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


Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Why Florida's new immigration law is troubling businesses and workers alike

Pressure is growing for a boycott of Florida, including Latino truck drivers who vow to stop deliveries across the state and calls for an immigrant labor strike on June 1. Businesses are pledging to shutter their doors for the day to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis' sweeping new immigration law. For years, the Republican presidential hopeful has railed relentlessly against U.S. immigration policies and newly arrived asylum-seekers. Senate Bill 1718, which takes effect on July 1, will offer a preview of the controversial changes DeSantis has said he'd like to see Congress implement. Among its provisions, the strict new state legislation limits social services for undocumented immigrants, allocates millions more tax dollars to expand DeSantis' migrant relocation program, invalidates driver's licenses issued to undocumented people by other states, and requires hospitals that get Medicaid dollars to ask for a patient's immigration status. Biden moves to expand DACA recipients' access to government-funded health insurance NATIONAL Biden moves to expand DACA recipients' access to government-funded health insurance But the most worrisome measures — for businesses and undocumented immigrants alike — are the host of penalties for those who violate new employment mandates. Supporters say it will help expel the recent influx of immigrants, stave off future arrivals, and provide more job opportunities to citizens and others in the country lawfully. Critics say it will cost the state billions in lost revenue, while many of the harshest penalties are unlikely to be enforced. Here's a look at key provisions of the law and how they may impact the state's economy. Sponsor Message E-Verify requirements What the law says: To crack down on businesses hiring undocumented workers, SB 1718 will require private employers with 25 or more employees that are making new hires to use E-Verify, the federal online database that employers use to confirm whether someone is eligible to work in the U.S. What the potential impacts are: Business advocates across the state are concerned. Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Florida director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, an advocacy group for immigration reform that benefits businesses, told NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday that the change will likely have a significant impact on Florida's agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors. "These are industries where immigrants make up the vast majority of workers, and not allowing businesses to be able to utilize these workers will have a really big impact on our economy and their ability to create jobs," Vilchez said. That's a big problem for Florida, where there's already a widespread labor shortage and the unemployment rate is low — just 2.6% in April. Amid a child labor crisis, U.S. state governments are loosening regulations NATIONAL Amid a child labor crisis, U.S. state governments are loosening regulations The Florida Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy research group, estimates that without undocumented workers, the state's most labor-intensive industries would "lose 10 percent of their workforce and the wages they contribute along with them." That could lead to a drop of $12.6 billion in Florida's GDP in a single year — about 1.1% — which would, in turn, cut workers' spending power and reduce state and local tax revenue. There's been a wave of videos on social media showing images of vacant construction sites and fruit and vegetable fields where harvests remain unpicked and are rotting. According to the videos' narrators, the job sites have been abandoned by people who fear the new bill's E-Verify requirements. Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Florida director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, says the law's E-Verify mandate will likely have a significant impact on Florida's agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors. Marta Lavandier/AP While it's difficult to corroborate the videos, immigrant rights advocates say they've been overwhelmed by people asking if they should continue to show up for work. Sponsor Message "We have heard from a lot of families who have a lot of questions," Evelyn Wiese, a litigation attorney for Americans for Immigrant Justice, told NPR. "The problem with these kinds of laws is that they attack folks in so many different ways. And because they're often very unclear when they first come out, they really do inspire huge levels of fear." Enforcing the hiring rule What the law says: Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity will be responsible for enforcing the E-Verify requirement, and DeSantis has touted new, harsh penalties for employers who violate it. A graphic on the governor's website states that employers who fail to use E-Verify will be fined $1,000 a day. For workers, it will be a felony to use a false ID to get a job. What the potential impacts are: But a closer look at the legislation clarifies that these penalties apply only after an employer fails to use the database three or more times within two years. In those instances, the DEO can also suspend applicable business licenses until the employer provides proof of compliance. As well, the agency "does not have a robust enforcement section," according to the Florida Policy Institute, and creating new positions to oversee the provisions would result in significant costs. The CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank, found that other states, including Arkansas and Arizona, which have passed similar E-Verify mandates, are "widely ignoring the mandate." In Arizona, two-time offenders of the law faced the permanent revocation of the employer's license at the location in question, essentially shutting it down for good. But as of 2015 — seven years after E-Verify became mandatory in 2008 — prosecutors had charged only three businesses, according to the study. NATIONAL Why The E-Verify System Isn't Working In Mississippi LISTEN & FOLLOW The study also found that the E-Verify requirement doesn't achieve what lawmakers set out to do: It doesn't significantly decrease the employment of unauthorized workers nor deter unlawful immigration. One reason is that people who are undocumented often work under the table to avoid a paper trail altogether. Another is that E-Verify doesn't match against death records, so some people are able to dupe the system by using Social Security numbers belonging to deceased people. Redefining human smuggling What the law says: Under the new law, a person who transports into Florida someone they know (or should have known) is an immigrant who has not been "inspected" by authorities could be charged with a felony for human smuggling. Sponsor Message A person who is found transporting fewer than five immigrants on their first offense could be charged with a third-degree felony. They can be sentenced to up to five years in prison per person or pay a fine of $5,000 per count, with penalties increasing dramatically for a subsequent offense or for transporting more people or children. What the potential impacts are: This provision was among the most hotly contested and will likely face strong legal challenges because it's so poorly written, attorney Evelyn Wiese told NPR. "As someone who has practiced immigration law for many years, I'm not exactly sure what the law means by 'inspected,'" she said. Wiese noted that the Republican lawmakers failed to define the term in the Florida bill and that it deviates from federal immigration laws. Without clarification, she said, legislators have created a situation that could lead to tens of thousands of people being falsely arrested and possibly detained. "That's causing a lot of fear for mixed-status families, for mixed-status groups of friends," Wiese added. The Florida Policy Institute estimates that there are 130,000 U.S. citizens in Florida who are married to undocumented immigrants. It is conceivable that under the law, a U.S.-born spouse traveling from out of state could be charged with a third-degree felony for transporting their husband or wife into Florida. Similarly, farmworkers who travel together or with family could also be charged. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

What’s the Refugee Endgame for Latin America?

