- Eli Kantor
- 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; email@example.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com
Monday, October 31, 2022
As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipient, I felt immense relief in June 2020 when the Supreme Court ruled that DACA could stay in place. Several months before, as lawyers argued the case, thousands of immigrant youth leaders and allies rallied in front of the Court, chanting “home is here!” Uncertain about our futures, and with our livelihoods on the line, we came together to show the world that our community is united, powerful, and undeterred, even when the odds are stacked against us. I wish I could say that uncertainty has faded since we won at the Supreme Court. I wish I could say Congress realized that the stakes were too high to leave our fate to the whims of another court decision or more empty promises. But now — a decade after DACA was created as a temporary fix — it is urgent for Members of Congress to do their jobs and pass a permanent solution to provide the stability we need to chart our futures in the U.S., the only home many of us have ever known. I work for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the same organization that was involved in drafting the original Dream Act more than 20 years ago. Year after year, and in court case after court case, my colleagues and I advocate for the future of thousands of DACA recipients and millions more who, like me, live in constant uncertainty. I was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. with my mom and brothers to reunite with my dad when I was three years old. Eventually we settled in South Carolina, where I ultimately went to college. Before DACA, I lived in fear of being deported to a country I didn’t know. At 17, my life changed when President Obama announced DACA. With DACA, I could continue my education, build a career, and help support my family. Most importantly, getting DACA reaffirmed what I knew: My home is here. ADVERTISING The U.S. is home to hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who grew up and have built a life here, but currently have no pathway to become U.S. citizens. Every two years, we submit our renewal applications and hope the policy will last long enough to renew again. We are not the only ones who stand to lose if DACA goes away. Around 300,000 children born in the U.S. have at least one DACA recipient parent; 76 percent of us DACA recipients have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen. Beyond our loved ones, our communities count on 343,000 essential workers with DACA, and the government collects $6.2 billion from us in federal taxes. Yet, despite our contributions, despite the lives we’ve built for ourselves and our loved ones, politically motivated court cases put our future in this country in question. Pundits play political games with our lives and livelihoods. Politicians save face with promises they have yet to keep. And Congress kicks the can down the road on passing the solution we’ve been demanding since before DACA’s inception. Once again, the fate of thousands hangs in the balance. In early October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that deemed DACA unlawful. The ruling allows DACA renewals to continue temporarily and sent the case back to the lower court to consider the Biden administration’s recent DACA regulation, which is set to go into effect on Oct. 31 — for now. We call on Congress to think for a moment about what it must feel like to walk in our shoes. Imagine the fear of having your future in the hands of strangers, politicians, judges and politically motivated lawsuits. Imagine the fear of one day losing your home, your country, your community. Imagine living your life in two-year increments. Our lives remain in limbo because of Congress’s inaction and indifference. Why must we fight so hard for lawmakers to see our humanity? Isolationist Republicans and progressive Democrats are having their shameful Munich moment The US-Saudi ties are more critical than Biden’s spat with the crown prince Their constituents see it: A Pew Research Center survey shows that 74 percent of Americans support a law that provides permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. We need a permanent legislative solution for immigrant youth. We need a pathway to citizenship. Even from the very beginning, over 10 years ago, DACA was always a temporary measure. For true stability and security, Congress must act. Congress must do its job and pass permanent protections that put us on a pathway to citizenship because our home is here, and we are here to stay. Diana Pliego is a policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center, where she works on a range of issues, including protection for DACA recipients and fighting immigration enforcement. She conducts policy research, analyzes and tracks legislation, and develops materials for movement and field partners as well as for congressional advocacy. She is a DACA recipient. For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Since its inception in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has been the subject of legal fights and political sparring. The program, which grants certain young people protection from deportation, was first implemented by the Obama Administration via executive action, and in the decade since, Congress has never passed legislation into law that would make it permanent. Now, DACA recipients, advocates, and political scientists say the program may be reaching the end of its slow demise—unless Democrats in Congress step in to save it. “The 2012 DACA program is hanging by a thread and on life support,” says Tom Wong, associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. “We are at a point now where unless there’s a legislative solution to provide permanent protections for DACA recipients, many will likely lose what they have built over the last decade.” Read More: On the 10th Anniversary of DACA, Dreamers Still Wrestle With Legal Uncertainty PAID PARTNER CONTENT Prime Is Now $139, But Few Know This Saving Trick BY EXPERTSINMONEY.CO In early October, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court questioning the legality of the DACA program and halting its expansion to new applicants. The appeals court said the roughly 600,000 current DACA recipients or “Dreamers”— young people who were brought to the United States as children and did not have the immigration status to legally reside and work in the U.S.—can keep their status for now, but no new applications can be processed. Texas, along with eight other states, originally filed suit in 2018, arguing that the Obama Administration did not have the authority to implement DACA in the first place. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas agreed and declared DACA unlawful in July 2021, and the Biden Administration appealed to the Fifth Circuit. Earlier in 2021, President Joe Biden had issued a memorandum in an attempt to “to preserve and fortify DACA.” The new Biden version of DACA, which is essentially the same policy, but codifies it into federal regulation, is set to go into effect on Oct. 31, 2022. But on Oct. 5, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Judge Hanen, and it required Hanen to also review the legality of the new Biden DACA memo. “We have to continue to hold our breath and hope that Judge Hanen doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to end [DACA],” says Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, which advocates for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. “DACA as we know it is dying, and this was a lethal blow to the program.” Read More: Why Judges Are Basically in Charge of U.S. Immigration Policy Now Amid the legal uncertainty, and with Democrats expected to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in the midterms, some see a window of opportunity closing to pass legislation codifying permanent protections for Dreamers. Others say they are clinging to hope that Democrats could muster legislation during the lame duck session. Still, even with their current control of Congress, Democrats enjoy the slimmest possible majority in the Senate. Passing legislation would require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, which would mean getting at least 10 Republicans on board. Despite a successful effort by the House in 2021, a DACA bill went nowhere in the Senate. And Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, has tried to pass a law that would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers for more than 20 years, but Republicans and some Democrats have blocked it from passage five separate times. Durbin relaunched negotiations with Senate Republicans on immigration reform last year, but the talks so far haven’t yielded legislation. “I have been working for the last 20 years to provide these inspiring young people with a permanent path to legal status,” Durbin tells TIME in a statement. “The recent Fifth Circuit decision should be a call to action for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We must pass the Dream Act now and give these amazing young people a real path to legal status in the only country they have ever called home.” Wong argues that Democrats, too, need to change their posture towards immigration reform in order to pass anything meaningful. “A lot of Democrats who are looking at their reelection prospects don’t want to talk about immigration in a sincere and genuine way,” Wong says, “in a way where we can actually see some compromise happen in the Senate that leads to those 60 votes.” If Democrats lose control of Congress in November, some advocates and lawmakers are still hoping they’ll propose legislation in the lame duck session—the period of time after the midterms before the newly elected leaders take office—to try to pass it while they still have the majority. Martinez Rosas says United We Dream plans to escalate actions and pressures to push Democrats to pass protections for Dreamers during lame duck. Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California who introduced legislation in September that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have resided in the U.S. long term, including DACA recipients, tells TIME that he hopes DACA and immigration reform measures would be a priority during the lame duck session. “I still think there’s a press for… codifying a woman’s right to choose, trying to move forward on immigration reform,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.” For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
PEACH BOTTOM, Pa. – This picturesque village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is nearly 2,000 miles from the country's southern border. But at Graywood Farms in the heart of Amish country, farmer and co-owner Lisa Graybeal warns of a pressing immigration issue that she and other farmers say is not getting enough attention: They need migrant workers to keep their farms running and Americans fed. Key Points Farmers say they are 'desperate' for immigration reform and rely on a migrant workforce Source: 'Las Vegas, as we know it, doesn't work without immigrants.' Immigration is important but often prioritized behind the economy and abortion Candidate: 'Washington has dropped the ball on immigration' "This is extremely urgent," Graybeal said. "Without immigrant labor, our dairy farm wouldn't be here." She and other Pennsylvania farmers say they want Congress to stop attacking each other over immigration and pass reform that will give year-round growers and producers – which describes most farms – access to the H2-A farmworker program used by seasonal growers and producers. The visa program would ease the worker shortage in the agriculture industry. A seasonal visa isn't enough at a farm like Graybeal's, where she said it takes two months just to teach someone how to properly milk cows. "We need long-term workers here. We need workers year-round," she said, adding that a three- or five-year program would be more appropriate. Many farm owners want the U.S. Senate to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that passed the House twice, including with support from 40 Republicans. They have been working with Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and feel the window is closing to get it passed. TWEET FACEBOOK SHARE Lisa Graybeal, a farmer who co-owns Graywood Farms Immigration reform is something we’ve been working on for decades, and lawmakers keep kicking the can down the road. ... The system is broken. ... Can we at least get an immigration bill for the ag sector so we can have food security? "We’re really desperate at this point," said Bailey Thumm, federal affairs specialist at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. "This is not just about farmers and ranchers. It extends to consumers and every constituent." Farmers are counting on a lame-duck Congress to get it done after the election and before a new Congress is sworn-in in January. "Immigration reform is something we've been working on for decades, and lawmakers keep kicking the can down the road," Graybeal said. "We're obviously not getting comprehensive reform. The system is broken. We can’t get that. Can we at least get an immigration bill for the ag sector so we can have food security?" A deeper look: Republicans made inroads with South Texas Latinos last election. Now, they’re hoping for a red wave ‘Build the wall’ changed the debate ‘Build the wall’ changed the debate Immigration is on the ballot in Pennsylvania and the other dozen or so battleground states where control of Congress will be decided. But it’s not so much about seasonal visas or labor shortages. Mostly, it’s about the U.S.