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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, April 18, 2024

'Finish the wall.' Why the southern border became a big issue for this New England state.

Johnny Burgess, 55, is thinking about the southern border when he casts his ballot this November. Burgess also lives over 2,000 miles from the border he says is being taken advantage of. “I mean, we're all one America,” said Burgess, a resident of Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. The self-employed registered Republican is like many in his state – particularly his state’s party – who say illegal immigration is top of mind in the 2024 election. Almost a quarter of New Hampshire voters surveyed said immigration is the most important issue facing the country, in a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll from January, just ahead of the state’s first in the nation Republican presidential primary. Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide Exclusive:It's not the economy, stupid. In NH, democracy is the top issue for Dems, independents The issue led the economy, which was number one for 17% of respondents, and abortion, which earned only 6% of voters’ top concern. New Hampshire Republicans specifically ranked immigration above all else, with 51% saying it was most important to them. Republicans have worked to push immigration as the focus of the 2024 election − an issue their party tends to score well on − especially compared to other hot buttons like abortion. The strong reception in places like New Hampshire may signal an opening for the GOP in the race for the White House and down the ballot. A University of New Hampshire poll in March found Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump with a slight edge over Democratic candidate President Joe Biden when voters were asked who they trusted more on the issue. But the gap between candidates grew significantly among independents: 49% say they prefer Trump handling immigration policy compared to 32% who picked Biden. And though the Granite State shares a northern border with Canada, voters and officials there told USA TODAY it’s the southern border capturing most of their attention. Biden, Trump visit border on same day as polls show voter concern over immigration “Because they have televisions,” Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire survey center, said of why voters in New England are paying such close attention to a national issue rooted on the other side of the country. “They can see it on television, they read it in the paper, they hear politicians talking about it. And that makes it a major issue,” Smith said. "And I think it's going to continue to be that way.” Trump fans the flame with rhetoric And almost no politician is better known for talking about the southern border than Trump. His inflammatory language on immigration has brought condemnation from opponents, while rousing supporters. “Walls work. We need to finish the wall,” Burgess said, referring to Trump’s infamous border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which he proposed as a candidate in 2016 and broke ground on as president. GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - APRIL 02: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on April 02, 2024 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump delivered a speech which his campaign has called "Biden's Border Bloodbath", as recent polls have shown that immigration and the situation at the U.S. Southern border continue to be top issues on voters' minds going into the November election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) With immigration being signature issue for Trump over the past eight years, the former president has continued to employ explosive rhetoric in his campaign. More recently, he said undocumented migrants were “not people” and bashed what he called “Biden’s Border Bloodbath.” Potty mouth president:3 takeaways on Trump's 'bloodbath' rhetoric "There’s never been a border like this,” Trump said during a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sunmin Kim, assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College with a focus on race and immigration, said Trump is the “mastermind” behind what he called “intense political engineering” and fearmongering. “I suspect that the knowledge held by average Americans on immigrants are very secondhand and not very deep. It's very impressionistic,” Kim said. “So it's easy for them to accept new information as opposed to grounding their thoughts on their experience or reality.” And the debate isn’t just resonating in New Hampshire. Voters in the neighboring New England state of Vermont ranked the border and immigration as their top issue in 2024, according to a February University of New Hampshire poll. In Michigan and Wisconsin – key battleground states – most voters prefer Trump on the issue: 84% of Michiganders and 54% of Wisconsinites say they trust the former president more to handle immigration, according to recent polls. “The border is a bigger issue than anybody can think of,” former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told an audience at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government last Wednesday. He noted that last summer Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency due to an influx of migrant families in the state. Iowa Gov. on immigration:Kim Reynolds signs Texas-style law criminalizing 'illegal reentry' into Iowa Within New Hampshire, Kim said while he’s surprised residents are quick to point to immigration as their top concern, it