Monday, December 13, 2010

Arizona Regains Footing In Immigration Battle

After suffering a major legal setback in the summer, Arizona regained its footing in court when a federal judge dismissed parts of the US Justice Department's challenge to the state's new immigration law and rejected several claims made by Hispanic activists and Phoenix police officers, reported Saturday.

US District Judge Susan Bolton's Friday ruling struck down the federal government's challenge to the portion of the law that prohibits the transport of illegal immigrants.

It also rejected a challenge from Phoenix police officers and an advocacy group called Chicanos Por La Causa who argued that the cops could be sued for racial profiling if they enforced the law or lose their jobs if they didn't. Bolton agreed with Arizona that they had no valid claim of immediate harm.

Bolton also dismissed a lawsuit from the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, who were seeking an injunction preventing authorities from enforcing the law because the group argued federal law preempts state regulation of national borders.

"I am pleased with today's decision," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement Friday. "I strongly believe that the citizens of Arizona will ultimately prevail in all of these legal challenges. My defense of the rule of law will continue as vigorously as ever."

Arizona's law has been at the center of an impassioned national debate on illegal immigration ever since it was passed in April. The federal government filed a lawsuit soon after to block the measure -- a battle that is ongoing and is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court.

The law makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect they are in the state unlawfully.


British Labour Party ratbag praises 'hero' immigrants who send welfare handouts home

Harriet Harman has praised ‘heroic’ immigrants who claim welfare payments in Britain and use the cash to support families living abroad. She said the Government should make it easier for them to send the money home and called for tax refunds to encourage more immigrants to follow suit, in particular those who paid for their children to be educated in the Third World.

The Labour Deputy Leader, who is also the party’s spokesman on International Development, derided ‘those who say we should look after our own first’ in the recession and vowed to fight any attempt to cut the £9.4 billion overseas aid budget. But last night the Government challenged her ‘bizarre’ conduct.

Her comments were made at a meeting at Southwark town hall in her South London constituency, called to find ways to increase the flow of money from Britain to other nations in ‘remittances’ – money sent by families who have settled here to those left behind.

The meeting was attended by many local voters with Nigerian, Ugandan and other foreign backgrounds, as well as representatives of aid charities. An eyewitness said: ‘Harriet led a discussion on how to back up what she called the “hidden heroes of development through developing new policies on remittances”.’

Ms Harman said she had conducted a survey of constituents, mainly West Africans, attending her surgeries who were regularly sending money back home to sustain children and other relatives. ‘She said she had been amazed by how many were doing this,’ said a source. ‘Some were themselves in receipt of State benefits here and were still sending what they could abroad.’

Ms Harman said she intended to launch a new international survey to learn how other countries handled remittances to poorer nations to enable Britain to ‘make the procedure easier, even possibly with some sort of tax relief for those who send payments to educate relatives abroad’.

Her radical proposal was supported by some at the meeting. But one member of the audience said Ms Harman would have to be ‘careful’ how she campaigned on the issue. ‘She was told that if it was found the majority of people sending remittances were on benefits, critics would say it proved that they are receiving too much in State handouts if they can still send money abroad,’ according to one person who was present.

Ms Harman said she was also determined to stop the Government doing a U-turn on its promise not to cut the annual overseas aid budget. ‘We have to keep the Government to their promise of spending on 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid after 2012,’ she said. And Labour must do so ‘even with the usual howls from media critics who say that we should be looking after our own first and foremost, especially in this time of austerity’.

Last night Ms Harman stood by her remarks. She told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There are many people in my constituency who come from Africa and work and study and bring up their families here. Many of them also send money back to their village in their country of origin. We should respect and encourage that. International development is not just something done by governments.

‘Some of these families will be receiving child benefit and tax credits to which they are entitled. Charitable generosity has never been confined to the well-off.’

Tory International Development Minister Alan Duncan said last night: ‘Ms Harman’s comments seem bizarre. She has a duty to explain precisely what she means.’ A Conservative official went much further: ‘The idea that people should come here from Africa, claim welfare benefits and send it all back home is ridiculous and irresponsible.’


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