Monday, November 1, 2010

Reid Promises Immigration Vote After Election

He's referring to the dreaded "lame duck" session when lots of defeated Democrats will have nothing left to lose. This announcement might help make him one of them

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader fighting to hold his seat in Nevada, said on a taped television appearance on Sunday he planned to bring legislation that would create a path for some illegal immigrants to gain legal status to a vote in the post-election session of Congress.

The move may thrust the issue of immigration into the heart of the political debate in the hours leading to Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Mr. Reid announced his intentions on Univision’s “Al Punto,” a Spanish-language political talk show. His appearance was a pitch to Nevada’s Hispanic voters as he fights for re-election against Sharron Angle, a Tea Party-backed Republican with whom he is essentially tied in polls. Immigration is a dominant issue in the Nevada Senate race. And Hispanics, who turned out in droves to help elect President Obama in 2008, could give an edge to Mr. Reid.

The legislation, called the Dream Act, would grant conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrant students and illegal immigrants who agree to serve in the military.

“I have the right to bring that up any time I want; that’s why I brought it up the first time. I am a believer in our needing to do something,” Mr. Reid said in the interview, which was taped Thursday in Las Vegas.

Mr. Reid said he would bring the measure to the floor in the lame-duck session regardless of the election’s outcomes.

To pass, the measure would require some Republican support, which seems unlikely. A previous version of the Dream Act failed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate in 2007. The measure was attached to a defense authorization bill in September 2010 but Republicans (with one Democrat) blocked the legislation.

“I just need a handful of Republicans, Mr. Reid said. “I would settle for two or three Republicans to join with me on the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform, but they have not been willing to step forward.”

Mr. Reid echoed Mr. Obama in placing part of the responsibility over a stalled overhaul of immigration laws on Senator John McCain. Mr. McCain, the Arizona Republican, had been a leading proponent of an immigration overhaul with former Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

“As a result of his unwillingness to help, we have not had a single Republican offer to help us with comprehensive immigration reform,” Mr. Reid said of Mr. McCain. “The system is broken and all they want to do is demagogue the issue.”

Recently, an ad for Ms. Angle characterized Mr. Reid as “the best friend an illegal alien ever had,” a label Mr. Reid said was “totally without fact our foundation.”

Asked about his re-election campaign, Mr. Reid said it was “doing just fine.” He added that it was “pretty clear” that Democrats would hold on to the Senate after the election.

“How many the numbers will be, we’ll have to decide that on Nov. 3, but we feel comfortable,” Mr. Reid said.


'More immigrants should work for the state': German Chancellor

Angela Merkel adds to the country's roaring immigration debate

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has risked causing further outrage by saying that more immigrants should work for the state.

The country has been in the grip of a tense debate about the integration of Muslims for several weeks. Fuelled by divisive comments about Turks and Arabs by central banker Thilo Sarrazin, Germany has been debating how to balance an economic need for more workers with growing public concern over integration of immigrants.

Merkel spakred controversy earlier this month when she said that multiculturalism had 'utterly failed' in Germany. Her latest comments are now likely to cause more anger among citizens who feel alienated by the influx of immigrants to the country.

Interviewed by a 31-year-old Berlin policeman of Turkish origin for her latest internet podcast four days ahead of an integration summit at her chancellery, Merkel said: 'Today, people with a migrant background are under- represented in the public sector, and that needs to change.'

However, Merkel conceded that this was not always easy. 'I've also noticed that if someone has a name that doesn't sound German they can often have trouble being taken on at all in some professions,' she said.

Since Sarrazin inflamed opinion by asserting Turks and Arabs sponged off the state and refused to integrate, some of Merkel's conservatives become more critical of Muslims, who make up an estimated 4 million of Germany's 82 million population.

Sarrazin was sacked from the board of the Bundesbank for his comments, but his book has been flying off the shelves. Just two months after publication, it is already the best-selling political book by a German author in the country in the past decade, market research firm media control said. Since 2000, only U.S. author and filmmaker Michael Moore's 'Stupid White Men' had sold more in Germany, the firm said.

Among the conservatives to antagonise Muslims were Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, who called for an end to immigration from 'alien cultures'. He heads the Christian Social Union, sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats.

The centre-left and leading business lobbies have criticised such comments, saying they could scare off skilled foreign workers needed to fill growing gaps in the workforce due to Germany's ageing and declining population.

Seehofer's comments have tapped into fears also played upon by Sarrazin that Germany is under threat from foreigners. A survey published this month by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a foundation linked to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), said 36 percent of respondents believed the country was in danger of being overrun by foreigners. More than a third of those polled also felt foreigners came to Germany only to exploit the welfare system.

A leading demography expert said Germany was now failing to attract foreign workers in the way it used to. Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, said Germany long had an annual influx of 200,000 immigrants but in the last two years had seen a net exodus of 15,000 immigrants.


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