- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; email@example.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com
Thursday, August 31, 2023
In an interview with Documented, the Supervising Attorney of the Federal Practice in Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit, Julie Dona, said that Legal Aid, with support from 32 other organizations, is calling on the federal government to change U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s policy of deporting immigrants before they have an opportunity to file petitions for review and seek judicial stays of removal. ICE’s increased rate of transferring immigrant detainees across the U.S. has made the issue a more pressing concern for attorneys representing these immigrants as well as their families, Dona explained. The New York ICE Field Office has been detaining individuals and then placing them in immigration proceedings in other parts of the country where “they don’t have access to counsel. They don’t have access to their families and their networks. So they’re really cut off,” Dona told Documented. ALSO READ < > Immigration News, Curated Sign up to learn about immigration news from New York and beyond with expert analysis from Documented journalists. Enter your email here... Sign Up for Free This compounds the challenges individuals face in preparing and filing a stay motion, as well as filing it timely with the Second Circuit court if they are detained in other states like Louisiana and Texas — which are the top two states with the most ICE detainees. In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the Legal Aid Society, advocates, clinics, and legal services organizations are asking the federal government to institute an automatic 30-day stay of removal following the issuance of a Board decision — which is consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, where congress determined that immigrants might reasonably require 30 days to prepare and file a petition for review — essentially a form. If approved, it will bring a change in ICE’s policy of deporting immigrants before they have an opportunity to file petitions for review and seek judicial stays of removal. Due process violations in removal proceedings has long been a challenge for immigrants and their legal representatives. Also Read: Immigrant Victims Who Cooperate With Police Must Wait 20 Years for U Visa For instance, ICE placed lawful permanent resident Mario Alejos-Perez in removal proceedings within two days after the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision dismissing his appeal. However, Alejos-Perez’ counsel did not receive a copy of the Board’s decision until the day after Mr. Alejos-Perez was removed. In 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted Mr. Alejos-Perez’s petition for review, reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision, and sent the case back to the Board, which automatically made him entitled to stay in the country pending the Board’s reconsideration of his case. “Oftentimes, we never hear about some of those cases,” Dona told Documented. “ICE is detaining people and then whisking them away to immigration jails that are far from their access to counsel and far from their networks, they have to proceed with that process on their own. If they need to file an appeal to any circuit, they have fewer resources to do that. And it’s just all the more challenging for the reasons we laid out in the letter.” For more information, visit us at https://www.aila.org/advo-media/news/clips.
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
More than 100 top executives from a broad array of industries are calling on the Biden administration to help cities and states better handle the influx of migrants by increasing funding for social services and speeding up work permits. In a letter to President Biden and congressional leaders, the leaders called for “educational, housing, security, and health care services to offset the costs that local and state governments are incurring,” backing New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who has been vocal in calling for more federal resources. The business leaders also made an appeal to speed up processing so migrants can work legally. “In addition, there is a compelling need for expedited processing of asylum applications and work permits for those who meet federal eligibility standards,” they wrote. “Immigration policies and control of our country’s border are clearly a federal responsibility; state and local governments have no standing in this matter.” ADVERTISING The issue of work permits for asylum seekers and parolees is a matter of tension both outside and within the Biden administration. Foreign nationals gain eligibility for work permits based on a number of factors, including how they entered the country and what immigration status they are requesting. Asylum applicants by and large are subject to a 180-day waiting period before they can apply for work permits, but applicants who were paroled into the country — including through the Biden administration’s expanded legal pathways for entry — are not subject to the bar. Administration officials have expressed frustration that many asylum seekers who entered with parole may be eligible to apply for work permits but remain unaware and needlessly waiting out the 180-day period. And Department of Homeland Security officials have sped up the amount of time it takes to process work papers for asylum seekers, but because of limited resources, that effort has slowed processing for other categories of immigrants. The administration has also been called upon to make unprecedented use of other executive tools such as Temporary Protected Status, but officials have been reluctant to be too aggressive, reportedly citing the potential to detonate lawsuits and further migration. The executives noted that the economy is ready to absorb more workers, and private industry is ready to employ new arrivals. “There are labor shortages in many U.S. industries, where employers are prepared to offer training and jobs to individuals who are authorized to work in the United States,” they wrote. “The business community is also providing in-kind assistance and philanthropic support to organizations that are addressing the immediate needs of this largely destitute population.” The executives also preempted the administration’s go-to answer for requests on immigration policy: that it’s up to Congress to reform outdated immigration laws. “Bipartisan action by Congress and the Administration is ultimately the way to resolve immigration issues, but that will take time,” they wrote. “In the interim, we urge you to take immediate action to better control the border and the process of asylum and provide relief to the cities and states that are bearing the burdens posed by the influx of asylum seekers.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) — A migrant woman died in South Texas after spending less than a day in federal custody, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced Tuesday. Border agents encountered the 29-year-old woman and her family in the Rio Grande Valley on Sunday afternoon, according to a statement from the agency. While she was in custody, she experienced a “medical emergency” and was treated by an on-site medical team and then taken to a hospital in Harlingen where she was pronounced dead, the agency said. The woman spent less than 20 hours in custody, according to the statement. Agency guidelines state migrants must be processed within 72 hours. No details were offered about the woman’s medical condition or her nationality. An investigation, per agency protocol, is underway by the Office of Professional Responsibility. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the Harlingen Police Department were also notified. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — Prosecutors in southern Mexico said Tuesday that at least six men were killed in an apparent ambush in a township near the Guatemalan border that is known as a migrant smuggling route. Prosecutors in the southern state of Chiapas said the killings occurred Tuesday along a rural road in the township of Siltepec, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the border with Guatemala. The victims all appear to have been riding in the same pickup truck when attackers opened fire on them from the roadside. ADVERTISEMENT According to videos posted on social media, most of the victims appeared to be wearing black T-shirts and jeans with short haircuts. OTHER NEWS President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, right, and his Vice President Karin Herrera give a press conference in Guatemala City, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. The Central American country's top electoral tribunal declared Arevalo the winner of the presidential election just hours after another part of the government suspended his Seed Movement party. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) Guatemala’s president-elect faces legal challenges that seek to weaken him. Here’s what’s happening President-elect Bernardo Arevalo gives a press conference in Guatemala City, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. The Central American country's top electoral tribunal declared Arevalo the winner of the presidential election just hours after another part of the government suspended his Seed Movement party. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) Guatemalan president calls for transition of power to anti-corruption crusader Arévalo President-elect Bernardo Arevalo gives a press conference in Guatemala City, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. The Central American country's top electoral tribunal declared Arevalo the winner of the presidential election just hours after another part of the government suspended his Seed Movement party. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) Guatemala progressive’s presidential victory certified, but his party is suspended Officials did not identify the victims and did not disclose their nationalities and whether they were migrants. The area has long been known as a migrant smuggling route. But it has also become the scene recently of bloody turf battles between the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels for control of the smuggling and extortion businesses. In the nearby city of Motozintla, the largest population center in the area, residents and taxi and bus drivers marched to protest what they said were constant threats and extortion from the cartels. “For a safe Motozintla, no to protection payments, no to kidnappings. Peace and Tranquility!” read one of the leaflets handed out at the march Tuesday. Closer to the border, unidentified assailants set a freight truck on fire, blocking the main road in the area. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - A smuggler with ties to a foreign extremist group helped Uzbek migrants enter the U.S. from Mexico, the White House said on Tuesday, raising questions about a potential security threat. The smuggler was based in Turkey and had links to the jihadist Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. CNN first reported the incident. Record numbers of migrants have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally since President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office in 2021, including many from distant nations. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report this ad Republicans say Biden encouraged crossings by reversing tougher policies of former President Donald Trump, a Republican. The Biden administration argues that it has instituted more humane policies as migration has challenged countries across the Western Hemisphere. Of the nearly 2 million migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border between October 2022 and July 2023, 216 were on U.S. watchlists for potential links to terrorism, according to U.S. government statistics. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report this ad U.S. intelligence officials discovered a smuggling network to bring Uzbeks into the country and a smuggler with ties to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. U.S. authorities have no indication that migrants aided by the smuggling network were tied to extremist groups or plotting terrorist attacks, Watson said. Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report this ad Watson did not confirm links to the Islamic State specifically or that the smuggler was based in Turkey. Migrants who "fit the profile" of those assisted by the smugglers are being placed in rapid deportation proceedings and "thoroughly vetted," Watson said. The U.S. official said the FBI is trying to locate about 15 of roughly 120 Uzbek migrants who entered the U.S. through legal border crossings via the network. An FBI spokesperson said the agency "has not identified a specific terrorism plot associated with foreign nationals who recently entered the United States at the southern border," and declined to comment on specifics. U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered some 3,200 Uzbeks at U.S borders in fiscal year 2022, up from fewer than 700 a year earlier. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
