Friday, December 31, 2010

UK will NOT hit its target to cut immigration in 2011, coalition warned

Immigration to Britain is ‘unlikely’ to fall significantly next year because of the parlous state of the Eurozone, a leading think-tank warns today. Plans to impose a cap and gradually bring down migration levels will falter because there is nothing the Government can do to stop workers from the EU coming to Britain, it says.

The Institute for Public Policy Research adds that the effect will be amplified as restrictions on some eastern European workers end next year. As a result, net migration is unlikely to fall much below 200,000 in 2011 – about the same annual level it has been for much of the last decade, the IPPR concludes. This runs counter to the Government’s pledge to restrict immigration from ‘hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands’.

Since January 2007, workers from the newest EU countries, Bulgaria and Romania, have largely needed to apply for work permits to work in the UK. That restriction is due to be lifted in December 2011, meaning that thousands more could be tempted to move to take advantage of the relatively healthy British economy.

Around 120,000 Irish people are expected to leave the Republic’s crisis-hit economy in 2010 and 2011, with many likely to head to Britain where there is no language barrier or work restrictions.

Migration could even increase if more people from other economically troubled countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece choose to move to Britain. They do not come under the annual cap which will be introduced in April. Meanwhile fewer Britons are moving abroad. The exodus of UK citizens fell sharply to just over 30,000 in the year to March 2010.

This compared with 130,000 in the year to March 2008. Countries favoured by British sun-lovers, such as Spain and the United Arab Emirates, were wiped out economically, making them less attractive destinations for jobseekers. The weak pound has also made it too expensive for many pensioners and students to move abroad.

But universities have been trying to attract higher numbers of foreign students, with the number of study-related visas expected to top 300,000 in 2011. Prime Minister David Cameron even boasted on a recent trip to China that fees for foreign students would come down, even though fees for British students are almost trebling.

Ministers have since said they would stem foreign student numbers for fear that many are overstaying their visas, but the changes are not likely to be in place to make a difference next year.

And workers from eastern Europe are continuing to move to Britain in large numbers. Newcomers from Lithuania and Latvia alone increased from 25,000 to 40,000 in the last year.

Requirements for workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia to register will also be scrapped from April 2011.

Home Secretary Theresa May has imposed a cap on non-EU economic migrants. From April, no more than 21,700 will be able to come to Britain. But Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, said this would barely make a dent on overall immigration levels. He said: ‘IPPR analysis suggests a sharp drop in immigration is unlikely to happen in 2011 on current trends, so ministers must be careful to manage down public expectations.

‘The cap on skilled migration from outside the EU, which the Government has already put in place, could hurt the economic recovery. Other hasty measures to reduce numbers artificially would be even more damaging.’ He added: ‘Bringing down the level of immigration, which has been high in recent years, is a legitimate policy goal. But this should be done by making long-term and sustainable reforms to the structure of our economy and labour market.’

The report comes as a survey showed that immigration topped the list of concerns for British voters. In May 2009, 39 per cent of Britons said that immigration was one of their top three concerns. By September 2010, this had risen to 43 per cent.

In America, just 26 per cent listed immigration as one of their top three concerns, while in Sweden only 10 per cent found it a pressing issue.


Kansas likely to crack down on illegal immigration

Kansas legislators expect next year to join the growing list of states trying to keep illegal immigrants out and to discourage businesses from hiring them. One of the top legal minds in that movement is about to take office as Kansas' secretary of state, and he said he's ready to advise lawmakers.

But strong opposition is expected from the state's business community, particularly the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Gov.-elect Sam Brownback also is cool to sweeping immigration proposals, preferring to focus on the state's budget woes and creating jobs.

The chamber's resistance creates an odd political dynamic in a Republican-leaning state with large GOP majorities in its Legislature and, soon, no Democrats in statewide elective office. Some legislators advocating the low-tax, small-government agenda favored by the chamber will be fighting the state's largest business group on immigration.

So far, the state chamber has prevailed. But advocates of get-tough measures like those instituted in Arizona believe they're tapping into national frustration with federal inaction and expect pressure to build on the Legislature after it opens its annual session and Brownback is sworn in Jan. 10.

"A few interest groups who are plugged into the legislative process can derail something," said Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach, a law professor on leave who's gained national attention for working on immigration issues with legislators in other states. "But ultimately, I think you find that, in end, if the people of a state really want a statute, it eventually happens."

The Kansas Chamber has focused its opposition on proposals requiring employers to verify that workers are in the U.S. legally and fining companies or taking away their licenses if they hire illegal immigrants.

Chamber officials argue those laws can impose draconian punishments for unintentional mistakes. Kent Beisner, the Kansas Chamber's president and chief executive officer, also said if Kansas enacts rules and other states don't, Kansas will find it harder to attract and keep businesses. "We want to be as competitive as we can be," Beisner said.

Many legislators saw the chamber as a big reason why Kansas' last attempt to enact a sweeping immigration law that included penalties for employers failed in 2008. The House and Senate were negotiating a final version but couldn't agree.

"There were at least a number of business interests that simply did not want to see any meaningful immigration reform bill that dealt with the employment issue," said state Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who helped lead the push in 2008.

The nonprofit, Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 65,000 immigrants in Kansas were among the 11.1 million in the U.S. illegally in 2009. The center also estimates that 50,000 Kansas workers, about 3 percent of the total, are illegal immigrants. It says the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has dropped in the past few years.

State legislators nationwide have grown less willing to wait on the federal government to address the issue. The National Conference of State Legislatures said that in the first half of 2010, state lawmakers considered almost 1,400 immigration proposals — four times as many as five years ago.

Kobach helped write this year's law in Arizona empowering police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, a policy some Kansas lawmakers hope to enact in their state. He also was involved in drafting a 2008 Missouri law that penalizes businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Kinzer said he and other legislators are interested in not only those measures, but also repealing a state law that gives some illegal immigrants a break on tuition at state universities and colleges. And Kobach campaigned successfully on a promise that he'll seek a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls and proof of citizenship when they register to vote for the first time in a new place.

Groups providing services and advocating for immigrants worry about how such proposals would hurt families with some members in the U.S. legally and others illegally. They argue legislators would do better to provide immigrants with help in gaining citizenship. "We have short-term memories about the contributions of immigrants to this country," said Mary Lou Jaramillo, president and CEO of El Centro Inc., a Kansas City, Kan.-based social service and advocacy group.

Brownback has endorsed Kobach's voter ID and proof-of-citizenship. But he said other immigration measures adopted elsewhere are still being challenged in court. "I don't think we should be going at it — going at those areas that are in the middle of litigation," he said during a recent interview

Meanwhile, the chamber's resistance is important because it's a major player in state politics. The chamber and its political action committee have reported spending more than $1.1 million on lobbying and campaign-related activities in the past six years.

One vice president and lobbyist, Jeff Glendening, is a former member of the state House majority leader's staff. A former lobbyist, Rachelle Colombo, left the House majority leader's staff to join the chamber and then earlier this month became chief of staff to House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican.

And, of course, lawmakers have listened to its arguments in the past. "Immigration should be resolved at the federal level," Beisner said. "It hasn't been addressed there, and I think that's where it needs to be addressed."


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nebraska Lawmaker to move ahead with immigration bill

Redistricting and how to close a growing budget gap are getting heavy attention going into Nebraska's new legislative session, but another issue could soon steal the spotlight: an Arizona-style immigration measure. State Sen. Charlie Janssen, of Fremont, plans to introduce the bill in the early weeks of session, which begins next Wednesday.

Arizona's law requires police officers, when enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

Critics say the Arizona law encourages racial profiling. A federal judge blocked sections of the law in July, including provisions calling for police to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and requiring immigrants to prove they are in the United States legally.

That has not dissuaded Janssen, who said his bill would vary from the Arizona law. He declined to elaborate, saying he and his staff were still crafting the bill. "I've been working with the attorney general's office on it," Janssen said. "I want to get something out there that will pass and will be upheld."

There has been a steady stream of Hispanics into Nebraska since the early 1990s, with many working in the meatpacking industry. They now account for about 8 percent of the state's population. From 2000 to 2008, Hispanics were responsible for about 64 percent of the state's population growth.

Janssen's district includes Fremont, home of two meatpacking plants and where voters in June approved an ordinance barring landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and businesses from hiring them.

The Fremont law was supposed to take effect in July, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund sued to get it thrown out, contending that the ordinance is discriminatory and contrary to state law.

Janssen's bill could find support in the nonpartisan, conservative Legislature. Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who has taken a hard line against illegal immigration in the past, has said he would support a state measure similar to Arizona's illegal-immigration law.

Janssen's bill must pass through the Legislature's Judiciary Committee before the full Legislature can vote on it, and he already has some support among committee members.

