By Ted Hesson | 04/19/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Marianne LeVine, Ian Kullgren and Timothy Noah
O'REILLY NO LONGER A FACTOR?: Fox News "is preparing to cut ties with its biggest star, Bill O'Reilly," The Wall Street Journal reported last night, citing "people close to the situation." (The Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which means that it's fairly close to the situation itself.) "Pressure has been growing on Fox News," the Journal reported, since an April 1 New York Times story revealed that Fox paid out $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against O'Reilly from five women; two of the settlements were reached after Fox News chairman Roger Ailes got the axe last summer in a pretty lurid sexual harassment scandal of his own. Did we mention that all Fox News employees must agree as a condition of employment to submit any legal claims against the company to private arbitration, thereby allowing sexual harassment accusations to be kept secret? These secret proceedings do not appear to have detoxified Fox News' corporate culture.
A sixth O'Reilly accusation surfaced Tuesday, the Times reported , "when a woman who previously worked at Fox News called a 21st Century Fox hotline." O'Reilly's new accuser said that when she was a clerical worker at Fox News in 2008, O'Reilly "would stop by her desk and grunt like a 'wild boar'; he would also stand back to allow her to exit the elevator first and then say, 'Looking good, girl,'" according to a Times paraphrase of the woman's attorney. Also, O'Reilly allegedly called the woman, who is African American, "hot chocolate." According to the Times, "support from the Murdoch family [is showing] signs of eroding."
O'Reilly is on vacation this week in Italy. His lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said in a written statement that O'Reilly has been subjected to "a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America" that "is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O'Reilly for political and financial reasons." More here from the Journal and here from the Times.
GOOD MORNING. It's Wednesday, April 19, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO's daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy. Send tips, exclusives, and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @tedhesson, @marianne_levine, @MelLeonor, @IanKullgren and @TimothyNoah1.
REAX TO TRUMP'S H-1B MOVES: President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to promote his "buy American, hire American" policy agenda, with a focus on trade and immigration policies. On immigration, the order directs federal agencies to devise regulations and guidance to protect American workers, and asks relevant department heads to suggest reforms to ensure that H-1B visas go to "the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries."
Trump announced the measure at the headquarters of Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay," the president said. "This will stop." Trump specifically mentioned the H-1B distribution process as an area ripe for reform. "Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong," he said. "Instead, they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans."
Trump drew praise from several Republicans in Congress and cautious optimism from critics of the program. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the order a "good first step." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was less enthusiastic. Neil Bradley, a senior vice president, said the visas "can be improved," but warned that "it would be a mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers from around the world."
Trump's order drew mixed reactions from a pair of senators who have co-sponsored legislation to reform the H-1B visa program. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was "grateful" that Trump followed his lead and took steps to curb abuses in the program. But Grassley's counterpart across the aisle, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), called the president's order "a guarded and timid approach." Durbin said Trump already missed a chance to fix the program this year (the visa lottery took place last week). "It's too little, too late," he said.
FAMILY OF GAY SKYDIVER LOSES IN COURT: The family of a former employee at a Long Island skydiving company lost another legal battle Tuesday when the Second Circuit refused to overturn an earlier ruling for the company. Plaintiff Donald Zarda said he was fired after telling a company client he was gay. The company said Zarda was fired because he failed to provide an enjoyable experience for customers. Zarda sued the company, but was killed in a skydiving accident before the case went to trial. The court denied an appeal by Zarda's family. "We reject Zarda's argument that he is entitled to a new trial on his state-law claim because of alleged evidentiary errors, unfair discovery practices, and prejudicial arguments to the jury based on gay stereotypes," the panel of judges concluded. Read the ruling here.
COURT SHOOTS DOWN AIRLINE FUEL COMPANY'S APPEAL: The D.C. Circuit upheld an NLRB decision Tuesday requiring a commercial airline fuel distributor to bargain with an employee union. The New Jersey-based Allied Aviation Services had refused to recognize the union, saying that it was covered by the Railway Labor Act instead of the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB disagreed, and so did Circuit Judge Nina Pillard, who said the NLRB's decision was "legally correct and supported by substantial evidence." Read the decision here.