-Mexico border where a record number of migrant crossings this year – nearly 2.4 million – has only intensified the political rancor over immigration. Migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., on June 10, 2021, to seek asylum. Migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico in Yuma, Ariz., on June 10, 2021, to seek asylum. EUGENE GARCIA, AP It’s a top talking point for Republican candidates on the campaign trail, who push the potential dangers and social service costs to Americans from record border crossings and call for tougher immigration policies. Democrats generally take a softer approach: backing a secure border but without harsh enforcement while advocating for the protection of certain migrant groups, such as “dreamers” brought over illegally as children years ago. Much of that nuance has been lost in the wash of political messaging. Not long ago, immigration was not the polarizing issue it is today, said Doris Meissner, a former commissioner with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. A bipartisan "gang of eight" senators that included two swing state senators up for election this year – Bennet of Colorado and Marco Rubio of Florida – tried in 2013 to forge a compromise to build more fencing, hire 20,000 additional patrol agents, revamp the nation's visa program to help employers, and provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill was approved 68-32, a remarkably decisive outcome in a divided Senate. But it stalled in the GOP-controlled House where tea party conservatives blocked it, labeling it "amnesty." Prospects of any compromise changed even more dramatically among Republicans in 2016 when Donald Trump ran on a pledge to build a wall on the southern border, Meissner said. “Prior to ‘build the wall’ and the Trump presidency, there was for decades a consensus at the top levels broadly of both parties that immigration was a positive or was a plus for the country,” she said. Meet the country's documented dreamers: Americans who are American only until they turn 21 Help at the border: White House says Biden is 'surging' resources to help migrants at border. Is it enough? Lack of reform, growing food crisis Lack of reform, growing food crisis The immigration debate in the midterms has been insufficient, according to farmers and other business leaders. "One side is demagoguing on the issue, and one is in denial," said Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition Action. "Democrats are sticking their heads in the sand as if there's no problem, and Republicans are engaging in political theater." Meanwhile, she said, American consumers are paying the price at the grocery store. A workforce shortage in the farming industry has driven higher food costs, along with a supply chain weakened by the pandemic and war in Ukraine. Grocery prices: Inflation hits the Thanksgiving table: Turkey costs may be higher this year. Forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show a food crisis could worsen in 2023 because of a lower domestic supply. Next year will be the first year in U.S. history when the country will import more food than it produces. "That's a huge red flag when you rely on other countries for your food," Graybeal said. "That's a national security issue." Shawn Saylor, co-owner of Hillcrest Saylor Dairy Farm in Somerset County in Pennsylvania, said supply will dry up if there aren't enough workers to produce the product. TWEET FACEBOOK SHARE Shawn Saylor, co-owner of Hillcrest Saylor Dairy Farm The migrant workforce is our workforce. "It’s been really bad," he said. "This spring we had no help at all." The country needs an immigration program that provides a stable workforce year-round, Saylor said. He and Graybeal have both listed farm jobs to try and attract domestic workers. Graybeal said she received zero inquiries. Saylor said local help did not show up for work. "The migrant workforce is our workforce," he said. Rubio, Demings spar in Florida Senate debate over topics of inflation, immigration(1:02) Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Congresswoman Val Demings exchanged jabs during the Florida Senate debate as election day gets closer. CLAIRE HARDWICK, USA TODAY Las Vegas ‘doesn’t work without immigrants’ Las Vegas ‘doesn’t work without immigrants’ Though farmers in Pennsylvania said they weren't backing a particular candidate because of immigration, the issue could weigh heavily in Nevada, a state that relies on immigrant labor and where incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is trying to hold on to her seat in a race that could determine control of the chamber. Immigrants make up 19% of Nevada’s population and 25% of its labor force, according to a December report from the advocacy group National Immigration Forum. As for the hospitality industry, the backbone of Southern Nevada’s economy, nearly one-third of employees are immigrants. “Las Vegas, as we know it, doesn’t work without immigrants,” said Michael Kagan, a law professor at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada with expertise in immigration law. “When tourists come to Vegas, they often forget that it takes more than 2 million people to make this place work.” But immigration falls far below other pressing issues like the economy. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., speaks during a get-out-the-vote rally Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Las Vegas. Masto is running against Republican candidate Adam Laxalt. (AP Photo/John Locher) ORG XMIT: NVJL126 Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt hopes to unseat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., is running against Republican candidate Adam Laxalt. JOHN LOCHER, AP; RONDA CHURCHILL, GETTY IMAGES With inflation rates still high and concerns over a recession increasing, Nevada’s Senate race is shaping up to be one of the tightest in the country, with Cortez Masto toe-to-toe in the polls with Republican Adam Laxalt. The candidates differ on many issues, including immigration. Laxalt said curbing illegal immigration is a top priority and promises to work at finishing the wall if elected. He has also spent thousands on ads on his opposition to protections for dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, per Axios. Meanwhile, Cortez Masto is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act – a proposal to provide a pathway to citizenship for dreamers – and said she is “a fervent” supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. But even as the nation's first Latina senator (her father’s parents were Mexican immigrants), experts say Cortez Masto can’t rely on the immigrant and Latino vote in the midterms. Laxalt’s team has ramped up Spanish language attack ads and launched a “Latinos for Laxalt” coalition. “Demographics is not destiny,” said Andrew Lim, director of research for the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants. “Just because someone is Hispanic or Asian, (doesn’t mean) they’re going to vote a certain way.” USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Endangered Democrat in Nevada Senate race sees her lead shrink Search voting rights by state and check your voter registration status Learn more Weighing immigration against other issues: the economy, inflation and abortion Weighing immigration against other issues: the economy, inflation and abortion Elizabeth De La Cruz, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, student, said she was still deciding between Cortez Masto and Laxalt. The daughter of two immigrants from Mexico who were undocumented most of her life, De La Cruz said she’s shopping around for candidates and plans to vote for a mix of Democrats and Republicans in the midterms. University of Nevada, Las Vegas student Elizabeth De La Cruz. University of Nevada, Las Vegas student Elizabeth De La Cruz. ELIZABETH DE LA CRUZ As for the Senate race, the 23-year-old said she’s trying to figure out which candidate is the “lesser of two evils.” She strongly disagrees with Laxalt’s stance on abortion. But she also wishes Cortez Masto was more focused on improving education and mental health resources in Nevada. For De La Cruz and many other voters in Nevada, immigration falls below other priorities like the economy and inflation. Anthony Diaz, a Hispanic sales manager at a high-end store on the Las Vegas Strip, said he sides with Democrats on immigration but sees “really great ideas” on both sides. His parents immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. when they were teenagers and didn’t become citizens until their twenties. His family’s struggles with the immigration system have influenced his ballot decisions, but the economy reigns as the No. 1 issue this year. “Here in Vegas, our economy is slowly starting to pick back up, which is awesome,” he said. But all the talk around a recession “is a little frightening.” Las Vegas resident Edward Ely III. Las Vegas resident Edward Ely III. EDWARD ELY III Laxalt’s focus on border security appeals to voters like Edward Ely III, a 41-year-old freelance paralegal in Las Vegas who describes himself as a conservative who has issues with both parties. Ely also said he’s voting for the “lesser of two evils.” For him, that’s Laxalt, even though he disagrees with Laxalt’s hardline stance against dreamers. “It's not because of (Laxalt’s) immigration policy. It’s for a host of things because, again, immigration is not my No. 1 issue right now,” Ely said, adding that his focus this election is more on the economy, health care, education and keeping taxes low. A recent poll from USA TODAY and Suffolk University found Cortez Masto is in a statistical tie with Laxalt: 46%-44%, with nearly half of Hispanics polled naming the economy and inflation as their top priority. Labor shortages in North Carolina Labor shortages in North Carolina Donnie Oldham, president of Sanford Contractors, a construction company based in North Carolina – another swing state with a key Senate election – is doing something most executives try to avoid – turning down money. His company, which does site development and helps build bridges and buildings, has about 45 open positions, mainly foremen, pipe layers, equipment operators and truck drivers. “Too many people have left the workforce. It started during COVID and it has continued,” Oldham, 67, told USA TODAY. “Fortunately, we're in an area where there’s a lot of work to be done and we have to turn work down.” Asked if immigration could be a possible answer to the worker shortage, Oldham said he was all for “legal immigration.” Health care illustration How the politics of health care could affect the midterm elections and control of Congress Read the story “I am 100% opposed to illegal immigration. Our immigration system is ridiculous. Instead of a system that's based on family, we should have an immigration system based on the needs of the country,” he said. “For more employees, we should look at legal immigration and it just seems to make sense. But I'm just a common sense contractor.” Oldham said one of his workers, who was in the country legally, had to stop working while the paperwork to renew his visa gets processed. That process has taken 16 months already with no end in sight. “We should focus on the people that are here legally and get them where they can work instead of spending our time and effort looking after illegals,” he said. Oldham, a right-leaning independent, said the Biden administration’s policies on immigration don’t make sense. Voting rights in the United States: A state-by-state analysis Explore "They’re not trying to stop illegal immigration, but it's against the law to hire illegal workers," he said. Meissner, the former INS commissioner, said the “business-employer wing” of the GOP, which wanted ready access to workers including foreign-born ones, has been drowned out of Republican politics. Now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank on immigration policy, she said Republican candidates rarely tell voters how they support legal immigration in their ads or during debates. “They lump it all together and certainly the impression that they leave is that all of immigration is illegal and is a threat to the country,” she said. “That’s a fundamental, dramatic shift and it has really pushed the business wing and business voice out." ‘Washington has dropped the ball on immigration’ ‘Washington has dropped the ball on immigration’ The U.S. construction industry needs to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor, according to a report from the Associated Builders and Contractors. “The workforce shortage is the most acute challenge facing the construction industry despite sluggish spending growth,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “After accounting for inflation, construction spending has likely fallen over the past 12 months. As outlays from the infrastructure bill increase, construction spending will expand, exacerbating the chasm between supply and demand for labor.” TWEET FACEBOOK SHARE Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO While the need to reform our nation’s immigration system persists, the Biden administration’s failure to address the record-breaking influx of illegal border crossings into the United States threatens the ability to enact common-sense laws that can support legal immigration into the country. Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO, echoed Oldham’s sentiment. “While the need to reform our nation’s immigration system persists, the Biden administration’s failure to address the record-breaking influx of illegal border crossings into the United States threatens the ability to enact common-sense laws that can support legal immigration into the country,” Bellaman told USA TODAY. “It shows a lack of urgency and seriousness from the president and his administration and makes a bipartisan deal on this issue largely unattainable.” Mark Stevens is an Independent voter in Winston-Salem, N.C. Mark Stevens is an Independent voter in Winston-Salem, N.C. SUBMITTED Mark Stevens, 51, a computer technician from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and an independent, said he's leaning more toward Republican candidates. “Republicans have a more practical view towards immigration, whereas Democratic candidates seem to be more, ‘Let's let everybody in. Let's give everybody a path to citizenship.' The Republican candidates seem to be more, ‘We want the people who are willing to work and who are willing to produce and improve our society to be here.” But George Papas, an immigration attorney in Hendersonville, North Carolina, said Republicans have turned the discourse on immigration into an "if they win, we lose zero sum game." "The hostility is reflected in the immigration courts in Atlanta and in Charlotte, where the highest denial rates for asylum prevail,” he told USA TODAY. “They will not be talking about outsourcing workers or about education. The right-wing base of the Republican party has used immigration as a political wedge issue to deflect attention and to deflect media, airwaves, and media space from real issues.” George Pappas TWEET FACEBOOK REDDIT George Papas, an immigration attorney They cannot find farm workers. They cannot find workers for restaurants; they cannot find them for gas stations. The construction industry does not enough laborers. ... And what happens if you can’t find workers? Companies will go out of business. SUBMITTED The restrictive legal immigration policies of the Trump era are coming home to roost, he said. Increasing visa caps would help the situation by addressing worker shortages and easing pressure on the southern border, Pappas said. “They cannot find farmworkers. They cannot find workers for restaurants; they cannot find them for gas stations. The construction industry does not have enough laborers. So here we have a labor crunch, not only in North Carolina, but throughout the country,” he said. “And what happens if you can't find workers? Companies will go out of business.” Asked to assess the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border during an October debate, North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley didn't spare her own party. “You know, Washington has dropped the ball on immigration,” she said. Ted Budd, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during an election watch party on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run, N.C. North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, second from right, visits with voters outside a polling location on May 17, 2022 in Troy, North Carolina. North Carolina is one of several states holding midterm primary elections. North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd is running against Democrat candidate Cheri Beasley, second from right. ALLISON LEE ISLEY, AP; SEAN RAYFORD, GETTY IMAGES Elections: North Carolina Senate candidates joust on abortion, marijuana and 2024 Nation: 'Replacement theory' fuels extremists and shooters. Now a top Border Patrol agent is spreading it. The 56-year-old former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, who is running against GOP Rep. Ted Budd, said Congress should pass policies welcoming newcomers and keeping communities safe. But she said reforming the immigration system cannot happen until the border is secured. “But let’s be clear, there are some folks who should not be in this country,” Beasley, looking into the camera, told Tar Heel voters. Beasley's opponent, like many GOP candidates this cycle, has leaned almost exclusively into pushing for a tougher policy approach in terms of immigration. Help support quality local journalism like this. $1 for 6 Months. Subscribe "Border Security is one of the top issues voters bring up on the campaign trail behind skyrocketing inflation," Budd said at an Oct. 19 campaign event. The Budd campaign's website says he wants more funding for Border Patrol agents, increased criminal penalties for those who reenter the U.S. illegally and completion of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the summer and this fall, he’s run multiple ads that mention immigration and criticize the Biden administration for the “wide open border.” Politics: White House backpedals after Biden refers to a 'crisis' at the border ‘I don’t have any faith in the system’: Soaring housing costs have renters mulling how they’ll vote in the midterms GOP voters more enthusiastic GOP voters more enthusiastic Polling shows immigration is a hot-button topic more for conservative-leaning voters, who argue a porous border is a national security threat and that undocumented immigrants represent a drain on social services. “If you don't have a border, I don't believe that you have a country,” Republican Chris Kuppler, who lives in Charlotte, told USA TODAY. The 38-year-old surgeon said the farming and agriculture are backbones of North Carolina’s economy, and it makes sense to allow temporary visas for migrant workers who flock to the state for that type of labor. However, he said any process that allows immigrants into the U.S. should follow strict rules. “I am more than more than happy for them to come in and apply for citizenship like everyone else, but not happy to just give a free pass to come in for that,” Kuppler said. Rising rent illustration Soaring housing costs have renters mulling how they’ll vote in the midterms Read the story But Democrat James Caballero, a 56-year-old information technology specialist who lives in Sanford, said it's hypocritical for people to be stringently anti-immigration while benefiting from migrant labor. "They don't want the immigrants in but they sure do want them to go out in their fields and pick the crops or go into the kitchens and wash the dishes or whatever that the average American Joe does not want to do," he said. Caballero, whose mother immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, said he's planning to vote this fall, but what’s happening at the southern border isn’t a "motivating factor" for him. Other voters, such as independent Geraldine Price, a 60-year-old retired postal worker who lives in Rocky Mount, North Carosaid immigration is "near the bottom" of her concerns. Price said protecting abortion rights is something she's more concerned about, but added that TV ads calling for stricter immigration rules seemed to be about stoking racial prejudice. "The average American wants that border straightened out," she said. "They're tearing up families. Just give them a chance. They're not coming here to overthrow the government like our former president." For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Policy leaders in Big Tech have revved up a push for Congress to pass immigration changes before the end of the year, with a pitch aligning those policies to the national security concerns that sparked a recently enacted science and technology funding law. Tech leaders say they hope to persuade Congress to follow up the law passed three months ago, which aims to reinvest in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and scientific research, with measures to draw the foreign talent to U.S. businesses that they say is needed to make that happen. Concerns about high migration levels at the U.S-Mexico border have overwhelmed discussions about immigration legislation this Congress, including revisions to key employment-based immigration programs for foreign professionals with advanced degrees. But the tech sector hopes to connect the issue with the stated goals of the law, known as the CHIPS and Science Act, to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to American shores and better compete with foreign rivals like China. Linda Moore, president and CEO of TechNet, a tech lobbying group that counts Amazon, Apple and Google among its members, said the sector can now frame follow-up immigration action as a chance “to deliver on the promise of what this bill was passed to do.” “It is a national security issue,” Moore said. “Cybersecurity alone, but also the fact that it’s high-skilled immigration and filling the jobs that we need in companies across the industry, defense contractors being one of them.” These proposals could be tacked onto broader, must-pass bills in the period after the midterm elections, such as the fiscal 2023 annual spending package or defense policy bill. With less than two months left in the legislative session—and a perennial stalemate on immigration bills—the window of opportunity is quickly closing for any immigration changes. Tech leaders also face an uphill battle to get these changes into law. Close call Congress came close earlier this year to including some immigration measures in the CHIPS law. The House’s version included provisions that would have created a startup visa program and eased the visa process for foreign citizens with high-level science degrees—but they did not survive negotiations with the Senate over the scope of the bill. Several Republican senators initially signaled openness to House-passed immigration provisions in the CHIPS Act once the bill moved to the other side of the Capitol. But Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees immigration, promptly dismissed them as “unrelated” to the legislation’s goals. Still, Karan Bhatia, head of government affairs and public policy at Google, said he sees immigration changes as a natural and necessary next step to investing in domestic technological innovation. He added Google has become “more vocal and even more engaged” on immigration issues in recent years. “If we are doubling down on the country’s financial commitment to this phase, it only makes sense to marry that with a competitive immigration system that allows us to match the human resources that are needed with the financial investment,” Bhatia said. David Shahoulian, a former Homeland Security official during the Obama and Biden administrations who now serves as Intel Corp.’s director of workforce policy and government affairs, said the CHIPS law shows that “policymakers on the Hill want to grow semiconductor R&D and manufacturing in the United States.” Intel has already announced plans after the competition bill passed to expand its semiconductor manufacturing across the country. “As we grow the industry in the United States, our labor needs are going to grow,” Shahoulian said. Stewart Verdery, founder of lobbying firm Monument Advocacy and a former Homeland Security official during the Bush administration, said a push for visas for foreign-born engineers at semiconductor fabrication plants, often called fabs, may fare better politically than past efforts for visas in the software industry, which relies heavily on foreign workers. “Software’s very hard to understand and see. A factory you can see,” Verdery said. “I do think this idea that high-skilled immigrants are helping with these fabs and these chips plants is a more sympathetic, more likely to work argument, than software, which is so ephemeral and hard to understand.” Political challenges Big Tech has long advocated for legislation revising key facets of the U.S. immigration system, which is currently plagued by backlogs and visa caps that have not been updated in decades. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle generally concede that the current system, largely crafted in the mid-20th century, could use a face lift. For example, five Republicans, three Democrats and one independent backed a proposed amendment to this year’s must-pass, fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the children of work visa holders from “aging out” of their parents’ green card applications while they wait in backlogs. But congressional Republicans consistently link immigration proposals, even those related to measures that could help businesses, to challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Democratic party has also grown more wary of immigration changes championed by Big Tech, as members have grown friendlier to unions that have historically cautioned against expanding temporary visa programs that could displace U.S. workers. Faraz Khan, legislative director the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, a union of tech workers, questioned employer claims that the U.S. is facing severe labor shortages and said he would like to see improved government data on the labor market. And while he said he supports efforts to improve existing visa programs, particularly when coupled with investments in the domestic workforce and wage safeguards, he would like to see employers address any shortages by raising salaries. “This is a difficult space to really move forward with solutions that work for all workers — for workers that are in the U.S., workers that are coming in from overseas so they’re not taken advantage of — and benefits the economy broadly,” Khan said. “It’s difficult because there are a lot of competing interests. There’s a lot of money tied up in all of this.” Democratic leaders have also expressed hesitancy to move forward with legal immigration changes without offering relief to the undocumented population, an issue that has garnered less support across the aisle. Jeremy Neufeld, senior immigration fellow at the Institute For Progress, a nonpartisan think tank, predicted any immigration proposals would not ultimately be included in this year’s defense policy bill. “I think lawmakers are going to find themselves regretting letting this opportunity pass by when the new chips investments run into the labor crunch on the ground,” Neufeld said. But most tech leaders and lobbyists said they don’t plan to give up their efforts even if Republicans win majorities next year. “We can’t wait a decade or two,” Moore said. “I don’t know how to say it any other way: we will go backwards if we don’t.” For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced pardons for nearly 6,500 Americans convicted on federal marijuana possession charges, part of an executive order aimed at eventually decriminalizing simple marijuana possession. "As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," he said. Immigration advocates say pardons should also be granted to undocumented immigrants who were not only incarcerated, but also deported on cannabis charges after spending most of their lives working and living in the United States. This coming week, more than 130 advocacy groups, including the National Immigration Project, say they plan to send a letter to Biden calling for the inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and visa holders with marijuana convictions. "Moving forward, we urge you to ensure that every step taken to remedy racial injustice includes relief to impacted immigrant communities," the organizations say they will write. "In particular, we urge you to extend protection to all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, and to take necessary steps to ensure that immigrants do not suffer negative immigration consequences from marijuana convictions." PHOTO: Executive director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya (center) says in order for this initiative to be inclusive, marijuana needs to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Executive director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya (center) says in order for this initiative to be inclusive, marijuana needs to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Courtesy Sirine Shebaya MORE: Biden announces pardons for thousands convicted of federal marijuana possession The letter follows their 2021 call for a legislative remedy for the 48,000 immigrants who were deported for federal marijuana possession between 2003 and 2020, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. "The pardon explicitly excludes all categories of immigrants except for people who are lawful permanent residents," Executive Director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya told ABC News. "The [Biden] administration really should be much more actively ensuring that immigrants are not left out of initiatives like this." "Immigration laws specify that controlled substance offense grounds of deportation cannot be waived by pardons," Shebaya said. "What really is needed is for marijuana to be completely de-scheduled and taken out of the Controlled Substances Act and also for there to be clarity that immigration consequences should never flow from marijuana convictions." A White House response to ABC News did not directly address their demands in the still unsent letter. "The President's full, unconditional pardon is the first categorical pardon in 45 years and will bring relief to thousands of Americans, disproportionately Black and brown, who are unfairly barred from housing, employment, and benefits," said White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz in a statement. " It also builds on his historic acts of clemency in April – earlier than any of his five predecessors. And, together with the work to review how marijuana is scheduled, the President has kept his word with real and unprecedented action for a fairer criminal justice system." Over the past six years, the Immigration Court received Notices to Appear for nearly 26,000 people people regarding controlled substance-related violations. These violations, which include marijuana convictions due to the Controlled Substances Act under immigration law, account for some of the largest numbers of deportations. The National Immigration Project, in partnership with advocacy groups, including the National Immigrant Justice Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the Drug Policy Alliance are pushing for the New Way Forward Act, which would remove legislative barriers that currently prevent Black and brown communities from receiving pardons. "There's also these … legislatively made-up categories that immigration has separate from the criminal justice system that really limits the relief that people can get if they have criminal history," immigration attorney and Associate Director of Advocacy for the Southern Poverty Law Center Mich González told ABC News. The bill aims to eliminate grounds for removal such as a "crime involving moral turpitude" category, which advocates say is weaponized against those convicted for marijuana possession under federal immigration law, according to González. PHOTO: Alex Murillo on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana/San Ysidro circa 2016. Alex Murillo on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana/San Ysidro circa 2016. Courtesy Alex Murillo MORE: Senate Democrats unveil long-awaited marijuana legalization bill U.S. Navy veteran Alex Murillo was deported for a cannabis offense in 2012. He was not afforded access to drug rehabilitation or halfway house programs promised to similar veterans with green cards. Advertisement Murillo spent over a decade in Rosarito, Mexico, a country he never knew. During that time, he took part in the Leave No One Behind Mural Project to express his story through art. On the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Murillo and others painted a mural of an upside-down American flag -- modeled after a ship signaling for assistance -- as part of their call for help for all deported veterans regardless of charges against them. Included are the names of deported veterans from Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, Italy, African countries, and various others. "It's not a sign of disrespect," Murillo told ABC News. "It means help us, SOS, help us, and that's what we're asking for there at the border." MORE: Border apprehensions exceed 2 million this year: Enforcement increases as GOP buses migrants elsewhere After returning back to the United States on humanitarian parole to treat his PTSD and help his mother through her kidney illness, Murillo reflects on a decision made for him over a decade ago separating him from his family and life. PHOTO: Alex Murillo is seen (right) standing front of the mural project dedicated to deported veterans. Alex Murillo is seen (right) standing front of the mural project dedicated to deported veterans. Courtesy Alex Murillo "I'm a veteran, I should have been protected," Murillo told ABC News. "Cannabis is one of the things that helps to treat veterans with PTSD." Recent Stories from ABC News Family in Oklahoma murder-suicide faced financial pressures His fight for citizenship and the return of men and women similarly exiled after serving their country continues. "Our nation is not about exclusion," Murillo said. "I want that feeling of reunification, that feeling of joy." For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced pardons for nearly 6,500 Americans convicted on federal marijuana possession charges, part of an executive order aimed at eventually decriminalizing simple marijuana possession. "As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," he said. Immigration advocates say pardons should also be granted to undocumented immigrants who were not only incarcerated, but also deported on cannabis charges after spending most of their lives working and living in the United States. This coming week, more than 130 advocacy groups, including the National Immigration Project, say they plan to send a letter to Biden calling for the inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and visa holders with marijuana convictions. "Moving forward, we urge you to ensure that every step taken to remedy racial injustice includes relief to impacted immigrant communities," the organizations say they will write. "In particular, we urge you to extend protection to all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, and to take necessary steps to ensure that immigrants do not suffer negative immigration consequences from marijuana convictions." PHOTO: Executive director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya (center) says in order for this initiative to be inclusive, marijuana needs to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Executive director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya (center) says in order for this initiative to be inclusive, marijuana needs to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Courtesy Sirine Shebaya MORE: Biden announces pardons for thousands convicted of federal marijuana possession The letter follows their 2021 call for a legislative remedy for the 48,000 immigrants who were deported for federal marijuana possession between 2003 and 2020, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. "The pardon explicitly excludes all categories of immigrants except for people who are lawful permanent residents," Executive Director of the National Immigration Project Sirine Shebaya told ABC News. "The [Biden] administration really should be much more actively ensuring that immigrants are not left out of initiatives like this." "Immigration laws specify that controlled substance offense grounds of deportation cannot be waived by pardons," Shebaya said. "What really is needed is for marijuana to be completely de-scheduled and taken out of the Controlled Substances Act and also for there to be clarity that immigration consequences should never flow from marijuana convictions." A White House response to ABC News did not directly address their demands in the still unsent letter. "The President's full, unconditional pardon is the first categorical pardon in 45 years and will bring relief to thousands of Americans, disproportionately Black and brown, who are unfairly barred from housing, employment, and benefits," said White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz in a statement. " It also builds on his historic acts of clemency in April – earlier than any of his five predecessors. And, together with the work to review how marijuana is scheduled, the President has kept his word with real and unprecedented action for a fairer criminal justice system." Over the past six years, the Immigration Court received Notices to Appear for nearly 26,000 people people regarding controlled substance-related violations. These violations, which include marijuana convictions due to the Controlled Substances Act under immigration law, account for some of the largest numbers of deportations. The National Immigration Project, in partnership with advocacy groups, including the National Immigrant Justice Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the Drug Policy Alliance are pushing for the New Way Forward Act, which would remove legislative barriers that currently prevent Black and brown communities from receiving pardons. "There's also these … legislatively made-up categories that immigration has separate from the criminal justice system that really limits the relief that people can get if they have criminal history," immigration attorney and Associate Director of Advocacy for the Southern Poverty Law Center Mich González told ABC News. The bill aims to eliminate grounds for removal such as a "crime involving moral turpitude" category, which advocates say is weaponized against those convicted for marijuana possession under federal immigration law, according to González. PHOTO: Alex Murillo on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana/San Ysidro circa 2016. Alex Murillo on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana/San Ysidro circa 2016. Courtesy Alex Murillo MORE: Senate Democrats unveil long-awaited marijuana legalization bill U.S. Navy veteran Alex Murillo was deported for a cannabis offense in 2012. He was not afforded access to drug rehabilitation or halfway house programs promised to similar veterans with green cards. Recent Stories from ABC News China slams reported plan for US B-52 bombers in Australia Murillo spent over a decade in Rosarito, Mexico, a country he never knew. During that time, he took part in the Leave No One Behind Mural Project to express his story through art. On the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Murillo and others painted a mural of an upside-down American flag -- modeled after a ship signaling for assistance -- as part of their call for help for all deported veterans regardless of charges against them. Included are the names of deported veterans from Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, Italy, African countries, and various others. "It's not a sign of disrespect," Murillo told ABC News. "It means help us, SOS, help us, and that's what we're asking for there at the border." MORE: Border apprehensions exceed 2 million this year: Enforcement increases as GOP buses migrants elsewhere After returning back to the United States on humanitarian parole to treat his PTSD and help his mother through her kidney illness, Murillo reflects on a decision made for him over a decade ago separating him from his family and life. PHOTO: Alex Murillo is seen (right) standing front of the mural project dedicated to deported veterans. Alex Murillo is seen (right) standing front of the mural project dedicated to deported veterans. Courtesy Alex Murillo "I'm a veteran, I should have been protected," Murillo told ABC News. "Cannabis is one of the things that helps to treat veterans with PTSD." Recent Stories from ABC News China slams reported plan for US B-52 bombers in Australia His fight for citizenship and the return of men and women similarly exiled after serving their country continues. "Our nation is not about exclusion," Murillo said. "I want that feeling of reunification, that feeling of joy." For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