Janssen said committee chairman Brad Ashford, of Omaha, has been receptive. And Sen. Mark Christensen, of Imperial, who is also a Judiciary Committee member, said he would back Janssen's bill. "School aid has been stripped from western Nebraska. Who's paying for illegal immigrants to go to school?" Christensen asked. "The state don't pay for them. You're just shoving more expense at legal residents and taxpayers."

Christensen said that while he wants to crack down on illegal immigrants, he wants to see the federal government simplify the immigration process so that people can more easily — and legally — move to the United States. "The state and feds have dropped the ball," he said. "They make it next to impossible to come here legally. We need a way they can become legal through a defined process."

But several Democrats serving on the committee are likely to oppose Janssen's measure. Said state Sen. Brenda Council, of Omaha: "This is a federal issue, and it should be left to federal officials to take care of it."

Such a contentious measure promises to bring costly legal challenges, no small matter to legislators who will struggle to mend the state's hemorrhaging budget. Some projections say the state will face a $1.4 billion gap over the next two budget years. "I think, in general, this is an idea that doesn't resonate with Nebraskans," said Becky Gould, executive director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.

The Arizona law is proving expensive not only in court, but to state revenue as thousands of people boycott the state over the law's passage. "Even from an economic development standpoint, passing these kinds of laws can be really toxic for the business community," Gould said.

Despite those arguments, Janssen said, he believes his proposal has a good chance to pass in 2011. "It's time to get something like this to the legislative floor," Janssen said. "This is something the people in my district — and the state of Nebraska — want to see done."


Kentucky Senator unveils immigration reform bill

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, on Wednesday unveiled his proposal for immigration reform, which mirrors the Arizona immigration law that is being challenged in a federal appeals court.

Williams, who is running for governor next year, wants to require local law enforcement to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

A federal judge in July blocked Arizona from enforcing such a provision after the federal government sued the state. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month heard arguments in the case but has not ruled. The law is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Williams' office released copies of Senate Bill 6 draft late Wednesday and did not respond to requests for comment. As is the case with Arizona's law, Williams' bill would allow police to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and check their status with federal officials.

Proponents of the measure say states must act to enforce immigration laws because the federal government has failed to do so.

Opponents argue it would lead to harassment of Latinos and violate the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Williams said he plans to have the Senate vote on the immigration bill and others when the legislature convenes next week.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rep. Peter King to Ramp Up Immigration Crackdown

Rep. Peter King plans to use his new bully pulpit to target immigration. The New York congressman, who will become the new chairman of the House Homeland Security next week, told the New York Post that he will push for legislation to tighter border security and arrest more immigrants crossing the border illegally.

He said President Obama's immigration policies were failing. "The Obama administration continues to display an obvious lack of urgency when it comes to gaining operational control of the border, which is absolutely critical," King (R-LI) told the newspaper.

King said Obama has "done little" during his term to curb undocumented immigration, adding that the country needs a new game plan "that incorporates the necessary staffing, fencing and technology to do the job."

His proposals will target private companies that employ undocumented immigrants and beefing up local police to give them free range to make immigration arrests.


New arrivals push up immigration levels in Canada to their highest since 1971

Canadian immigration at an all time high. Most of parts of Canada have recorded their highest immigration levels since figures began in their present form in 1971. Data from Statistics Canada for the third quarter of 2010 put Canada’s population at 34,238,000, an increase of 129,300, some 0.4%, since July. During the third quarter, 84,200 immigrants arrived in Canada, 8,800 more than in the same quarter of 2009.

Despite the increase in immigration though, Canada’s third quarter population growth was only slightly higher than what was observed for the same quarter in 2009. The increase in immigration was partly offset by a decline in the net inflow of non-permanent residents.

Quebec’s population grew by 24,800, 0.3%, to 7,932,100 during the third quarter. The province received 16,800 immigrants, the highest level since 1971.

During the third quarter, Quebec’s net interprovincial migration was close to zero, meaning that its number of migrants coming from other parts of the country equalled the number of people leaving the province for another location in Canada. With only a few exceptions, Quebec usually experiences losses in its migration exchanges with the other provinces and territories.

Ontario’s population totalled 13,268,600 on October 1, 2010, an increase of 57,900, 0.4%. Net international migration, the most important factor in the province’s population growth, accounted for nearly 70% of Ontario’s third quarter population increase.

Alberta’s population rose by 14,100. 0.4%, to 3,735,100 in the third quarter. Unlike the situation in other provinces where migration is the key factor of population growth, nearly 60% of Alberta’s growth was due to natural increase, a much higher proportion than in any other province.

British Columbia posted an increase of 20,900, 0.5%, in the third quarter as its population reached 4,551,900. The province received more than 13,200 immigrants in the third quarter, its highest level of immigration since the first quarter of 1997.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why the DREAM Act Failed: It is a fraud. It does not do what is claimed of it

Did the Donks actually INTEND to make it unpassable? They appear to have done the USA a favor if they did. Most probably, however it was overreach: They really did intend to make it an open door for any young people from anywhere. Fortunately, that was too much even for some Democrats

As a congressional reporter covering immigration and higher education for a Hispanic magazine, I have been following the numerous variations of the DREAM Act in every Congress for the past seven years. The concept is a compelling one. It can be passed. But not in its present form (H.R. 6497).

The reason the DREAM Act didn’t pass in the 111th Congress was that the bill goes way beyond what advocates claim it to be. Many parts of it are excessive, flawed and often misrepresented.

The bill is only 29 pages long. Everyone who wants to opine about the DREAM Act can and should read it first. It is (rather shockingly) easy to see the many wide disconnects between the rhetoric of the bill’s advocates and the reality of the bill. Here are just a few examples:

ADVOCATES OFTEN SAY: The DREAM act will legalize young undocumented children brought in by their parents.

THE BILL STATES: There is nothing in the bill about the benefitted “aliens” (the term used throughout the bill) having to be brought into the United States by their parents.

ADVOCATES: The children who will qualify have been long-term residents of the United States and (many if not most) have only known life in the United States.

BILL: (Sec.4 (1) (A and F) “The alien must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than five years and was younger than 16 years of age on the date the alien initially entered the United States ... and is younger than 30 years old when applying.”

NOTE: In other words, they can be teenagers when they come; in many Central and Latin American countries, the 15th birthday (the quincinera) is considered to be the beginning of adulthood.

ADVOCATES: Qualified students must be of good moral character (ie: law abiding)

BILL: (Sec.4(C)(iv)): Aliens qualify who have not been convicted of any offense punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year ... or three or more offenses ... each punishable for an aggregate of 90 days or more.

NOTE: In other words, beneficiaries qualify even if they have had several serious convictions for law-breaking.

ADVOCATES: To qualify, beneficiaries must be a high school graduate.

BILL: (Sec.4(D)(ii)) The alien has earned a high school diploma or obtained a general education development (GED) certificate in the United States.

NOTE: A GED may be completed online by anyone, at any age, any time, anywhere and in Spanish or other languages; many educators do not consider a GED to be equivalent to a high school diploma.

ADVOCATES: Beneficiaries are the best and brightest college graduates.

BILL: (Sec.4,(1)(D)(i)): “Alien has been admitted to a U.S. institution of higher education.”

NOTE 1: There is nothing in the bill requiring attendance, completion or graduation from college in order for the illegal alien to obtain a conditional five-year work permit under the DREAM Act.

NOTE 2: However, to qualify for a second five-year work permit/deportation waiver, the alien has to have “completed at least two years in good standing in a bachelor’s or higher degree college program or have served two years in the armed forces.” (Sec.5((1)D) There is nothing in the bill about the alien having to graduate from college even after 10 years on a work permit, at which time the DREAM Act beneficiary can get a green card, (Sec.6(b)(2) — the only permit that leads to citizenship.

Underlying almost every criticism is that the DREAM Act would give extraordinary preferential treatment and benefits to some 1 million illegal immigrants that legal immigrants in the United States do not qualify for. For instance, most children of legal temporary immigrants (doctors, researchers, high-tech workers) often are here six or more years but aren’t allowed to work or get permanent residency. But illegal immigrants who have only been here five years can.

Also, permanent legal immigrants in the United States must risk their lives for three years in military service to get expedited citizenship, when illegal immigrants under the DREAM Act need only serve two years. Illegal immigrants get an adjustment of status to a work visa for a fee of (only) $525 (Sec.4(4), when lawyer costs for legal immigrants to change their limited work status to a green card costs thousands of dollars and is not guaranteed.

Opponents of this DREAM Act often asked “Why now”? Why should an estimated million-plus adult illegal immigrants suddenly be eligible for jobs under the DREAM Act at this time when almost 15 million Americans are unemployed?

But the most serious charge of the DREAM Act as it is presently written is that it will encourage even more illegal immigration. Indeed with the generous age qualifications, the lack of specific document verifications or even an English-language requirement, the easy educational requirements, hardship exceptions, no review for seven years, no enforcement provisions, and only a potential fine for falsehoods (Sec. 9), fraud is not only likely but probably inevitable. After all, why would any clever youthful immigrant from anywhere in the world bother to go through the extremely difficult process of getting a legal work permit to the United States, when the DREAM Act makes it so easy to obtain one by claiming illegal entry before age 16 and getting a GED online?