As Hurricane Idalia intensified Tuesday morning, people like Laudi Campos have been fielding calls from community groups asking if Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stringent immigration law will limit their ability to help immigrant families prepare for the storm. As residents in Volusia County, just outside the Orlando area, tried to decide whether to evacuate or hunker down in a safe place, some were asking if people who went to shelters in the state would be asked for identification and what the potential impact would be for those lacking legal immigration status. Campos, who is the state director for the Hispanic Federation, one of the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organizations, has been letting community organizations know that identification is "not a requirement." "They should go to a shelter, if they feel that their life is in danger," she said. The Hispanic Federation as well as other Latino and immigrant rights organizations in Florida have been reminding residents bracing for Hurricane Idalia that anyone can request shelter, regardless of their immigration status. The reminder comes weeks after DeSantis' SB 1718 law went into effect on July 1, imposing restrictions and penalties meant to deter the employment of undocumented workers in the state. Some of them make it a felony to “knowingly and willfully” transport an undocumented person into the state (including relatives and acquaintances), invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to immigrants who lack legal status and requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask about immigration status (though patients may decline to answer the question). “Floridians & immigrants CAN request shelter & aid!” the organization said in a social media post Monday as it urged residents to share the information. Even though shelters are not required to ask about immigration status under SB 1718, the law has already sowed doubt in immigrant communities “because they know that they have already been targeted,” Campos said. Some have already left the state because of fears around the law. Latino and immigrant rights organizations have said shelters should not ask anyone for identification in order to provide refuge. Immigration authorities are also not supposed to operate during a state of emergency. Campos encouraged families to contact the Hispanic Federation hotline during business hours or the hotline from the Florida Immigrant Coalition if shelters or emergency response personnel do otherwise. Tessa Petit of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which advocates for immigrant rights, said her organization has learned of instances in which counties had asked people for identification to provide sandbags or access to shelters during previous natural disasters. Those accounts, combined with the uncertainty surrounding SB 1718, prompted Petit to remind immigrant families of their rights, especially if they have relatives without legal immigration status. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Federal judge says New Jersey law banning immigrant detention contract with private operator unconstitutional
A federal judge on Tuesday declared a New Jersey law that would ban a private immigration detention contract with federal authorities from being renewed “unconstitutional” — paving the way to keep the state’s last detention center open. The opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kirsch, sitting in Trenton, could allow the center in Elizabeth run by private corrections company CoreCivic to remain open just days before its contract was set to expire. Federal officials have written in court filings that they “fully intend” to extend the private detention contract. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, in 2021 signed a law that prohibited new and extended immigrant detention contracts between federal authorities and state, local and private entities. While there were four facilities in the state that held such contracts as the bill was making its way through the Legislature, only the one run by CoreCivic remains. The legal challenge put Murphy — a progressive who once proclaimed New Jersey a “sanctuary” state for immigrants — at odds with the Biden administration. Attorneys for the Biden administration wrote earlier this summer that the law would be “catastrophic” to federal immigration authorities. Tyler Jones, a spokesperson for the governor, said Murphy was “disappointed” by the opinion but said other parts of the law remain in place. “The Governor is pleased that the rest of the law that applies to public entities remains intact,” Jones stated. “He understands that the Attorney General’s Office will appeal today’s decision and seek to reinstate the entirety of the law.” In a statement, Michael Symons, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, said that “private detention facilities threaten the public health and safety of New Jerseyans, including when used for immigration purposes.” Other blue states have faced legal issues on similar laws that look to prohibit immigration detention within their borders. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a similar California law in September 2022 that prohibited private immigration detention. CoreCivic sued to block the New Jersey law earlier this year, arguing it violated the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause” — which bans state law from overriding federal law. On Tuesday, Kirsch agreed. “A state law that wholesale deprives the federal government of its chosen method of detaining individuals for violating federal law cannot survive Supremacy Clause scrutiny,” the judge wrote. “[The law] would impose on the United States an intolerable choice between either releasing federal detainees or carrying out detention in an entirely novel way.” Attorneys for the Biden administration argued in court filings that the closure of the CoreCivic facility would create logistical issues for enforcing immigration law, since New Jersey would be without a detention center. Building a Department of Homeland Security detention facility from scratch would be costly and take time, officials wrote in court filings, and transportation of detainees could also take up resources. The closure of the facility could result in the “possible release of certain dangerous noncitizens,” federal officials wrote. Detainees would also be taken away further from their families, officials argued. All but one member of New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional delegation recently wrote to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling on the Biden administration to rescind its opposition to the law, saying detainees at the Elizabeth center have been treated poorly and the community is against holding immigrants there. “For nearly three decades, the [Elizabeth Detention Center] has faced lawsuits, complaints, and media reports alleging inhumane conditions, including physical and verbal assault and poor medical and sanitary conditions,” Rep. Rob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “With this ruling, immigrants detained at the EDC will continue to be at risk of the shameful conditions that have stained this facility and harmed our community members.” CoreCivic Director of Public Affairs Ryan Gustin welcomed the judge’s ruling. “CoreCivic plays a valued but limited role in America’s immigration system, which we have done for every administration — Democrat and Republican — for nearly 40 years, including more than 20 years at Elizabeth Detention Center,” Gustin said in a statement. “Our sole job has been and continues to be to help the government solve problems in ways it could not do alone — to help manage unprecedented humanitarian crises, dramatically improve the standard of care for vulnerable people, and meet critical public safety needs efficiently and innovatively.” As of Monday, there were 235 immigrant detainees at the Elizabeth facility, according to ICE spokesperson Emilio Dabul. Elizabeth is one of the largest and most diverse cities in the state, with nearly half of its population being foreign born, according to U.S. Census data. The bill passed the Legislature along party lines. State Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), who was the top sponsor of the bill while he was in the Assembly, condemned the court’s opinion. “We don’t need ICE in New Jersey and I’m shocked the federal court is stripping us of our right to opt out of their unAmerican, inhumane immigration policies,” he said in a statement. ICE and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Exclusive: Smuggler with ties to ISIS helped migrants enter US from Mexico, raising alarm bells across government
The FBI is investigating more than a dozen migrants from Uzbekistan and other countries allowed into the US after they sought asylum at the southern border with Mexico earlier this year, a scramble set off when US intelligence officials found that the migrants traveled with the help of a smuggler with ties to ISIS, according to multiple US officials. While the FBI says no specific ISIS plot has been identified, officials are still working to “identify and assess” all of the individuals who gained entry to the United States, according to a statement from National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson. And they are closely scrutinizing a number of the migrants as possible criminal threats, according to two US officials. Though there is no evidence at this point to justify detaining anyone, the episode was so alarming that an urgent classified intelligence report was circulated to President Joe Biden’s top Cabinet officials in their morning briefing book. For some counterterrorism officials, it shows that the US is deeply vulnerable to the possibility that terrorists could sneak across the southern border by hiding amid the surge of migrants entering the country in search of asylum. The incident kicked off a flurry of urgent meetings among top national security and administration officials at a time when Republicans have hammered Biden on the security of the southern border heading into the 2024 campaign. Staff on key congressional committees have been informed of the incident, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Earlier this year, a cohort of migrants from Uzbekistan requested asylum and were screened by the Department of Homeland Security, part of a rising number of asylum seekers who have traveled to the US from Central Asia in recent years. There was no information in any of the intelligence community’s databases that raised any red flags and the people were all released into the US pending a court date. It was only later, when the FBI learned about the existence of a human smuggling network helping foreign nationals travel to the US – and that this network included at least one individual with connections to ISIS – that national security officials put the pieces together. FBI agents around the country immediately rushed to try to locate the migrants and investigate their backgrounds. The bureau also worked with Turkish authorities, who arrested the smuggler and other members of his network at the behest of the US, and has subsequently obtained information from him to aid its investigation, US officials said. “There was no indication—and remains no indication—that any of the individuals facilitated by this network have a connection to a foreign terrorist organization or are engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in the United States,” Watson said in a statement to CNN. Since the intelligence became available, homeland security officials also began detaining, vetting and, ultimately, expediting the removal of other migrants encountered at the southern border who “fit the profile associated with individuals who were facilitated by this network,” Watson said. The ISIS-linked smuggler is not believed to be a member of the terror group, but more like an independent contractor who has personal sympathies with the organization, according to US officials. The intelligence community now believes it is unlikely that he was assisting these individuals at the behest of ISIS. Most are believed to be seeking a better life in the United States. For some Biden administration officials, the episode is an example of the system working as it should: intelligence came to light about a particular group of migrants and the US responded with an investigation determining that they did not pose a threat. “While the FBI has not identified a specific terrorism plot associated with foreign nationals who recently entered the United States at the southern border, we always work with our field offices across the country, as well as our domestic and international partners, to identify any potential illegal activity or terrorism threats,” the FBI said in a statement to CNN. But the US has not yet located all of the individuals who traveled as part of the network, according to Watson’s statement. And more than 15 of the migrants tracked down are still under scrutiny by the FBI as possible criminal threats, according to one US official. Some law enforcement and intelligence officials privately expressed concerns that an unusual increase in the number of migrants from Central Asia, a region that isn’t known to be a major source of refugees, didn’t spark more investigation by US border authorities. “We continually assess our security architecture to ensure that we are best poised to respond to threats to the homeland,” Watson said in her statement to CNN. “Moreover, we will continue to constantly recalibrate our screening, vetting, and processing of those encountered entering the United States to ensure that we are taking into account the most up-to-date information at our disposal and with an unyielding commitment to protecting Americans and the homeland from the full range of potential threats.” Watson also said in her statement that the US is working with foreign partners to shut down travel routes associated with the smuggling network. In a statement to CNN, an official from the Turkish Embassy in Washington said that Turkey had arrested four members of a smuggling ring that, the official said, the US had told Turkey aided the travel of Uzbeks, Russians, Chechens and Georgians residing in Turkey to the United States. The Turkish official denied that there was a connection between any of the four arrested individuals and ISIS. A senior administration official suggested that Turkey did not have access to the same intelligence as the US about the smuggler’s links to ISIS. “Working with partners, the US can’t always share the full scope of the information picture. We appreciate Turkey’s cooperation,” the official said. A DHS spokesperson told CNN that the department along with its “counterterrorism, and law enforcement partners screen and vet individuals prior to their entry to the United States to prevent anyone known to pose a threat from entering the country. DHS continually monitors all available sources of intelligence and information related to potential threats and if any new information emerges, we work closely with the FBI and other partners to take appropriate action.” Terrorism and the border The episode sits squarely at the nexus of two of the thorniest and most politically fraught security challenges facing the Biden administration: terrorism and the border. Biden has grappled with how to prevent terror attacks on the US homeland at a time when the intelligence community and the military have shifted many of their resources away from counterterrorism in favor of threats from China and Russia. Administration officials have also grappled with limited resources as they face a growing number of migrants at the US southern border. Migration patterns to the United States have changed dramatically in recent years, with people arriving to the United States from more than 150 countries – the result, officials say, of unprecedented mass migration around the world. In July, border authorities encountered more than 183,000 migrants at the US southern border, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. Both the Biden and Trump administrations have been forced to wrestle with similar cases of suspected terrorists trying to enter the country at the southern border. But the number of individuals encountered at the border with records in the terror watchlist in a given year is extremely small and represents a very small percentage of the total number of known or suspected terrorists who try to enter or travel to the US through other means. When USCBP officers process migrants at the border, they take biometrics, like fingerprints and facial scans, and run individuals through certain law enforcement databases for any red flags. Migrants arriving at the US southern border from central Asia may trigger additional screening because of the distance and cost required to take the journey, according to a former senior DHS official, which raises questions about why an individual from that part of the world would choose to cross at the US southern border. But if there is no so-called derogatory information about a person in US databases, then the migrant is released pending a court date. Although some asylum seekers do not appear for their court date, officials say that US law enforcement has surveillance tools at its disposal to locate those individuals in the United States. It’s not clear whether this particular group of migrants received secondary screening at the time, but it’s possible – even likely – that they did. But because officials believe the Turkish smuggler was acting as a run-of-the-mill human smuggler, not an agent of ISIS, it’s not clear that they would have been detained or in any other way handled differently even if the government had known about his role at the time they were processed. For some intelligence and law enforcement officials who spoke privately to CNN, that’s part of the problem. The US government has to figure out how to define who is and who isn’t a threat in a murky world where criminal activity like human smuggling is often commingled with amorphous connections to terrorism organizations. It is particularly difficult to disentangle those threads for desperate migrants fleeing countries where terror groups routinely recruit and operate. Speaking at a July congressional hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “From the FBI’s perspective, that we are seeing all sorts of very serious, very serious, criminal threats that come from across the border.” Wray said the southern border was becoming “more of a priority” for the FBI. Some intelligence officials who viewed the intelligence report sent around earlier this month worry that ISIS may shift its tactics to target the southern border, long a bogeyman on the political right but one that intelligence officials say has yet to become a reality. For other officials, the intelligence reporting to top policymakers was better described as an appropriately cautious response by a responsible government – a warning describing the theoretical risk to the United States so that national security agencies could understand the threat and determine how best to harden American defenses. “Whenever we have indicators that criminal actors – such as those involved in human smuggling – have connections to terrorism, we work diligently with our partners to investigate and understand how foreign terrorist organizations may attempt to exploit their capabilities so that we can best mitigate any risk to the American public,” the FBI said in its statement. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Immigrants are joining the U.S. workforce at much higher levels than normal. They're likely to account for roughly half a million new jobs over the next three quarters, per a new report from Goldman Sachs. Why it matters: As the U.S. continues to struggle with a historically-tight labor market, immigrants are coming to the rescue of desperate employers — while also creating new jobs themselves. By the numbers: Between the pre-pandemic month of January 2020 and July 2023, the immigrant labor force grew by 9.5%. That compares to a tiny 1.5% growth rate among the native-born. Between the lines: The foreign-born labor force is growing for three main reasons. Immigration: The rate at which the U.S. is giving out visas — both temporary work visas and permanent green cards — has risen by about 335,000 workers per year over the past 12 months, to a level near record highs. That's partly because the government has successfully begun to clear the backlog of more than 500,000 visa applications that built up over the course of the pandemic. Participation: More of those immigrants are working. The foreign-born labor force participation rate has jumped by 2.3 percentage points to 67% over the past two years. By contrast, the native-born rate has risen by a meagre 0.4 points, to 62.2%. Demographics: The great retirement of the Boomer generation is taking place mainly among the native-born — most immigrant workers aren't yet facing retirement. As a result, millions of new native-born workers need to enter the workforce every year just to keep the total native-born labor force constant, let alone growing. What they're saying: "The foreign-born labor force has made a disproportionate contribution to reducing the jobs-workers gap," writes Goldman economist Tim Krupa. In normal times, he calculates, the unemployment rate holds steady when employment grows at about 75,000 workers per month. Thanks to immigrants, however, the U.S. can currently absorb some 125,000 new jobs per month without driving unemployment even lower. The bottom line: Immigrants: We get the job done. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
ALBANY, N.Y. — The Biden administration pushed back Monday at criticism that it hasn’t done enough to help New York address its migrant crisis, citing two dozen areas where the city can strengthen its migrant operations. Two letters obtained by POLITICO were sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams on Monday from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in response to the city and state’s concerns over not getting more help from the federal government. Mayorkas mentioned structural and operational issues found during a week-long assessment of the city’s operations starting on Aug. 7, but didn’t give specifics, saying the recommendations would be first shared Monday with the city. “The structural issues include governance and organization of the migrant operations, including issues of authority, structure, personnel, and information flow,” Mayorkas wrote. “The operational issues include the subjects of data collection, planning, case management, communications, and other aspects of day-to-day operations.” An official familiar with the recommendations to the city said it includes improving data collection at intake, better communication with the migrants and bolstering information for the migrants regarding their ability to apply for work authorization and the need to apply for asylum. “We are hopeful that our recommendations will equip the city to take additional steps to improve the migrant operations and maximize the value of our continued partnership and your support,” Mayorkas added. The letters come after Hochul took to the podium last week saying the crisis “originated with the federal government, and it must be resolved with the federal government.” In her address and in a letter to the Biden administration, Hochul requested they identify federally owned land and sites to use as temporary shelters for the roughly 100,000 asylum-seekers that landed in New York City this year. In response, Mayorkas said the Biden administration provided access to a hangar at John F. Kennedy Airport and identified 11 federal sites across the state to house migrants as the city faces an influx of 100,000 asylum-seekers over the past year that has strained city services. “We look forward to hearing from the city and state on the viability of these sites,” he said in his letter to Hochul. In addition, he pointed to a lease for the temporary use of Floyd Bennett Field to house migrants. He said a lease was sent to the city and state on Aug. 21, by the Department of Interior and a team has been discussing the lease in person. “DOI seeks to finalize that lease as soon as you are ready,” he said. Avi Small, a spokesperson for the governor, told POLITICO that many of the sites proposed by the federal government have been far away from New York City, where migrants are located. He noted the state is ready to move forward with the lease for Floyd Bennett Field, but referred to City Hall as to why it has not been signed yet. “As Governor Hochul has repeatedly said, this crisis will only abate once the federal government takes action on work authorization and allows migrants to be resettled permanently, and we look forward to learning additional details from the Department of Homeland Security during today’s briefing,” Small said to POLITICO. As for the operational and structural concerns, Small referred to a letter from Hochul’s attorney sent out earlier this month detailing concerns in the city’s efforts. For its part, the city said it was pleased to see the federal government more engaged in its plight. “But New Yorkers deserve the facts, so let’s be clear: Our requests from the federal government remain the same, and quite frankly, unaddressed,” Adams spokesperson Kayla Mamelak said in a statement. Among the requests include “a decompression strategy at the border,” expedited work authorizations for asylum-seekers and the declaration of a state of emergency to get more federal aid to the city, which has spent $1.7 billion on programs and services. The city said it has already opened more than 200 sites, but a review found that 2,800 that were not useable as shelters. “Today’s conversation also did not address the situation on the ground where thousands of asylum seekers continue to arrive in our city with no end in sight,” Mamelak added. In regards to the calls by Hochul to “let them work,” Mayorkas said his department is aware of the need to issue work authorization in a timely manner and is considering changes to make the process faster. But, he did note that there are statutory constraints that hinder these efforts. A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said a specific statutory constraint holding up the process is the 150-day waiting period required before asylum-seekers can apply for a work permit. That’s along with an additional 30 days of waiting before they can receive an employment authorization document. “We are exploring all options available to improve operational efficiency, including through additional staffing and technology improvements to streamline case processing, as well as improved methods of communicating information about the employment authorization process with noncitizens,” Mayorkas said. Includes reporting by Emily Ngo. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
