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


Thursday, November 16, 2023

As Trump Plans Second-Term Assault on Immigration, Biden and Democrats Begin to Fight Back

The fallout from a blockbuster New York Times story on Donald Trump's immigration plans in 2025 should he win the nomination and the presidency continued this week, as the Biden campaign and progressive leaders mobilized to fight back against policies they call "dystopian" and "apocalyptic." On Saturday, the Times published a detailed story on the Trump campaign's plans for sweeping immigration raids, massive detention camps that would include people who have lived in the U.S. for decades, and a historic number of deportations along with other hallmark but contentious immigration policies put in place by the previous Trump administration. They include resurrecting the so-called Muslim Ban, bringing back Title 42 to swiftly eject migrants based on public health rationale, and redirecting the military budget to border issues to get around Congress needing to appropriate funding. After the The New York Times report concerning Trump’s immigration plans, his campaign managers issued a statement downplaying “news stories about the constructs of a Presidential transition for President Donald J. Trump’s return to the White House,” which critics interpreted as an attempt to distance themselves from the immigration policies. But campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said the campaign stood by Trump’s proposed policies and the statement was not referring to that issue. A campaign source who was not authorized to publicly speak about internal discussions said the statement instead referred to a recent Washington Post report concerning the Department of Justice and was also issued ahead of a meeting this week at Mar-a-Lago by the America First Policy Institute, which has styled itself as a Trump-transition-in-waiting organization. "The level of deputizing local law enforcement, indiscriminate raids, and rounding people up, would represent the biggest disruption to American's everyday life since COVID," a senior member of an immigrant rights organization who wasn't authorized to comment publicly told The Messenger. That reaction, representative of the wider Democratic and progressive movement, has led to a renewed appetite for hard-hitting messaging on immigration from the party, which has struggled with communicating its vision to voters while Republicans pummel the Biden administration on increased border crossings. But facing a candidate whose rhetoric — calling opponents "vermin" and accusing undocumented immigrants of "poisoning the blood" of the country — echoes some of history's most infamous dictators, Democrats have regrouped to try to take the offensive. One group, Immigration Hub, for example, said Trump is telling Americans he will use the power of the presidency to "hunt down immigrants on U.S. soil" and "resurrect one of the worst actions our government has ever taken and callously hold hard-working individuals and families in internment camps." Read More Biden Campaign Slams Trump Immigration Agenda as ‘Racist’ and ‘Cruel’ With Republicans Winning on Immigration, Demoralized Democrats See Inflection Point Poll: Voters Believe Illegal Immigration Is Increasing, Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Exclusive) Contextualizing Trump talking points: Immigration, crime, Mar-a-Lago and the 2020 election 5 Political Trends that Will Determine the 2024 Election Poll: Independent Kennedy May Turn Hispanic Vote Into ‘Toss-Up’ Between Biden and Trump Following up on a call held Tuesday by Latino leaders, which included Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino, Hector Sanchez Barba of Mi Familia Vota, Janet Murguia of UnidosUS, and Katharine Pichardo-Erskine of Latino Victory Project, top progressive leaders are planning a call for Thursday or Friday to discuss the dangers laid out for a second Trump term on immigration. And for its part, the Biden campaign told The Messenger it is rolling out a plan to respond almost daily to the floated immigration policies this week and next under the banner of "Trump's America in 2025." The first statement from the campaign came within an hour of the article publishing on Saturday, and on Monday its press release was on Trump looking to end birthright citizenship. A Wednesday release detailed how he "championed" family separation, and Thursday's will be on the mass detention centers for people who lived in the country illegally for decades, with a following one on the former president invoking President Dwight Eisenhower's infamous and offensively named "Operation Wetback" to enact record deportations. Some Democrats and activists who read the Times piece felt it was helpful for Miller to outflank Trump's Republican primary rivals on immigration, and have cautioned the media in recent days to apply more scrutiny to floated plans that have very little chance of surviving legal challenges or no viable way of becoming law, like ending birthright citizenship. "There is nothing Miller and Trump can do on birthright citizenship anymore than they can launch a manned mission to Jupiter," Chris Newman, the general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told The Messenger. Rounding up undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for 15 or 25 years or more would face a host of logistical challenges, including unprecedented levels of cooperation from local law enforcement across the nation. Additionally, stopping people who look Latino or who might be immigrants would be racial profiling, which led