“We saw a lot of human desperation and hardship,” Maureen Meyer, vice president for programs of the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy organization, told me over the phone. Meyer had arrived back in the United States after a trip to Honduras just days before. She described encountering 1,300 migrants at a camp who were awaiting proper documentation from the Honduran government, namely an “exit visa” that would allow them to legally leave the country and continue their journey northward. To even reach Honduras, a migrant must first cross the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migration routes on the planet. It’s a roadless 60-mile-long jungle that connects South America to Central America—Colombia to Panama. Migrants can either pay syndicate networks that offer a loosely guided passage through the dangerous, bandit-infested jungle, or they can pay to be smuggled via boat, which is somewhat safer, but also much more expensive and has a higher chance of being detected by law enforcement. After the Darién Gap, they must move through Costa Rica and Nicaragua before entering Honduras. More from Jarod Facundo Across presidencies, despite tweaks in immigration policy, the general thrust of U.S. immigration priorities has been to opt for punitive deterrence measures. President Biden has been no exception in this matter. Looking weak on the border is seen as an electoral liability. In Biden’s case, three decades of incongruous policy have come to roost as migration patterns continue unabated. According to Meyer, Honduras is a relative reprieve from the rest of the journey. “They’ve been through hell. You talk to enough [migrants] and they would say I would never do that again.” And that’s not just in reference to the violence and dangerous conditions of the migration. Meyer added that many migrants described a persistent dehumanization and exploitation. “They feel taken advantage of and mistreated by authorities throughout the region. Everything has a price. Everybody charges. And it’s extra because they’re migrants,” referring to the stream of payments for passage. “What awaits them in Guatemala and Mexico can be just as bad if not worse,” Meyer said. “Mexico is a lot of abuse at the hands of corrupt Mexican agents and criminal groups that kidnap or rape.” That’s not including instances like the fire at a migrant center in late March, just across the border from El Paso in Juarez, which left 40 dead. Mexican authorities said that among the dead and injured were migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia, and Ecuador. VICE reported that, according to survivors of the fire and security guards at the facility, the migrant center operated more as an extortion center where only migrants who could pay at least $200 were released. Presumably, many of the migrants at the Juarez facility intended to eventually enter the U.S., further emphasizing how the Juarez center is a micro-example of the kinds of black markets entirely sustained by human desperation and suffering—a downstream effect of the Biden administration’s preference for deterrence as a strategy over easing restriction. American Prospect Carousel Unions Pursue Monopsony Case Against Pennsylvania Hospital Network READ MORE THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S POSTURE toward the border and enforcement activities has been based upon an “addressing the root causes of migration in Central America” approach, to quote a July 2021 report whose foreword was written by Vice President Harris just after the White House announced that Harris was in charge of spearheading a private economic development effort throughout the Northern Triangle. The idea is that because so many migrants move because of terrible problems in their home countries, American policy should try to fix those problems. The idea isn’t wrong. When migrant justice advocates talk about root causes, Khury Petersen-Smith, a researcher from the Institute for Policy Studies, told me, “we’re talking about economic policies that have devastated economies such that people can’t make a living in [their native countries].” But concrete effects have been scarce. Other advocates who spoke to the Prospect characterized administration language and policy as sounding nice, but in practice amounting to very little. Perhaps the most glaring embarrassment for the U.S. has been that Central America’s “success story” is El Salvador’s immensely popular president Nayib Bukele. Under Bukele, his autocratic government has exterminated gang life from the former homicide capital of the world. Outside Western groups have criticized Bukele’s action against gangs as coming at the cost of unlawful killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, detention, and more. Even as that may be true, Bukele still touts an approval rating between 60 and 90 percent, depending on the polling you look at. Meanwhile, by allowing El Salvador to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, Bukele has hitched his economy to the volatile cryptocurrency, and the results have been tumultuous. Bitcoin is trading at less than half the value it had in 2021 when Bukele made it a legal currency, and Salvadorans who rely on it for payments could end up losing a fortune. Bukele has earned positive notices for authoritarian crackdowns, but with economics often being the biggest driver of Central American migration, he has not addressed the root causes and maybe even exacerbated them. Advocates characterized administration language and policy in the Northern Triangle as sounding nice, but in practice amounting to very little. The story is somewhat different in Mexico. When it and the U.S. signed free-trade deals in the 1990s, economists promised rapid growth would follow. One mining magnate even promised it would save Mexican politics, in a New York Times op-ed from 2000: “Because of NAFTA, Mexico can now afford the luxury of democracy.” For a period, those new jobs in Mexico offered new opportunities, Princeton University professor Filiz Garip told me. But since these new jobs were concentrated along border towns, it meant that people had to move from rural areas to cities where these jobs were located. “This was a lot of assembly work,” Garip said. “After one year, [the new workers] would be totally exhausted and replaced by a new group of people … then they would be in the border region where they couldn’t find any other work and then they had to migrate.” A 2003 Times article on NAFTA’s impact in Mexico alludes to these economic distortions and worker burnout: “Real wages in Mexico are lower now than they were when the agreement was adopted despite higher productivity, income inequality is greater there and immigration has continued to soar.” As a result, thousands of Mexicans continued to cross the border into the U.S. during these years. Garip noted that the degradation of economic opportunities came as the United States militarized its border. Taken together, those factors created a dynamic that undermined efforts to tighten the border, becoming a flashpoint for the sorts of immigration policy battles seen today. “Employers still needed the same workers, their [labor] demands did not diminish, and they knew they could hire [migrants],” she said. Without a legal framework for managing labor mobility between countries, Garip said, the result was unpredictability. “You know that you can go back [to your native country],” Garip said, referring to migrants on temporary visas. But when those avenues are restricted, and migrants thus cross illegally, the calculation changes. With steep penalties for attempting to cross back to one’s home country, it makes more sense from a migrant’s perspective to stay in the U.S., even if it’s unlawful. Today, economic conditions in Mexico itself have improved somewhat, despite an ongoing crime crisis. This generation of migrants from Latin America are coming from Honduras, Guatemala, or even Venezuela. And they are not fleeing their countries for the exact reasons as the wave of Mexican migrants from the immediate post-NAFTA years, though the broad strokes are similar. However, they are hitting the same administrative hurdles in the U.S. immigration system that were set up in the early 21st century. Expand JUN23 Facundo 2.jpeg SALVADOR MELENDEZ/AP PHOTO El Salvador President Nayib Bukele is seen as a regional hero, despite his autocratic rule. ON MAY 11, THE ADMINISTRATION phased out its use of Title 42. Technically, Title 42 comes from the 1944 Public Health Service Act. In theory, the law is intended to allow federal agencies to control the spread of disease. It was the basis for the Centers for Disease Control’s authority throughout the worst bouts of the pandemic. Applied to immigration, Title 42 became an easy tool for border control, allowing federal officials to expel migrants from the United States without a formal asylum process. Anticipating chaos after the end of Title 42, the Biden administration announced that it would be sending 1,500 active-duty troops from the Army and Marine Corps to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, authorities anticipate that up to 15,000 migrants a day will try illegally entering the United States. In a follow-up report from the Free Beacon, internal communications said that those troops would be assisting with “data entry” and not border enforcement. In a post–Title 42 world, immigration officials will revert to using Title 8, the immigration laws in place before the pandemic—but this is cold comfort. Under Title 8, for example, being caught for unauthorized immigration results in removal for 5 to 20 years, depending on how many times a migrant has attempted to enter the country. The idea is that steep penalties will incentivize migrants to apply for asylum before arriving at the border. But it hasn’t worked. The United States’ refusal to process asylum claims has backlogged the Mexican government’s asylum system, a result of the continued “Remain in Mexico” policy first put forward under former President Trump. Though Biden has tried to end the program, a U.S. judge paused Biden’s move, and so the system remains clogged. As I reported earlier this year, the U.S. had 1.6 million pending asylum hearings. The end of Title 42 is expected to create additional dysfunction. In early May, in El Paso, Texas, the city’s mayor announced it would be entering a state of emergency ahead of the end of Title 42, in addition to opening up two temporary shelters. Any plan for dealing with immigration policy is likely to stoke outrage from all sides. On the one hand, Republican attorneys general across the country have asked Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Mexican drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” (FTOs). That pressure increased as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) reintroduced legislation with the same effect. Rebekah Wolf from the American Immigration Council said in an interview that this was merely a symbolic gesture, but it seems to have had an effect. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland if he would object to Congress designating cartels as FTOs, Garland responded: “I wouldn’t be opposed.” If cartels were designated as FTOs, Wolf said, it would further complicate the ability for migrants to claim asylum, because it’s nearly impossible for a migrant to make it to the southern border without paying cartels and other crime syndicates for passage. On the other hand, harsh Trump-style immigration policy infuriates immigrant rights activists who feel betrayed by Biden’s moves. Meyer summarized the Biden administration’s predicament like this: On the one hand, it is increasing access to legal pathways for migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Honduras, and Nicaragua, so long as they can provide valid passports and they have sponsors in the U.S. That’s a legal pathway for entry into the U.S. for up to 360,000 people a year. In addition, the administration plans to boost resources for migrant processing centers, thereby setting migrants on a path to filing family-based petitions for refugee status. On paper, those changes should increase legal pathways. But in practice, Meyer said that based upon migrants she and her colleagues encountered in Honduras, they don’t have the documents or meet eligibility requirements, yet still plan on making the journey northward. Desperate people are like that. She recalled frequently being asked by migrants questions such as “What should I do?” or “What are my options?” The most likely scenario is migrants stuck in Mexican border towns hoping for a change in U.S. policy that may never even come. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

U.S. Border Patrol chief to retire after end of Title 42 immigration policy

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz is retiring next month after serving in various roles with the agency for 32 years, officials announced Tuesday. The big picture: The career official has in recent years helped navigate historic numbers of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border amid a wider global humanitarian crisis and, more recently, the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 immigration policy. There were concerns about a rush on the border once the policy that made it easier for authorities to turn people away there ended earlier this month, but Biden officials have instead reported a decline in crossings. However, Axios' Stef Kight notes that the people American officials have been tracking in northern Mexico as poised to enter the U.S. "haven't turned back — they're just marking time south of the border." What they're saying: "I leave at ease, knowing we have a tremendous uniformed and professional workforce, strong relationships with our union partners, and outstanding leaders who will continue to tirelessly advocate for you each day," Ortiz said in a memo obtained by outlets including NewsNation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Troy Miller in a statement said he had "benefitted greatly" from the "partnership, expertise, wise counsel, and friendship" of Ortiz, whom he called a true leader. "Every single day, he champions the men and women of the Border Patrol and has worked tirelessly to ensure that they have the tools, resources, and support they need to do their jobs. He has numerous accolades and awards from his tenure in the Border Patrol, but the highest compliment we can bestow on him is that he is a great agent." Of note: Ortiz has headed up Border Patrol since August 2021, when he replaced Rodney Scott, who backed the Trump administration's policies including the border wall. What we're watching: His retirement is effective June 30. It was not immediately clear who'll replace Ortiz and CBP representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

US Border Patrol chief is retiring after seeing through end of Title 42 immigration restrictions

WASHINGTON -- The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced that he's retiring, after seeing through a major policy shift that seeks to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Chief Raul Ortiz said Tuesday in a note to staff that was obtained by The Associated Press that he will leave June 30. It's unclear who will replace him. “I leave at ease, knowing we have a tremendous uniformed and professional workforce, strong relationships with our union partners, and outstanding leaders who will continue to tirelessly advocate for you each day,” Ortiz said in the note. Ortiz managed the Border Patrol and its roughly 20,000 agents through the COVID-19 pandemic and Title 42 emergency health restrictions that began in March 2020 and allowed agents to quickly return migrants over the southern border. He also oversaw the rollout of new policies on May 11 meant to discourage migrants from crossing illegally while opening up other legal pathways. The number of crossings has dropped, and the border has not seen the high numbers of crossings or chaos anticipated by even President Joe Biden with the end of the restrictions. Ortiz took over as chief in August 2021, following the ouster of Rodney Scott, who enthusiastically embraced then-President Donald Trump’s policies, including his plan to build a border wall. Ortiz was a career official who slowly climbed the ranks over his 30-year career, and he was Scott’s top deputy at the time he became the leader, but he kept focused more on the work of the job and stayed away from more charged issues like the border wall. Recent Stories from ABC News On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Ortiz as a great leader who was deeply committed to the well-being of his agents. “Selecting him to lead the Border Patrol was among the most important decisions I have made,” he said. “Chief Ortiz agreed to postpone his retirement several times since, and the Border Patrol, the department and our country have been all the better for it.” The Border Patrol, a part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has been been under a constant spotlight for years as the number of illegal crossings reached record highs before decreasing. Its job is to manage migrants who cross the border illegally, taking many into custody. But the type of people crossing the border has shifted over the years to include families. Agents often wade into the Rio Grande to rescue drowning migrants and search for children dumped alone by smugglers along the 1,951-mile (3,140-kilometer) border. But the Border Patrol has also faced criticisms. During the Biden administration, some agents were found to have engaged in “unnecessary use of force” against non-threatening Haitian migrants. Two weeks ago, an 8-year-old Panamanian girl died in their custody on her family’s ninth day in custody; the most time allowed is 72 hours under agency policy. Almost from the start of his tenure, Ortiz faced extraordinary frustration within his ranks as illegal crossings reached the highest levels ever recorded. Ortiz acknowledged at a meeting with agents in Laredo, Texas, in January 2022 that morale was at an “all-time low” after an agent complained about “doing nothing” but releasing migrants in the U.S. to pursue their cases in immigration court, according to leaked video published in the Washington Examiner. At another meeting in Yuma, Arizona, an agent turned his back on Mayorkas. But changes to border policy saw the number of illegal crossings begin to decline, including a policy to return to Mexico 30,000 Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans per month, as the Biden administration put into place restrictions that also allowed 30,000 of those groups to come to the U.S. legally as long as they fly, have background checks and bring a sponsor. In his message to staff, Ortiz said that the leadership would continue to advocate for agents. “Please know I will always champion this agency, its mission, and the people who make the Border Patrol everything that it is,” he wrote. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