SOUTH BEACH HOTEL SUED BY EEOC: A hotel in Miami Beach's posh South Beach was sued by the EEOC for allegedly firing Haitian dishwashers because of their race, color and national origin. The complaint said that the hotel fired all Haitian stewards and dishwashers and replaced them with light-skinned Hispanics. The EEOC also said that Haitian workers were told not to speak Creole, were given more strenuous tasks, and were referred to as "fucking Haitians" and "slaves." Read more from the EEOC here and the complaint here.
DACA UNDER FIRE? Federal immigration authorities recently deported a DACA enrollee to Mexico, despite assurances from the Trump administration that the program remains in effect, USA Today's Alan Gomez and David Agren report. "After spending an evening with his girlfriend in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the U.S. since age 9, grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride," the pair write, "when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer approached and started asking questions."
"Montes had left his wallet in a friend's car, so he couldn't produce his ID or proof of his DACA status and was told by agents he couldn't retrieve them," USA Today reports. "Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration's stepped-up deportation policy."
The fate of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has remained uncertain since Trump took office. Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly told Democrats last month that it remained in place, but this incident, coupled with other arrests of so-called Dreamers, calls that into question.
In Mexico, Montes was mugged and beaten, USA Today reports. "At that point, he decided he needed to get back home," Gomez and Agren write. "He saw some people using a rope to climb over a section of the border wall and joined them. He was quickly captured by federal agents, questioned again and deported again."
Morning Shift contacted the Homeland Security Department, which offered a different version of events. "[Montes] was apprehended by the Calexico Station Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico," DHS spokesperson David Lapan said in an email. "He was arrested by [Border Patrol] just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally." Lapan said the department had no record of an initial deportation and that his DACA status had expired in August 2015. Montes filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to obtain more information about the deportation, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Read more from USA Today here.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), perhaps the most vocal immigration hawk in Congress, tweeted out a toast to Border Patrol after he learned of the deportation. "First non-valedictorian DREAMer deported," he wrote, attaching a photo of a frothy mug with the CBP logo. "Border Patrol, this one's for you." King's history of inflammatory remarks includes a 2013 statement where he said that for every DREAMer who is a valedictorian, there's one that has "calves the size of cantaloupes" from hauling marijuana in the desert (h/t Elise Foley of the Huffington Post).
In a separate case, a DACA enrollee in North Carolina threatened with deportation learned Tuesday that she did not need to report to a meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The woman, 20-year-old collegiate honors student Sthefany Flores Fuentes, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that an ICE official claimed there had been an error. More here.
KELLY, SESSIONS TO VISIT BORDER: DHS' Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will visit the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday, the Justice Department confirmed to Morning Shift. The Washington Examiner cited a department spokesperson who said the pair "will be traveling to the border areas in El Paso and San Diego in their continued collaboration to secure the border and prosecute offenders." Sessions visited the border in Arizona just last week, where he announced that DOJ would prioritize immigration offenses. Read more.
TECH EXECS OFFER TIME OFF TO PROTEST TRUMP: Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, are giving employees time off to protest the president. According to Bloomberg's Josh Eidelson, Facebook won't penalize employees who leave work and participate in pro-immigration protests scheduled for May 1. In addition, the company plans to "re-evaluate its ties to any vendor if it breaks the law that protects workers' rights to organize and protect themselves," Eidelson reports.
The social media company isn't alone. Other Silicon Valley start-ups, including Fauna, a database startup, Buoyant and Jelly Industries will allow employees unlimited paid leave to take part in rallies and write letters to lawmakers, Abha Bhattarai reports in the Washington Post. "If you're a tech company, taking a pro-immigration stand is not exactly a bold move," Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School told the Post. "When there's a tight labor market and companies are fighting for programmers, this is a way to say, 'See? We're here to support you.'" Read more from Bloomberg here and more from the Post here.