A DREAM Act that truly reflected the rhetoric of advocates could probably pass in the 112th Congress. Such a DREAM Act would provide probable citizenship for those who really were brought into the country illegally at an early age (under age 8 most likely). They would have attended U.S. elementary and secondary schools continuously, graduated with a high school diploma and no criminal record of any kind, could demonstrate a genuine “natural attachment” to the United States and complete fluency in English. Such requirements could be easily verified. Fraud would be almost impossible. DREAM Act benefits would go to the truly deserving small child illegal immigrant only. The numbers would not overwhelm our colleges, immigration system and legal work force.

Failure of the DREAM Act is a healthy reminder for the passionate advocates of illegal immigrants to always keep two questions in mind: Are their demands fair to legal immigrants and American workers? Will they encourage more illegal immigration?

While almost all Americans are compassionate about the plight of particularly young illegal immigrants, most can not tolerate preferential treatment for illegal immigrants that undermines our respect and enforcement of laws (including immigration law), discriminates against foreign nationals who are trying to come into the country legally, and toughens the opportunities of American workers desperately looking for jobs. December’s DREAM Act failed because it violated all of these principles.


Cruel results of the Australian Labor party's "compassion"

AS the nation was shocked by news of the Christmas Island tragedy, Sarah Hanson-Young issued a statement via Twitter. The Australian Greens' immigration spokeswoman expressed horror at the "terrible tragedy" and said this day was "for expressing sorrow for what has happened, and for providing support and compassion for everyone involved".

A few hours later, while rescue teams would still have been scouring huge seas for survivors, the senator tweeted again: "Sharon Jones at the Gov. [Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Adelaide] Brilliant!"

That moment crystallised for me the core of the problem with those who argue about border protection from a standpoint of moral superiority and self-declared compassion. It is all care, no responsibility.

The border-protection issue highlights the difference between the emotional self-aggrandisement of the progressives and the hard-headed pragmatism of the conservatives. It's the difference between displaying empathy and attempting to solve a problem.

The Howard government took hard decisions and deliberately designed them to appear even tougher than they were. This sent an unambiguous message to places where the prospective customers of people-smugglers were gathering: if you attempt an unauthorised arrival you may never get to Australia, and if you do make it into the country you may not receive permanent residency.

Cruel, claimed many. But to the extent that it was cruel, it was cruel to be kind. We will never know how many lives it saved by removing the incentive for dangerous voyages.

And here's the rub: while it stopped the people-smuggling trade, it did not reduce the number of refugees who received sanctuary in Australia. We still filled our humanitarian quota; only the refugees were chosen through orderly process, not self-selected by access to a people-smuggler's fare or a willingness to take terrible risks.

When it came to power, Labor set about unravelling this tough regime. It was a way to be popular, to appease the emotive pleadings of people such as Hanson-Young and other potential Greens voters. Labor was warned as it did this that it would restart the people-smuggling business. Then opposition immigration spokesman Chris Ellison said: "The weakening of Australia's strong immigration detention policy will send a clear message to the region that we are relaxing border control. The intelligence we have demonstrates there are still people-smugglers in the region."

Proclaiming the end of the so-called Pacific Solution, Labor shouted to the world that most of the asylum-seekers the previous government had sent to Nauru were resettled in Australia anyway. This, they said, betrayed the futility of the Pacific Solution.

On the contrary, it demonstrated the genius of that arrangement. Refugees eventually and quietly were provided with the new life they sought. But the hardline perception was maintained to dissuade more asylum-seekers.

Since the policy softening in 2008, boat arrivals have accelerated, detention centres have filled and two fatal tragedies have taken more than 50 lives.

Throughout this period, conservative politicians have argued for the reinstatement of a tough regime and warned of lives at risk. For their trouble they have endured constant accusations from Labor, the Greens, activists and the media of being heartless, racist and opportunistic.

Even in the wake of the Christmas Island horror, the abuse continued with claims of "dog whistling" and "demonising" asylum-seekers. Yet the opposition's focus on saving the lives of asylum-seekers is largely ignored by the media.

In November last year, then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull called a press conference to explain how Labor's softening of the border-protection regime would have to be reversed: "We are determined to keep our borders secure, to prevent and discourage asylum-seekers from risking their lives in perilous journeys and to protect the integrity of our generous immigration program."

Almost six months earlier then opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone told Radio National: "What we're worried about, though, is that you actually put your life in the hands of criminals who have no interest in your safety, who are of course interested in getting you in the cheapest boat, one-way route possible."

In October last year, frontbencher Scott Morrison, who has since assumed the immigration role, was asked on Canberra's Radio 2CC why he was creating "hysteria" about small numbers of asylum-seekers.

"Because people can die, literally, by coming by boat," he replied. "It is the most risky and dangerous way to come here. So I have a real serious concern about the wellbeing of these people who are being encouraged to take this massive risk and risk their lives and those of their families in this way."

Even before he became opposition leader, Tony Abbott warned on ABC1's Lateline in October last year that "once the flow starts, who knows how many of them might end up perishing at sea".

A few months later, as leader, he told a news conference: "What endangers lives is contracting out Australia's immigration program to people-smugglers. What endangers lives is doing anything that encourages people to take to the sea in leaky boats." This is just a small sample, but you get the picture.

With stunning audacity, Julia Gillard has now effectively called for a bipartisan truce on this issue. Such calls for calm were not made in 2001 after the tragic loss of 353 lives in the sinking of the SIEV X. Back then, distasteful conspiracy theories accused the Australian defence forces of complicity in the deaths. Labor luminaries, such as senator John Faulkner and even Gillard, fuelled the SIEV X fury, pushing for inquiries and hinting at government cover-ups.

And so, within hours of the Christmas Island disaster, the same conspiracy theorists were at it again, with David Marr and Tony Kevin suggesting Australia could have done more to save these lives. Gillard and Labor were on the receiving end of the madness they once cultivated.

They couldn't stop even the dangerous stupidity of one of the independents who keeps them in power. Rob Oakeshott went into print and on the airwaves repeating malicious rumours about Australian complicity while demanding they be refuted. Such incendiary nonsense from our politicians should not be tolerated.

Apart from anything else, it grossly impugns the quality of our defence force personnel and wildly misjudges our national character. No matter how baseless, such claims trigger distress, resentment and even violence in detention centres and suburbs.

Much vitriol was directed at commentator Andrew Bolt for saying Gillard had "blood on her hands". But his strident language was backed by a clear, important and rational argument: that is, the government was repeatedly warned that softening the border-protection regime would put lives at risk.

Gillard, Marr, Hanson-Young, the ABC, some church leaders and others who trumpet the so-called compassionate approach must recognise that cessation of third-country processing, coupled with limited detention periods and near-guaranteed permanent residency, gave the people-smugglers a plausible product to sell. This product, the promise of a relatively trouble-free passage into Australian suburban life, is what tragically lured the men, women and children into entrusting their lives to people-smugglers on that doomed Christmas Island voyage.

The day after the tragedy Hanson-Young tweeted again: "Compassion, nothing more to say really." In fact, while Morrison, Abbott and Turnbull share the same feelings of compassion and trauma about the deaths, they did have more to say. Despite the vile abuse it often attracts, they continued to argue for a plan to prevent future disasters.


Monday, December 27, 2010

In the new Congress, A Harder Line On Illegal Immigrants

But only a requirement for all employers to use E-verify has much chance of making it into law. Hopefully that is what the GOP will focus on. NPR summary below -- JR

The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress' approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship.

Such a hardened approach — and the rhetoric certain to accompany it — should resonate with the GOP faithful who helped swing the House in Republicans' favor. But it also could further hurt the GOP in its endeavor to grab a large enough share of the growing Latino vote to win the White House and the Senate majority in 2012.

Legislation to test interpretations of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants will emerge early next session. That is likely to be followed by attempts to force employers to use a still-developing web system, dubbed E-Verify, to check that all of their employees are in the U.S. legally.

There could be proposed curbs on federal spending in cities that don't do enough to identify people who are in the country illegally and attempts to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants. Democrats ended the year failing for a second time to win passage of the Dream Act, which would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status.

House Republicans will try to fill the immigration reform vacuum left by Democrats with legislation designed to send illegal immigrants packing and deter others from trying to come to the U.S.

Democrats, who will still control the Senate, will be playing defense against harsh immigration enforcement measures, mindful of their need to keep on good footing with Hispanic voters. But a slimmer majority and an eye on 2012 may prevent Senate Democrats from bringing to the floor any sweeping immigration bill, or even a limited one that hints at providing legal status to people in the country illegally.

