Saturday, February 12, 2011

AZ: Governor countersues federal government

Gov. Jan Brewer sued the federal government Thursday for failing to control Arizona's border with Mexico and enforce immigration laws, and for sticking the state with huge costs associated with jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes. The lawsuit claims the federal government has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants. It seeks increased reimbursements and extra safeguards, such as additional border fences.

Brewer's court filing serves as a countersuit in the federal government's legal challenge to Arizona's new enforcement immigration law. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to invalidate the law. "Because the federal government has failed to protect the citizens of Arizona, I am left with no other choice," Brewer said as sign-carrying protesters yelled chants at her and at other champions of the immigration law.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler declined to comment on the filing. But a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of policing the country's borders, called Brewer's lawsuit a meritless action and said Border Patrol staffing is higher than ever. "Not only do actions like this ignore all of the statistical evidence, they also belittle the significant progress that our men and women in uniform have made to protect this border and the people who live alongside it," spokesman Matthew Chandler said. "We welcome any state and local government or law enforcement agency to join with us to address the remaining challenges."

Brewer's lawsuit seeks a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps to protect Arizona — such as more border fences — until the border is controlled. Brewer also asks for additional border agents and technology along the state's border with Mexico.

The governor isn't seeking a lump-sum award, but rather asks for policy changes in the way the federal government reimburses states for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants who are convicted of state crimes. Such changes would give the state more reimbursement.


Only 20% of immigration offenders actually kicked out of UK

Thousands of immigration offenders are being allowed to escape deportation every year, Government figures reveal.

The asylum system is supposed to take a strict stance against those who are caught living in the UK illegally. But fewer than one in five of those who claimed asylum only after they were caught living here without permission have been kicked out. Incredibly, more are being given permission to stay than are being removed.

Critics said the figures showed how the previous Labour government had turned Britain into a ‘soft touch’ for illegal immigrants. In the past three years alone, only 7,294 of the 40,000 who claimed asylum after being caught breaking immigration rules were kicked out. This compared with 9,869 - one in four - who were told they could stay. The remainder have either yet to have their cases decided or have dropped out of the system.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said: ‘These are astonishing figures. ‘These people entered illegally in the first place without bothering to claim asylum, so they can hardly be prime candidates. ‘Despite that, a quarter of them were granted some sort of protection. ‘Worse still, of all those detected, less than one in five have actually been removed. No wonder Britain is considered a soft touch and people are queuing in Calais to get here.’

The Home Office figures, obtained by Tory MP Priti Patel, detail what happens to people who are caught living in Britain illegally. They can be caught trying to enter the country in the back of lorries, or using other clandestine methods. Alternatively, they may have entered legally then overstayed their visas. Both categories are entitled to claim asylum when they are picked up by the authorities. However, the UK Border Agency is instructed to take a dim view of anybody caught in these circumstances.

Normally, there is a suspicion that anybody who does not claim asylum within a short time of entering the country may not be a genuine refugee.

One of the difficulties faced by the UK Border Agency is having enough staff to track down failed asylum seekers once they have been ordered to leave. Staff are told to prioritise those who pose the greatest danger to the public. That means foreign criminals are at the front of the queue.

The UKBA is preparing to axe 5,000 jobs over the next four years. This has led to concerns there will be even fewer staff dedicated to ­asylum removals.

In a blistering report published last February, the Parliamentary ombudsman laid the blame at the door of the last government. Ann Abraham said Labour was a ‘very long way’ from running a fast and fair immigration system that deports foreigners with no right to live here.

She found delays and incompetence at almost every level of the asylum and immigration process - with backlogs running to hundreds of thousands of cases.

The ombudsman warned the situation is such a shambles that illegal immigrants could soon benefit from an obscure rule which says those who avoid removal for 14 years can apply to stay here permanently.

Last night, Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘We have known for some time that the asylum system used to be chaotic and has been recovering slowly, and are committed to ensuring asylum cases are concluded faster, at lower cost, and that we continue to improve the quality of our decision-making. ‘Throughout 2011 we will be introducing extra controls to affect every immigration route.

‘We will exert steady downward pressure on immigration numbers through the course of this Parliament with the aim of reducing net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.’


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