A Texas National Guard member shot and wounded a man along the Rio Grande in the El Paso area Saturday evening, firing across the border into Mexican territory, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the shooting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it. Sign up for Fact Checker, our weekly review of what's true, false or in-between in politics. The soldier was deployed as part of Operation Lone Star, the border security mobilization directed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that has lined the Rio Grande with U.S. troops, concertina wire and other impediments in an effort to reduce illegal crossings. The Texas Military Department, which oversees the National Guard, said Monday that a soldier at the border had “discharged a weapon” and that the incident was under investigation. “More information will be made available as the investigation progresses,” the department said in a statement. Ericka Miller, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the shooting is also being investigated by the Texas Rangers, the state’s investigative police agency. ADVERTISING Shooting incidents in which U.S. forces fire into Mexican territory are generally rare, although prominent Republicans, including several 2024 presidential candidates, have called for escalating U.S. military force against criminal organizations on the Mexican side of the border. News accounts in Mexico identified the wounded man as a Mexican migrant who was attempting to reach the United States from Ciudad Juárez when he was struck by gunfire from U.S. authorities. The man is in stable condition, according to the accounts. Before a child died in U.S. custody, CBP tried to replace medical contractor Mexico’s Foreign Ministry has not addressed the incident, and officials there did not immediately respond to a request for comment. U.S. Border Patrol agents were not involved in the shooting, according to two Customs and Border Protection officials. According to one of the CBP officials, who was briefed on what happened, the Texas Guard member opened fire after three men on the Mexican side of the border started attacking a group of migrants with a knife as the migrants attempted to cross the river. “One of the bandits was trying to stab the migrants, and that’s when the National Guard fired,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident. The official said details are hazy. Share this article Share While it is extremely unusual for U.S. personnel to fire a weapon into Mexico, the soldier’s use of force would probably be justified if the lives of the migrants were in immediate danger, the official said. Criminal gangs typically charge hundreds of dollars to migrants seeking to cross into the United States, and the gangsters enforce their toll collection system with lethal violence. Adam Isacson, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy organization, said it is rare for a U.S. soldier on U.S. soil to discharge their weapon against a civilian. “This is not something you’d want to see become normalized, and they’re really going to have to prove there was an imminent risk of a loss of life or serious injury,” Isacson said. He noted it was the second time this year that Texas National Guard personnel assigned to Operation Lone Star have shot someone. The other incident occurred in the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas on Jan. 15. Soldiers confronted a group of migrants in an abandoned house. One man suffered a gunshot wound after a struggle, but the injuries weren’t life-threatening, according to the Associated Press. Biden's asylum rules reduced border crossings. But are they legal? The U.S. Border Patrol was involved in six cross-border shootings between 2010 and 2012, but the agency has not had an incident since then, Isacson said. Abbott, a fierce critic of President Biden’s immigration policies, has directed $4 billion in state funds to Operation Lone Star. Immigrant advocacy organizations and some Democrats say the governor’s campaign relies on brutal tactics that put migrants at greater risk of harm. The Biden administration is suing to force Texas to remove a floating barrier system Abbott has installed in the Rio Grande to block migrants from wading or swimming across the river. Republican presidential candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have repeatedly pledged to take even more aggressive measures along the border, including sending troops into Mexico to pursue drug traffickers and criminal groups. Mexican officials have said such actions would be tantamount to an invasion by the United States of its top trade partner. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
THE U.S. BORDER Patrol has been detaining asylum-seekers outdoors in a deadly corner of the Arizona desert for the better part of a year — significantly longer than was previously known — according to photos, video, and interviews conducted by The Intercept. The practice was one of several described by concerned officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, who say that their agency is a flouting a federal court order mandating the humane treatment of migrants. In July, amid a lethal and record-setting heatwave, The Intercept captured photos of roughly 50 migrants caged in an outdoor pen at the Border Patrol’s Ajo Station, deep in the Sonoran Desert two hours west of Tucson. The high temperature that day was 114 degrees. According to CBP officials who are based in the state and have direct knowledge of the situation, the caging was no isolated incident: Supervisors at the remote station have been using the pen, as well as other exposed areas, since at least last winter to detain large numbers of people in extreme cold as well as extreme heat. “This has been going on for a long time,” one of the officials told The Intercept. “Management is forcing us to violate these things that they should have — basic human necessities.” Since 2020, the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector has been under a “permanent injunction” following a class-action lawsuit revealing that migrants, including women and children, in custody in Southern Arizona were systematically held in deplorable conditions. Under the injunction, the Border Patrol is legally obligated to provide anyone in custody for more than 48 hours with a bed and blanket, showers, adequate food, potable water, medical assessments, and more. Agents sign paperwork acknowledging that they have read and will abide by the order. In a moment of dire humanitarian need, CBP’s use of the outdoor pen reflects deeper problems at the Border Patrol’s Ajo outpost, the officials said, one that’s rooted in a lack of foresight or acknowledgment of the life-or-death urgency inherent in the desert. In July alone, the Office of the Pima County Medical Examiner, whose remit is within the Tucson Sector’s jurisdiction, cataloged the recovery of 44 sets of migrant remains in Southern Arizona — the third highest monthly total in a decade and a half — including 22 people who died a day before being found. The CBP officials interviewed by The Intercept recounted the same specifics and timing of the detention conditions at the Ajo Border Patrol station. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press. To corroborate their claims, the sources provided photos and video of conditions both from within the station and on the border itself. The Intercept is withholding publication of those images, which feature the faces of scores of people — including men, women, and children — to protect their privacy. The CBP officials stressed that by failing to provide the humanitarian resources needed for an influx of asylum-seekers, the Border Patrol has made it impossible for agents in Arizona to abide by the federal injunction mandating the humane treatment of noncitizens in U.S. custody. “What we’re doing now is a disgrace,” one official said. “We need full-blown infrastructure down here. We need mobile command centers and tents and air conditioning and caregivers and EMTs down on the border.” They added: “If we got an EMT on shift, we’re lucky. There’s just nothing being flooded in.” “These people should have warmth in the wintertime and shade, at the very least, in the summertime.” CBP did not respond to a list of questions from The Intercept concerning conditions at the Ajo station. While apprehensions have recently dipped elsewhere on the border, that has not been the case in Arizona, where the Tucson Sector has become the busiest in the nation — not to mention the most lethal. In July, agents in Southern Arizona recorded nearly 34,000 apprehensions: a 28 percent increase compared to last year. Tucson Sector Deputy Chief Justin DeLaTorre told local outlet AZPM News that while most 2022 apprehensions involved single adult men, this year, nearly half are families. DeLaTorre added that roughly 80 percent of the people taken into custody turn themselves in — typically to seek asylum, a right enshrined under domestic and international law, including for those who cross the border without authorization. “If you’re taking people into custody, you’re the custodians. You’re taking away their ability to protect themselves, the ability to provide for themselves. You are accepting that you are going to do that, and they believe you’re going to do that,” one official who spoke to The Intercept said. “These people should have warmth in the wintertime and shade, at the very least, in the summertime.” The denial of either was “reprehensible,” they said, and yet, that’s precisely what’s been happening. Demonstrators protest outside the Ajo Border Patrol station in Ajo, Arizona, US, on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. The protest was organized in response to a report from The Intercept that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was holding migrants outdoors in a chain-link pen amid a record-setting heatwave last month. Photographer: Rebecca Noble/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesDemonstrators protest in response to a report from The Intercept outside the Ajo Border Patrol station in Ajo, Ariz., on Aug. 13, 2023. Photo: Rebecca Noble/Bloomberg via Getty Images “Deprived of Basic Human Necessities” Border Patrol supervisors at the Ajo station began using an outdoor pen to cage asylum-seekers last winter, the officials said, when nighttime temperatures plummeted to near freezing. Initially, the pen included a tent. Men, women, and children would cram themselves on top of one another for warmth, while others huddled together and shivered outside. The tent was soon disassembled, however, because agents could not see inside. People were left to fend for themselves against the elements. “A lot of these guys, they don’t have jackets. They don’t have cold-weather gear,” the first official said. On certain shifts, agents were directed to take the jackets people did have and replace them with Mylar emergency blankets. “Can you imagine?” the official asked. “We’re stripping them of their jackets and their hoodies in December, January, February, and then we’re handing them a Mylar blanket and telling them, ‘There you go. Hang out outside.’ Because somebody believes that these families from India are going to stab us through their jacket or something insane.” MOST READ Georgia GOP Gears Up to Remove Atlanta Prosecutor Who Indicted Donald Trump Akela Lacy No One Knows How Many Americans Are Imprisoned in Pakistan’s Crackdown on Dissent Murtaza Hussain NSA Orders Employees to Spy on the World “With Dignity and Respect” Ken Klippenstein In time, some asylum-seekers developed a preference for heavy-duty garbage bags over the Mylar blankets and would wrap themselves in those instead. “That’s the kind of laughable thing about the brilliance of the Border Patrol, or the stupidity,” the official said, “is they actually created a situation where now you need an emergency blanket. You’re now in an emergency, and the only thing they’re going to give you is an emergency blanket. This just keeps going on and on with stuff like this.” Throughout the winter, the number of people in the pen would swell into the hundreds, added the second CBP official. The station set up an outdoor heater, but it did little good. The pen is “totally exposed to the desert air,” the official said. “Unless you are sitting directly in front of the heater, you’re not going to get warm. So that’s when you start to see all these aliens sitting out there, huddled up and they’re shivering, which is a bunch of bullshit.” Related Border Patrol Is Caging Migrants Outdoors During Deadly Arizona Heatwave Day and night, as winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer, asylum-seekers cycled through the pen. “The thing that drove me crazy was the fact that it’s a rock area,” said a CBP official. “It’s fucking gravel, and it’s fairly hefty gravel. It’s not even fine gravel. They just gotta lay in there. It’s insane.” Given the rough ground and the scalding rocks, cushioning of any kind was in high demand among migrants. The scarps of cardboard that agents use to pass out food became a valued commodity. “I’ve literally seen guys get into these squabbling fights over the cardboard,” the official said. “It’s wild.” An arch over the pen provided a strip of shade that moved with the sun, hardly enough to provide relief to the swelling crowds. “Most of the shade that it provides gets cast way outside that fenced-in area,” the official said. “So they just get hit with the sunlight.” Following The Intercept’s publication of photos depicting the pen last month, the Border Patrol stretched a shade cloth over the enclosure and hung white sheeting around its perimeter. “It just blows my mind that it took all winter and damn near half the summer just to go out there and just lay a tarp across that outdoor pen,” one CBP official said. The Ajo station has ample shaded area for Border Patrol vehicles, they noted. “How come all these vehicles are getting fucking shade, but these migrants don’t?” the official asked. “Who cares if the paint fades or if the car’s really hot to get into?” they said. The material damage to a truck, they argued, would pale in comparison to the loss of human life due to heat stroke. “How come all these vehicles are getting fucking shade, but these migrants don’t?” According to the officials who spoke to The Intercept, some agents were fine with the outdoor caging, making comments like, “That’s what they get for coming here illegally.” That indifference was not universal. “They have normal rights just like any other person,” said one official. “You can’t just take them and just have them out there shivering all fucking night in the dark.” A second official agreed. “I don’t like seeing people freeze,” they said. “I don’t care how they got here.” “There’s a lot of people that are really pissed off about what’s going on,” they added. “We’re all actually in shock. It’s kind of like a bad relationship. You think you’re going to come to work the next day and things will be a little better, and they never are.” The growing numbers of asylum-seekers turning themselves in, the clear commands of the federal injunction that agents vowed to uphold, and the plainly dangerous conditions at the station became a subject of concern at muster, the routine pre-shift meetings where the rank and file receive their marching orders from station supervisors. Agents wanted to know who signed off on plans to detain people outside and how those plans were consistent with the injunction they swore to follow. “The personal liability risk is real,” one official said. “And there’s nobody answering these questions.” The official noted that the court order pertains to indoor detention practices. “I don’t know if any of this stuff is OK for outside detention,” they said. The injunction specifically calls for CBP’s comportment with detention industry standards, they added, and prohibits the depravation of basic human necessities. “They’re kept outside in a cage with no shade. No walls. On a rock ground,” the official said. “I’m pretty sure they’re being deprived of basic human necessities.” Why, Ariz. 7/20/23: roughly 50 migrants held outside at the Ajo Border Patrol Station during record breaking heatwave in Why, Ariz. on Thursday, July 20, 2023. (Ash Ponders for The The Intercept)Migrants are held outside at the Ajo Border Patrol Station in Why, Ariz., on July 20, 2023. Photo: Ash Ponders for The The Intercept “A Disaster in There” Despite the concerns raised by agents, supervisors at the Ajo station stayed the course amid deadly heat and, more recently, torrential monsoon rains. While individual experiences may vary, it is not uncommon for asylum-seekers, particularly men, to spend hours exposed to the elements, the officials told The Intercept. “They’d probably be there for anywhere from a few hours, up to a whole damn day,” said one. “They’d definitely be out there overnight. They’d get there at like noon to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and they probably wouldn’t fuckin’ leave there until sunup the next day.” The pen has a music festival-style outdoor sink and porta-potties, though the latter is far from sanitary. “Sometimes you can’t even get within like 15 feet, or you’ll fucking throw up — I mean not literally, but you’ll start gagging,” said one official. “And these people got to go take a dump in there.” Another official added: “I’ve never seen outhouses with water that close to spilling over with shit and piss. They can’t get the company to come and clean them daily.” “I’ve never seen outhouses with water that close to spilling over with shit and piss.” Conditions inside the station are similarly grim. “It’s a disaster in there,” one CBP official said. “They’re overcrowded to the point where they can’t give them all mats.” The provision of mats is one of the requirements of the injunction against CBP. Prohibitions on overcrowding and sleeping on or near toilets are also listed. “I’ve seen the cells so full that people are literally laying shoulder to shoulder, head to toe next to somebody else, and they’re all wrapped in Mylar blankets,” one CBP official said. “When you see so many people wrapped in Mylar blankets that the whole floor looks like a mirror, that’s an issue. And it goes all the way back into the toilets sometimes. They’re sleeping back in and around the toilet areas.” Medical assessments are also required under the court order. There too, the officials said, CBP is failing to meet its obligations under the law. The problem stems from a sea change in the demographics of asylum-seekers in recent years, from almost entirely Spanish speakers hailing from a predictable roster of Latin American nations, to people from all over the world arriving by the hundreds in large groups every day. “Any day of the week you’re encountering at least five different languages, sometimes up to maybe 10,” one official said. “There’s no way to accurately do the medical questionnaires. You can’t possibly have 600 people at the station with another 300 waiting to come in and do medical questionnaires for people in seven different languages.” The large numbers and the linguistic diversity create a processing bottleneck, they said, as does a lack of familiarity with the U.S. intake system among asylum-seekers themselves. While a Mexican or Honduran asylum-seeker — thanks to the experiences of loved ones or acquaintances in years past — may know that the Border Patrol will seize their personal items and pack accordingly, an asylum-seeker from India, China, or Cameroon, may not. “These are groups that are coming with full suitcases,” the official said. “It’s like you’re going through their dresser drawer.” Like the seasons of Southern Arizona, fluctuation in global migration trends can be planned for with a bit of effort, but in the case of the Ajo station, that clearly hasn’t happened. “It’s foreseeable stuff,” the CBP official said. “They knew this was coming. They knew it was out there. They said, ‘There’s all these people waiting to get in.’ And it’s like, OK, where’s the tents? Where’s the plan? Where’s the cohesion?” Demonstrators protest outside the Ajo Border Patrol station in Ajo, Arizona, US, on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. The protest was organized in response to a report from The Intercept that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was holding migrants outdoors in a chain-link pen amid a record-setting heatwave last month. Photographer: Rebecca Noble/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesDemonstrators protest outside the Ajo Border Patrol station in Ajo, Ariz., on Aug. 13, 2023. Photo: Rebecca Noble/Bloomberg via Getty Images “Time in Detention Is Being Skewed” Outside the walls of the Ajo station, on the border itself, conditions are even more dire. Large numbers of asylum-seekers arrive at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, two large tracts of public land that run along the border. Guided by smugglers in Mexico, they appear at all hours of the day but especially at night. A photo shared by the chief of the Tucson Sector earlier this month purported to show the largest of several groups detained one weekend, compromised of more than 500 people from 17 different countries. How such groups are received can vary widely, one CBP official explained. “From one shift to the next, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing,” they said. “There’s no coordinated effort most of the time.” Some agents will order asylum-seekers to stay where they are until vehicles can pick them up, others will encourage them to turn back. “There’s a rift in the station,” the official said of the divided approach. For large groups, the wait at the border often takes hours, and the time is spent in some of the most remote and deadliest terrain in North America. “There’s no tents. There’s no shelter. There’s nothing out there for them,” the official said. “You would think the Border Patrol would have a designated guy bringing water down there. That doesn’t always happen. One shift might, but the next shift might not, so they can be down there without water for a long time.” Given the lethality of the landscape, some agents are inclined to implore asylum-seekers, particularly men, who are likely to wait the longest, to leave. “Get the heck out of here — don’t wait here in the desert to die,” the official said, describing the sentiment of what agents might tell the men. “But not everybody believes that.” The encounters at the border create yet another concern when it comes to CBP’s injunction. While the order pertains to actions the agency is required to take after a person has been in custody for 48 hours, people are often being told to stay put by U.S. government officials for many hours — in some cases, up to a day or more — without any resources, but that time isn’t being counted as official “detention.” “The time in detention is being skewed,” the official said. “They don’t start the clock the moment they’re encountered and detained.” MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 23: A Guatemalan father and his daughter arrives with dozens of other women, men and their children at a bus station following release from Customs and Border Protection on June 23, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Once families and individuals are released and given a court hearing date they are brought to the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center to rest, clean up, enjoy a meal and to get guidance to their next destination. Before President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that halts the practice of separating families who are seeking asylum, over 2,300 immigrant children had been separated from their parents in the zero-tolerance policy for border crossers (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Read Our Complete Coverage The War on Immigrants It is just one more example of the system breaking down, they argued, and failing vulnerable people caught in a dangerous situation. “I think a lot of these people probably have a legitimate claim to asylum,” the official said. “There’s a lot of reason to believe that.” The dozens of human remains found in the Arizona desert last month were a fraction of the more than 4,000 the medical examiner in Tucson has logged in the past two-and-a-half decades, which are themselves a fraction of the unknowable total of lives lost across the border in recent years. In the face of that grim reality, people keep coming from more and more places around the world. The U.S. government, meanwhile, appears unwilling to adapt with the times. “It’s just completely unmanageable,” said the CBP official. “I know that the border has been open, wide open, for a long time, but as far as the humanity of what we’re seeing with these people, I never seen anything like it.” “We can bring eight buses down there, but the smugglers are just going to bring eight semi-trailers full of people,” they said. “At some point, there has to be acknowledgment that we do not have the resources to do this humanely.” For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