President Barack Obama could be a wild card. He'll have at his disposal his veto power should a bill denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants make it to his desk. But Obama also has made cracking down on employers a key part of his administration's immigration enforcement tactics.

Hispanic voters and their allies will look for Obama to broker a deal on immigration as he did on tax cuts and health care. After the Dream Act failed in the Senate this month, Obama said his administration would not give up on the measure. "At a minimum we should be able to get Dream done. So I'm going to go back at it," he said.

The president has taken heavy hits in Spanish-language and ethnic media for failing to keep his promise to address immigration promptly and taking it off the agenda last summer. His administration's continued deportations of immigrants — a record 393,000 in the 2010 fiscal year — have also made tenuous his relationship with Hispanic voters.

John Morton, who oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a recent conference call that there are no plans to change the agency's enforcement tactics, which are focused on immigrants who commit crimes but also have led to detaining and deporting many immigrants who have not committed crimes.

The agency also will continue to expand Secure Communities, the program that allows immigration officials to check fingerprints of all people booked into jail to see if they are in the country illegally. Both illegal immigrants and residents can end up being deported under the program, which the Homeland Security Department hopes to expand nationwide by 2013.

Many of those attending a recent gathering of conservative Hispanics in Washington warned that another round of tough laws surrounded by ugly anti-immigrant discussions could doom the GOP's 2012 chances.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a possible 2012 candidate, cited Meg Whitman's failed gubernatorial bid in California despite her high spending. When 22 percent of the electorate is Latino, candidates can't win without a vigorous presence in the Hispanic community and a "message that is understandable and involves respect," Gingrich said. Even so, Gingrich was unwilling to call on his fellow Republican senators to drop their opposition to the Dream Act, saying the legislation should not have been considered without giving lawmakers a chance to amend it.

The next Congress will be populated with many newcomers elected on a platform of tougher immigration enforcement. They'll have ready ears in Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is expected to chair the committee's immigration subcommittee.

That's a recipe for more measures aimed at immigration enforcement, including requiring businesses to use E-Verify rather than eyeballing paper documents to check workers' citizenship and legal residency status.

"I've already told the business community it's going to happen," said Beto Cardenas, executive counsel to Americans for Immigration Reform, a coalition of business leaders who support overhauling immigration laws. Changes to immigration law contained in appropriations and authorization bills, where immigration enforcement hawks are likely to tuck some measures, would also be tough to reject.

But more controversial measures such as attempts to deny citizenship to children of people who are in the U.S. without permission could be tempered by GOP leaders aware of the need to curry more favor with Hispanic voters.


Christmas Day "asylum" boat will take Australian island's detainee population close to 3000

THE Christmas Island Detention Centre will be one boatload shy of housing 3000 people in coming days after another vessel was intercepted.

A suspected asylum-seeker boat carrying almost 60 passengers is en route to the island after being picked up off Ashmore Island yesterday.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said initial indications suggested there were 57 passengers and three crew on board the boat.

Acting opposition immigration spokesman Michael Keenan said the boat arrival was a poignant reminder that people-smugglers don't take holidays.

"Nothing will stop the people-smugglers; not Christmas Day, not the monsoon season, not life-taking tragedies," Mr Keenan said in a statement.

"It's well past time that the Labor government understood that the only thing that will stop the boats coming and prevent more lives being lost is an urgent change of policy."

The latest arrivals will be transferred to Christmas Island by HMAS Maitland where they will undergo security, identity and health checks.

They will take the number of people being housed at the centre to 2970, despite an official capacity of 2600.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen responded to calls from Christmas Island resident Kane Martin to cap the number of detainees on Christmas Island by acknowledging the system was under strain.

Ten days ago 50 asylum-seekers died when their boat broke up in rough seas on approach to Christmas Island.

The Chief of Navy Russ Crane asserted on Friday that HMAS Pirie mobilised as soon as it received the call for help from the stricken vessel off Christmas Island.

THE Coalition has rejected a push by the Greens to boost the country's refugee intake to 20,000 people a year, arguing it could encourage more asylum-seekers to attempt the dangerous journey to Australia.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Outgoing NY Governor Paterson pardons 24 immigrants

There does not seem to be any published info on just who got the pardons but there is no doubt that the governor has good reason to criticize the actions of the U.S. immigration bureaucracy. It is a barely accountable monster. And Paterson does seem to have selected the applicants carefully. So although it may be the only time that I ever agree with one of his decisions, I suspect that this was one exercise of his powers that deserves approval -- JR

Governor David Paterson issued pardons Friday to 24 immigrants with prior criminal convictions to prevent their deportation.

In a statement Friday, Paterson said his administration has reviewed more than 1,100 pardon applications and found that federal immigration laws are often "excessively harsh and in need of modernization."

Paterson said the 24 people he had pardoned committed offenses in the past but had paid their debt to society and are now making positive contributions to their communities.

"With these pardons, I have selected cases that exemplify the values of New York State and any civilized society: atonement, forgiveness, compassion, and the need to achieve justice, and not simply strict adherence to unjust statutes," Paterson said. "I will not turn my back on New Yorkers who enrich our lives and care for those who suffer."

In May 2010, Paterson created an Immigration Pardon Panel to collect information and help deserving individuals avoid deportation. He said the initiative was designed to counter aspects of federal immigration laws that may result in inflexible and unjust decisions to deport legal immigrants.


Illegal Immigration and Terrorism

I first heard the news report about the threat that al Qaeda might attempt to have their operatives poison foods in restaurants and hotels yesterday morning when I was listening to the local CBS Radio station in New York City. That is certainly not the way you want to start your day!

Fox News has been airing news reports about the potential that al Qaeda might attempt to have their terrorists carry out attacks on our soil by poisoning the food at restaurants and hotels.

What is missing from the discussion about the threat of terrorism and what is missing from the strategy of our government to protect our nation and our citizens from the threat of terrorism and transnational criminals either, is the way that the immigration laws could and should be brought to bear to help prevent the entry of terrorists into our country and to prevent them from easily embedding themselves in our country as they prepare to attack us.

It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy.

Congress gave the Commission the mandate to study, evaluate, and report on “immigration, nonimmigrant visas and border security” as these areas relate to the events of 9/11. This staff report represents 14 months of such research. It is based on thousands of pages of documents we reviewed from the State Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, approximately 25 briefings on various border security topics, and more than 200 interviews. We are grateful to all who assisted and supported us along the way.

The story begins with “A Factual Overview of the September 11 Border Story.” This introduction summarizes many of the key facts of the hijackers’ entry into the United States. In it, we endeavor to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was “clean and legal.” It was not. Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas. One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.

Throughout this report and the 9/11 Commission Report itself, there are demonstrated links involving immigration laws, the visa issuing process and other laws and components of the immigration system that deal with the entry of alien terrorists into our country and their ability to acquire lawful status as an embedding tactic. Yet time and time again we have heard our nation's leaders tell us that immigration has nothing to do with the "War on Terror!"

Immigration fraud and visa fraud are all but ignored by our government even though such fraud runs rampantly throughout the immigration system and creates a huge threat to national security. The Visa Waiver Program which enables aliens to enter our country without first applying for visas in order to seek entry into the United States continues to be expanded even though the visa issuing process, if properly implemented can add an effective additional layer of security for our nation and also help keep terrorists from gaining access to airliners.

To provide you with a particularly egregious example of how superficially visa fraud it pursued, consider that on October 14th of this year, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a press release touting the prosecution of a Brazilian couple that had amassed at least 55 million dollars by running a visa fraud scheme that enabled over one thousand aliens to secure visas in order to enter the United States so that they could get jobs in some 190 hotels across our nation.

Admittedly the potential that any of these illegal aliens are engaged in terrorism is small but the point is that the government admits that there are about 5 million such illegal aliens who are present in our country today who did not run our borders but violated the terms of their admission. I have heard from sources that there may actually be twice as many illegal aliens in our country today who violated the terms of their admission. Yet there are reportedly only 272 special agents of ICE who are assigned to attempt to locate and apprehend these millions of illegal aliens! You must also remember that the terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 and that other terrorists who have entered our country in order to participate in various terrorist related activities were also visa violators!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Immigration did not hold back GOP in 2010

Despite their vast electoral success on November 2, many Republicans are finding it hard to swallow the tough Senate race losses to Harry Reid in Nevada and Michael Buck in Colorado. They are also perplexed by the surprisingly close win in Pennsylvania and the very wide margin of victory for Dems in the California Senate and gubernatorial races.

It isn't precisely known why these races went the Democrats' way or, perhaps as frustratingly, why the polls over-predicted for Republicans in most of them. In the months to come, there will be no shortage of explanations for these developments. One particular explanation, though, should be dismissed: the theory that in close races like the one for U.S. Senate in Nevada, it was Hispanic voter umbrage from Republicans' purportedly "anti-immigrant" stance that made the difference. Newsweek, using data from a liberal Hispanic advocacy group, ran an article suggesting that polls underestimated rates of Hispanic turnout and that Hispanics were responsible for unexpected Democratic victories in Nevada, and possibly even California, Colorado, and elsewhere.