With a possible surge of Haitian migrants ahead, the Biden admin is weighing holding them in a third country or at Guantánamo
The Biden administration is weighing options to respond to what could soon be a mass exodus of migrants from Haiti, including temporarily holding migrants in a third country or expanding capacity at an existing facility at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to two U.S. officials and an internal planning document reviewed by NBC News. The White House National Security Council is asking the Department of Homeland Security what number of Haitian migrants would require the U.S. to designate a third country, known as a “lily pad,” to hold and process Haitian migrants who are intercepted at sea and what number would overwhelm a lily pad country and require Haitians to be taken to Guantánamo, according to the document. For more than 30 years, Guantánamo Bay has had a Migrant Operations Center that houses migrants picked up by the Coast Guard in the Caribbean. It is not part of the prison for terrorist suspects. Plans are under consideration that would roughly double the capacity at the Migrant Operations Center to 400 beds, according to the document. In late September, violent gangs seeking to overturn Haiti’s government staged a land blockade of the country’s main fuel supply point, blocking fuel from leaving the depot and thwarting the hopes of those seeking to leave the country by boat. U.N. considers sanctions targeting Haiti gang leader 'Barbecue' OCT. 14, 202202:40 The Biden administration predicts that when the fuel is no longer blocked and migrants are able to buy gas to power boats, there could be a mass exodus of Haitians trying to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. by sea, the U.S. officials said. In recent days, the National Security Council has hosted a series of meetings about the issue, involving the departments of Homeland Security, Defense and State. The Biden administration received bipartisan criticism for its handling of a flood of Haitian migrants in September 2021, which led to more than 12,000 of them massing under an international bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Most of the migrants, however, had left Haiti many years before to seek work in South and Central America, and they tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico land border as their economic opportunities began to dry up in countries like Brazil. The Biden administration ramped up deportation flights to deal with the influx, but the flights have been halted since August. A spokesperson for the NSC said: “The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Haiti. We recently delivered Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armored vehicles and supplies, that will assist the Haitian National Police in their fight against criminal actors inciting violence.” Recommended SUPREME COURT Trump asks Supreme Court to block release of tax records to House Democrats DONALD TRUMP 'Greed and cheating': Prosecutor outlines tax fraud allegations against Trump Organization The spokesperson also said the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have staff members on the ground in Haiti responding to the country’s cholera outbreak. "The U.S. government always does contingency planning out of an abundance of caution, and for a wide range of potential scenarios. These contingencies for migration existed long before the Biden-Harris Administration," an NSC spokesperson said in a new statement after this article was published. "We have not seen an increase in Haitian maritime migration, and no decisions have been made. In fact, the number of Haitians interdicted at sea has significantly decreased in recent months. The United States continues to coordinate with our international partners first and foremost to support the people of Haiti and address the security and humanitarian situation in the country." A spokesperson said DHS “continues to closely monitor the situation in Haiti, and there are longstanding contingency plans ready in the event of a surge in maritime migration.” “As we have repeatedly said, irregular maritime voyages in the Caribbean are always dangerous and very often deadly, and we urge individuals not to put their lives at risk. “DHS components, including U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, and the United States Coast Guard, along with our federal partners, maintain a continual presence with air and sea assets in the Florida straits and in the Caribbean Sea, as part of a multi-layered approach to interdict migrants attempting to enter the U.S.,” the spokesperson added. For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Friday, October 28, 2022
Every Democrat – and some Republicans – increased funding earlier this year for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deporting those living in the country illegally. The Biden administration has directed ICE to prioritize the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally who have committed serious felonies. Nonetheless, an ad from a conservative group misleadingly claims that “every Senate Democrat voted against deporting criminal illegal immigrants.” The ad bases its claim on Democrats’ opposition to a Republican amendment that would have delayed passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August. The amendment called for halting the legislation while a Senate committee looked into the need to increase the ICE budget to deport a higher number of criminals in the country illegally. The ad highlights the case of an immigrant in the country illegally who is now charged with stabbing eight people, killing two of them. The ad notes that the alleged killer “had a criminal record.” But reporting from DailyMail.com found that while the man was charged in 2019 with domestic violence, the charge was ultimately dropped. The ad, which ran often during the Major League Baseball playoffs, comes from Citizens for Sanity, a “dark money” group (meaning its donors are not disclosed) connected to officials in former President Donald Trump’s administration. The group is behind numerous snarky ads and billboards around the country targeting Democrats on issues such as crime and immigration. On its website, Citizens for Sanity declares that its mission “is to return common sense to America, to highlight the importance of logic and reason, and to defeat ‘wokeism’ and anti-critical thinking ideologies that have permeated every sector of our country and threaten the very freedoms that are foundational to the American Dream.” According to an Open Secrets review of Federal Communications Commission records, “the group’s board includes three former Trump administration officials involved in the America First Legal Foundation, a group founded by former Trump White House official Stephen Miller and aimed at using the legal system to challenge President Joe Biden‘s agenda.” The ad begins with blurred images of the aftermath of a deadly knife attack on the Las Vegas Strip in early October. “A bloody rampage on the Vegas strip by a knife-wielding madman,” the narrator in the ad says. “Six were injured. Two died. The alleged killer was here illegally. He had a criminal record. But every Senate Democrat voted against deporting criminal illegal immigrants. Every one. How many more will die? Stop the insanity.” Video Player 00:00 00:30 Let’s start with the second part of the ad first. Democrats’ Vote on Vote-a-Rama Amendment As backup for the claim that “every Senate Democrat voted against deporting criminal illegal immigrants,” Citizens for Sanity points to a vote on an amendment that was part of a so-called Senate vote-a-rama in August that preceded the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation was passed via a process known as reconciliation — meaning that the bill could pass with a simple majority and would not need Republican support. As we have written before, vote-a-ramas are largely political theater in which the opposing party often proposes amendments that can be used in political ads — like this one — in the future. The Inflation Reduction Act will invest about $386 billion in energy and climate change incentives, and another roughly $98 billion in health care expenditures. The bill also seeks to create about $322 billion worth of health care savings, in part by lowering Medicare drug costs by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices and limiting out-of-pocket prescription drug costs to $2,000 per year. It is paid for mainly from a corporate minimum tax of 15% on companies that report profits in excess of $1 billion, a measure that is expected to bring in about $313 billion over 10 years. During a marathon 15-hour session of the Senate, Republicans offered hundreds of amendments to the IRA, most of which were defeated. “Democrats were relatively unified in their purpose, with most attempting to preserve the sanctity of the bill by voting against even amendments that they agreed with,” according to a story in the New Republic, a left-leaning magazine. “This ensured that, even when Republicans forced them to take politically painful votes, those amendments went down, often by a 50-50 vote.” One of those was an effort by Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee to send the bill back to the Judiciary Committee to “ensure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has sufficient resources to detain and deport a higher number of illegal aliens who have been convicted of a criminal offense in the United States.” (The ad cited a different Senate vote on an unrelated topic, but Citizens for Sanity confirmed it meant to refer to the Hagerty amendment and said the ad’s citation was being revised.) “In fiscal year 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested more than 12,000 illegal aliens with aggravated felony convictions,” Hagerty said from the Senate floor on Aug. 6. “An all-time record number of illegal border crossers entered our country last year. This is an unprecedented national security crisis. Before we spend billions of dollars on Green New Deal programs, the department should first do its core job of securing the homeland.” Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, a Democrat, said the delay would mean the “end of conversation, end of debate, end of any possibility of passing what we consider to be a major piece of legislation, from prescription drugs, dealing with environmental issues, and the list goes on.” “We understand the seriousness of this challenge [criminals in the country illegally], so much so that we have already decided it is a crime, and it is a crime that can be prosecuted,” Durbin said. “And it is a crime that is investigated and enforced by an agency of the federal government which we funded just four months ago. Four months ago, we gave $8 billion to ICE for this purpose.” Durbin was referring to an appropriations bill that passed the Senate 68-31 (with 31 Republicans opposing it, including Hagerty) and included appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security. Specifically, it included $8.2 billion for operations and support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the agency responsible for deporting criminals in the country illegally, according to the Congressional Research Service. That was a nearly $331 million (4.2%) increase from fiscal year 2021. “So now we are told we need the money, but four months ago he [Hagerty] wouldn’t vote for it,” Durbin said from the floor of the Senate in opposition to Hagerty’s proposed amendment. “I think we know what we have here. We have a challenge that really is important to this motion that both parties share, but we have a political challenge with an effort to derail this measure today. Stick together and vote against this amendment.” Democrats did stick together and defeated the amendment, with all 50 Democratic senators voting against it. At best, one could argue the vote was against delaying passage of the IRA to have the Judiciary Committee consider increased funding for ICE to deport more criminals in the country illegally. But the ad leaves the impression that Democrats voted against “deporting criminal illegal immigrants,” period. And that’s not accurate. As Durbin noted, Democrats voted in March to increase ICE’s budget. Biden Administration Deportation Policy As then-acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske explained in a memo on Jan. 20, 2021, shortly after Biden took office, “Due to limited resources, DHS cannot respond to all immigration violations or remove all persons unlawfully in the United States.” The memo directed ICE to prioritize the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally who are convicted of aggravated felonies. According to ICE’s fiscal year 2021 annual report, “ICE’s more focused approach yielded measurable results. ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) arrested an average of 1,034 aggravated felons per month from February through September 2021, a 53 percent increase over the monthly average during CY 2016 and a 51 percent increase during CY 2017-2020. During the same period in 2021, ERO removed an average of 937 aggravated felons per month, the highest level ever recorded and the greatest public safety impact since ICE began collecting detailed criminality data. 46 percent of ICE removals from February – September 2021 were of serious criminals overall (persons convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies), compared to 17 percent during CY 2016 and 18 percent during CY 2017-2020.” The Trump administration also prioritized the deportation of criminals in the country illegally, or as Trump put it during the campaign, “bad dudes,” but not solely those convicted of aggravated felonies. Soon after taking office, the New York Times noted, Trump issued executive orders that “offers an expansive definition of who is considered a criminal — a category of people Mr. Trump has said he would target for deportation.” Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School, told us the Trump administration considered anyone who broke an immigration law to be a deportable criminal — so virtually anyone in the country illegally. On the heels of Trump’s policy changes, the number of interior arrests — which can lead to deportation — rose 30% in fiscal year 2017, and rose again the following year before falling a bit in fiscal 2019, according to the Pew Research Center. But even at its peak, the number was still “far lower than during President Barack Obama’s first term in office,” Pew stated. In addition, Yale-Loehr noted, a rise in people put into immigration proceedings doesn’t mean they were immediately deported, as those cases can take years. Regardless of the differences in policies between Democratic and Republican administrations, both parties have supported the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally who commit serious crimes. Deadly Knife Attack That brings us to the case highlighted at the start of the Citizens for Sanity ad, involving a Guatemalan national accused of committing a deadly stabbing attack on Oct. 6. The alleged attacker, Yoni Barrios, 32, is accused of stabbing eight people, killing two, outside of a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. He has been charged with two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder. As the ad says, Fox News reported that Barrios is a Guatemalan national in the U.S. illegally, and that he had a criminal record in California, according to an unnamed ICE source. However, the DailyMail.com later reported that while Barrios was charged with criminal domestic violence in 2019 in Los Angeles, he was not convicted. Prosecutors failed to bring the case to court on time, the DailyMail.com reported, citing court documents, and so a judge dismissed the case. We independently confirmed through online Los Angeles County criminal record summaries that Barrios pleaded “not guilty” to the felony charge (273.5a of the California criminal code), and that the case was “Dismissed or Not Prosecuted” on July 19, 2021, the day it was scheduled to go to trial. “Had he been convicted, Barrios would likely have been imprisoned and deported and would not have been free to commit the senseless slaughter on the Vegas strip this week,” DailyMail.com reported. According to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, “Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment is deportable.” But in this case, there was no conviction. DailyMail.com said Barrios “was also prosecuted for driving dangerously and without a license in Riverside, California in 2016.” But those are both misdemeanor offenses. Had Barrios been convicted on the felony charge, he would have fit the bill for those prioritized by the Biden administration for deportation, Yale-Loehr told us. For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is claiming that it will be a "bigger catastrophe" for the economy if Congress does not pass a bipartisan "comprehensive immigration reform" package — something the Biden administration has been calling for since entering office. "We need a bipartisan fix here," Walsh told CNBC. "I’ll tell you right now, if we don’t solve immigration ... we’re talking about worrying about recessions, we’re talking about inflation. I think we’re going to have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t get more workers into our society, and we do that by immigration." The Biden administration entered office calling for a sweeping immigration bill — including expanded legal immigration pathways as well as mass amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country — but efforts failed due to a lack of Republican support. Republicans balked at the lack of border security provisions and also the timing of passing an amnesty as a border crisis roiled the U.S. border. HARRIS AGAIN PUSHES AMNESTY, SLAMS GOP GOVS FOR ‘DERELICTION OF DUTY’ IN SENDING MIGRANTS NORTH immigration activists Immigration rights activists hold a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Nov. 12, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images) That crisis has only escalated since then with more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022 alone. Republican leaders have ruled out amnesty and said that the border must be secured first. Democrats in Congress attempted to go it alone last year by pushing a budget reconciliation package that included various forms of amnesty, but ultimately the effort failed after being ruled ineligible by the parliamentarian and the pulling of support by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. VP HARRIS' BORDER COMMENTS REVEAL MASS AMNESTY REMAINS TOP ADMIN PRIORITY But the administration, from Vice President Kamala Harris to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, have kept pushing immigration reform efforts. Harris said last month that there was "no question" that a pathway to citizenship for millions was a top priority. placeholder Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales slams the Biden administration for its immigration policies and the negative impact they have had on the U.S. southern border.video Biden’s immigration policies are to blame for total ‘lawlessness’ at border: rep Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales slams the Biden administration for its immigration policies and the negative impact they have had on the U.S. southern border. "We also have to put into place a law and a plan for a pathway for citizenship for the millions of people who are here and are prepared to do what is legally required to gain citizenship," she said. In recent weeks, Democrats and the White House have been pushing for more limited pathways in the wake of a court ruling last week that kept the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on ice. Walsh, in the interview, said businesses are pushing for more workers amid a tight labor market, but he acknowledged how Republicans are focused on the border crisis. GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE "One party is showing pictures of the border, and meanwhile if you talk to businesses that support those congressional folks, they’re saying we need immigration reform," Walsh said. "Every place I’ve gone in the country and talked to every major business, every small business, every single one of them is saying we need immigration reform." "We need comprehensive immigration reform," he continued. "They want to create a pathway for citizenship into our country, and they want to create better pathways for visas in our country." For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
The moment was practically unrecognizable in modern politics. Just four years ago, Democrats and Republicans in Congress seemed to agree on something. And not on an innocuous topic like fixing roads and bridges, no—they came together on one of the most controversial subjects in the history of American political debate: immigration. When the American public learned definitively in June 2018 that government officials were forcibly taking children away from their parents as part of a misguided scheme to discourage migration across the southern border, legislators started clamoring to take action. They were responding to the sounds of toddlers crying out for their parents, who, by then, were likely hundreds of miles away, lost in a labyrinthine federal detention system. Suddenly, some of the fiercest conservatives in Congress, including Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and members of the House Freedom Caucus, introduced a flurry of bills calling for the same thing that leading Democrats were demanding: to immediately end the use of family separation as an enforcement tactic, and to outlaw it for good. Schedule a demo and start your free trial now. See why thousands of immigration lawyers have already switched to Docketwise. Docketwise is the #1 rated all-in-one immigration forms and case management software. SPONSORED VIDEO DOCKETWISE Learn more In years of covering immigration, I had never seen this kind of bipartisan agreement. Casey Higgins, who was serving at the time as the top immigration-policy staffer for Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House, said party lines that seemed to have been etched in stone suddenly faded. “All the politics and things like that went out the window,” she told me recently, “because any parent who was hearing about this or reading about this was sick.” So confident were these legislators in their position that Cornyn told reporters Republican staffers were finalizing a single bill that they planned to “hotline” to the president’s desk within days. Hotlining is one of the fastest ways to get a bill signed into law. It allows the full Senate to vote on a piece of legislation without any floor debate, but is only rarely invoked, because it requires unanimous consent. Cornyn felt sure he had it. I think you know where this is going. Cornyn and his colleagues’ enthusiasm dimmed a day later, when President Donald Trump gave in to public pressure, signing an executive order halting separations. (Actually, the order was written so quickly that it was inscrutable, but immigration-enforcement authorities knew what Trump meant for it to say, so they mostly complied.) One week later, a broader Republican-led immigration bill that also outlawed family separation (replacing it with prolonged family detention, which Democrats loathe) failed spectacularly in the House. Republicans had gone back to disagreeing not only with Democrats, but also with one another. Talk of family separation “pretty much disappeared after that,” Higgins said, even though Trump began backing away from his own executive order almost immediately after signing it. He pushed to revive the practice throughout his administration’s final 18 months. But Republicans didn’t want to challenge the president, Higgins said, “and nobody wanted to talk about it anymore in an election year.” Democrats kept the issue alive a little while longer, emphasizing it during the 2020 campaign cycle. But their interest, too, seemed to sputter and die within Joe Biden’s first year in office. Jerry Nadler, the House judiciary chair, did not even reintroduce his own bill to outlaw separations in the current Congress. A separate bill that was introduced to provide monetary support and legal residency for the separated families has not been voted on, nor have most Democratic leaders signed on as co-sponsors, which would signal that it’s a priority. “We’ve still got a long way to go to prevent this from happening again,” Joaquin Castro, the Texas congressman who introduced the House bill to provide recourse to separated families, told me recently, sounding exasperated. “There has been no