7 keys to a bipartisan immigration plan that includes a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants

On Tuesday, the “Dignity 2023” immigration plan was proposed by congressmen Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Florida) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) in Washington DC. The initiative, according to the authors, seeks to move the debate that is now established in both chambers and includes a path to legalization for some undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for a long time and have no criminal record. If advanced to the committee level in the House of Representatives, the bill needs 218 votes in the plenary session where Republicans have a majority with 222 seats, while Democrats have 213 seats. In the Senate, for his part, where the Democrats have the smallest party with 51 seats, three independents, the future plan is complex and 60 votes are required for approval. Until now, the leaders of both parties have not governed the matter, like the White House, which in March 2021 achieved victory through measures in the Lower House, with the approval of two bipartisan immigration reform projects with a journey to citizenship for some 4 million undocumented. However, both bills failed in the Senate due to a lack of support from both Republicans and Democrats. “We welcome and appreciate any serious effort to forge a bipartisan immigration solution and short-sighted efforts to replace our broken immigration efforts,” said Vanessa Cardenas, executive director of Voice of America, after the initiative was launched. These are the keys to the new policy called “Dignity Law 2023”. Axis of prestige project It rests on four broad pillars; border security; Asylum; Legalization, the road to citizenship; It protects American workers; Legal immigration (changes to the H-2 visa program); and Reduce traffic jams to the immigration service and to the immigration court. “We are concerned about some of the provisions of the bill, but we understand that it is also a start,” Cardenas said. “Before solving the problems plaguing our immigration system, lawmakers must come to the table of agreement, and Congressman Salazar and Escobar and their colleagues at least establish a dialogue and prepare that table.” 1. Security limit The project has invested $25 billion to achieve its goals. In addition, it requires 100% of employers to use the E-Verify program. Note Current law includes the use of software to verify the immigration status of workers. The plan also includes; The construction of “improved physical infrastructure and advanced technology to develop the frontier”; Funds to hire new Border Patrol agents and border intelligence units; New location and tracking systems for human traffickers and drug cartels; Designates Mexican Cartels as Special Transnational Criminal Organizations; Complete the entry and exit biometric system at the port borders; The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is authorized to use DNA to test family relationships. 2. Asylum policy The bipartisan immigration committee recommends “expediting” the asylum process and resolving cases within 60 days. But he doesn’t remember that the Joe Biden administration in May last year accelerated and set deadlines of up to 45 days to decide on the case of granting and refusing asylum. It also does not mention policies implemented as of May 12 after the lifting of Title 42 of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order, which include new asylum regulations, expedited processing, access to legal advice and deportations. who do not have a legal reason or reason to remain in the United States. Put an end to the ‘catch and release plan’ (catch and release); Create five Humanitarian Camps (HC) on the southern border to receive people and families who arrive seeking asylum; Until the cases are resolved, the asylum seekers will remain; Asylum cases will be resolved within 60 days; Creates five additional immigration centers in Latin America to stop migrants; The new plan establishes a double penalty for those caught at a crossing point other than the port of entry, to ensure that legitimate asylum seekers receive due treatment while criminals are apprehended. use 1 . The government, through executive authority, can optimize resources and place under the Alternative Detention Program (ATD) immigrants who do not represent and are expected to pose a threat to the state, national or border interests of the United States. their asylum in immigration cases at liberty. use 2. The bill against the Biden administration’s policy does not include access to legal counsel for detained immigrants seeking asylum. use 3. At the end of April, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) announced the creation of regional centers in Central and South America to stop caravans, provide information about legal programs to enter the United States and promote legal immigration. 3. Legalization, the road to citizenship Creates an immediate and simpler path to protected status for Dreamers and Temporary Protection Program (TPS) holders; Creates a seven-year pathway to waiver (a dignity program) for undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for a minimum of 5 years (from the date the law was passed); Those who are competent to do the work are permitted; Among the requirements, speak English, pay taxes and have no infamy; Recipients will pay a penalty of $.5,000 in restitution over the seven-year period; People who participate do not have access to federal benefits or benefits tied to economic resources; At the end of the seven-year period electors will apply for US naturalization. Use It is not clear if the fine of 5,000 will be a single payment for seven years of remaining in the program or every year, they must renew the renewal of the fine. 4. Protect American workers The Dignity 2023 bill creates a new Fund for America’s Workers, with a repayment plan from the redemption program. The fund, he said, “will provide training, education and training to working Americans who are unemployed.” He says the purpose of the bill is to “ensure that Americans can apply for the most in-demand careers,” but he doesn’t explain how. 5. Legal immigration A bipartisan immigration proposal: H-2A and H-2B visa processing streams; The quota for H-2A, H-2B visas increases the time periods required; The H-2 visa program is expanding to other areas; and It allows certain workers with H-2 visas to apply for residency after 8 years of residency plus work experience. 6 Reduce bottlenecks The plan mentions the modernization of the legal immigration system and the bottlenecks in the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Immigration Court (EOIR) within 10 years, but does not explain how or why, at least in time. Reduce the expectation of family-based or work-based visa slots; Increase the quota limit established in the 1990 Immigration Act from 7% to 15%. Allow STEM PhD graduates from US universities, including medical students, to be eligible for O visas and work in the US; Grants of employment allow H-4 visa holders to immediately receive status; Create a new visa for temporary family visits; Modernize the F Visa program for foreign students; and Create a Czar or Coordinator of Immigration Organizations. Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said in response to the introduction of the Dignity Act of 2013 by Representatives Escobar and Salazar, “the introduction of a bipartisan bill that modernizes our immigration system is an encouraging sign in this divided, ultra-divided era. “This is an important first step, restarting the conversation that must happen if our country’s immigration laws are to meet the needs of the 21st century economy,” he added. Johnson went on to say that “AILA is pleased that these two leaders say the issue of giving up, a necessary and vital element of any immigration reform effort, has been sidelined because of the focus on the southern border.” And that, while being “doesn’t agree with everyone on this bill, he looks forward to working with those leaders to understand and work out a compromise.” 7. Who are the co-authors of the document? In addition to Congressman Salazar and Escobar, the Dignity Project 2023 by lawmakers Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), Hillary Scholten (D-Michigan), Lori Chávez-DeRemer (R-Oregon), Kathy Manning (D -North Carolina ) and Mike Lawler (R-New York). For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

As new immigration rules take effect, asylum-seekers face long waits, anguish at U.S. border