former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to run afoul of the law and to his defeat. “Building massive detention camps by defunding our military to imprison people living in America is not only un-American, it will actively make us less safe," Maca Casado, the Biden campaign's Hispanic media director, told The Messenger. "Donald Trump isn’t just echoing the words of Hilter and Mussolini by saying he will 'root out vermin from within,' he’s planning to take devastating action that will impact the lives of millions of people. We know from four years of Donald Trump, his words are not empty threats and when he says something – we should believe him.” Supporters of former US president and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump hold a sign about the border wall with Mexico before Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Club 47 USA in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 11, 2023. Supporters of former US president Donald Trump hold a sign about the border wall with Mexico before Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Club 47 USA in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 11, 2023.Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images "Cruel and un-American" But Matt Barreto, a former Biden campaign pollster who is working with the campaign again in 2024, told The Messenger Trump has consistently assaulted "theoretical guardrails" and after he contested the 2020 election results "people are concerned Trump will attempt everything he lays out." "In 2016, people thought it was all bluster, but now you have a candidate who as president already attempted to circumvent the levers of power, and with Miller at his side they want to implement his extreme agenda," he said. The Biden campaign is embarking on an effort to remind voters how extreme Trump is on immigration, Barreto said. While Trump made waves on immigration in 2016, he failed to convince the country that caravans from Central America were a mobilizing election issue, with Democrats gaining control of the House behind a blue wave in 2018. In 2020, with the nation under siege by COVID-19 and the economy at the forefront of voter's minds, Trump was unable to make immigration central to his argument in that election either. In a recent Univision interview, Trump agreed that he didn't talk about immigration a lot in 2020, but he argued that he had wanted to emphasize the issue but his advisors told him he couldn't because he had already fixed it. Barreto said the Biden campaign will be reminding people how extreme Trump was as president, including with his zero tolerance policy, child separation, and comments such as Trump saying of some Central American migrants, "These aren't people, these are animals," in a 2018 meeting at the White House with county sheriffs. "If we have a strong message of contrast on immigrant's contribution to America for 300 years, that's one we’re on the right side on," Barreto added. "The first step is to sound the alarm bells on how extreme this agenda is — far more extreme than in 2016. Bryan Lanza, a former 2016 Trump campaign and transition team official, argued that Biden and Trump are actually not that far apart on immigration, as evidenced by Biden allowing part of the border wall construction to move forward last month. "Progressives are outside the mainstream on this. Americans want border security and a structured immigration system," he said, noting that Trump "hit a chord" with that message in 2016. "In 2020 we didn't have the broken border like we do now and it's easy to point to illegal immigrants as a scapegoat," Lanza said," "and the progressive left is making a mistake if they ignore the anxiety caused by millions crossing the border and taking low-paying jobs from Americans." Lorella Praeli, the co-president of Community Change, who will be on the call of progressive leaders later this week which will feature the ACLU and FWD.us, and has invited SEIU and CAP as well, said Trump's "extreme" vision for a second term presents an opportunity to draw contrast, which is the only way to win a campaign. "This article should be a wake up call to anyone and everyone who doesn't take the threat of Trumpism and a second White House term seriously," she said. Praeli stressed that one of her critiques of the Democratic Party is that it lets Trump and the Republican Party set the narrative on the immigration conversation. The party then says polling numbers on immigration and the border are not good and that they're losing people on the issue, but the numbers are "never going to be good if Democrats and the president are not fighting for their vision on immigration in this country." It's not enough for the campaign to spell out Trump's position on birthright citizenship, she said, it's on Biden to communicate, "This is how I'm different, this is how what I'm trying to do is different." Vanessa Cardenas, a former Biden campaign staffer who leads immigrant rights organization America's Voice and moderated the Latino leaders call, said rounding up immigrants would affect American mixed-status families as well, calling the plans "cruel and un-American." She too emphasized the opportunity in front of the Biden campaign. "This is not about immigration policy, this is about an ideology and the kind of country we want to be," she said. "The whole last campaign was about fighting for the Soul of the Nation and this Times article underscores the need to resurface that spirit into the election of 2024." For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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