accountability for the people in the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies who orchestrated this inhumanity.” To say that congress has failed to fulfill its duties when it comes to addressing immigration in general, and family separation specifically, is a profound understatement. The last major overhaul of immigration policy was more than 25 years ago. And although nearly every aspect of the system is troubled, the issue has become so toxic in Washington that large legislative compromises are considered too risky to vote for. They rarely make it out of a single chamber, because they are packed with concessions from both sides, which legislators fear will prompt backlash from voters. (The last reform bill “gave everyone a reason to vote no, rather than to vote yes” was a line I heard frequently from both parties in my reporting.) But just as sticky today are narrow bills addressing issues that most Americans agree on. RECOMMENDED READING Illustration of a person whose face is obscured by frowning rainclouds, with a smiling sun peeking through What the Second-Happiest People Get Right ARTHUR C. BROOKS An Amazon driver stands next to an Amazon truck. I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon. AUSTIN MURPHY SPONSOR CONTENT Can We Reshape How We Fly To Fight Climate Change? BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP The dysfunction is not unique to any one group. Conservative Republicans are so caught up in gamesmanship that they refuse to agree to measures that they support, unless the proposal somehow feels like a loss to the other side. Progressives can become so overwhelmed by all the things they want to change about the immigration system that they overlook opportunities for compromises on matters like family separation, almost literally throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Moderate Democrats, who are arguably the biggest roadblocks to immigration reform in a Congress that is only barely under their party’s control, perform outrage when it serves them politically, but bail out of the conversation at the slightest hint of headwinds. (And no one has heard from moderate Republicans in a while.) Kudos are in order for anyone who has invested enough time learning the intricacies of our immigration system to be able to guide legislators through negotiations. It’s a complicated issue, and few can be bothered to take it on. But asking those experts to try to explain why negotiations have stalled again and again, including on matters that most members of Congress and the public agree on, can be maddening. For example, Casey Higgins, the Ryan aide, who spent many late nights during the Trump administration on the phone with Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser, told me that when family separation intruded into the larger immigration debate, “it didn’t make things easier to have this thing that everyone in theory agreed on; it actually just made it harder.” Sorry, what? I asked her to explain. Higgins said that talking about family separation made Republicans uncomfortable—the administration had gone too far, jeopardizing the party’s credibility with voters. “Obviously,” she said, no one wanted children to be used as “pawns in our political debate.” This response would have seemed reasonable had she not just finished telling me about what she called the “Chinese-food caucus.” Early in his presidency, Trump had met with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over crispy beef and sticky rice in the White House residence. He signaled that he was open to supporting a path to permanent legal status for DACA recipients, or Dreamers. But Republicans in Congress were incensed at the threat of a compromise. Trump had been “ready to give up the sword,” Higgins told me, invoking the long-held Republican position to agree to legislation for Dreamers only if Democrats gave up something significant in return. This strategy, of course, expressly makes children pawns in our political debate, except that Dreamers have been shuffled back and forth across this deranged chess board for so long that they have become adults with children of their own, who are now also caught up in the game. Higgins told me that for years, she held Immigration 101 sessions with Republican lawmakers ahead of negotiating sessions where she explained basic concepts such as DACA and green cards—something that many Democrats no doubt required as well. But lately, such sessions have become less relevant to her party. Eric Cantor, the former Virginia congressman who was ousted in 2014 by a challenger from his right after negotiating with Democrats on an immigration-reform bill, is far from the only Republican to have learned that good-faith attempts to clean up the system can be career-threatening. In fact, Higgins said, stagnation on immigration reform has come to be viewed by some in her party as a good thing. “If you go to any Republican on the stump right now, one of the first topics out of their mouth is immigration,” she said. They’re “criticizing the Democrats for wanting to just legalize a bunch of people or free them into the country illegally. It’s a rule-of-law issue, and Republicans can capitalize on that … There’s a perception sometimes that immigrants are getting ahead and being handed something and Americans are struggling to get by.” (Democrats, she said, benefit from the status quo too, because it allows them to malign Republicans as heartless.) Democrats can and do often appear similarly cynical. In interviews with several Democratic legislators and staffers who have worked on immigration issues, none seemed to have registered the moment in 2018 when the two parties were united against family separation. When I asked about the bills to outlaw the practice that were offered by Republicans at the time, they said they didn’t even remember them. There must, they seemed to assume, have been something wrong with the proposals. Not even immigration advocacy groups agree about the best way to prevent future family separations. They are focused on a long list of reforms that they consider overdue, a list that seemed to grow exponentially during the Trump era. “Within the advocacy community, family separation was seen as outrageous and extreme but a symptom of a larger problem,” Jennifer Nagda, the policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told me. The dream of imposing all the changes they would like to see may have been nurtured at the expense of achieving one of them. Some advocates, such as Conchita Cruz, an executive director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, think the solution lies not in legislation but in the courts. Dozens of families who were separated during the Trump administration have filed federal lawsuits seeking damages. If successful, their cases could dissuade a future administration from using the tactic again, Cruz said. But Biden’s Justice Department has been fighting those cases fiercely. It dropped out of settlement negotiations late last year and recently asked a judge to require parents who have sued to undergo psychological examinations. “This is what the Trump administration would be doing,” Cruz said. “I think they’re trying to aggressively discourage families from filing lawsuits.” Moderate Democrats appear to have given up on the issue altogether. “There was a whole lot of excitement around fixing Trump’s evil policies,” Nagda told me, “and less about fixing some of the bigger problems in the system.” Lately, moderate Democrats have actually been arguing quietly for the Biden administration to keep in place Trump-era restrictions on asylum that are based on the mistaken theory that we can simply enforce our way to a closed border. Staffers for progressive members of Congress who say they have tried agitating with the offices of Democratic leadership on the issue of family separation told me they were getting no response, or hearing back that the party doesn’t have the votes. “In political speak, that means ‘I don’t want to take this vote, because I think that this issue is unpopular with some of the people that I represent who are going to vote in the next election, and I don’t want to have to deal with that,’” Castro told me. “Some of them feel as though they would support a piece of legislation if they knew that it was actually going to get enacted. They don’t want to spend political capital for a bill if it’s just going to pass the House. Then there’s no benefit to anybody in legislation and there’s a downside in the election.” Almost all of those who remain committed to the issue are far to the left. In June 2018, Jeff Merkley, a senator from Oregon, traveled to a Texas facility where some separated children were being detained. “One particular cage held a group of young boys, and they were assembled by height from the shortest to the tallest. The shortest was just knee-high to a grasshopper, maybe in the vicinity of 4 years old,” he told me. “I was just kind of stunned, like, My God. America is doing this?” Merkley let out a despairing laugh—one that I have become accustomed to hearing while reporting on this issue. When I asked him what was holding up congressional action, he pointed to Senate rules that effectively require every single Democrat to be on board for a bill to leave that chamber. He also called out the glut of misinformation about immigration in the news and on social media. But Democrats have not come up with effective messaging to counteract falsehoods that have become mainstream, such as the “Great Replacement” theory and its euphemistic variants. Higgins told me that in town-hall meetings, it would take Ryan, her former boss, eight minutes to explain his platform on immigration, “while someone like Tucker Carlson can go out and say Republicans are trying to replace your jobs with immigrant labor and boom, done.” Castro said he thought the best hope of movement on immigration—whether it be part of a comprehensive package or a one-off bill on family separation—would be in Congress’s lame-duck session after the midterms. But that doesn’t seem likely. Although that timing might minimize the risks of voting for reform, he acknowledged that it won’t do anything about the lack of enthusiasm in his own party. “I’ll just cut to the chase,” he said, “Republicans are horrible on this issue. I don’t think they care much what happened to these kids or their parents. But there’s also a set of Democrats who are scared of the issue of immigration, including giving legal status to kids that were separated from their parents viciously. They’re scared of other people’s racism and xenophobia at the ballot box.” The biden administration recently touted that it had reunited 500 families who were separated under Trump, painstaking work that grows harder with the passage of time. But it acknowledged that about 700 remain separated. And more than four years after American government officials took their children away, more than 130 parents have still not even been located. Congressional staffers in both parties told me they did not think a future president would be brazen enough to reinstate family separation after the public outcry in 2018. But my reporting suggests that they are being gravely naive. This is not especially hard to prove. Recently, I phoned in to a conference call with Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia who rose within Trump’s immigration-enforcement ranks to serve as his acting deputy Homeland Security secretary. Cuccinelli held the call to announce, as the invitation put it, his “plan for border states to DECLARE an INVASION” and “propose a formal U.S. declaration of war on Mexican cartels.” I asked if he expected a future Trump administration to try to prosecute parents traveling with their children across the border, including to seek asylum, which would mean separating families again. “Well, yes,” he replied without hesitation, adding that so would any “other Republican in the future, or any president who was serious about border protection.” With 2024 groping closer and Republican hopefuls shaping their preliminary campaigns in Trump’s image, the time to try to stop family separation from happening again may soon run out. And that’s to say nothing of the potential return to office of Trump himself. Castro told me that, in his view, Trump stood for white nationalism, QAnon, and family separation. “So if the American people reelected him to become president, he will take that as an affirmation that all of those things were not only okay, but appreciated. And that, to him and to the whole Republican Party, will be a green light to do it again—and do worse.” For more informaiton, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Negotiations between the Biden administration and attorneys representing hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in the U.S. under a temporary humanitarian program collapsed this week, paving the way for Trump-era decisions to revoke their legal status to take effect absent court intervention. After more than a year of federal court talks, the Biden administration and the immigrants' lawyers failed to forge an agreement over ways to protect groups of immigrants who the Trump administration decided should no longer be allowed to live and work in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.
