Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Laws to Control Immigration Pass in Utah

The Utah Legislature has approved an immigration package that includes an enforcement law reminiscent of Arizona’s but is tempered by a bill for a guest worker program for illegal immigrants.

The measures, approved by the State Senate and House on Friday night, would allow illegal immigrants to get a permit to work in the state. They also include a requirement that the police check the immigrant status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Supporters said that the package balanced economic needs and compassion; opponents argued that it would probably encourage more illegal immigration.

State lawmakers initially balked at the enforcement measure because of a likely backlash feared by some. But State Representative Stephen Sandstrom, a Republican, garnered enough support after amending it to focus on more serious crimes.

An Arizona law approved last year drew nationwide attention over provisions requiring the police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if they had reasonable suspicion they were here illegally. A federal judge ordered that aspect of the law put on hold.

Representative Bill Wright, a Republican who sponsored the Utah bill creating the guest worker program, said that if the state could secure a federal waiver, the program could become a model for the rest of the country. The bill would allow illegal immigrants to get a permit to live and work in Utah with their families.

The most vocal critic of that provision, Representative Chris Herrod, a Republican, said that a guest worker program would draw more illegal immigrants to the state. “People think we’ll be seen as compassionate,” Mr. Herrod said. “People will actually see us as weak. They will see we don’t care about the rule of law.”


British visa restrictions may close courses, universities warn

An alliance of vice chancellors from 16 universities is urging Home Secretary Theresa May to abandon proposals to reduce immigration by restricting visas issued to foreign students and raising language requirements. Foreign students are a source of much-needed income for universities, and are charged up to eight times more than British undergraduates.

Figures show students from outside Britain and the EU pay an average of £10,463 in tuition fees – a rise of 5.6 per cent on last year. It has led to a surge in the number of foreign students. A 2009 report from Universities UK, which represents vice chancellors, shows that in 1998/9 there were just 117,290 international students at UK universities. By 2007/8 the figure had risen to 229,640 – an increase of 96 per cent.

In a letter to the Observer this weekend, the vice-chancellors express their "profound concern" at the proposals, arguing they would have a devastating effect on universities' incomes and ability to run the best courses for British, as well as overseas students.

They said: "International students coming to universities contribute over £5bn each year to the UK economy through tuition fees and off-campus expenditure. "Reductions in student numbers will lead to reductions in income and jobs. "Without international students, many university courses, particularly science and engineering courses, may no longer be viable. This will in turn reduce the courses available to UK students.

"International students bring extensive cultural and political benefits to the UK. When they return to their countries at the end of their studies, they become cultural and economic ambassadors for the UK. "At a time of financial austerity, this issue is of immeasurable importance to the UK."

The proposals would affect students from outside the EU applying for visas under what is known as tier four of the points-based system. These accounted for two-thirds of the 273,000 visas issued to students in 2009.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Any criticism can only be based on speculation as no decisions have yet been made on the changes to the student visa route. "However, universities that are confident in the product they have to offer genuine students should have nothing to fear from policies that root out abuses in the student visa system."


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