100 degrees in San Antonio on Monday afternoon. Authorities believe human traffickers were transporting the migrants. Among the victims were 22 citizens of Mexico, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras. The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commented on the tragedies. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexican President (through translator): These unfortunate events have to do with the situation of poverty and desperation of our Central American and Mexican brothers and sisters. It happens because there's also human trafficking and lack of controls at the border between Mexico and the United States and inside the United States. Stephanie Sy: Recent months have seen a record high number of attempted crossings from Mexico. In May alone, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents encountered more than 230,000 migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, even as a COVID public health order remains in place essentially banning migrants. The Biden administration has attempted to lift the Title 42 restrictions, but a federal judge blocked its repeal. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called for compassion. Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas: So, the plight of migrants seeking refuge is always a humanitarian crisis. But, tonight, we are dealing with a horrific human tragedy. Stephanie Sy: Customs enforcement has detained three people believe to be part of the smuggling conspiracy. For more in the context in which these migrant deaths occur, let's turn to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director of the American Immigration Council. Aaron, thank you for joining the "NewsHour." Anyone who has been in the Southwest in the summer knows the heat can be deadly. And being inside in an un-air conditioned tractor trailer truck, it's just hard to imagine how high the temperatures got in there. Why would anyone take that risk, much less with children? Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, American Immigration Council: It's truly a horrific outcome. And, unfortunately, the reality is that many migrants are taking this risk because they feel that there is no other way for them to get into the United States. Even the children, many of whom are trying to join family members in the United States, find that they really have no other options in order to come to this country. And so smugglers convince them to take routes that are inherently dangerous. Stephanie Sy: And this has happened before. We see it again this year. Apparently, 290 migrants have already died trying to cross the Southern border just in the first six months of this year, Aaron. And, as we just reported, officials are reporting a record number of attempted crossings at the Southern border since May. So, the main Trump era policies that were meant to deter migration during the pandemic, they're still in place, despite the Biden administration trying to get rid of them. The conditions are pretty much the same. How do those policies contribute to people continuing to try to cross this way? Aaron Reichlin-Melnick: Well, really what we have seen is that Title 42, the Trump era pandemic health restriction, is still in place. And for individuals who are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, nearly all of those migrants, especially those who are single adults, who are caught crossing the border are rapidly expelled back to Mexico. And that leads people to attempt to cross over and over and over again, trying to get through without being detected. Unfortunately, every time a person crosses the border like that, they're rolling a die and they're taking a chance that tragedy might occur. And, unfortunately, what we saw yesterday is one of the worst tragedies of its kind. Stephanie Sy: And a federal judge, of course, has blocked the Biden administration's ability to repeal Title 42 for now. But you also have Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is, of course, up for reelection in November and a Republican. He's blaming President Biden, saying the deaths are a result of open border policies and a refusal to enforce the law. Of course, you have Democrats on the other side saying it's because of Trump's closed border policies. Aaron, how do we make sense of all of this. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick: No person gets in a crowded truck and puts their life at risk if the border is open. The reality is, is that, for the migrants who are in that truck, there was no way for them to come into the United States legally, even if they were attempting to seek asylum. Since March of 2020, the ports of entry have been shut to asylum seekers. And for migrants from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, there really is no way right now to access the asylum process or indeed to migrate legally. The reality is, the vast majority of people who come to our border and seek a better life have no legal ways to enter. And over the last 30 years, we have made the border harder and harder to cross in the safe locations, which has driven people into more and more dangerous routes; 2021 was the deadliest year on record at the border. Stephanie Sy: So… Aaron Reichlin-Melnick: And 2022 is going to be even worse. Stephanie Sy: And so you have people like Abbott's gubernatorial opponent, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, saying that there should be more avenues open for legal migration. Aaron, given the scope of this tragedy, more than 50 people dead, do you see this coming up again for debate in Washington, more pathways for asylum, more pathways for legal immigration? Do you see the Biden administration prioritizing that more? Aaron Reichlin-Melnick: The Biden administration has said that it wants to expand pathways for legal migration and to address the root causes that are the reasons why people are leaving their homes in the first place. But we're in a congressional impasse right now, even though the American public by a fairly large majority supports increased access to migration. Unfortunately, all of this is caught up in the politics right now. And you have one party that has become very anti-immigration. And as we saw with former President Trump, even legal immigration was under attack. But when you cut off all avenues for legal migration, you are forcing people into more and more dangerous routes, and the chances of a tragedy occurring go up. Stephanie Sy: Aaron Reichlin-Melnick with the American Immigration Council, thank you for joining the "NewsHour." Aaron Reichlin-Melnick: Thank you for having me. For more information, contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

GOV. POLIS: 10 years later, DACA is making Colorado, nation, better place for everyone