Last week, in part one of my conversation with Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, we discussed the Trump administration’s misguided “zero-tolerance” approach to asylum seekers at the border; the Biden administration’s embrace of at least one aspect of that approach, Title 42; and how the U.S. has failed our Afghan allies by not passing the Afghan Adjustment Act. But we also talked about the hope the U.S. continues to offer the world, and why millions still risk everything to come here. Below, Ben and I discuss specific ways to fix our broken immigration system and bring the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country out of the shadows. As Ben explains, “[W]e can’t keep challenging the world to arrive at our southern border. We’ve got to figure out ways to create relief mechanisms and legal immigration channels away from the border.” The solutions are out there. Discussing them, in a rational and civil manner, is the first step toward implementing them. MJ: With millions fleeing Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, some argue we need a “Latin American Marshall Plan” to prevent states and economies from collapsing south of the border. Biden has talked about the need to address “root causes” after Trump cut off hundreds of million in aid. Has there been any progress on that front? BJ: I don’t know enough about the change in international strategies, but the Biden administration is clearly more engaged in the region than the Trump administration was. What we saw under Trump was not just an America First strategy, it was really an America Only strategy. So, yes, there is more engagement and more resources being focused on the region under Biden. And, certainly, Biden has leaned hard into the idea that we’ve got to address root causes. It makes zero sense to continue to focus on border strategy—whether it be a wall or Title 42—as the only way to address these challenges. In other words, we can’t keep challenging the world to arrive at our southern border. We’ve got to figure out ways to create relief mechanisms and legal immigration channels away from the border. The fact that Congress has not joined in the efforts to address this through legal channels of immigration, at a time when our economy is screaming for workers in key industries, is, again, a complete abdication of congressional responsibility. The Biden administration did announce another 65,000 H2-B temporary worker visas. But if we were smart, we would target legal channels of immigration to the places that are major drivers of migration and immigration and provide legal channels of immigration that we can tailor to fit our own economic needs. I promise you that there are even conservative governors and mayors across the country that are clamoring for workers. And if Congress could construct a way for those local economies to identify the workers that we need, and we matched up those needs with places like Venezuela and the Northern Triangle and Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua, we could stem a huge part of the flow coming into the U.S. And it would be mutually beneficial because we would be giving them legal ways to come to the U.S. to address needs that we know that we have and that they could meet. And then the migration could become more circular, the way that it used to be more circular. But I can hear restrictionists everywhere saying, “What’s to keep those workers from overstaying their visas and moving here forever?” Well, again, this is where the arrogance on our part comes in. Many of those folks still have family back home. They want to work to send resources back home. That’s how it always was. Then in 1996 we effectively sealed everybody into the U.S. by saying, “If you’ve ever been out of status and then leave, then you’re subjected to this extreme punishment of a 10-year ban or a lifetime ban.” That has forced people to stay here. Prior to that, people would arrive, work, send money home while they’re working, and then they’d return home. Before we got so addicted to an enforcement-only strategy, migration had been much more circular. Folks still want to be able to get resources in the U.S. and return home. And if we can find a mutually beneficial way to do that, we should. “The first thing we have to do is take the immigration courts out from under the thumb of the enforcement agencies. They are not an independent body. The judges in immigration court are employees in the Department of Justice. So it is not an independent review process. And under Trump the ‘strategies’ that were adopted to deal with the backlog were all about streamlining removal decisions. Because that was their political objective—to become a deportation mill, to pump out as many removal orders as humanly possible.” Our immigration courts are terribly understaffed and overworked. There’s just not enough judges and the backlogs are huge. It seems what we do is we break the immigration system and then we say, “This system’s broken, therefore we can’t have immigrants.” How do you rebuild the system so that it’s not broken and can handle the flow regardless of Congress’s failures? The first thing we have to do is take the immigration courts out from under the thumb of the enforcement agencies. They are not an independent body. The judges in immigration court are employees in the Department of Justice. So it is not an independent review process. And under Trump the “strategies” that were adopted to deal with the backlog were all about streamlining removal decisions. Because that was their political objective—to become a deportation mill, to pump out as many removal orders as humanly possible. They put time limits on judges and created all kinds of requirements that made no sense from a fairness or efficiency perspective, but were designed to get the result they wanted. Immigration courts should operate like other independent judicial bodies. They should have the ability to control their own dockets. Not being able to control their own dockets causes huge problems with regard to addressing a backlog. It also causes huge problems in terms of the integrity of those decisions. When Jeff Sessions was attorney general, he used his power to try to rewrite immigration jurisprudence. If he didn’t like a decision that was being made by the Board of Immigration Appeals, he could just send it to his desk and write the decision the way that he wanted. So, ultimately, the supreme court of immigration is the attorney general of the United States. And that is inherently unfair and contrary to, again, the judicial principles of checks and balances that otherwise inform our judicial system. The Board of Immigration Appeals needs to become an independent agency in order to be more efficient, but also so its decisions carry more integrity. Our proposal is to make it an Article I court. Right now, it sits within the executive branch, which is the enforcer of laws, not the maker of laws, which is an inherent conflict of interest. The way you could imbue it with some independence is not to move it fully into the Article III judicial branch, but move it into the Article I legislative branch. Set up a court that reports to and is overseen by Congress; that would give it independence relative to the executive branch that is enforcing those laws. That’s the best way, consistent with the Constitution, to give it the independence it needs to do its job properly. To address your broader question about enforcement and fixing a broken system, the most important thing is addressing the undocumented population already here. There are some 11 million undocumented people in this country—the overwhelming majority, 70%, of whom have been here longer than 10 years. That is a massive population of people for whom random and aggressive enforcement—such as deportation—doesn’t feel right or appropriate. It would have devastating effects on our economies. It would tear communities apart if those folks were ripped out of their communities. They’re integrated into our economies and our communities. We sit next to them in our houses of worship. We work shoulder to shoulder with them in our economy. Aggressive enforcement seems fundamentally unfair and overly disruptive. A march in favor of immigration reform in Dallas, Texas, May 1, 2010 (iStock). But if we hit the reset button and create a path to legal status for those 11 million, I firmly believe we would have a very different view of immigration enforcement. More options would be on the table in terms of saying, “Well, maybe it’s OK to enforce minor immigration infractions if you’re talking about enforcing it against the population that we haven’t allowed to establish deep ties in our community.” So, politically and substantively, the most important thing we could do is address the status of the undocumented in the United States. It would dramatically transform our options and our approach to immigration enforcement by removing a large population of people whom we can’t enforce immigration laws against in the same way that we would enforce immigration laws against new arrivals. Back in 2007, when ICE [Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement] was raiding meatpacking plants throughout the country, I went to Marshalltown, Iowa, and wrote a story for The Wall Street Journal about the 90 or so workers arrested there and charged with working under false documents. The mayor told me as many as one in five of the town’s residents were immigrants, and nearly 40% of the kids in school were. “When most people think of illegal immigrants,” he said, “they think of people crossing a river or a desert in the dead of night. But that all changes when the person being hauled off in handcuffs is your neighbor, your worker, your friend.” I visited a Catholic church there that was taking care of some of the immigrant children after their parents had been locked up. I attended mass and sat in the back pew, and all I could see were dozens of little faces looking back at me, the faces of Latino babies. The head of the local Chamber of Commerce said there were more than 40 immigrant-run businesses in the community. “We don't have a choice but to work hard to integrate our growing immigrant population into the community,” he said. “Cities like ours don’t have the luxury of sorting out who’s documented and who is undocumented—that is a federal jurisdiction.” Yeah, I totally get it. It’s frustrating that some folks look back on history and blame the situation we’re in now on the Reagan administration’s 1986 amnesty. The allegation is that, from that point forward, we’ve failed to enforce immigration law. And it’s that failure of enforcement, some argue, that has caused the situation we’re in now, and therefore we need more enforcement. That is a complete rewriting of history. We had plenty of enforcement post-1986, including a 1996 act that was horribly aggressive and overreaching in terms of enforcement strategies. What we did not do in 1986 is create legal channels of immigration that address our economic needs. In 1986, and then again in 1990, when we had a modification of the 1986 act, we actually reduced the number of visas available to less skilled workers even though the demographic reality was that more and more Americans were graduating from high school, pursuing college degrees, and moving out of the less skilled labor market. The restaurant industry, home healthcare workers, the service industry, hotels—all that was continuing to boom. But our own domestic labor force was shrinking every year. And yet we cut immigration channels for those workers to come into the U.S. legally to do that work. And—surprise, surprise—our economy attracted a lot of undocumented workers. The worst thing we can do is pit our economy against our immigration system. Because when our immigration system goes to war with our economy, the largest economy in the world wins every time. We need more economic reality in our immigration system. We need immigration flows to fill the gaps being created as our workers move out of those occupations that require less education and pursue opportunities in other areas. We are enforcing the immigration laws against people who objectively we want and need to be part of our economy and our communities. The absence of family unification for people who are already here, and our inability to identify workers that we need and bring them in legally, are the two fundamental problems facing our immigration system. “The emergence of ‘replacement theory’ on the fringes of this debate, within the extreme right, is distressing and disgusting on many levels. It’s so obviously a racist theory because what they distort and demonize is this moment in 1965 when we said that immigration cannot be restricted just to Western European countries—a change that has been so positively impactful, so transformative to our economy and our society.” Like that Iowa mayor said, a hell of a lot of small towns and local economies wouldn’t exist today without new immigrants—documented and undocumented. And I’ve just got to tell you, the emergence of “replacement theory” on the fringes of this debate, within the extreme right, is distressing and disgusting on many levels. It’s so obviously a racist theory because what they distort and demonize is this moment in 1965 when we said that immigration cannot be restricted just to Western European countries—a change that has been so positively impactful, so transformative to our economy and our society. We talk a lot about attracting the best and brightest from around the world. Well, prior to 1965 we didn’t really attract the best and brightest from the entire world. We attracted the best and brightest from the “white” part of the world. But after 1965 we really became a major player in the global battle for talent. And in every aspect of our life, it has transformed us. If we hadn’t made that change in 1965—and these are just a few of thousands of examples—we wouldn’t have seen the development of the cure for AIDS that came about because of an immigrant working in the United States. We wouldn’t have seen the development of Google, which was, again, an immigrant from Russia developing those technologies. So, contrary to “replacement theory,” we’ve benefited enormously—in every possible way—from our 1965 decision not to limit immigration to Western European countries. And that’s a good thing. Well, Ben, once again, you’ve given me hope. It’s always great to talk to you. Your passion and your commitment are refreshing and inspiring. I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Well, that’s very kind of you to say. It’s the truth. And, once again, thanks for a fascinating conversation. My pleasure, Michael. Thank you. I’m a fan of your writing, and I wish you great success with The First Person. Thanks, Ben. Take care. You too, Michael. For more information, visit us at http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/index.html.