At almost any migrant shelter in New York it's easy to see men — sitting on curbs or park benches — waiting. Eddie is one of those people, sitting under a highway overpass, eating a lunch of rice and chicken. He asked that his last name be withheld, because he says he's fleeing violence between armed groups in Colombia. Eddie wants to apply for asylum but more immediately, he just wants to work. Like so many migrants, he keeps getting asked for work papers. The fact that he doesn't have them, he says, keeps him up at night. Sponsor Message It's not just Eddie who wants Eddie to work. Lawmakers around the country have been pressing the federal government to expedite work papers for asylum-seekers. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul last Thursday publicly criticized the Biden administration for lack of action on immigration. Her remarks echoed those of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who said recently, "We must expedite work authorization for asylum-seekers, not in the future, but now." Adams has been one of the loudest voices on the matter: New York has received around 100,000 migrants seeking shelter. Chicago and Boston — also recipients of thousands of people — have joined the request. Where did the workers go? Construction jobs are plentiful, but workers are scarce ECONOMY Where did the workers go? Construction jobs are plentiful, but workers are scarce Business leaders are also desperate for more work permits. "I don't think there's a single person who can't think of a situation in the last six months where they walked into a business and it wasn't understaffed," says Scott Grams, executive director of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. Grams recently signed a petition, along with over 120 other businesses leaders, asking President Biden to expedite work permits for industries where there are labor shortages: manufacturing, farm work and hospitality just to name a few. "Outside of periods of crushing recessions, labor is always our biggest challenge," Grams says. "It's been frustrating for him to watch thousands of migrants arrive in Chicago, and just wait for permission to work." Sponsor Message Anyone who has tried and failed to get a landscaper to call them back in the spring, he says, now knows the reason why. Giving migrants easier access to work permits, adds Grams, would also push him to create more jobs for U.S. citizens. If he had the labor force to take on more projects he could "hire an account manager, a production manager, a construction supervisor, a designer. Hire more domestic workers." America's Farms Are Facing A Serious Labor Shortage CONSIDER THIS FROM NPR America's Farms Are Facing A Serious Labor Shortage Despite all the enthusiasm for quicker work permits, there's a lot of entrenched obstacles. The application process, for one, can be incredibly confusing. "Not everyone understands how to navigate the immigration process as soon as they get here," says Conchita Cruz, co-executive director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. Take someone like Eddie — the Colombian migrant sitting under the highway overpass. He has a year to figure out how to submit an asylum application, which he says he finds daunting. He has to tackle that while also figuring out what he'll do in 60 days when he can no longer stay at a shelter. Given the current situation in New York, it's likely he'll have a hard time finding a lawyer to help him. "That's what a lot of the backup is," says human rights law professor Susan Gzesh from the University of Chicago. "The pro-bono panels are staffed. Nonprofits, all sorts of volunteers, are really at capacity." Once Eddie applies, he has to wait another 150 days to submit a work permit application and then another 30 days to get approved. Eddie is at the very least facing half a year without legal permission to work. This is the norm, Cruz says. "It does take at least six months, if not significantly longer, to get a work permit." That, she says, can have a massive impact on migrants themselves. "A lot of the asylum-seekers who are coming to the United States are parents of young kids. They have a family to support. And work permits are not just a path to getting a job, but in the United States, they really unlock a number of things like a driver's license; the ability to access health care insurance — things that American citizens take for granted." Sponsor Message There is proposed legislation to expedite work permits for asylum-seekers. But experts say, Congress is just too divided to pass it. That legislation wouldn't address one of the major problems in getting work permits approved quicker: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, funded by Congress, is completely backed up. "They just don't have enough staff to do it," Cruz says. "Some of these backlogs are now many years old. So they're backlogs that existed even before COVID. There was a huge slowdown in processing during the Trump administration. " There are also difficult questions around fairness, says Muzaffar Chishti, a director at the Migration Policy Institute. There are around 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., many who've been here for decades and have no way to get a work authorization. "So to say these recent arrivals have more privilege than them, is an equity issue that is difficult to argue." In a statement to NPR, the Department of Homeland Security said it continues to "call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform." There are, however, some things the president could do on his own. He could extend TPS — temporary protected status — to more people. That allows people to apply for work permits faster. He could grant humanitarian parole to more people, although his efforts to do so are currently on trial. And he could also tell Immigration Services to prioritize work permits. Even then, backlogs would be an issue. Taking any of these actions could be too much of a political hot potato, especially with an election on the horizon. "I think that they are very cautious about doing anything that could be characterized as an incentive for more unauthorized migration," says professor Gzesh. The application process for work authorization takes so long that many migrants have started working without papers, at high-risk, low-pay jobs like food delivery. Jasmine Garsd/NPR Meanwhile, without the ability to legally work, many migrants are being pushed into the underground economy. Angel, from Venezuela, is also hoping to apply for asylum. He asked that his last name be withheld. One reason: He's renting out someone's identity, so that he can work delivering food. He says he asked around for work "but they ask you for a Social Security number, an ID, so many things I don't have. So I just rent an account out and can work in peace. It's the most logical move for people like us, without papers." Sponsor Message Angel works around 12 hours a day. A significant portion of what he makes goes to the person he rents his online profile from. What's left is not a lot. It goes mostly to his family back home. It's better than nothing — but barely enough. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Monday, August 28, 2023
An Afghan woman evacuated to the U.S. finds herself stuck in a system called Humanitarian Parole. What is it, and what does it mean for her future? Sponsor Message AYESHA RASCOE, HOST: It's been nearly two years since the U.S. withdrew all troops from Afghanistan. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Deadly scenes of panic at the airport. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Thousands of Afghans now scrambling to get out. RASCOE: And as some Afghans were evacuated to the U.S., many had to navigate a complicated immigration system - specifically humanitarian parole. Journalist Lauren DeLaunay Miller brings us a story of one woman stuck in that system. LAUREN DELAUNAY MILLER, BYLINE: Mina Bakhshi's evacuation from Kabul involved a long bus ride in the middle of the night, two flights and 16 weeks spent in three different refugee staging areas. But when Mina finally arrived at a military base in New Jersey in October of 2021, she was asked a question that she hadn't been asked before - what is your case number? MINA BAKHSHI: And I said, I literally don't know what you're talking about, and I don't think I have any case number. And that's when they told me that I'm a parolee. DELAUNAY MILLER: But what did that even mean? (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) BAKHSHI: We had lots of questions on our mind. Like, OK, when will we get our green card? How long will it take for us? Are we able to go to university? Or what are the benefits we'll get? And we were using the term, like, refugee for ourselves. But they were like, OK, it's parole. You should not expect to get your green card soon. DELAUNAY MILLER: The majority of Afghan refugees admitted to the U.S. since August of 2021 have arrived on a program called humanitarian parole. That's about 77,000 Afghans who believed they would be targets of the Taliban government - activists who had worked on behalf of women's rights or human rights, journalists, artists and university students and also young women like Mina who feared their lives would change dramatically under Taliban rule. In Afghanistan, Mina had been planning to go to university, and she was a mountain climber. When the Taliban took over, Mina couldn't see a future for herself anymore. She didn't know if she'd be able to attend university or to keep climbing because the Taliban didn't support education or sports for women and girls. So she fled. And Mina has now spent nearly two years in the U.S. on humanitarian parole. She identifies as a refugee, but unlike those with official refugee status, parolees' stay in the U.S. is temporary, and there's no guaranteed pathway to lawful permanent residency in the U.S. When I first met Mina last year and I learned about her evacuation, I'd never heard of parole. So I started to wonder - what is the purpose of parole? And where did it come from? I reached out to a historian to try and understand. CARL BON TEMPO: Carl Bon Tempo, associate professor of history at the University at Albany, SUNY. DELAUNAY MILLER: Carl has written extensively about the history of American immigration and refugee policy and how it's evolved over the course of the 20th century. And he told me that the history of parole begins over 60 years ago during the Cold War. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The Iron Curtain slammed down to block off all communication with the West. Hungary pays a shocking price for a brief moment of liberty and hope. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) DELAUNAY MILLER: During the Hungarian refugee crisis of 1956, 200,000 people left Hungary. It was the biggest refugee emergency in Europe since World War II. President Eisenhower's administration was eager to support refugees, but he was limited by America's own strict immigration quotas. Carl Bon Tempo again. BON TEMPO: The national origins quota immigration system said that you could only grant about 800 visas per year to people from Hungary. Eight hundred visas would do nothing to help tens of thousands of Hungarians. It's a literal drop in the bucket. What can the U.S. government do? The Eisenhower administration is searching around for a legal vehicle to bring the Hungarians to the United States. The vehicle they hit upon is the parole power. DELAUNAY MILLER: Buried in the 120-page immigration bill of 1952 was one provision, and this would change the American immigration system forever. BON TEMPO: The attorney general can admit individuals to the United States on an emergent basis, meaning that those individuals could bypass basically all of the immigration controls that were in place. DELAUNAY MILLER: Parole power was designed to provide wiggle room for emergencies. Lawmakers were aware that, sometimes, people would have to come to the U.S. quickly. BON TEMPO: Speed the entry of folks who might need, like, emergency medical care or something like that. And it was definitely seen as something that would be used on a case-by-case basis. DELAUNAY MILLER: But the Eisenhower administration interpreted that line as a way to grant emergency entry for tens of thousands of refugees. Within two years, it became clear that Hungarian refugees weren't returning to communist-controlled Hungary. In 1958, President Eisenhower asked Congress to pass the Hungarian Adjustment Act. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) DWIGHT D EISENHOWER: I request the Congress promptly to enact legislation to regularize the status in the United States of Hungarian refugees brought here as parolees. DELAUNAY MILLER: It would allow every Hungarian paroled into the U.S. a pathway to permanent residency and eventually citizenship. And that's how humanitarian parole got started - because President Eisenhower's team reinterpreted a line in an immigration bill to save Hungarians. And this happens a few more times. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: This was the scene of turmoil in the capital, Havana. DELAUNAY MILLER: Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, about a million Cubans came to the U.S. - most of them on parole. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: Those South Vietnamese not lucky enough to have been chosen for evacuation defied the curfew and stood outside the embassy gate, begging for a seat on the helicopters. DELAUNAY MILLER: And again, in 1975, after the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops during the fall of Saigon, about 170,000 Vietnamese entered the U.S. as parolees. BON TEMPO: And so this is the pattern then that is set. You parole the newcomers in, and then a few years after that, you pass an adjustment act that provides a pathway to permanent residence. DELAUNAY MILLER: But this ad hoc system for admitting refugees was disorganized, and legislators on both sides of the aisle wanted to formalize the process. So in 1980, Congress passed the Refugee Act to create a whole new refugee admission system separate from the immigration system. And with this new system in place, for the next few decades, parole more or less went back to its original and limited usage. For a few decades, it seemed like parole's big moment was mostly over - until 2021. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan. The longest war... BON TEMPO: The problem you run into in the 21st century is speed. And the process by which one obtains a Refugee Act visa is anything but quick. DELAUNAY MILLER: It goes without saying that a slow process isn't an option for refugees whose lives have changed overnight, but it can take years to get through the refugee system. And so Biden, like Eisenhower, sought a way to get around our backlogged refugee admission system. BON TEMPO: And parole seems to be a very good option. DELAUNAY MILLER: But here is where the Afghan situation breaks from history. In August of 2022, Senator Amy Klobuchar, along with a bipartisan group of senators, introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) AMY KLOBUCHAR: It is our responsibility to provide these Afghan refugees with the assurance that they can stay here and rebuild their lives. KLOBUCHAR: The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide a path to permanent status for parolees while expanding pathways for Afghans left behind. But the bill is stalled in Congress, and it's facing a steep uphill battle. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) TED CRUZ: But you also brought in tens of thousands of Afghans who had wholly inadequate vetting. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) RON JOHNSON: We have to understand there is a danger to this country. DELAUNAY MILLER: The idea of vetting keeps coming up as opponents' main objection to the bill. Bipartisan supporters of the bill point to the extensive background checks that are already required. A revised bill was introduced this spring with increased security measures, but it still hasn't gained enough Republican support. In lieu of an Adjustment Act, parolees' primary option for achieving permanent status is through applying for asylum. And that's something Mina's been working on. But her immigration lawyer told her that the process could take years. BAKHSHI: It's hard to live a life temporarily, and now I have no control over my life. It's other people in high positions deciding for my life. DELAUNAY MILLER: According to the latest data from Syracuse University, the average wait time for an asylum case is currently four years, and the backlog of asylum cases in the U.S. is over 900,000. There have been no updates on Mina's asylum application since her asylum interview in December of 2022. BAKHSHI: I think the day that I hear back from the government, whether they accept me or they will not - that moment will be the time that I think of my long-term future in this country. DELAUNAY MILLER: This August would have been the two-year mark when the parole program for Afghans would start to expire. But this spring, President Biden extended parole for Afghans. So now Mina has two more years of safety but also two more years of uncertainty. As Mina's asylum case winds its way through backlogged immigration courts, the fight for the Afghan Adjustment Act is ongoing. And this week, Mina moved to Swarthmore to start school. She went knowing that her parole status could expire during her sophomore year. BAKHSHI: But I don't know. I - for now, I kind of don't want to think ahead of what will happen. I want to enjoy, like, my college life and to find, you know, my community. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) RASCOE: That was journalist Lauren DeLaunay Miller reporting. At the end of July, the sponsors of the Afghan Adjustment Act tried to include it in the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes funding for the Defense Department. But that was blocked by Republicans, who have introduced a separate Adjustment Act - one that would significantly reduce the president's parole powers. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is updating guidance in our Policy Manual to provide clarification on voter registration access at our administrative naturalization ceremonies. The updated guidance: Affirms that USCIS provides access to voter registration services at each administrative naturalization ceremony, including information regarding points-of-contact for voting and voter registration; Provides that USCIS offices request that election officials from state or local government election offices attend ceremonies to distribute, collect, and review voter registration applications, and to officially register new citizens to vote; Affirms that USCIS offices coordinate with non-partisan, non-governmental organizations for voter registration services when state and local government election officials are not available; and Provides that, to the extent feasible, USCIS offices invite governmental or non-governmental organizations offering on-site voter registration services the opportunity to introduce themselves and address the naturalization candidates before the ceremony. For consistency and efficiency, USCIS also created the Form N-401, Voter Registration Services Attestation, for non-governmental agencies to submit a one-time request per field office to participate in administrative naturalization ceremonies. This guidance is immediately effective. This update demonstrates USCIS’ commitment to support Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting, by promoting and encouraging the exercise of the right to vote, removing any agency obstacles that may prevent new citizens from registering to vote at naturalization ceremonies, and expanding access to voter registration.
Friday, August 18, 2023
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican authorities say they have found the bodies of two migrants who were part of a large group abandoned by smugglers in the desert across the border from Del Rio, Texas. The bodies were found during a search initiated after U.S. Border and Customs Protection officials on Tuesday told Mexico they received reports of four possible fatalities. Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) on Thursday said it was looking for the two missing migrants reported as dead by their companions. 18 bodies found in Baja’s ‘Narco Cemetery’ The group of 16 set off with the smugglers last week from two towns west of Monclova, Coahuila, but were abandoned on the way to the U.S. border, INM reported. Twelve members of the group managed to reach the Mexican border town of Acuña and were apprehended by U.S. authorities crossing the border. The detainees told CBP that four in their group died along the way and passed on the approximate location of the bodies. ADVERTISING Mexican officials said they searched the location by land and air and found two of the bodies on Wednesday. The joint search by INM, Coahuila state police and the Mexican National Guard continued Thursday. The Coahuila state police is participating in the search for the missing migrants allegedly abandoned in the desert by smugglers. (Courtesy State of Coahuila) El Tiempo de Monclova on Thursday reported the migrants were residents of the farming communities of Ocampo and Cuatro Cienegas and all of them were Mexican males. Vanguardia published photos purporting to show the missing migrants. Both Mexican news outlets said the Coahuila Attorney General’s Office is investigating possible criminal acts in connection with the tragedy. Visit BorderReport.com for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the U.S.-Mexico border For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has no constitutional authority to define the flow of undocumented immigrants across the Rio Grande as an "invasion" and is usurping powers that belong to the federal government, the U.S. Justice Department says in new court filings. "Whether and when an 'invasion' occurs is a matter of foreign policy and national defense, which the Constitution specifically commits to the federal government," the Justice Department wrote in a 13-page brief that included nearly 150 pages of supporting material. "An invasion is 'armed hostility from another political entity, such as another state or foreign country that is intending to overthrow the state’s government,'" the Justice Department added, citing a 1996 decision by the Supreme Court. The brief, filed late Wednesday in the Western District of Texas, is part of the ongoing litigation brought by the Justice Department against Abbott and the state of Texas over the placement of giant buoys in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass to deter unlawful immigration. The Justice Department is asking Senior U.S. Judge David Alan Ezra to order the buoys removed pending the outcome of the trial, which has yet to begin. A hearing on the matter is set for Tuesday in Austin. Texas border barrier like waging war: legal filing An earlier filing by lawyers for Abbott and the state defended the placement of the 1,000-foot string of floating barriers, saying governors have broad powers to act without federal authority to defend against an invasion. And in public remarks and social media posts, Abbott has called the sharp increase in unlawful border crossings, coupled with transnational drug-trafficking, an invasion that threatens Texas' sovereignty. "The federal government’s FAILURE to secure our border has forced Texas to protect its own territory against invasion by the Mexican drug cartels & mass illegal immigration," said in one tweet from his official government account. In a "friend of the court" brief filed this week by attorney Matt Crapo of the conservative Immigration Reform Law Institute in support of Texas' position, the rhetoric was even more heated. Crapo likened Abbott's efforts to curb unlawful immigration, which the governor calls Operation Lone Star, to the waging of war. Crapo said Ezra should reject the Justice Department's request that the buoys be removed because "the Constitution explicitly recognizes that Texas retains its inherent authority to exercise war powers in the event of an invasion, and in doing so is not subject to the control of Congress." Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made clear his objection to the buoys, most of which cross into waters belong to his country. Buoy immigration:Texas' Rio Grande buoys are mostly on Mexico's side of river, international agency says In its most recent filing, the Justice Department contends that Texas' buoys not only run afoul of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which prohibits "the construction of any structure in or over any navigable water" without the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the are also undermining U.S.-Mexico relations. "The harm to the United States’ conduct of foreign relations is immediate and ongoing, as the evidence shows," the filing says. "Texas’s conduct is already 'the subject of diplomatic concern' between Mexico and the United States," and has concretely disrupted the countries’ cooperative efforts to manage the delivery of water to the United States. "That the harm might become worse without injunctive relief does not mean no harm is occurring now. Only the prompt removal of the entire Floating Barrier will remedy this harm." John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Thursday, August 17, 2023