REPORT: RYAN TAX PLAN COULD REDUCE GDP: A new report from the Tax Policy Center, a centrist nonprofit, says House Speaker Paul Ryan's tax plan would decrease GDP growth by 0.5 percent after 10 years and 2.6 percent after 20 years, Max Ehrenfreund reports in the Washington Post. "The revised report, however, also contains a bit of good news for the Republican effort on taxes, suggesting the plan could give poor and middle-class households a more generous tax cut." More from the Post here.
FED RESERVE BANK PRESIDENT: RATE RISES ARE NECESSARY: Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said Tuesday that hiking interest rates is "necessary to achieving long-run objectives for the economy" such as full employment, the Wall Street Journal reported. George, who is not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, recommended that the Fed "press forward with its increases and not be dissuaded by transient shifts in economic data." More here.
FORGET THOSE MILLENNIAL STEREOTYPES: "Millennials have developed a reputation as job hoppers," Dan Kopf writes in Quartz. "Entitled and impatient, the story goes, young workers in the U.S. get bored easily, jumping from company to company looking for better opportunities sooner than they deserve them. But if you examine the data, this narrative appears almost entirely wrong. In fact, it would probably be better if millennials job hopped more."
"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, typical employee tenure for young people has barely budged in decades," Kopf writes. "In fact, the median length of job tenures for "Generation X," those born from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, when they were young, was actually slightly shorter than that of millennials." Read more.
IRANIAN AMERICANS TESTIFY ON TRAVEL BAN: A federal judge in D.C. heard testimony Tuesday from leaders of Iranian American organizations that sued to block Trump's revised travel ban. After the president's initial policy was rejected in the courts, the administration issued a reworked executive order on March 6, only to have the updated version largely frozen by a judge in Hawaii (a Maryland judge later issued a preliminary injunction, as well). The revised order excludes from the travel ban citizens and lawful permanent residents, but the lawsuit brought by the Iranian American groups argues that it still impinges on their rights in a variety of ways.
At Tuesday's hearing, the groups sought to establish standing in the D.C. district court. Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, heard testimony from two witnesses, Babak Yousefzadeh, president of the Iranian American Bar Association, and Leila Golestaneh Austin, executive director of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (they're the first to testify in any travel ban-related legal proceedings). Both groups are named plaintiffs in the case.
In an interview with Morning Shift, Yousefzadeh said he felt strongly that the organizations would satisfy the standing requirement. He said the case differs from others because the plaintiffs have gathered a "robust factual background" of statements from 21 people harmed by the ban. He also said the lawsuit asks for affirmative relief - for the court to order the government to issue instructions to federal agencies to make it clear the policies have been put on hold.
Among the countries listed in Trump's revised order (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), people with ties to Iran may be disproportionately affected, POLITICO's Josh Gerstein and Nahal Toosi reported earlier this week. "Over the past two years, Iranians received more than half of the U.S. visas issued to passport holders from those six countries," they wrote. Read more from Gerstein and Toosi here.
- "Most H-1B workers are paid less, but it depends on the type of job," from The Associated Press
- "Tech industry is fine with H-1B visa reform - as long as it doesn't affect their companies," from the Los Angeles Times
- "The link between opioids and unemployment," from the Atlantic
- "Kelly to Homeland Security critics: Change the law or 'shut up,'" from POLITICO
- "Sanctuary cities debate has jurisdictions weighing whether to defend the policy," from the Washington Post
- "California farms struggle to hold onto immigrant labor," from Vice News
- "Facial recognition is coming to US airports, fast-tracked by Trump," from the Verge
- "Nevada bill would require private companies to give workers paid sick leave," from the Las Vegas Review-Journal
- "Donald Trump attacks top Democrat in Georgia race, misleads on Jon Ossoff's immigration stance," from Politifact
- "White House pushes link between immigrants and crime," from The Wall Street Journal
- "The Trump family's long history with immigration," from CNN
- "Federal judge orders Kobach to share documents from his meeting with Trump," from the Kansas City Star
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