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — The day that President Joe Biden’s administration ended a public health measure blocking many asylum-seekers at the Mexican border during the coronavirus pandemic, Teodoso Vargas was ready to show U.S. officials his scars and photos of his bullet-riddled body. Instead, he stood frozen with his pregnant wife and 5-year-old son at a Tijuana crossing, feet from U.S. soil. He was unsure of the new rules rolled out with the change and whether taking the next few steps to approach U.S. officials to ask for asylum in person could force a return to his native Honduras. “I can’t go back to my country,” said Vargas, a long scar snaking down his neck from surgery after being shot nine times in his homeland during a robbery. “Fear is why I don’t want to return. If I can just show the proof I have, I believe the U.S. will let me in.” Asylum-seekers say joy over the end of the public health restriction known as Title 42 this month is turning into anguish with the uncertainty about how the Biden administration’s new rules affect them. Though the government opened some new avenues for immigration, the fate of many people is largely left to a U.S. government app only used for scheduling an appointment at a port of entry and unable to decipher human suffering or weigh the vulnerability of applicants. The CBP One app is a key tool in creating a more efficient and orderly system at the border “while cutting out unscrupulous smugglers who profit from vulnerable migrants,” the Department of Homeland Security said in an email to The Associated Press. But since its rollout in January, the app has been criticized for technological problems. Demand has far outstripped the roughly 1,000 appointments available on the app each day. WATCH: Glitches plague CBP One app for asylum-seekers as Title 42 comes to an end As a Honduran man, Vargas does not qualify for many of the legal pathways the Biden administration has introduced. One program gives up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans a month a shot at humanitarian parole if they apply online, have a financial sponsor in the U.S. and arrive by air. Minors traveling alone also are exempt from the rules. Migrants who do not follow the rules, the government has said, could be deported back to their homelands and barred from seeking asylum for five years. Vargas said he decided not to risk it. He has been logging onto the app each day at 9 a.m. for the past three months from his rented room in a crime-riddled Tijuana neighborhood. His experience is shared by tens of thousands of other asylum-seekers in Mexican border towns. Immigration lawyer Blaine Bookey said for many on the border “there seems to be no option right now for people to ask for asylum if they don’t have an appointment through the CBP app.” The government said it doesn’t turn away asylum-seekers but prioritizes people who use the app. Bookey’s group, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, is one of the lead plaintiffs, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, challenging some of the new rules in federal court in San Francisco, including a requirement that people first apply for asylum in a country they crossed on the way to the U.S. They are asking the court to allow an asylum request by anyone on U.S. soil. Texas Republican lawmakers also have sued. Among other things, they argue the CBP One app encourages illegal immigration by dispensing appointments without properly vetting whether applicants have a legal basis to stay. The Biden administration said new measures, including the app, have helped reduce unlawful immigration by more than 70 percent since Title 42 ended May 11. WATCH: Southern border stays calm but confusion builds as new asylum policies take effect More than 79,000 people were admitted under CBP One from its Jan. 12 launch through the end of April. From May 12 to May 19, an average of 1,070 people per day presented themselves at the ports of entry after securing an appointment on the app, the government stated. It did not provide updated figures but said the numbers should grow as the initiative is scaled up. The administration also has highlighted improvements made in recent weeks. The app can prioritize those who have been trying the longest. Appointments are opened online throughout the day to avoid system overload. People with acute medical conditions or facing imminent threats of murder, rape, kidnapping or other “exceptionally compelling circumstances” can request priority status, but only in person at a port of entry. The app does not allow input of case details. Migrants seek asylum in the United States, in Ciudad JuarezMigrants, seeking asylum in the U.S. and who previously requested an appointment on the CBP One mobile app, attend their appointment at the Paso del Norte International border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, May 26, 2023. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/REUTERS Still, some asylum-seekers claim to have been turned away at crossings while making requests, lawyers say. Koral Rivera, who is from Mexico and eight months pregnant, said she has been trying to obtain an appointment through the app for two months. She recently went to a Texas crossing to present her case to U.S. officials, but said Mexican immigration agents in Matamoros blocked her and her husband. “They tell us to try to get an appointment through the app,” said Rivera, whose family has been threatened by drug cartel members. Priscilla Orta, an immigration attorney with Lawyers for Good Government in Brownsville, Texas, said one Honduran woman in the Mexican border city of Reynosa said a man whom she accuses of raping her tracked her down though her phone, which she was using to secure an appointment. The woman was raped again, said Orta, who has not been able to reach her since. “That is harrowing to realize that you’re just going to have to put up with the abuses in Mexico and just kind of continue to take it because if you don’t, then you could forever hurt yourself in the long term,” the lawyer said. Orta said she previously could ask U.S. border officials at crossings to prioritize children with cancer, victims of torture and members of the LGBTQ community, and usually they would schedule a meeting. But local officials informed her they no longer have guidance from Washington. “They do not know what to do with these most extremely vulnerable people,” Orta said, adding that migrants face tough questions. “Do you risk never qualifying for asylum? Or do you try to wait for an appointment despite the danger?” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

How legal immigration might solve two of America’s toughest problems

CNN — Two of the nation’s most intractable problems might have the same solution – if the idea was not so politically radioactive. Even as businesses across the nation are complaining about their inability to find enough workers, the federal government is struggling to stem the relentless flow of migrants at the Southern border trying to find work in the US. No one suggests the answer to worker shortages is to open the border, but it remains a paradox that the nation is straining to keep out migrants looking to work even as employers say the shortage of workers is preventing them from filling millions of jobs. That worker shortfall has also emerged as a key factor driving persistent inflation and higher interest rates. “There’s a mismatch between government policy and the economic reality on the ground,” said David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “We have a policy designed to keep people out and meanwhile we have a crisis in the labor markets where we have nearly 10 million open jobs and have for two years now.” That mismatch points toward a common response that may help alleviate both dilemmas: widening the pathways for legal immigration. Admitting more immigrants, many experts believe, is the most feasible way to expand America’s stagnating labor force after years of historically slow growth in the nation’s working-age population. And creating more opportunities for legal entry into the US – while maintaining strong penalties for illegal entry – may be the best long-term lever to reduce pressure on the border by encouraging more migrants to pursue legal means of entering the country and seeking work. With or without more legal immigration, experts agree, deteriorating economic and social conditions in multiple countries across Latin America guarantees difficulty in controlling the flow of migrants trying to cross the Southern border. But, to a degree that hasn’t been fully recognized, President Joe Biden and his administration are betting that creating more legal options will reduce the number of people looking to cross illegally and reduce pressure at the border, while also responding to the economy’s need for more workers. “That’s the theory of the case,” said Angela Kelley, chief policy adviser to the American Immigration Lawyers Association and former senior adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The Biden calculation is that more opportunity for legal entry creates more leverage for tougher enforcement. If potential migrants conclude they have no realistic chance to enter and work in America legally, the White House believes, they are less likely to be dissuaded by penalties under US law that can bar them from entry for years when they are caught trying to enter illegally. Migrants, after all, may not view such a prohibition on legal entry as much of a risk if there was virtually no chance of legal admission anyway. In the eyes of the administration, and like-minded immigration advocates, it takes a plausible carrot (the prospect of legal entry) to create an effective stick (with the entry ban of five years or more for illegal crossings that the administration announced when it ended the Trump administration’s pandemic-era Title 42 policy at the border.) “If you have legitimate consequences for unlawful entry combined … with easy to access legal pathways, these two things together reduce irregular migration,” said one administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. “But one without the other has proven to be [ineffective].” By itself, a more robust system of legal immigration “won’t solve the current crisis,” said Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the US Naturalization and Immigration Service under President Bill Clinton. But such a system, she believes, can contribute to stabilizing the border – and enhancing the credibility of enforcement efforts. “If there are realistic ways of coming to the country – a range of them – it makes the enforcement and something like a five-year ban, much more salient” to migrants, said Meissner, now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a center-left think tank. Conservatives, meanwhile, remain dubious of any steps to increase legal immigration – even in the name of reducing illegal migration. During the Trump presidency, the vast majority of House and Senate Republicans voted to impose the biggest cut in legal immigration since the 1920s – even as the US has been living through an extended period of slow growth in its population, especially those of working-age. Conservatives continue to staunchly oppose efforts to enlarge legal immigration, and a coalition of Republican-controlled states are suing before a Trump-appointed judge to block one of the key steps Biden has taken to encourage it. Rather than admitting more immigrants, many on the right argue, the US should encourage more native-born adults to enter the workforce. “What we should not do is allow ever-more immigration that lets us ignore the crime, social disorder, drug abuse and other social problems that come with having so many working-age people out of the labor force,” Steven Camarota, research director at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, wrote earlier this year. Several Republican-controlled states have responded to worker shortages by rolling back restrictions on employing children, including in dangerous settings. The backdrop for this immigration debate is that the US is living through one of its longest sustained periods of sluggish population growth. In fact, from 2010 to 2020, the population grew more slowly than in any ten-year span in US history except during the Great Depression, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Metro think tank. The slowdown has been especially acute in the youth and working-age population. The size of the US labor force (essentially the population 16 and older available to work) grew by almost three-fifths from 1960-1980 and rose again by more than a third from 1980-2000. But from 2000 to 2020 it increased by only around one-sixth. The labor force has been growing even more slowly since 2020. Nor do demographic trends point toward any home-grown relief for this slowdown. As Frey points out, the number of children under 18 in the US declined by about 1 million from 2010 to 2020. The share of the population represented by kids, Frey calculates, has fallen from over one-third in 1960 at the height of the baby boom to only a little over one-fifth now. Because today’s kids are tomorrow’s workers, that decline ensures a sustained squeeze on the workforce. Not only has the population of prime age workers stagnated, but so has the proportion of them actively participating in the job market. As the non-partisan Employee Benefits Research Institute pointed out in a recent study, the share of working-age adults holding or seeking jobs has been stuck in recent years at a little over three-fifths, down from about two-thirds from the late 1980s through around 2008. Even these lackluster recent trends in labor force participation have been bolstered by an historic, and probably unsustainable, anomaly: a significant increase in the number of older Americans who are staying on the job. The share of the workforce comprised of workers older than 55 has doubled from about one-in-eight in 1993 to almost one-in-four now. That means the economy is far more dependent on older workers than at any point in its recent history. Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research at EBRI, and author of the report, says that while many older workers want to stay on the job, either for financial reasons or personal satisfaction, the country likely can’t sustain such elevated participation from workers past the traditional retirement age of around 65. As he notes in the study, labor force participation rates have “not returned to their pre-pandemic levels” for workers older than 65, with those 75 or older experiencing particularly steady declines. Even if older baby boomers do drift back into the job market, he adds, they cannot perform many of the jobs requiring manual labor that the economy continues to generate. As Copeland notes, there’s no agreed-upon explanation for the decline in the number of prime-age adults working or seeking work. Theories include everything from the opioid epidemic in many blue-collar communities, to the liberal argument that wages are too low, to the conservative contention that excessive social benefits make it too easy not to work. Yet whatever the cause, the consequence is clear: a worker shortfall that has been cited by the Federal Reserve Board as one reason for stubborn inflation – and the board’s response of repeatedly raising interest rates. “The direction of what we’re looking at in the labor force participation rates … is going to increase the pressure on businesses to find workers,” Copeland said. To Copeland that leaves only one plausible way to generate more workers in the near-term: admit more immigrants. As Bier from the Cato Institute points out, the US has already been relying on immigrants to bolster its pool of available workers: a study he conducted found that immigrants and their children have accounted for fully 70% of the growth in prime-age workers since 1995. “All the nativists portray it as if we are being overwhelmed with immigrants,” Bier says, but the level of immigration in recent years has not been “nearly enough to make up for the huge decline in the number of US workers who are entering the labor force.” Which brings the debate back to the border. Though the surge of migrants that critics expected after the end of Title 42 has not materialized, communities near the border and beyond are still struggling to cope with the steady flow of those arriving and seeking asylum. Yet for many it remains jarring that the nation is simultaneously struggling to keep out throngs of people who want to work even as businesses insist they can’t fill millions of jobs. “If we need low wage workers and there are a bunch of people at the border that want to work then maybe there is some way to figure it out,” says Copeland. “But that’s not where we are in in this political debate.” The Biden Administration hasn’t much stressed the case that legal immigration could ease the crunch in the labor market. But it has advanced the complementary argument that more legal immigration could create a carrot-and-stick dynamic that discourages illegal migration. As Mayorkas put it at a recent press conference, “Our overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States, and to impose tougher consequences on those who choose not to use those pathways.” Using executive authority, Biden has done more to pave those legal pathways than generally recognized. Biden has doubled the number of migrants admitted under permanent employment visas by using his statutory authority to reallocate unused family-based visas to the employment category. He’s significantly expanded the number of temporary guest workers admitted for both agriculture and seasonal employment in businesses like fisheries and hotels, and targeted some of those extra visas to Latin American countries, including Guatemala and El Salvador, where difficult domestic conditions heighten pressure for illegal migration. Biden has also substantially increased the number of people designated for “Temporary Protected Status” that allows them to stay and work (or study) in the US because of unsafe conditions in their home country. Most ambitiously, Biden has used the federal government’s so-called “parole” authority to legally admit large numbers of migrants from countries facing acute crises. Presidents of both parties previously have used the parole authority to admit, for instance, Vietnamese immigrants after the fall of South Vietnam or Cubans after the communist takeover of the island. After first applying the parole authority to people from Afghanistan and Ukraine, the Biden administration subsequently announced it would admit up to 30,000 migrants a month from four countries in this hemisphere experiencing high levels of chaos: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba. Those using the program must be sponsored by someone legally present in the US and fly to America; they are then authorized to work for two years. (The administration is developing a similar parole system to speed entry for migrants from Haiti, Cuba and four Latin American countries who are eligible to reunite with family members already in the US.) The administration and its allies point out that illegal border crossings by migrants from the four countries designated for parole have plummeted since the program went into effect. “The evidence is promising,” Kelley says, that the availability of parole “disrupts the smuggling operation” by encouraging more people instead to seek a legal pathway. Still, the parole power is limited as a tool, since it only authorizes those admitted under it to stay in the US for two years. And a coalition of 20 Republican Attorneys General is suing to overturn Biden’s use of it. The Biden Administration, the GOP officials argue in their suit, “under the false pretense of preventing aliens from unlawfully crossing the border between the ports of entry, has effectively created a new visa program — without the formalities of legislation from Congress.” That suit is following a well-worn trail Republicans have used to block other Biden administration initiatives, with the case now before a Trump-appointed district judge in Texas and then facing review by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the nation’s most staunchly conservative. Biden’s efforts to reduce pressure on the border by authorizing more legal immigration have relied on executive authority rather than legislation. That not only leaves him vulnerable to legal challenges, like the lawsuit from GOP-led states against his parole power, but ultimately limits his reach. Only Congressional action can widen the pathways to legal immigration at a scale that might truly respond to the nation’s workforce shortages and possibly change the calculus for migrants considering an illegal crossing. Congress “absolutely holds the key to the castle,” says Kelley. Yet, for all the Congressional fulminations over the border, neither side has stressed the possible contribution of more legal immigration to a solution. Whatever happens to Biden’s efforts to promote more legal immigration, Meissner believes they are only one component of a strategy to maintain order at the border. Also critical, she says, is something else the administration is pursuing: increased funding to allow asylum cases to be decided more quickly, in particular to ensure that those whose applications are denied face quicker removal from the US. “If your systems are working they…change people’s behavior,” she said. If applicants denied asylum are returned home more rapidly, she adds, “that changes the word of mouth that is taking place at the migrant level through social media, through the networks of information in the United States and abroad and of course among the smugglers.” Yet even the smoothest running system for regulating immigration, Meissner warns, will likely strain under the pressure created as millions flee mounting dysfunction in multiple countries across this hemisphere. The Biden Administration estimates that over 7 million people have left Venezuela alone in the past few years, the vast majority resettling elsewhere in Latin America. The partnerships the Biden Administration is trying to build with countries such as Canada and Mexico, Meissner says, are central to any possibility of regaining more control over migration across the region. “This can’t be just the United States,” solving the problem, Meissner says. The only effective solutions, she argues, “really now are hemispheric.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Tools Outage