Texas' leaders have declared that the state is experiencing an "invasion" of people at the border, but a U.S.-Mexico agency says the state is the one doing the invading. A document filed by the Department of Justice in its lawsuit against Texas over buoys the state placed in the Rio Grande to deter migrants says that 787 feet of them are in Mexico. Another 208 feet are in the U.S. The section of buoys in U.S. waters are upstream, and the rest are downstream, the document states. The Rio Grande serves as the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. The apparent trespassing was determined through a topographic survey conducted by the International Boundary and Water Commission, according to an affidavit filed in a U.S. government lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over the buoys. A page of the court document shows a line of orange dots marking the buoys, black dots marking the buoys' anchors and a dashed line representing the boundary over a topographical photo of the riverbed. Most of the dots are across the dashed line, on the Mexican side. The Justice Department sued Texas after Abbott launched the buoys last month near Eagle Pass, Texas/Piedras Negras, Mexico, as part of the state's own immigration enforcement system. Abbott, a Republican, has blamed President Joe Biden for spikes in the number of people arriving at the border or who have crossed it illegally, although there were spikes in migration numbers during the Trump administration and illegal border crossings dipped in June. The boundary and water commission is a U.S.-Mexico body created in 1889 to apply the terms of boundary and water treaties between the two countries as well as to resolve any differences. Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena said during a visit to Washington this month that Texas' buoys had crossed the border and most were on the Mexican side of the river, which Mexico calls the Rio Bravo, the Dallas Morning News reported. Recommended ASIAN AMERICA Asian characters with speaking roles in Hollywood jumped dramatically over the last 15 years ASIAN AMERICA Man sentenced to 50 months for burglarizing Asian Americans in 4 states In earlier filings, the state has said that it's not in violation of treaties and laws governing the river boundary because it has placed the buoys in shallow water, and under the treaty the barrier has to disrupt the navigability of the water to be in violation, the Morning News reported. Abbott has maintained that his state-run immigration enforcement system is saving lives and property, and preventing an influx of illegal drugs. Critics, however, have said the entire operation is a political ploy to win points with conservatives and runs afoul of federal law that gives the federal government jurisdiction over immigration enforcement. NBC News has reached out the governor's office for comment. Mexico and civil rights groups have lashed out at Texas over the buoys, saying they are dangerous and possibly deadly for migrants. Rep. Joaquín Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, recently visited the border and examined the buoys. He criticized Abbott's immigration operation as "barbaric" and pointed out the presence of metal disks with jagged edges, what he said appeared to be saw blades, between the buoys. Abbott, though, appears to be relishing the attention the buoys and the clash with Mexico, Texas' largest trading partner, and the federal government is bringing him and the state. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.
Reports of inhumane treatment from the separation of families to razor wires on river buoys have put a spotlight on the tactics of Operation Lone Star, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's effort to control migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Hispanic Democratic lawmakers are putting pressure on the Biden administration to investigate the claims. Laura Barrón-López discussed more with Geoff Bennett. Read the Full Transcript Geoff Bennett: Reports of inhumane treatment, from the separation of families to razor wire on river buoys, has put a spotlight on the tactics of Operation Lone Star, Governor Greg Abbott's effort to control migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López joins us now to explain. So, Laura, Eagle Pass is this key border community where Texas Governor Greg Abbott is carrying out this program known as Operation Lone Star. What are the conditions like there right now? Laura Barrón-López: I spoke to Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who recently went to Eagle Pass to see what the conditions are like there, these new tactics that the governor has deployed. And this is what he said he saw. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): They have placed what I consider death traps along the Rio Grande River, this razor wire that's placed in such a way that migrants can come up against it and not see it, barrel traps with wiring so that people can get caught. In fact, two weeks ago, there was a dead body that was found attached to one of those barrels. They have got this saw-like device in the middle, which obviously is very dangerous. Laura Barrón-López: The barrels that Congressman Castro is talking about right there are these floating barriers that Governor Greg Abbott has placed on the Rio Grande, which a lot of humanitarian and immigration advocates have had concern about because of the fact that migrants have to come across these when they're trying to cross the border. There's also razor wire, sharp fencing that has been placed around these areas where migrants are trying to cross. I also spoke to Uriel Garcia, who is a Texas Tribune reporter, and he said that he went down there recently as well and saw people getting injured as they tried to bypass specifically the fencing, this razor wire fencing. Now, a former border chief that I spoke to said that that type of fencing has been used by the Department of Homeland Security in the past, but that these tactics by Abbott are getting a lot of attention because they have been deployed in recent months. Geoff Bennett: Yesterday, you were first to report about this letter from Hispanic Democrats to the Biden administration demanding action on Operation Lone Star. What exactly are they calling for? Laura Barrón-López: Congressman Joaquin Castro was — signed on to that letter that we were the first to report. And it was directed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And Castro said that they want to see serious action from the Biden administration. Rep. Joaquin Castro: Many of us were shocked and outraged when Donald Trump started separating families. Well, Greg Abbott has started to replicate a version of that now in Texas. And there were reports that at least 26 families have been separated. And we're asking the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to make sure that there's no federal funding that's going towards family separation or towards any of these other activities that may violate human, civil or legal rights of people. Laura Barrón-López: We received no response from the Justice Department or the Department — the Department of Homeland Security said that they also think there should be an investigation, but they didn't specify whether or not they would actually be investigating the separation of fathers from their wives and children. Geoff Bennett: On this issue of Democrats calling on the Biden administration to take action, the DOJ has done that, haven't they? Didn't the DOJ sue Texas over that floating barrier? Where does that stand? Laura Barrón-López: So you're right, Geoff, that the Justice Department has taken action on the floating barriers that Governor Greg Abbott put on the Rio Grande. Now, the interesting part about this is that the Justice Department is saying that, of course, they don't have the legal authority to place those barriers on the Rio Grande. And the binational agency that oversees that territory, this international Rio Grande territory, it's called the International Boundary and Water Commission, just put out a survey today that says that 80 percent of those buoys which, strung altogether, reach more than 900 feet, 80 percent of them are actually located on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, which would be an impediment, which would be actually a violation of Mexicans — of Mexico's sovereignty of their territory. And I spoke to Uriel Garcia, who is an immigration reporter for The Texas Tribune. And he said that Governor Greg Abbott is defending the decision this way. Uriel Garcia, The Texas Tribune: What Governor Abbott has said is that Texas has the right to defend its borders, and that's the reasoning for setting up the wiring sending the troopers and setting up this water barrier. They are not citing specific statute to say why they're doing this,. How they have described it is, they have been equating migrants with drug cartels and saying that the mass migration is bringing drugs and also is an act of invasion. Laura Barrón-López: And so invasion is the language that Governor Greg Abbott is using, as though there is an invasion that is attacking Texas, and that that means that he has the right to declare these declarations, to place the floating barriers there to block migrants. And what comes next now is, there is a court hearing next week where the court will consider the Justice Department's lawsuit against the state of Texas. Geoff Bennett: So this program has been in effect for two years now. What's been the response on the ground. Laura Barrón-López: Uriel Garcia, who had — went to Eagle Pass recently, said that, previously, there were a number of people in that border community that actually supported Operation Lone Star. But, since then, they have actually soured on this program from the governor. And, in particular, he spoke to a farmer, a female farmer, who has private property there right along the border. And she told him that she's not happy with this anymore. Uriel Garcia: When she started seeing what the wiring was causing, the policies causing physical harm and emotional tolls on the migrants themselves, she started having second thoughts, particularly when she saw a pregnant woman trying to get through the wiring, and no one was helping her. Keep in mind, this is a Republican who voted for Abbott, and is now having — is having regrets of allowing the state on her property to implement these policies. Laura Barrón-López: She's not the only one in Eagle Pass that told him that she has regrets about supporting this program. There are other local elected officials there who also don't support it anymore because of the practices used by Governor Greg Abbott. Now, I also asked Congressman Joaquin Castro, again, if he's been satisfied, though, with the Biden administration's response to everything that's happening on the ground in Texas, and he said, essentially, that he's not. Rep. Joaquin Castro: I'm a supporter of the president. I want to see the president reelected next year. But I am surprised and disappointed that President Biden has not spoken out about these human tragedies. I think he should say something. Laura Barrón-López: And, so far, we haven't heard directly from the White House about this call for more investigations and for the Department of Homeland Security to take more aggressive action to stop Operation Lone Star's tactics. Geoff Bennett: Laura Barrón-López, thank you so much for that valuable reporting. We appreciate it. Laura Barrón-López: Thank you. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.