It is not yet known whether or not Hispanics were under-polled. But most of the available data suggests that with the exception of California (where both Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman fled from the immigration issue), Republican candidates did relatively well among Hispanic voters. According to the national exit poll, 38% of Hispanics voted for Republicans in House races this year, compared with only 30% in the last midterm elections in 2006, a year in which high-profile Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham were leading efforts for "comprehensive immigration reform" (i.e., amnesty). The national Hispanic vote for Democrats dropped 9 percentage points, from 69% in 2006 to 60% in 2010, only 1 percentage point behind the 10-point drop in the share of white votes for Democrats, which went from 47% to 37%. By way of comparison, black voters remained at 89% for Democrats in both elections.

There is other evidence refuting the notion that Hispanic voters are motivated primarily by the immigration issue and turn out in large numbers to defeat anti-illegal immigrant candidates. In Florida, Governor-Elect Rick Scott won 50% of the Hispanic vote despite having come out in favor of Arizona's tough anti-illegal immigrant enforcement law and being attacked for doing so by his Democratic opponent, Alex Sink. A survey conducted last February by the pro-restriction but highly regarded,Center for Immigration Studies found that 56% of Hispanics think that immigration to the U.S. is too high, that 61% felt illegal immigration was mostly about poor law enforcement, and that 52% support enforcement to encourage illegals to go home. Only 34% support conditional legalization, or "amnesty." According to a Pew Hispanic Center Study in 2007, 45 percent of Hispanics oppose giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

These data do not exactly support Newsweek's contention that Sharron Angle's "harsh" anti-illegal immigrant attack ads on incumbent Senator Harry Reid "infuriated Hispanics in Nevada and beyond."

Indeed, Hispanic voters don't even seem to have been particularly "furious" at Angle in Nevada. Hispanics made up 12% of the voters in Nevada in the 2006 midterm election and 24.4% of the state's population, according to the CNN exit poll and the U.S. Census. In 2010, Nevada Hispanics made up 15% of the electorate and 26.5% of the population, meaning that more than two-thirds of the increase in the percentage of the electorate made up of Hispanic voters in Nevada between 2006 and 2010 is a function of population increase, not turnout rate jumps spurred by fear of Republican know-nothingism.

Besides, Angle's 30% of the Hispanic vote was a higher percentage than John McCain's share of the Hispanic vote in Nevada during the presidential race of 2008 (22%). McCain was well-known among Hispanics for his effort to push through comprehensive immigration reform, and he proudly refused to make Obama's support for giving driver's licenses to illegals a campaign issue. Partly as a result, whites in Nevada dropped as a percentage of voters to 69% from 77% just two years earlier, and they gave McCain the same 53% of their vote as they gave to Angle. Both McCain and Angle lost Nevada by roughly the same 5- to 7-point margin.

In fact, if any lesson is to be learned from Angle's defeat, it should be that Republicans have to perform strongly among white voters to win in battleground states, but also that Republican candidates need more than an anti-illegal immigration platform to appeal widely to whites. Angle, "a chronically gaffe-prone candidate, who is running as a proud Christian conservative in Sin City," received a much lower percentage of the white vote than Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign received in the midterm election of 2006, which Ensign won handily with a 13% margin. Ensign received 60% of the white vote compared with Angle's 53%. Ensign also received 45% of the Hispanic vote, as opposed to Angle's 30%.

But the white vote was more numerically important. Taking these voting percentages, along with the voting-age population and voter participation rates prepared by George Mason University's United States Election Project, if Angle had managed to keep Ensign's 60% of the white vote, she would have received 47,654 more votes than she did -- possibly enough to put her over the top. On the other hand, if Angle had managed to keep Ensign's 45% of the Hispanic vote, she would have received only 34,216 additional votes.

The point is also illustrated by the powerful contrast between the campaigns of Sharron Angle and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who ran for reelection as the anti-illegal immigrant candidate in a state demographically similar to Nevada. Brewer won her election by a 10-point margin, despite receiving only 28% of the Hispanic vote. The difference between Angle and Brewer was the white vote, 60% of which went to Brewer.

There are other, more convincing reasons why Sharron Angle lost to Harry Reid in Nevada, why Ken Buck lost to Michael Bennet in Colorado, and why two excellent Republican candidates in California lost statewide elections by resounding margins. They have mostly to do with the more effective Democrat "ground game." Byron York reports in the Washington Examiner that "[n]ationally, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent $91 million trying to elect Democrats. A good chunk of that went to Reid, mostly for get-out-the-vote operations."

Whatever the case, two things are clear in the wake of the 2010 mid-terms:

1) If immigration law enforcement and border control are promoted with humanity, decency, and -- perhaps most important -- with conviction, Hispanics (and whites, for that matter) won't spurn candidates who support them, and

2) the white middle class is by far the Republicans' most important constituency.

Republicans won whites in 2010 by a 23-percentage point margin (60 to 37 percent) and had their best showing ever. In 2006, Republicans won whites by a mere 4 percentage points and suffered electoral setbacks that led to their monumental defeat in 2008. Appealing to the preferences of white voters was clearly the difference.


Illegality pays

The story of a seeker after asylum in Australia

Hussein knows about 100 people who have taken their chances on smugglers' fishing boats in the past two years. In that time he has relocated to Puncak from another refugee program in Lombok.

All made it safely, as far as he knows. None was caught in the SIEV 221 horror last week. Hardly anyone he knows would be discouraged if they had already decided to go. One of those who went is Hussein's cousin, Ahmad, some are friends, most were just recent acquaintances: "I meet them in the market, it's good to talk to other Arabs, and they say in two days they will go to the boats; it's like hello-goodbye."

Hussein (whose real name has been withheld so not to further diminish his visa prospects) came from Baghdad where he worked as a video news cameraman.

He said he was threatened too often in the course of his work and, apparently, there was also a blood feud between his family and another. He arrived in Jakarta in early 2007 with a proper passport, about $US1000 and the intention of getting to Australia, but through the front door. "We have a saying that if one man knocks on the door and the other answers, both should be happy. I didn't want to sneak in like a thief.

But after almost four years in the UN High Commissioner for Refugee system, Hussein has moved no further than from Lombok to Puncak, a traffic-choked straggle of markets, shabby hotels, high-end resorts and mosques along 25km of the main road from Jakarta into the rain-drenched mountains.

However, the odds were dramatically more favourable, seven chances in 10, when cousin Ahmad arrived on Christmas Island late last year, though without refugee status and very much unwelcomed by the Australian government. Roughly 70 per cent of boat arrivals in the past decade have been granted refugee status and allowed Australian residency.

Hussein says when Ahmad phoned him recently he was already out of detention, living in Sydney and working as a men's hairdresser.

As the odds predicted, Ahmad jumped the queue and was rewarded by the system. Hussein stayed in his place and fell further behind. There couldn't be a better advertisement for the traffickers' service.

Or the mess that Australian refugee policy has now got itself into, with the niggardly distribution of visas in Indonesia - 550 between 2001 and last year - overwhelmed by this year's surge of more than 6230 boatpeople. For the first time this year, boat-borne asylum-seekers in Australia will outnumber those coming by aircraft.

But whereas only about 20 per cent of aircraft arrivals are accepted as refugees, the success rate for boatpeople is 70 per cent or greater.

And when they succeed, asylum-seekers occupy places in the overall humanitarian intake - currently 13,750 annually - that might have been taken by other displaced and victimised people, usually poorer and often more downtrodden.

When Julia Gillard and her ministers talk about "smashing the people-smugglers' business model", they neglect to acknowledge that these perverse consequences of Australia's current system are the key to the traffickers' success.

"The current approach massively disadvantages the people who are playing by the rules, firstly, and, secondly, those who don't have finances to be as mobile as the asylum-seekers," says Mirko Bagaric, a Deakin University law professor who spent five years as a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal.

Writing in The Australian this week, Mr Bagaric argued that boatpeople benefited unfairly at the expense of other refugees because of an undue reverence in legal and political human rights circles for the outdated asylum provisions of the 1951 Convention Relating to the State of Refugees.

However, he said yesterday, modern asylum-seekers claim preferential treatment "by having the temerity to force themselves on us, though you can't blame them for that . . . and having sufficient money to be mobile enough to do so".

Now, however, Mr Bagaric warns, boat arrivals are in such volumes that they threaten to overwhelm the country's whole refugee process.

"By the end of next year, at the current rate of increase, all 13,750 places will be filled by people who have forced themselves on us," says Mr Bagaric. "The whole quota will be filled by people who have self-selected."

He has proposed a dramatic solution: more than doubling the offshore refugee intake to 30,000 annually while at same time permanently refusing refugee status "to any person who arrives on our shores unannounced".