USCIS will conduct system maintenance to the Contact Relationship Interface System (CRIS) on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 11:50 p.m. through Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 2:00 a.m. Eastern. During this time frame, users may experience technical difficulties with one or more of the following online tools: Check My Case Status e-Request Change of Address online Check Case Processing Times Civil Surgeon Locator Office Locator File Online myUSCIS online account Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Florida's new immigration law prompts some to leave the state

An undocumented 22-year-old woman sat on her bed in Tampa last week and called her mother, listening to the ringing tone, hoping for another option. When her mother answered, the sound of her soft voice reminded the woman there weren't any. "We have to leave Florida," the woman said. What's happening: A new law that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed this month to tighten restrictions on Florida's undocumented community is driving immigrants out of the state. The legislation voids out-of-state driver's licenses for those without proof of citizenship, bars municipalities from using state money to issue identification cards for undocumented immigrants and requires most companies in Florida to verify the immigration status of new hires, among other restrictions. It also repeals a state law that allowed some undocumented immigrants to obtain a license to practice law in Florida. Zoom in: The undocumented woman, who asked that Axios not use her name for fear of deportation, arrived in Tampa at 6 years old. She graduated from a high school in Hillsborough County and attended a local college. She spent her life here. "I love Florida, I love the weather, I love the people," she said. "But I knew we had to leave when I read what was in that law. It isn't safe." Her mother protested at first. But when the woman explained that under the new laws, her teenage brother wouldn't be able to get an after-school job and she wouldn't be able to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer, her mother relented. The big picture: Florida is home to an estimated 772,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute. More than 81,000 of them live in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties. DeSantis, who's expected to launch a 2024 presidential bid Wednesday, made curbing illegal immigration a centerpiece of his legislative priorities and proposed many of the law's provisions. State of play: Some undocumented workers in South Florida are not coming to work or they are leaving job sites because of the law — which will come into effect July 1, CBS Miami reports. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the country's oldest and largest Latino civil rights group, issued a travel advisory last week over the new measures, warning potential tourists that Florida is a "dangerous, hostile environment." "Families are torn apart as some members choose to stay while others have to leave, foreseeing worsening conditions for immigrants," Lydia Medrano, LULAC vice president for the Southeast, said in a statement. DeSantis' office called the advisory "a political stunt" in comments to Axios. What they're saying: The Florida Policy Institute, a progressive-leaning research organization, told Axios the law is vague and "does not align with the framework of federal immigration law," making it difficult to predict who could be directly affected. "What we do know from past immigration laws is that it is nearly impossible to isolate the effects of policies like these to one singular group of immigrants," said Alexis Tsoukalas, a policy analyst for the Florida Policy Institute. "Especially since people's statuses can be in flux." The bottom line: "We're fleeing the place we fled to," the undocumented woman told Axios. "I remember when my mother sat me down and said, 'things are bad; we have to leave,' and I had to tell her that same thing." "I am leaving everything behind, everything that I worked for, having already started from scratch 16 years ago." For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Texas Senate passes bill to create state border and immigration enforcement agency