also fits in what has been a pattern of immigration-related anxiety throughout American history. “People seem to care much (more) about immigration when they feel like they're losing control over the country or society in general,” Kim said. “And I think that's what's happening today as well. People feel like they're losing control of their lives, with the inflation, with the political instability and the globalization, the changing status of the U.S. as a superpower.” “And when they see the southern border, that's a perfect expression of what they see as anarchy or chaos or their governments losing control of the things.” President Joe Biden delivers remarks about immigration and border security on February 29, 2024 in Olmito, Texas. The President visited the border near Brownsville on the same day as a dueling trip made by former President Donald Trump to neighboring Eagle Pass, Texas. New Hampshire voters frustrated with federal government on illegal immigration New Hampshire has a “relatively good handle” on its economy and crime, with some of the country’s lowest unemployment and violent crime rates, said New Hampshire Republican party Chair Chris Ager. As a result, immigration has more room to occupy in voters’ minds, he said. “Those issues are more under control. And so the one that looks completely out of control is the border in comparison to everything else,” Ager said. Biden's pivot:Why the president is moving to the right in 2024 on immigration Congress has continued to stall on border legislation. Earlier this year, a $118 billion bipartisan deal, which would have enacted widespread immigration policy changes, fell apart in the Senate, after House Republicans protested the bill did not go far enough and announced it dead on arrival. WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 29: U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) departs from a news conference with House Republican leadership on February 29, 2024 in Washington, DC. Following their weekly Republican conference members took questions on a range of topics including legislation to fund the government and U.S. President Joe Biden's upcoming visit to the U.S. Southern Border. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Anxiety around the southern border is symptomatic of voters’ growing frustration with the federal government, said Jim Merrill, a Republican strategist in New Hampshire. “An issue that should have been a national issue for everybody from the start, I think was seen as just a Republican issue, but is kind of now spilled over,” Merrill said. "Clearly it's something that has just, no matter where you are or what your partisanship, it's a concern, and it's on the minds of voters." Immigration debate seeps into New Hampshire governor's race The presidential race is not the only high stakes election for Granite Staters this year where immigration will be a hotly contested topic. New Hampshire has one of 11 gubernatorial elections in the country this year, and with well-liked Republican Gov. Chris Sununu stepping aside, the contest is wide open for the first time in years. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu waits for the start of a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and governors visiting from states around the country in the East Room of the White House on February 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. The New Hampshire GOP has targeted Democratic candidates Cinde Warmington and Joyce Craig for their stances advocating for immigration policy reform. Meanwhile, leading Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte came under fire for falsely claiming that neighboring Massachusetts was displacing veterans to make room for housing migrants. Her GOP competitor, Chuck Morse, also used the issue against Ayotte and said he "vehemently" opposes amnesty for migrants and would "work to fortify Granite State defenses" as governor. Burgess for one said he will consider the issue when voting in the governor’s race, though he has not decided on a candidate yet. Still, the issue remains a predominantly national one. While 83% of New Hampshire voters said illegal immigration was a very or somewhat serious issue for the country, 43% said it’s serious in their state and 34% in their town or city, according to the University of New Hampshire's poll. President Joe Biden walks along the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023. President Biden will visit the US-Mexico border in Texas on February 29, 2024, the White House announced, in the Democrat's latest bid to regain control over soaring illegal immigration ahead of November's elections. New Hampshire voters want illegal immigration addressed Voters USA TODAY spoke with in New Hampshire emphasized that their concern is with illegal immigration and that they want people to follow the legal process for entering the U.S. “Our country was built on immigration and diversity, and that diversity brings a ton of value to our country,” said Amanda Butcher, 37, from Londonderry, New Hampshire. “And I'm all for that. But it needs to be done the right way and be done responsibly.” Butcher, a first-generation American whose mother immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal, said her concern is primarily for other parts of the country and less for her own town and state. A registered Democrat who leans moderate, Butcher said she would “never, ever” vote for Trump and is hopeful Biden could address immigration in a second term. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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