People-smugglers are currently succeeding, Mr Bagaric says, because their clients have the will and financial wherewithal to impose themselves on Australia's refugee system ahead of all the other claimants.

"Fine, but that's not the basis for enhanced moral concern or preferential treatment - in other areas of life, the fact that one person is more pushy than the others shouldn't qualify them for better treatment."


Friday, December 24, 2010

Would-be Australians to be sent home to New Guinea

EMERGENCY accommodation was being organised last night for 119 protesters after they made a risky journey in dinghies from Papua New Guinea to the Torres Strait.

Immigration officials are expected to deport the group of PNG nationals today after they were intercepted in Australian waters on Wednesday. The group, which included some children, arrived on 11 boats, all of which have now been confiscated by the Department of Immigration.

The protesters are being housed on Horn Island in a Customs detention centre, with the children accommodated in hotels on the island.

The people belong to an organisation called Papua Australia Plaintiff United Affiliates. They want Australia to recognise that Papuans were not given a choice to remain Australians when PNG gained independence in 1975. They claimed twice as many people could join them within days, although the Department of Immigration vowed to return any more PNG nationals who entered Australia illegally to their homeland.

The Courier-Mail has learned that Immigration and Customs officials had been monitoring the group for days and were aware that they would set out in the dinghies for the hazardous six-hour journey to Australia.

It is understood an advance party left earlier to ensure the journey would be safe for the rest of the group.

Immigration spokesman Sandi Logan labelled the action by the group, which has been demanding Australian citizenship for a decade, as pointless. "Frankly, this is a waste of a lot of people's time – Customs on the water, Queensland police on the water," Mr Logan told ABC Radio. "Immigration officials have much better things to be doing than dealing with this sort of prank that this group is trying on," he said.

A Department of Immigration spokesman yesterday confirmed that nine PNG nationals were intercepted late on Wednesday near Cape York. They were refused entry and detained. "A second group of up to 110 people was intercepted at Warrior Reef and is currently being escorted to Horn Island," the spokesman said.

"The Australian Government's message to these people is clear – they have shown blatant disregard for our laws by trying to enter the country despite being told on numerous occasions the correct procedures to follow when applying for citizenship and we will be resolving this situation expeditiously. "An application for citizenship by a person who does not have lawful authority to enter and remain in Australia poses no barrier to us returning them home."

The protesters would have their boats confiscated while Immigration officials conduct an assessment of their claims. They would then be returned to PNG at the first available opportunity, the Immigration spokesman said.


What's the value of immigration?

By David Frum

Senators are a lot like college students. For months on end, they seem to do no work at all. And then everything gets crammed into the last weekend of the term.

This past weekend, the Senate finished off a huge pile of work at once. Among the items voted on: The DREAM act, a form of amnesty for illegal aliens who entered the country as young children and attended college or served two years in the military. DREAM lost when it failed to clear a filibuster.

The defeat of DREAM follows on the defeat of the McCain-Kennedy "pathway to citizenship" legislation of 2007. Two defeats of two major bills within three years -- that begins to look like a message.

Congress will have to return to the drawing board on immigration. And it should start with this question: What is immigration for? What are we trying to accomplish?

A century ago, the answer seemed obvious. Factories and mines clamored for workers as an underpopulated continent beckoned settlers.

America in the 21st century, however, does not suffer from a generalized labor shortage. If labor were scarce, you'd expect wages to rise. Instead, wages were stagnating even before the recession hit in 2008. The typical hourly job in this country paid no higher wage in 2008 (adjusting for inflation) than in 1974. Add the value of fringe benefits, and you get a 37% increase since 1978.

Nor is 21st-century America underpopulated. While vast parts of the United States remain empty, the areas that attract immigration are as densely populated as Europe. In fact, New Jersey has a higher population density than any country in Europe except the Netherlands.

So why import almost a million people a year legally, plus nearly the same illegally? That's a question that usually goes not only unanswered but unasked.

DREAM invited Americans to tidy up some of the messy consequences of this mass migration. But whether you favored DREAM or opposed it, the question we need to ask now at this time of high and prolonged unemployment is: Why mass migration at all?

You often hear it said that the U.S. needs to create 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth. What's seldom mentioned is that almost all of America's net population growth is driven by immigration.

Of course immigration also creates jobs, too. There are benefits as well as costs. In 2007, the President's Council of Economic Advisers tried to balance these gains and losses. They totaled all the gains, subtracted the losses and concluded that our present immigration conferred a net benefit of ... hold your excitement ... somewhere between 0.22% of national income and 0.60% of national income..

(And as economist George Borjas notes, the CEA could reach the higher end number, 0.6%, only by ignoring the economic harm done by new immigration to the immediately prior immigrants.)

Given the immense scale of the immigration we receive, it seems incredible that immigration yields so small a net benefit. Yet the CEA's estimate tallies with previous work by the National Academy of Sciences back in the 1990s. Their work supported the low-end estimate of a net benefit from immigration of about one quarter of 1% of national income.

That seems a poor payoff for the disruption caused by mass migration. Imagine if your kid's classroom went from zero non-English-speakers to 10 in just a couple of years. Then you are told that this turmoil is adding just fractions of a penny to the national income? Surely you'd ask: Why are we doing this?

It does not have to be this way. If we chose our immigrants differently, immigration would upgrade the average skill level of the U.S. population. (As is, 31% of immigrants have not completed high school.) If we chose our immigrants differently, they could contribute more in taxes than they require in benefits. (As is, immigrants are 50% more likely to be poor than the native-born.)

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, immigrants arrived with higher skills and soon gained higher incomes than the native born. That's how immigration still works in Canada and Australia. Their immigration systems are race-neutral and favor prospective immigrants who arrive with language skills, advanced degrees or capital to invest.

Someday, the United States will probably have to double back and do something for the hard cases showcased in the Senate hearings on the DREAM bill. But if we really want to do something useful, we should do more than help the hard cases. We should ask some hard questions.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Census: U.S. Population Up 27 Million in Just 10 Years

Immigration Drives Huge Increase; Since 1980, Population Up 82 million, Equal to Calif., Texas & N.Y.

Most of the media coverage of the 2010 Census will likely focus on the country's changing racial composition and the redistribution of seats in Congress. But neither of these is the most important finding. Rather, it is the dramatic increase in the size of the U.S. population itself that has profound implications for our nation's quality of life and environment.

Most of the increase has been, and will continue to be, a result of one federal policy: immigration. Projections into the future from the Census Bureau show we are on track to add 130 million more people to the U.S. population in the just the next 40 years, primarily due to future immigration.

Immigration accounted for three-quarters of population growth during the decade. Census Bureau data found 13.1 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) who arrived in the last 10 years; there were also about 8.2 million births to immigrant women during the decade.1

The numerical increase of 27.3 million this decade is exceeded by only two other decades in American history.

Without a change in immigration policy, the nation is projected to add roughly 30 million new residents each decade for the foreseeable future.

Assuming the current ratio of population to infrastructure, adding roughly 30 each decade will mean:

* building and paying for 8,000 new schools every 10 years;

* developing land to accommodate 11.5 million new housing units every 10 years;

* constructing enough roads to handle 23.6 million more vehicles every 10 years.

While our country obviously can 'fit' more people, and technology and planning can help manage the situation, forcing such high population growth through immigration policy has profound implications for the environment, traffic, congestion, sprawl, water quality, and the loss of open spaces.

Forcing population growth also impacts how our democracy functions. A 27 million increase in the U.S. population increases the number of constituents a member of the US House must serve by 62,000. The effect on the state legislatures and local governments is also considerable.

While immigration is making our population much larger and our country more densely settled, it has only a modest impact on slowing the aging of our society. It must be remembered that native-born Americans, unlike couples in most other developed countries, still have about 2 children on average.2

Census Bureau data collected earlier this year showed that the 13.1 million immigrants who arrived in the last 10 years, plus all of the children they had once in the country, have reduced the average age in the United States slightly, from 37.4 years to 36.8 years.3

As the Census Bureau stated in its population projections published in 2000, immigration is a 'highly inefficient' means for addressing the problem of an aging society in the long run. The updated projections done in 2008 show the same thing.4

End Notes

1 The public use file of the March 2010 Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau shows 13.1 million foreign born individuals living in the United States who arrived in 2000 or later. It also shows 8.3 million children born in the United States to immigrant mothers over that same time period.

2 The public use file of the American Community Survey collected by the Census Bureau from 2006 to 2008 shows that the average U.S.-born woman had 2.01 children. The statistic is referred to as the Total Fertility Rate.

3 These figures are based on the public use file of the March 2010 Current Population Survey.

4 See page 21 of the methodology and assumptions for the 2000 Census Bureau projections, Population Division Working Paper No. 38

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Steven Camarota, (202) 466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Canada growing fast through immigration

Canada's population in the third quarter of 2010 was driven forward by the highest immigration rates seen in four decades, Statistics Canada says.

