Friday, January 7, 2011

Fake foreign students vanish into black market jobs and cost British taxpayers £493 million a year

Bogus students from overseas are costing taxpayers up to £493million a year, a report claims. The study by think-tank Migrationwatch says tens of thousands of foreign students are ‘disappearing underground’ to take jobs on the black market.

They are filling up to 32,000 posts which could be legally held by the 2.5million unemployed British workers, the report says. It adds that the cost of paying unemployment and housing benefit to those who lose out to bogus students is as much as £471million a year.

And because the NHS does not carry out stringent checks on those needing emergency treatment, the study estimates the illegal workers cost a further £16million in health care. Educating their children is estimated at an additional £6million.

Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green called on the Government to clamp down on bogus students. He said: ‘By working illegally they take a job that would otherwise be available for a British worker who remains unemployed.’ He added: ‘Such illegal workers also tend to hold down wages at the lower end and enable unscrupulous employers to compete unfairly with honest employers who offer decent wages and conditions.’

Immigration minister Damian Green said the Coalition was committed to ensuring that ‘those who come to the UK to study are genuine and are not using a student visa to gain work’. He added: ‘Tough enforcement is the cornerstone of our immigration policy.’


Georgia to move on illegals

Complaining that the federal government has fallen down on the job, Georgia lawmakers are putting a big bull’s-eye on illegal immigration this year.

The state’s legislative session won't begin until Monday. But lawmakers got started weeks ago, “prefiling” bills that would block illegal immigrants from attending state colleges and punish government contractors who hire them. Yet more legislation is on the way. Much more.

A pair of Republican lawmakers is preparing to file omnibus legislation in each chamber some time in the coming days. On Tuesday, Rep. Matt Ramsey -- a co-chairman of a special study committee on immigration -- outlined for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution what the legislation will likely include:

Ways to encourage more communities to apply to join a federal immigration enforcement program called 287(g). Through the program, local police officers and sheriff's deputies are given the power to question people about whether they are in the country legally and issue arrest warrants, prepare charging documents, and detain and transport people for immigration violations;

Measures to toughen an existing Georgia law requiring state and local government contractors to ensure their employees are eligible to legally work in the United States. The legislation could also include incentives for other private employees to participate in E-Verify, a federal work authorization program;

Provisions to ensure the identification people use to get public benefits in Georgia are “secure and verifiable.”

Ramsey said he and other legislators are also studying a tough new Arizona law that allows police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop for questioning. The Obama administration has argued that it is the federal government's responsibility to enforce immigration laws, and it successfully sued to halt key parts of Arizona's law last year.

Lawmakers and local sheriffs say illegal immigrants are committing crimes in Georgia and competing for taxpayer benefits and jobs here. “There are some serious social and economic consequences for the state and local governments due to the federal government’s failure to secure our borders over the last 30 years,” said Ramsey, a Republican from Peachtree City and a co-chairman of the Joint House and Senate Study Committee on Immigration Reform.

Last month, a pair of Democratic lawmakers warned Ramsey’s committee against doing anything that would hurt Georgia's economy by scaring away immigrants. Georgia’s $65 billion agricultural industry, they said, relies heavily on immigrant workers. Immigration watchdogs have responded to such arguments by pointing to the federal H-2A visa program, which allows foreign workers to legally come to the United States and temporarily work in its agricultural industry.

The Democrats issued their warning soon after the Georgia Farm Bureau -- which represents nearly 400,000 families -- weighed in on illegal immigration, saying “it is a federal issue, not a state or local issue.”

Georgia’s commercial construction industry is also warily watching the issue. “In order for this issue to be appropriately addressed and comprehensively reformed, it needs to occur at the federal level,” said Mark Woodall, director of governmental affairs for the Georgia branch of Associated General Contractors of America, which represents commercial construction companies. “It is federal employment law.”

Georgia, meanwhile, is not alone in eyeing Arizona’s law. Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee are likely to pass similar laws, said the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group based in Washington. Critics warn states could invite costly court challenges with such measures.

“This stuff is going on everywhere,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “We have sued to stop legislation like this across the country, and we will continue to do that.”

Mike Hethmon, who helped draft Arizona’s law, said he supports the measure because it deters illegal immigrants from settling in that state. “Each time one of these measures passes in a state and survives -- even partially -- it builds up pressure on Congress” to take action on illegal immigration, said Hethmon, general counsel for the Washington-based Immigration Reform Law Institute, a nonprofit law firm that supports reducing levels of immigration.

With Republicans in control of the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion, Ramsey has a good chance at success this year. Gov.-elect Nathan Deal, for example, said during last year’s campaign that he would support an Arizona-style law in Georgia.

“He is aware of the litigation involving the Arizona law,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal, “and he wants to make sure that Georgia is able to narrowly draft legislation that will meet federal guidelines so that we can avoid a lawsuit while protecting Georgia taxpayers.”

Deal also supports having more Georgia counties participate in the 287(g) program. And when he served in Congress, Deal drafted legislation targeting the 14th Amendment, which grants U.S. citizenship to children born on U.S. soil even if their parents are here illegally. Deal sought to require that a child born here also have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal resident or "an alien performing active service in the armed forces" in order to be considered a citizen.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Murphy, the other Republican co-chairman of the state’s immigration study committee, is planning to be in Washington on Wednesday for a news conference about birthright citizenship. A group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration plans to unveil model state legislation to halt what it calls “the misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” Murphy said Monday that he had not yet seen the legislation and did not know whether he would introduce it in Georgia.

Critics say birthright citizenship is a federal issue and that attempts to change it could be divisive and have severe and costly consequences. "Proposals for undermining the 14th Amendment would lead to creation of a caste system -- a country with two kinds of residents, citizens and a second-class group of stigmatized individuals without any place to truly call home,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.


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