Legislation to create a new law enforcement agency focused on border and immigration enforcement is one step closer to becoming law after the Texas Senate on Wednesday passed the measure on a partisan vote. House Bill 7, by Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, creates the Texas Border Force, which would be under the direction of the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The border force would be led by the chief of the Texas Rangers. The upper chamber tentatively approved the controversial legislation early Wednesday morning after Republican senators added changes to the bill, including a provision that would make it a state crime to enter Texas illegally from Mexico. The bill also mandates a minimum 10-year sentence for human smuggling. Debate on the bill came after midnight and stretched into the final day the Senate could consider the measure as the Texas Legislature is in its last days. The bill cleared a final procedural hurdle Wednesday evening and will now go back to the Texas House, where lawmakers will either approve the changes or request a conference committee of the two chambers’ members to hash out the differences. The legislation is a priority for Republican lawmakers as they add more money and manpower to border efforts to combat what they have decried as President Joe Biden’s “open border” policies. The bill has been slammed by Democrats and immigrant rights’ advocates as another tool for law enforcement to harass residents in border communities and a ploy to challenge current immigration policies at the federal level and perhaps tee up a showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court. The duties of the unit include keeping unauthorized immigrants from entering Texas through non-lethal force, intelligence gathering and analysis, and coordination with other state agencies on border operations. Unit members would also be allowed to make traffic stops and would be directed to set up road checkpoints within a 30-mile radius of the border, Sen. Brian Birdwell, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, said. The checkpoints would be for “safety and contraband” inspections and would be random and mobile, he said. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, pressed Birdwell on whether the checkpoints could lead to harassment or intimidation of border residents. “So, this is pretty much checkpoints where you’ll stop any car and ask for [immigration] documentation?” he asked Birdwell. “Would they be able to search cars without probable cause?” Birdwell said officers would need probable cause to conduct a search and said that technology provided under the bill would assist in determining if there is contraband in a vehicle. Opponents of the bill have also raised concerns over the training requirements for members of the unit. An earlier version of the bill stated that the border force would be open to civilians, raising concerns about so-called vigilantes patrolling the border, and was vague on the training provisions for those new recruits. Birdwell said Wednesday that members of the unit would undergo some level of training, but it would also be open to noncommissioned peace officers. An amendment by Sen. Phil King, R-Weatherford, added language that clarified that only commissioned peace officers would have the authority to make arrests and carry or use a weapon. Noncommissioned officers would serve in supporting roles, which Birdwell said could include transport, supervision of detainees and traffic enforcement. DPS would also be authorized to enter into an agreement with the Texas Military Department to have military staff assigned to the Texas Border Force, and the legislation also seeks to recruit former members of the U.S. Border Patrol. The bill would also make it a state crime to enter Texas from Mexico at a place other than a port of entry, which would be a class A misdemeanor, or a felony unless a person was previously convicted of another crime. People arrested on that charge would be held in border facilities and prosecuted on state charges. Democrats said they were concerned that provision could lead to a migrant not being able to claim asylum, which is legal whether a person crossed at or between ports of entry. “Is the purpose of HB 7 for Texas to have a mechanism to stop people from crossing the border for the purpose of claiming asylum?” Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, asked. Birdwell said that wasn’t the case as Texas wasn’t enforcing federal immigration policy, but rather, Texas laws. “[The purpose is] to drive them to the ports of entry to make the claim of asylum. Texas has no authority of an asylum claim,” Birdwell said. Menendez later tried to amend the bill to require that border unit officers undergo basic training on asylum law, but the provision was tabled on a party-line vote. If it passes, the bill will likely be challenged in court by opponents who argue that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility. Last week, Samantha Serna Uribe, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, said that HB 7 conflicts with an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down some of the major provisions of legislation in Arizona that sought to expand state-based immigration. The court ruled that most provisions of that law were preempted by federal statute. “Empowering state officers to decide who unlawfully crosses the border with Mexico conflicts with federal immigration law, as does creating a state immigration offense,” she told the committee. Birdwell said he thought the bill was on solid footing but conceded that it was possible the federal government could also try to stop the legislation in court. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

‘Heaven has borders, hell has none’: Debunking the GOP narrative that God wants anti-immigrant legislation

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who declared his campaign for president this week, recently signed S.B. 1718, one of the harshest anti-immigration bills in the country. It includes numerous provisions designed to punish undocumented immigrant workers and asylum seekers, including a fund to transport them to other parts of the country and dump them, without warning, in heavily Democratic areas (a stunt that Mr. DeSantis began in the fall of 2022, flying migrants to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard). The new law is a laundry list of penalties that scapegoat immigrants for political gain. What is particularly offensive is the emerging narrative that God supports such anti-immigrant legislation. One of the Florida law’s sponsors, state Rep. Kiyan Michael, suggested that it was inspired from above: “Heaven has borders,” she argued. “Hell has none.” ADVERTISEMENT What is particularly offensive is the emerging narrative that God supports such anti-immigrant legislation. Tweet this This is a trope that has gained momentum in xenophobic circles, appearing on bumper stickers, social media and even church signs. One implication is that any nation which builds walls is supposedly following the example of Heaven and is supported by God. Such messaging reveals a basic misunderstanding of salvation and God’s unconditional love for us. As we see from the Gospels, Jesus preached forgiveness and inclusion, not punishment and condemnation. God’s kingdom welcomes all who believe in him and seek his forgiveness and does so without consideration for ethnicity, race or legal status. There are no divisions and no hatred in God’s kingdom. ADVERTISEMENT In fact, other pieces of punitive legislation, such as the Secure the Border Act (HR 2) in Congress, are incompatible with Christ’s message to love your neighbor. In God’s kingdom, “the last shall be first, and the first will be last.” S.B. 1718 punishes the least among us, those who, by and large, work hard and simply want to survive and support their families. That is not to say that man-made laws should be disobeyed, but not all laws are just, and many can and should be changed. For example, in its original form, S.B. 1718 also proposed to expand the definition of human smuggling to include acts like helping migrants to get to church or health care facilities, potentially criminalizing the work of local groups and individuals who work with immigrant communities. Because of opposition from faith groups and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who argued that the bill “criminalized empathy,” the provision was altered to apply only to persons who bring an undocumented immigrant into the state. We need and demand the labor of immigrants, but at the same time we scapegoat them, blaming them for existing social ills, and divide their families. As a moral matter, we cannot have it both ways. ADVERTISEMENT We need and demand the labor of immigrants, but at the same time we scapegoat them. We cannot have it both ways. Tweet this Our nation relies on immigrant labor, including undocumented labor. Labor experts continue to report, for example, that our current inflationary problems have resulted from a lack of immigrant labor. They also project severe worker shortages in the United States in the future. Congress needs to show political courage and provide legal status and pathways to citizenship for immigrant workers to lawfully and safely contribute to our national economy. In Florida, for example, immigrants are working to rebuild parts of the state devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. They toil in Florida’s sugar cane fields, orange tree orchards, and chicken farms. Immigrants, both legal and undocumented, undergird and strengthen Florida’s economy, not to mention its culture. S.B. 1718 threatens those contributions. ADVERTISEMENT This point is apparently lost on Mr. DeSantis, who has repeatedly signaled that he will make restrictive immigration policies a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. RECOMMENDED FOR YOU When bishops attack: How Pope Francis handles his critics Colleen Dulle The mystery of Thomas Merton’s death—and the witness of America magazine’s poetry editor James T. Keane The truth is that, if the earth were heaven, there would not be a need for borders. All peoples, no matter their origin, would live in harmony and share the world’s resources. Unfortunately, because of our collective sin of greed, the globe is divided between the haves and have-nots—the wealthy and the poor, the secure and the endangered. And because of our human desire to horde resources, wars continue to plague the planet. Because of our imperfections—our sin—borders are necessary. They should not be used, however, to indiscriminately shut the door on hardworking immigrants or individuals seeking protection from persecution. S.B. 1718 and similar proposals fail this test and take us away from, not closer to, the kingdom of God. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

The “Chaos” at the Border Is by Design

After more than three years, Title 42—a policy that allowed immigration officers to return migrants they encountered at the border with Mexico without a hearing, thereby shutting hundreds of thousands out of the asylum system—has ended. The Biden administration didn’t rescind Title 42 because of a desire to rebuild the asylum process, but because it had to. The statute authorizing the border closure is part of the Public Health Service Act. Once Biden lifted the Covid-related emergency declarations, the pretext for Title 42 disappeared. Instead of a return to the pre-pandemic status quo, however, the end of Title 42 has ushered in a labyrinthine set of new regulations, many of which are right out of Trump’s playbook. In order to qualify for asylum, migrants must now make an appointment with Customs and Border Protection via the CBP One app. That sounds easy enough, but the app is notoriously prone to crashes. Migrants report rushing to enter their information in the app to secure one of the limited slots available each day—there are only 1,000—during a very short window each morning. Most asylum seekers who arrive at the border without having made an appointment through the app will be deemed ineligible for asylum unless they first applied for protection in Mexico and were denied. Anyone deemed ineligible for asylum is now subject to expedited removal, a process that allows people to be deported without going before an immigration judge. And those who are deported face a five-year bar on reentry. As a presidential candidate in 2020, Biden criticized Trump for “drastically restrict[ing] access to asylum” by “imposing additional restrictions on anyone traveling through Mexico or Guatemala” and lambasted Trump’s “disastrous policy of ‘metering,’” which “created a horrifying ecosystem of violence and exploitation.” Now Biden is doing both. The CBP One app has systematized metering, and Trump’s third-country transit ban is back with a few tweaks. Rather than enact policies that will alleviate the situation at the border, the administration appears to have developed its stance on immigration almost entirely in response to criticism from the right. But the right will accuse Biden of being soft on immigration no matter what he does; for example, his critics have called CBP One a “concierge service” for unauthorized immigrants even though it is actually a streamlined version of Trump-era metering. By attempting to appease the right, Democrats have ceded ground, and the consequences for migrants have been disastrous. MORE FROM GABY DEL VALLE BIDEN HAS NOW EMBRACED REPUBLICAN RESTRICTIONISM ON IMMIGRATION March 17, 2023 ICE IS SUBJECTING A RECORD NUMBER OF ASYLUM SEEKERS TO ELECTRONIC MONITORING October 18, 2022 THE MIGRANTS SENT NORTH DON’T HAVE A HAPPY ENDING YET September 23, 2022 Author page “It’s going to be chaotic for a while,” Biden said two days before Title 42 ended. But immigration officers stationed at the border encountered just an average of 4,400 migrants each day in the first week after Title 42 was lifted—far fewer than the administration’s projections of up to 14,000 daily. In Title 42’s final days, more than 10,000 migrants crossed the border each day. Reports from the border suggest that apprehension numbers are low because migrants are aware of the new rules. But this is not to say there isn’t chaos at the border—there is, and much of it is by design. On the Mexican side, people who have fled dangerous conditions in their home countries are subjected to similar dangers in Mexico, where they’re forced to wait in limbo, pursuing the extremely limited pathways to asylum eligibility. On the US side, there’s chaos too. At the behest of Florida’s attorney general, a Trump-appointed federal judge recently blocked CBP from releasing some migrants from its custody without hearing dates. This has led to dangerous overcrowding: As of May 14, there were 22,000 people in Border Patrol custody, including an 8-year-old girl who died on May 17. Democrats decried these human rights abuses when they happened under Trump. Now some Democratic senators have proposed reinstating Title 42 for two years so Congress can “send more resources to the border.” For now, the administration views the low apprehension numbers as a win. “The deterrence message is working,” one official told the Los Angeles Times. But this success comes at the expense of tens of thousands of asylum seekers who find themselves stranded in Mexico, waiting for appointments they may never get. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Border crisis is Biden’s fault, and only the GOP is trying to fix it