Canada's population was estimated at 34,238,000 as of Oct. 1 — an increase of 129,300 since July. The federal agency said 65 per cent of that growth came from new Canadians during the three-month period, as 84,200 immigrants arrived in the country.

The influx reached most provinces and territories, some of which had their highest quarterly immigration levels since 1971.

Prince Edward Island recorded the highest growth rate, with its population increasing by 0.7 per cent. The increase was largely driven by the 1,200 immigrants who arrived in the province, Statistics Canada said, the highest number since 1971.

Quebec, too, welcomed its highest number of immigrants in the last four decades, with 16,800 people arriving from other countries during the quarter. Manitoba also surpassed records set in 1971, with 4,700 new Canadians arriving in that province.

While not breaking a record, immigrants made up 70 per cent of Ontario's new arrivals during the period.

Alberta was the only province that had third-quarter growth driven by a "natural increase," which made up 60 per cent of the growth.

Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, actually faced a population decline in the third quarter, losing about 500 residents.

Growth driven by immigration is a trend the federal government said it expects to continue — at least through the end of 2010. "In 2010, we should be landing the largest number of permanent residents in 50 years," said Kelli Fraser, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Canada expects to welcome between 240,000 and 265,000 newcomers by the end of this year. Fraser said that number is driven largely by a June announcement that Canada would open its doors to more immigrants, especially those in the economic category.

"The reason the announcement was made was because the post-recession economy is now demanding a high level of legal immigration to keep the workforce strong," she said, adding that there also has been a high number of family reunification immigrants and refugees.

To date, the department said it has already made more decisions, issued more visas and admitted more people to Canada over last year. It expects the numbers to stabilize at 2010 levels in 2011.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MA: State cops join Fed push on illegal immigrants

Massachusetts State Police will join a controversial federal program early next year to help the US government detect and deport illegal immigrants arrested for crimes, a sharp departure from Governor Deval Patrick’s 2007 decision barring troopers from enforcing immigration laws.

State officials said they decided to join Boston and scores of other communities in the federal program because its main focus is on detaining and deporting murderers, rapists, and other high-level criminals and because Patrick has supported using immigration laws to help deal with such offenders. They also said the Obama administration forced their decision because the program, known as Secure Communities, will become mandatory nationwide by 2013.

“It has always been the governor’s policy that serious criminals who were in the country illegally ought to be deported,’’ said John Grossman, an undersecretary at the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety. The US government “is rolling this out with or without us,’’ Grossman said. “It’s important that we participate and have a say . . . The alternative is to let it happen to us.’’

Patrick, who is widely viewed as supporting the concerns of immigrants, regardless of their legal status, faced heated criticism during his reelection campaign that he was stalling the Secure Communities program and putting communities at risk. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement formally launched the program in 2008 with a goal of sharing information with state and local law enforcement via computer databases to detect illegal immigrants.

Instead of having State Police actively search for illegal immigrants, the computer will automatically check the fingerprints of all who are arrested against federal immigration databases, in addition to the state and FBI criminal databases that are checked now. Then federal immigration officials decide whether to detain immigrants based on factors such as their criminal records and flight risk.

Ross Feinstein, spokesman for ICE, said that criminals are the agency’s top priority, but that anyone under arrest who is here illegally could be subject to deportation.

“ICE’s focus on those priorities does not amount to an amnesty for other aliens unlawfully present in the United States,’’ he said in a statement. “ICE continues to enforce the immigration law and exercises discretion as appropriate throughout the process.’’

He declined to comment on the state’s decision yesterday, but the issue quickly ignited a debate statewide. Advocates for immigrants said federal statistics show many low-level offenders, such as those caught driving without a license, are being swept up in Boston’s program and nationwide. They also fear the program will deter immigrants from reporting crime.

Others praised the system as a quick way to identify criminals and others here illegally. Backers include state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

It was unclear yesterday when Secure Communities would go online with the State Police and the rest of the state. The expanding program is now in 34 states.


Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. The Illusionary Allure of Immigration “Grand Bargains”: An Analysis of Blue Ribbon Task Forces (Paper)

2. NCLR to Republican Senators: 'Watch Out' (Blog)

3. Illegal Aliens Less Attractive to Senators than Gay Service People (Blog)

4. Requiem for a DREAM (Blog)

5. Defeat of the DREAM Act - A Time for Modified Rapture (Blog)

6. Senate Gives DREAMers a Reality Check (Blog)

7. Adventures in Babysitting (Blog)

8. Border Patrol Agent Terry's Death: Illegal Activity Escalating (Blog)

9. A Comparison of Two Exploitative Migrant Worker Programs, H-1B and L-1 (Blog)

10. Importing Labor the Flip Side of Offshoring (Blog)

11. Labor Department Zaps Newspaper for Abusing Its H-1B Workers (Blog)

12. DREAMs of Sugar Plums Dance in Their Heads (Blog)

13. Immigration System Preserves Archaic Agricultural Labor Practices (Blog)

14. DREAM Advocate: It's All About Race (Blog)

15. DREAM Act Will Shield Some Gang Members from Removal (Blog)

16. The DREAM Political Scheme (Blog)

17. Scary Scenario – China Invests in Bahamas, and Wants to Send Lots of Migrants (Blog)

18. Brits Have a New, Sophisticated Way to Determine Skills Shortages (Blog)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Plan bans illegals from public universities

Virginia could join list of states creating off-limits locations for aliens

The "DREAM Act" plan, defeated in Congress today, would have given benefits and rights to illegal aliens who want to go to school in the U.S., but the state of Virginia isn't prepared to depend on what Washington decides - it has its own plan to address the situation: a ban on those students in public colleges and universities.

A leading GOP legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates is poised to introduce a bill which would prohibit illegal aliens from attending public colleges and universities in the commonwealth, and a constitutional scholar tells WND that U.S. Supreme Court case law may well ensure that the proposed law can be enforced.

Delegate Chris Peace, a Republican from the state's 97th House district in suburban Richmond, in an interview with WND said he was "amazed" to learn when researching the bill that some of Virginia's public universities, like Virginia Tech, did not have any policy regarding the admission of illegal aliens.

Others, like the prestigious University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, told Peace they did not "knowingly" admit or enroll individuals who were illegally present in the U.S.

The result was Peace's bill, House Bill 1465, which he says provides not just cost savings for the state, but also creates a uniform policy for state-supported institutions of higher education. Further, it ensures that bright youngsters from Virginia who have received perfect grades are not shut out of the admissions process because of issues of "space" at the public colleges, he said.

"Should this legislation pass, it is difficult to determine how much savings would accrue to the Commonwealth, since there is no current policy screening applicants," Peace told WND. "But the public policy goal does not center on savings, per se; rather, it is one of principle. If all colleges and universities created policies sua sponte [Law Latin – for on their own initiative] then there would be no need for this legislation. To date, several have been unwilling to do so." Peace noted that higher education is a "privilege," not a "right," and that illegal aliens would still be able to attend private colleges in Virginia.

Straight 'A's' required

Schools like the College of William & Mary, University of Virginia – like University of Maryland and UCLA, considered "public Ivies" – report that the average grade point average of incoming freshman is 4.0 on 4.0 scale – straight A's.

"The bottom line is that there's wide-spread sentiment that public benefit should not be going to those who are here illegally," said Peace. "The opponents of this legislation say it is targeting one group of people, or establishing preferences. But we're not trying to be mean-spirited here. Instead, those who support this legislation are simply trying to open the doors to Virginians."

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina already ban illegal immigrants from some or all public colleges. But the report said 10 other states, including Florida, New York and Texas, give them permission to pay only in-state tuition under many circumstances.

The Chronicle report documented the decision from the California Supreme Court just a few weeks ago that affirmed a law allowing some illegals to pay in-state tuition. Justice Ming Chin concluded that providing that special benefit does not violate federal immigration law. The case might be advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Peace noted that his plan is timely "in light of the proposed amnesty-lite, DREAM Act."

A leading constitutional law expert, Professor Ronald D. Rotunda, at Chapman University School of Law, Orange, Calif., told WND that the U.S. Supreme Court said it was illegal for states to discriminate against legal aliens in "Toll v. Moreno" (1982). The court, what is more, has not allowed states to discriminate against minor illegal aliens attending grades K-12 in "Plyler v. Doe" (1982).

"But Plyler emphasized that these children are minors, not 18 or over, and have little control over what their parents do," Rotunda tells WND. "The court has suggested that states can deny free public education to illegal aliens who want to attend state universities because these aliens are not children and university education is not like K-12."

Immigration attorney Michael Wildes said he does not think the legislation will pass because "a blanket policy of verifying every student's immigration status would be onerous and time-consuming." Further, he said, it would be "wildly discriminatory" to verify the immigration status of individuals based on "presumptions about students' ethnic identities, or the sound of someone's last name."