Here in Colorado, we know that our differences are what make us even better – and that extends to our vibrant and diverse immigrant communities including Aurora. Simply put, our immigrant communities enrich our state, invigorate our culture and cuisine, and contribute millions to our economy There’s a reason that I ran for Governor with an emphasis on creating a “Colorado for All.” This means ensuring that every person in our state has the opportunity to thrive here, whether they arrived one year ago, ten years ago, or their family has been here for generations. And since I took office, we have spent everyday working to make that vision a reality for the people of Colorado. As a member of Congress, I was proud to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) when it was first created 10 years ago by President Obama, and now as Governor, I’m incredibly proud to see the effect it has had here in Colorado and meet so many Coloradans who benefit from it. This program, which allows those who were brought to the United States as children to work legally, has changed countless lives, and benefited us all. There are more than 14,000 DACA recipients here in Colorado with a spending power of nearly $400 Million dollars – and estimates show that their removal from our state would not only rob them of the only country they know, but also cost more than $800 Million from our annual GDP. Not to mention the incredible talent, creativity, and innovation that our state would lose. Take Mario Bravo for example. Mario came to the United States with his family when he was eight months old, and has spent his life in Grand Junction. With DACA protections, Mario has been inspired to follow his passion for software engineering, which led him to start the first chapter of Hispanic Engineers at Colorado Mesa University. After graduation, Mario took a job at Apple, but hopes to one day start his own business here in Colorado. Then there’s Adriana Montiel. Adriana has lived in Colorado for 24 years, and always dreamed of becoming a teacher, but it seemed out of reach until DACA was passed during her sophomore year of high school. Those protections opened the door to Adriana getting her degree and fulfilling her dream. Now, Adriana works with gifted and emerging bilingual students at the very same Aurora high school that she graduated from. Alejandra Webster is an acute care nurse, but the path to get there wasn’t easy. Alejandra worked hard as a certified nursing assistant, but it wasn’t until she became a DACA recipient, that Alejandra was able to consider college as a possibility. Alejandra secured her Bachelor’s in the Science of Nursing from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and thanks to SB 21-077, which allows immigrants to pursue professional licensing, Alejandra was able to get her nursing license. Since then, she has served in COVID-19 units and been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and a critical member of the healthcare workforce. These are not just DACA recipients, these are Coloradans. They are our friends and neighbors, family members and coworkers, and they deserve to be here as much as anyone else. DACA has brought so many benefits to our state, but the work isn’t over. Not only is DACA being challenged in federal court, but federal immigration reform efforts tragically remain stalled. If this were an easy issue to solve, then it would’ve been done already, but it’s well past time for the federal government to take action and create a common-sense immigration system that protects our borders, restores the rule of law, and works for the United States and the families that are proud to call Colorado home. But President Biden can do more to help fix our broken immigration system even without Congress. The President should move forward with the Deferred Action for Parents program, which would allow the parents of U.S. Citizens to have temporary legal work permits.. This actions would of course benefit the millions of immigrants whose futures are uncertain because of our chaotic system, but it would also benefit our economy and our communities if we do it right. As we celebrate the historic anniversary of DACA, as well as Immigrant Heritage Month, we should celebrate how far we’ve come while not forgetting the important work that lies ahead. For more information, please contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html

New York City’s Noncitizen Voting Law Is Struck Down

A State Supreme Court judge from Staten Island said the measure, which would have allowed more than 800,000 noncitizens to vote, violated the State Constitution. A state judge ruled that a move to allow noncitizens to vote would first require voters to pass a referendum.Credit...Andrew Seng for The New York Times Jeffery C. Mays By Jeffery C. Mays June 27, 2022 A law that would have allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections in New York City was struck down on Monday by a State Supreme Court justice on Staten Island who said it violated the State Constitution. The measure, which was passed by the City Council in December, would have allowed more than 800,000 permanent legal residents and people with authorization to work in the United States to vote for offices such as mayor and City Council. But Justice Ralph J. Porzio ruled that the new law conflicted with constitutional guidelines and state law stating that only eligible citizens can vote. To give noncitizens a right to vote would require a referendum, the judge wrote. The law only applied to municipal elections and was not set to go into effect until January of next year. The ruling will have no effect on Tuesday’s primary election in New York. “The New York State Constitution expressly states that citizens meeting the age and residency requirements are entitled to register and vote in elections,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “There is no statutory ability for the City of New York to issue inconsistent laws permitting noncitizens to vote and exceed the authority granted to it by the New York State Constitution.” When it passed the legislation, New York City became the largest city in the country to grant noncitizens the right to vote, inserting itself at the forefront of an increasingly polarized national debate about voting rights, as some states began to expand eligibility while others went in the other direction, moving to explicitly bar noncitizens from voting. State and federal Republican Party leaders, as well as a handful of local Republican officials, later challenged the law in court, saying that it diminished the voting power of citizens and might prevent noncitizens from seeking to gain citizenship. “Today’s decision validates those of us who can read the plain English words of our State Constitution and state statutes,” said Joseph Borelli, a Republican councilman from Staten Island who was one of the plaintiffs. “Noncitizen voting in New York is illegal.” Proponents of noncitizen voting have worked for decades to secure the measure, and they vowed on Monday to appeal the ruling and encouraged the city to join them. They argued that although the State Constitution stipulates that citizens can vote, it does not explicitly exclude noncitizens from voting. As recently as the 2000s, for example, noncitizens were allowed to vote in New York City school board elections before the boards were abolished. Image Protesters at City Hall on Monday denounced the decision to strike down the local law. Protesters at City Hall on Monday denounced the decision to strike down the local law.Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times “The State Constitution is a floor, not the ceiling, of who can be enfranchised,” said Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of the New York Immigrant Coalition. “We’re going to keep fighting so that nearly one million New Yorkers who are building their lives here and investing in our communities can have a say in their local democracy.” Joshua A. Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law who studies voting rights and election law, said he was surprised by the ruling because the State Constitution does not specify that only citizens can vote. Sign up for the New York Today Newsletter Each morning, get the latest on New York businesses, arts, sports, dining, style and more. Get it sent to your inbox. “The New York Constitution says every citizen shall be entitled to a vote,” Professor Douglas said in an interview. “That’s a positive grant of a right, but it doesn’t necessarily mean only every citizen.” Yet even before the Council passed the voting bill in December, there were some, including Bill de Blasio, then the city’s mayor, who raised questions about the law’s constitutionality. Mr. de Blasio questioned whether the City Council had the power to grant voting rights to noncitizens, and he opted not to sign the bill into law. The former mayor, who is running for Congress, declined to comment on Monday. His successor, Eric Adams, also expressed concern that the law’s 30-day residency requirement was insufficient. Mr. Adams also chose to not sign nor veto the bill, effectively allowing it to become law after 30 days. A spokesman for the mayor, Fabien Levy, said the city was “disappointed by the court’s ruling” and was evaluating its next steps. Understand the Battle Over U.S. Voting Rights Card 1 of 6 Why are voting rights an issue now? In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, millions embraced voting early in person or by mail, especially among Democrats. Spurred on by Donald Trump’s false claims about mail ballots in hopes of overturning the election, the G.O.P. has pursued a host of new voting restrictions. What are Republicans trying to do? Broadly, the party is taking a two-pronged approach: imposing additional restrictions on voting, especially mail voting, and giving Republican-led state legislatures greater control over the mechanics of casting and counting ballots. Why are these legislative efforts important? The Republican push to tighten voting rules has fueled doubts about the integrity of the democratic process in the U.S. Many of the restrictions are likely to affect voters of color disproportionately. How have the Democrats pushed back? Democrats had hoped to unravel voting restrictions with federal legislation, but they weren’t able to secure enough votes to pass it in the Senate. An attempt to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to enable the passage of the bill also failed. Which states have changed their voting laws? Nineteen states passed 34 laws restricting voting in 2021. Some of the most significant legislation was enacted in battleground states like Texas, Georgia and Florida. Republican lawmakers are planning a new wave of election laws in 2022. Will these new laws swing elections? Maybe. Maybe not. Some laws will make voting more difficult for certain groups, cause confusion or create longer wait times at polling places. But the new restrictions could backfire on Republicans, especially in rural areas that once preferred to vote by mail. “The noncitizen voting law would bring thousands more New Yorkers into the democratic process and give them a true voice in determining their future and the future of their communities,” Mr. Levy added. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilwoman Shahana Hanif, chairwoman of the Immigration Committee, said they were disappointed because the law was an effort to enfranchise immigrants, most of them people of color, who contribute to the city. “Now more than ever, when our rights are being threatened, we need more civic and community engagement, not less,” Ms. Adams and Ms. Shahana said. Jerry H. Goldfeder, an attorney who represents the New York City Board of Elections in the lawsuit, said the agency would comply with the law if it is upheld. The lack of specificity in the State Constitution is something that some states are rushing to address. In 2020, voters in Florida, Alabama and Colorado passed ballot measures that explicitly limited voting to U.S. citizens. North Dakota and Arizona already specify that noncitizens are not allowed to vote in local and state elections. And voters in Ohio will decide in the fall whether to prohibit noncitizens from voting. On the flip side, several towns in Vermont and Maryland already allow noncitizens some local voting rights. And in San Francisco, noncitizens can vote in school board elections. The ruling in New York comes just days after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion and struck down a New York law that severely limited the right to carry a gun outside of the home. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she will call a special legislative session to consider changes to the gun law. Mr. Awawdeh said the noncitizen voting decision is an “extension of what’s happening at the national level” and part of an effort to “undermine and take away rights.” But Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, one of the plaintiffs of the lawsuit, called the ruling a victory for “election integrity.” “The committee will continue to lead the effort across the country to ensure only citizens can vote in America’s elections,” Ms. McDaniel said in a statement.Hina Naveed, a nurse and attorney who lives on Staten Island and is a defendant in the lawsuit, would have been allowed to vote in local elections under the new law. The ruling has made her more determined to be involved in local politics. “I may not be able to vote yet, but rest assured that I’m organizing hundreds of voters to vote,” said Ms. Naveed. “There are allies who can vote who are standing shoulder to shoulder to make sure that voices like mine are not silenced.” For more information, please contact us at: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html