President Joe Biden’s border crisis is nothing short of catastrophic for the United States of America. Will Democrats ever join with the Republicans working to solve it? MORE ON: MIGRANTS Adams defends stances on migrants and Jordan Neely: I ‘did not write these laws’ NYC migrant spending expected to increase by more than $1B, City Hall budget chief warns ‘Right-to-shelter’ off-ramp is long overdue NYC Council members trek to Albany to beg for migrant help: ‘We have to make them care’ ADVERTISEMENT The unprecedented chaos is a national security, economic, and humanitarian travesty directly caused by the Biden administration’s failed open-border policies. Every American is deeply aware of the mayhem at the southern border. But, as a member of Congress who represents Upstate New York, I have also sounded the alarm on the alarming crisis at our northern border. In New York, we have seen low morale from our brave Border Patrol agents, and illegal immigrants crossing the border from Canada. ADVERTISEMENT Since the start of Biden’s presidency, every state has turned into a border state, and every community a border community. On Biden’s watch, records have been shattered as 11,000 immigrants crossed the border illegally in a single day, 85,000 migrant children have been lost, and over 5 million illegal crossings occurred at the southern border. And just last week, we learned that nearly 110,000 people died from overdoses last year, largely due to fentanyl flooding in through our open border. Migrants New York state officials are now contacting Upstate SUNY campuses to forcibly accept migrants. James Keivom ADVERTISEMENT To truly grasp the grim reality of Biden’s disastrous border crisis, look no further than the Empire State, where illegal immigrants are prioritized over American citizens while hardworking law-enforcement and Border Patrol agents are vilified. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have further fueled the grave crisis. State officials are contacting Upstate SUNY campuses to forcibly accept illegal migrants. Upstate New York communities are already struggling to provide resources for our residents and should not be used as sanctuary cities to clean up Biden’s catastrophic border crisis. ADVERTISEMENT It is clear to every New Yorker and every American that Biden, Hochul and Adams are ill-equipped to handle this crisis. Migrants Fentanyl flooding through the border caused nearly 110,000 people to die of overdoses over the last year. James Keivom New York should be focused on putting our citizens first, not illegal immigrants breaking our laws. Recently, I expressed my strong support for New York county executives and local officials who have declared states of emergency in their counties as a way of blocking Adams’ unlawful attempt to burden our communities with New York City’s illegal immigrants. ADVERTISEMENT Not only would forcibly relocating these illegal immigrants violate certain local laws, but it would also take away resources from already-struggling citizens of these counties, resulting in further devastation across New York state. Earlier this month, House Republicans kept our promise and passed the Secure the Border Act, the strongest border security package the United States has ever seen. This legislation would force the Biden administration to finish President Trump’s border wall, deploy technology to the southern and northern borders, increase the number of Border Patrol agents and provide bonus pay, require transparency from the Department of Homeland Security regarding illegal border crossings, strengthen current laws to protect children from human trafficking, end “catch and release” and streamline the asylum process. What do you think? Post a comment. ADVERTISEMENT Unfortunately, every single House Democrat voted against these commonsense measures to secure our border and protect our citizens. Biden created this border crisis; House Republicans are committed to solving it. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP Conference Chair, represents New York’s 21st Congressional District. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

'No One Will Become an American Until…the Border Is Secure'

Paths to lawful residency plus enhanced border measures in new, bipartisan immigration reform bill. New legislation from Reps. María Elvira Salazar (R–Fla.) and Veronica Escobar (D–Texas) aims to compromise on concerns about immigration. It lays out a path to legal residency for some people in the country illegally while also ramping up border security measures, among other things. But this path could be held up unless the U.S. comptroller general declares the border secure. Called the Dignity Act, the bill would be the "first serious bipartisan immigration solution proposed by Congress in over a decade," they said in a Tuesday statement. So far, the bill—an update on similar legislation introduced by Salazar last year—has attracted a bipartisan roster of five additional co-sponsors. You can find a detailed summary of the massive bill here and all 500 pages (which I have not yet read in full) here. The meat of Salazar and Escobar's bill seems to be two new programs—the Dignity Program and the Redemption Program—by which people in the U.S. illegally could obtain deferred removal or lawful permanent resident status. The Dignity Program provides for deferred action on removal plus travel & employment authorization for undocumented immigrants under certain conditions. To start, they must have been in the U.S. for five years prior to this bill passing, must not be eligible for admission under certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and must not have a significant criminal record, such as being convicted of any felony. To apply for the program, people would be required to submit a $1,000 "restitution" payment (to "be used to support American workers") and submit biometric and biographical data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The deferment period can last up to seven years, during which time applicants must report to DHS biennially and pay an additional $1,000 fee with each report until a total of $5,000 has been paid. During this period, they would be expected to pay taxes, have health insurance, and be employed or in school for at least four of the years (subject to certain waivers for people with young children, disabilities, etc.). Additionally, an applicant would not be able to "avail himself or herself of any Federal means-tested benefits or entitlement programs" and would be forced to pay (in addition to other taxes) a 1.5 percent income tax which would go into the Immigration Infrastructure Fund. People who complete the Dignity Program would be considered lawful non-immigrants— authorized for employment and eligible for reentry—for a five-year period and can renew for as many periods as they like. They would also become eligible to apply for the Redemption Program. Under the Redemption Program, people in the Dignity Program would be able to apply for lawful permanent residency status, valid for five years and renewable indefinitely. During a conditional period in the Redemption Program, they would be required to submit a biennial report to DHS, pay an additional $5,000, do at least 200 hours of community service, and learn English and U.S. civics. (Learning requirements may be waived for people ages 65 and up.) Section 24103 of the bill says: if an alien maintains and completes the requirements of this section, after a period of 4 years beginning on the date that the alien's application for participation in the Redemption Program is approved, and subject to sections 111181 and 1515 of Division A of this Act, the Secretary may adjust the status of the alien to that of a lawful permanent resident, except that the alien's status granted under section 24101 may not be extended unless the alien demonstrates that the alien satisfies the requirements under section 312(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1423(a)) People will surely argue over the particular requirements of the Dignity and Redemption Programs. Is it fair to make participants pay an extra 1.5 percent income tax? Will the thousands of dollars in required "restitution" payments make the program prohibitively expensive for many undocumented immigrants? Should learning English really be a condition? These are all valid questions on which reasonable people might disagree. But at least this bill gets the ball rolling on discussion over what such a program might look like and lays out the terms in a relatively clear way. The big red flag for all of this comes in some meta-conditions set for the Redemption Program. Here's how Salazar put it: For those skeptics, many of them in my Republican Party, that say we are legitimatizing millions without the border being secure, as it has happened for 30 years, listen to this: there's a provision within the Dignity Act that guarantees that no one will become an American until the Government Accountability Office certifies that the border is secure. "No one will become an American" at all until the border is certified secure? Looking at the text of the bill, it seems that what Salazar means is no one who completes the Redemption Program can be declared a lawful permanent resident without action from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and DHS. From the bill's text: The Secretary of Homeland Security may not adjust the status of an individual under section 24103 until the date that the Comptroller General of the United States certifies that the Border Patrol has achieved a 90 percent or higher detection and apprehension rate of individuals attempting to cross the southern border of the United States unlawfully during the previous 12–month period. And later: The Secretary of Homeland Security may not adjust the status of an individual under section 24103 until the Secretary of Commerce certifies that all employers in all States are in compliance with the requirements of section 274A(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Those are some pretty big—and hard to assess—conditions. How does the comptroller general determine that Border Patrol has reached a 90 percent detection and apprehension rate? By nature, people who sneak into the country are undetectable. Even if adequate assessment mechanisms can be agreed upon, and security goals met, this seems likely to hold up the Redemption Program for a long time. And what if the security goals or employer compliance goals aren't meant—where does that leave people in the programs? It seems folks who submit data, pay extra taxes, pay restitution fees, and go through all the other requirements could be left in limbo, unable to actually achieve the promised legal status simply because of matters totally out of their hands. FREE MINDS A Florida hamburger joint is suing over the state's anti–drag show law. Senate Bill 1438, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, earlier this month, gives state agencies the power to shut down or revoke the liquor licenses of businesses that allow minors to see an "adult live performance." Hamburger Mary's, which allows minors at its drag brunch on Sundays, is suing. "Danielle Otterbein says she and her friends frequently go to drag brunch at Hamburger Mary's with their daughters on Sundays," notes WESH 2 Florida: "I love the pageantry. I love the camp. I love the silliness of it. My daughter is the same way. It's fun. It's a really good time," she said. However, she says she and her friends haven't been able to bring their children since the state legislature passed the bill. The owners of Hamburger Mary's are suing the state of Florida over the bill, saying the law is too vague. They also claim bookings fell 20% in May after they told customers children could no longer come to the drag shows. Republican state Rep. Randy Fine says the bill is not vague at all. "It's not unclear at all. What's clear is you have a business in Orlando saying they will go out of business if they cannot do sex shows for children. That is stunning," he said. The new law defines adult performance as a live show that "depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities" or "lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts" when it "predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest; is patently offensive to prevailing standards," and/or "is without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" for children. That may not sound all that objectionable, but critics of the measure say it's meant to ban any drag performances that allow parents to bring their kids or that it goes too far, preventing even older teens from seeing shows with raunchy humor (like A Drag Queen Christmas, targeted last December by Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation). FREE MARKETS A group of Chinese citizens who live in Florida are suing over the state's ban on most citizens of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, or North Korea buying property in the state. They're represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). You can find the full complaint here. The new Florida law—S.B. 264—"bears more than a passing resemblance to those xenophobic edicts" of earlier eras, writes Reason's Jacob Sullum: DeSantis portrays S.B. 264, which sharply restricts land ownership by Chinese citizens, as part of the state's efforts to contain the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But the plaintiffs represented by the ACLU, who live in Florida legally but do not have green cards, have nothing to do with the CCP. They have been working or studying in the United States for years and are dismayed by the arbitrary, nationality-based rules that suddenly stand in the way of their plans to buy residential property. … DeSantis wants us to believe that preventing a dietician, a property manager, or a professor from buying property in Florida, based purely on their national origin and non-immigrant status, somehow strikes a blow against "the Chinese Communist Party" and "crack[s] down on Communist China." But it is hard to see why innocent people should suffer for the crimes of an oppressive regime they left behind. "Florida's discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified, and unconstitutional," Ashley Gorski, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, said in a statement. "Everyone in the United States is entitled to equal protection under our laws, including citizens of other countries. If SB 264 goes into effect, it will profoundly harm our clients and countless other immigrants in Florida." QUICK HITS • Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is reportedly slated to announce his presidential bid tomorrow during a conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. • Republicans "want a new, non-metaphorical drug war," David Weigel warns at Semafor. • "The South Carolina Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would ban most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy—before most people know they are pregnant—and sent it to the Republican governor who has promised to sign the bill into law as soon as possible," reports the Associated Press. • A bill that would have required Texas schools to display the Ten Commandments in all classrooms failed to advance in the state's GOP-controlled House. • Reason's Natalie Dowzicky donated her bone marrow for free. But not everyone should have to do so without compensation, she writes. • Target is pulling some LGBT-themed merchandise amid customer complaints. • Arizona's war on tamales. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