But Peace waved off those concerns. "Many will try to use emotional arguments for those children brought here without consent by their parents, who access the K-12 system, but then would be ineligible for the public college experience," Peace said.

Peace noted that there is widespread support for the legislation in the House of Delegates, where a different, earlier version of the measure passed overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support, 73-26, in 2008, but failed to get out of committee in the Democrat-dominated Senate. Now the GOP has increased its strength in the Virginia Senate, and elected a Republican governor in 2009.

Peace pre-filed the bill on December 6, and it will be formally offered to the legislature on Jan. 12, 2011. The bill allows the board of visitors or board of governors of every public college in Virginia to establish rules and regulations, and prohibit "an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S." from being admitted to "any public institution of higher education in Virginia."

Wilde says he'd rather have Washington making rules for the states. "It's important to keep in mind that immigration law is within federal jurisdiction and it is not the state's place to enforce federal law," Wildes says. "The proper forum is Washington, D.C."


Beware gurus selling high migration

Article below by Australian economist Ross Gittins, who is normally Left-leaning

The economic case for rapid population growth though immigration is surprisingly weak, but a lot of economists are keen to give you the opposite impression. Fortunately, the Productivity Commission can't bring itself to join in the happy sales job.

I suspect that, since almost all economists are great believers in economic growth as the path to ever higher material living standards, they have a tendency to throw in population growth for good measure. There's no doubt a bigger population leads to a bigger economy; the question is whether it leads to higher real income per person, thereby raising average living standards.

Of course, business people can gain from selling to a bigger market, regardless of whether the punters are better off. So I'd be wary of advice coming from economists employed by business or providing consulting services to business.

In 2006 the Productivity Commission conducted a modelling exercise to assess the effect of a 50 per cent increase in our skilled immigrant intake. It found that, after 20 years, real gross domestic product was only about 4 per cent higher than otherwise.

And the increase in real income per person was minor. What's more, most of the gains accrued to the migrants themselves, with the existing population suffering a tiny net decline in income. Why this lack of benefit? You'd expect the extra skilled labour to raise the proportion of the population participating in the labour force, thus boosting production per person.

But most of the productiveness of workers are achieved by the physical capital they're given to work with. So unless your extra workers are given extra capital equipment - a process known as "capital widening" - their productivity is likely to decline, thus offsetting the gain from having more workers.

Note, too, that we have to increase the housing stock to accommodate the migrant workers and their families, as well as providing the extra public infrastructure for a bigger population. So the migrants are paid to supply their labour, but the rest of us have to provide the extra economic and social capital they need if standards aren't to fall.

Last week Tony Burke, the federal minister responsible for developing a "sustainable population strategy" next year, released an issues paper to encourage discussion. It was accompanied by the reports of three advisory panels, including one on the economic aspects, led by Heather Ridout of the Australian Industry Group.

Ridout's report sets out to talk up the economic case for high migration by dispelling "myths" and pointing to hard-to-quantify benefits "often ignored by low-growth advocates when they skim the literature" (that's what they call a professorial put-down).

The main hard-to-quantify benefits left out of the Productivity Commission's modelling are the economies of scale arising from a bigger market. But why after all these years have economists been unable to produce good empirical evidence of something as straightforward as scale economies?

And why wax lyrical about unmeasurable benefits without mentioning unmeasurable costs? In its recent booklet on population and immigration, the commission acknowledges that as well as economies of scale there could be diseconomies.

The Ridout report objects that the commission's modelling measured the benefit of increased immigration only over 20 years. Sorry, but if you have to wait more than 20 years for the payoff you're not talking about a powerful effect.

A relatively new argument in favour of high immigration is that it could foster economic growth by countering to some extent the decline in labour-force participation caused by the ageing of the population. But, since immigrants age too, all this can do is put off the evil hour (not a course of action usually promoted by economists). To continue postponing the crunch you have to keep upping the dose of immigration.

The Productivity Commission is blunt: "changes in migration flows are unlikely to have a significant and lasting effect on the ageing of Australia's population".

The Ridout report argues that a faster-growing, immigration-fuelled economy would require greater levels of investment by businesses and in public infrastructure. This greater capital spending would generally involve investment in more productive capital equipment, as recent technological improvements will be embedded in the newer stock. In this way, faster growth of the size of the economy would drive the productivity gains that are central to advances in material living standards, we're told.

Huh? The proposition is that by taking on a need for considerable investment in capital widening (to provide the extra workers with the equipment and infrastructure they need to be as productive as the existing workers) we're increasing the scope for capital deepening (giving each worker more and better capital equipment).

Am I missing something? This is a twist on a common economists' argument I've never managed to fathom: we need to grow more and do more damage to the natural environment because when we're richer we'll be able to afford to fix the damage we've done to the environment.

The Ridout report asserts that provided population growth is "balanced and managed well", living standards will rise. It needs to be "matched by greater commitments to education and skills development, more and better investments in infrastructure, greater attention to the development of our cities and regions and to our natural environment".

In other words, to give business the extra population it wants but prevent this from worsening all those things, governments at all levels will really need to lift their game as well as spend a lot more. Turn in a perfect performance and high immigration won't be a problem.

I prefer the commission's way of putting it: "population growth and immigration can magnify existing policy problems and amplify pressures on 'unpriced' entities, such as the environment, and urban and social amenity".


Monday, December 20, 2010

Is U.S. Immigration Reform Dead?

The failure of the Senate to achieve cloture on the DREAM act has not ended the immigration debate. Politically, both sides will attempt to capitalize on this vote. Democrats will argue that they are the only ones who care about the Hispanic community, while Republicans will claim that they are the only ones serious about enforcement. But from a policy perspective, where might the debate go during the next Congress with Republicans running the House and a stronger GOP presence in the Senate? Even more importantly for enforcement proponents, is immigration the next policy ripe for triangulation?

FrumForum spoke to Mark Kirkorian of the Center for Immigration studies before the DADT vote to see if proponents of tougher enforcement may expect some progress in the next two years. The policy that Kirkorian was most interested in was making the E-verify system more widespread and possibly even mandatory for employers.

E-verify is an electronic database that employers can use to check the status of their employees. It allows them to verify their social security number and checks if the employee can legally work in the United States. The effect of this is that it decreases the likelihood that illegals will be able to end up on the books of their employers. Kirkorian noted that at least 60% — if not more — of the illegal population lie and use fraudulent or stolen identification to gain employment.

Of course, without the program being mandatory, its efficacy is limited. Some states, such as Arizona, mandate its use but others do not. Some states only mandate its use for public sector employees. There are also obvious competitive disadvantages that occur if one company uses the system, while another company doesn’t and continues to hire lower paying illegal workers.

Surprisingly, Kirkorian suggested that he could see a situation where the push for wider E-verify use actually comes from President Obama and the Democrats. “If the President wanted to triangulate, I could see him backing mandatory E-verify as a step towards a future amnesty debate.” Krikorian said that the proponents of immigration “agree in principle” to E-verify but hold it hostage to amnesty.

While not likely to happen, the strategy behind supporting DREAM to lock up Hispanic support, while also supporting E-verify could show that Democrats are “serious” on immigration. This could help them win independents; a plan that would also appeal to Democratic pollsters looking for ways to help the party rebound in 2012.

Unfortunately, the larger GOP benches in the House and Senate are unlikely to lead to any meaningful reform in legal immigration, despite the desperate need for the U.S. to modernize and set up a system to prioritize and accept high skilled immigrants, and not simply hand out citizenship through a lottery process. Kirkorian remarked that this process “continues through inertia.” Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute also spoke to FrumForum about the difficulties in achieving reform in this part of America’s immigration policy.

Mac Donald suggested that a skills based system of immigration would undercut the vision of America’s “Ellis Island” immigration policies. “It is somehow easier for politicians to oppose illegal immigration than to argue that the U.S. has the right to be more selective in its immigrants and that doing so is in its self-interest.”


Rejected asylum seekers in Australia should go home, says the United Nations

THE UN refugee agency says Australia's immigration detention system is being clogged by growing numbers of rejected asylum seekers who should be sent home.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regional representative Richard Towle says large numbers of people now coming through the asylum system in Australia are not refugees and "the challenge is how to find fair and humane and effective ways of allowing them to leave this country to go home", Fairfax newspapers report.

The deportation of failed asylum seekers has already been announced as central to the government's efforts to stem the flow of boats.

So far, however, only a handful of asylum seekers have been deported. The government is believed to be examining further incentives for people to return home.

Mr Towle told Fairfax that improved political conditions in Sri Lanka and changed methods for assessing Afghan asylum seeker cases have led to the jump in the number of rejected cases, most "left sitting in the detention centres in Western Australia".

He also called for greater regional co-operation and improved conditions in South-East Asia to prevent asylum seekers from making the perilous voyage from Indonesia. He said the problem has little to do with Australia's border protection policies, but rather a "protection vacuum" throughout the region that has been forcing people to risk their lives on unseaworthy vessels.