Revealed: the contentious tool US immigration uses to get your data from tech firms

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (Ice) sent tech giants including Google, Twitter and Meta at least 500 administrative subpoenas demanding sensitive personal information of users, documents reviewed by the Guardian show. Surveillance cameras, two tan rectangles stacked, sit atop a pole. ‘Never sleeps, never even blinks’: the hi-tech Anduril towers spreading along the US border Read more The practice highlights the vast amount of information Ice is trying to obtain without first showing probable cause. Administrative subpoenas are typically not court-certified, which means companies are not legally required to comply or respond until and unless a judge compels them to. The documents showed the firms handing over user information in some cases, although the full extent to which the companies complied is unclear. It further highlights how broad of a net Ice is casting in its surveillance of migrants. “When Ice gets subscriber data from Google or from Instagram they can combine that information with billions of other data points on hundreds of millions of US residents that they get access to from other companies,” said Hannah Lucal, data and tech fellow at Just Futures Law, one of the organizations that obtained the documents. “While perhaps sounding benign or like a legal tool, administrative subpoenas are actually enabling very invasive Ice surveillance, not only of someone that the agency is targeting, but potentially also of anyone who might be communicating with that person on these tech platforms,” Lucal said. The documents, which detail requests between 2018 and 2021, show most demands were related to the agency’s immigration enforcement efforts. A handful of cases were related to human smuggling and one was part of a murder investigation. In the vast majority of cases, Ice demanded the companies hand over account information such as a person’s IP address over time and payment details. In a few cases, the agency went much further, the documents show. In one instance, Ice asked Google for the account details behind a YouTube channel called Migrant Media, which shares resources about migrant issues (There are several channels with that name). In the subpoena, an Ice officer said the agency was seeking the names, addresses, screen names, payment and bill-face information “and any and all IP addresses associated w/ the YouTube page” as part of an ongoing “investigation or inquiry related to the enforcement of US immigration laws”. The subpoena did not provide any additional details on the nature of the inquiry. In another case, Ice asked Facebook for any location information associated with one account. And in yet another, Ice asked Facebook for “all public content photos, videos, wall posts, subscriber information and replies” associated with one user’s account. When Ice gets subscriber data from Google or from Instagram they can combine that information with billions of other data points ... they get access to from other companies Hannah Lucal Google said it has a “rigorous process designed to protect people’s privacy”, including when it comes to Ice administrative subpoenas. “We examine requests closely for legal validity and constitutional concerns such as overbreadth,” company spokesperson Christa Muldoon said in a statement. “We will notify users when a request has been made about their account and have a long track record of pushing back against inappropriate demands for user data, objecting to some entirely.” Meta said it responds to, and carefully reviews, requests for data in accordance with the law and its terms of service, according to spokesperson Erin McPike. Twitter and Ice did not provide comment by the time of publication. The non-court ordered requests are just one tool in Ice’s vast arsenal of surveillance systems the agency uses to monitor migrants, according to Lucal. Ice also purchases user information from data brokers as a mechanism to get around sanctuary policies, which restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Ice. And it spends billions of dollars to contract with a private prison corporation to track migrants in the US using ankle monitors and facial-recognition apps. The Department of Homeland Security, Ice’s parent agency, also contracts with companies that help analyze and collect information from social media platforms. It’s not clear how often tech companies give Ice information in response to administrative subpoenas. There’s been historically little transparency into how often Ice is issuing these types of requests to tech companies. Just Futures Law and Boston University obtained the documents after suing Ice for not responding to its public records request. “We don’t know whether [these documents] represent every administrative subpoena that Ice submitted during that time period to these companies, but we do know that Ice overall has a consistent practice of using administrative subpoenas as a tool to seek access to personal information from a huge array of companies,” Lucal said. skip past newsletter promotion Sign up to The Guardian Headlines US Free newsletter For US readers, we offer a regional edition of our daily email, delivering the most important headlines every morning Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. after newsletter promotion Image of Ice officials It’s not clear how often tech companies give Ice information in response to administrative subpoenas. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images The companies’ transparency reports, which detail the number of government requests for user data they receive, show that they respond to the vast majority of law enforcement requests for user information with some level of data. Google, for instance, handed over data in response to 85% of more than 55,000 requests they received in the first half of 2022. “It’s in their best interest to maintain good relationships with government agencies,” Lucal said. But tech firms don’t break out how many of the tens of thousands of requests they field and respond to every six months are Ice administrative subpoenas. The documents show tech companies responded, in some cases, with some level of data. In one case, Google handed Ice details of a user’s message and call history in response to an administrative subpoena. In another case, Twitter handed over the name and other personal details of a user in response to a request for all the account information behind a specific Twitter handle. “In some ways part of what this reveals is the lack of transparency about what is actually happening,” said Sarah Sherman-Stokes, the associate director & clinical associate professor of Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program at Boston University School of Law. “We know that at least 500 administrative subpoenas were issued but we don’t have great information about what happened after that.” Some of the administrative subpoenas, the documents show, came with gag requests, or requests not to disclose to the account owner that their user information was being shared with Ice. In at least one case, the administrative subpoena came with an indefinite gag request, which means that it’s possible a person whose information was handed over to Ice through a request like this would never be notified. It ... should be troubling to us which is that big tech is increasingly complicit with Ice’s expanding surveillance Sarah Sherman-Stokes In the exceptional case a person is notified before a tech company hands over their data to Ice, they’re given very little opportunity to fight it off. When possible, a tech firm will notify the user that their information is being requested and in some cases give them as little as seven days to hire a lawyer and file a request to quash the subpoena. In the case of administrative subpoenas, Sherman-Stokes points out, the company could instead just decline to respond. “It’s confirmation of something that we suspected, but should be troubling to us which is that big tech is increasingly complicit with Ice’s expanding surveillance, detention and deportation regime,” Sherman-Stokes said. “Despite these subpoenas not being legally binding, big tech seems very ready and willing to open their doors to disclose our personal and really highly sensitive information.” The revelations also come as there are renewed efforts by lawmakers and activists to secure data privacy protections in the aftermath of the reversal of Roe v Wade. But many of those efforts are narrowly focused on reproductive and health data and do little to protect those seeking abortions or the many marginalized groups who have been historically targeted by law enforcement through requests for their user information. “Communities who are most targeted and criminalized, including Black and brown and immigrant communities are basically exempted from privacy protections because so many of these conversations focus on data privacy as something that you “deserve” based on what you’re doing and who you are – not based on this idea that our data is ours,” Lucal said. “We should have a say over who gets access to [our data] and how it is used and whether it is monetized.” You've read 26 articles in the last year Article count on I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, I was hoping you would consider taking the step of supporting the Guardian’s journalism. From Elon Musk to Rupert Murdoch, a small number of billionaire owners have a powerful hold on so much of the information that reaches the public about what’s happening in the world. The Guardian is different. We have no billionaire owner or shareholders to consider. Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest – not profit motives. And we avoid the trap that befalls much US media – the tendency, born of a desire to please all sides, to engage in false equivalence in the name of neutrality. While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and for reproductive justice. When we report on issues like the climate crisis, we’re not afraid to name who is responsible. And as a global news organization, we’re able to provide a fresh, outsider perspective on US politics – one so often missing from the insular American media bubble. Around the world, readers can access the Guardian’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. That’s because of people like you. Our readers keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence and accessible to everyone – whether they can afford to pay for news, or not. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.