Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oklahoma House Passes Arizona-style Immigration Bill

The Oklahoma House overwhelmingly passed a bill patterned after the controversial Arizona law that allows local law enforcement officers to inquire about people's immigration status adding Oklahoma to the list of state's who have considered or passed Arizona-style illegal immigration laws. The House voted 85-7 for the bill, despite concerns from some members it didn't go far enough to target businesses that hire undocumented immigrants.

"My goal is for this bill to focus on public safety," said Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, who co-chairs a joint House and Senate committee charged with developing a comprehensive anti-illegal immigration bill.

The bill stiffens the penalties for human smuggling and allows law enforcement to seize property used to harbor or transport undocumented immigrants. It also allows state and local law enforcement officers to inquire about an individual's immigration status, but only if the officer has completed a federal training program.

State Rep. Randy Terrill, a fierce critic of illegal immigration, said he believes the proposal was watered down at the request of business interests and called the bill a "sellout to the State Chamber of Commerce."

Fred Morgan, the chamber's president, said his group believes illegal immigration should be addressed at the federal level, but that the organization is not actively supporting or trying to derail any of the immigration bills at the state Capitol. "We do want to make sure that any legislation that comes out doesn't impose hardships on legitimate businesses," Morgan said. To that end, lawmakers in Utah passed a bill this week that would allow undocumented immigrants to work and live in the state.

An opponent of the Oklahoma bill, state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, said she fears victims of human smuggling or abuse will be too frightened to report crimes to police for fear of being deported. "You are taking an entire segment of the population of this state and putting them outside the protection of the law," said Hamilton, a Democrat who represents a heavily Hispanic district in south Oklahoma City. "You're making it impossible for the victim to go to the police."

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to consider a separate sweeping anti-illegal immigration bill next week. Republican House Speaker Kris Steele indicated it's likely both bills will end up being rewritten in a House and Senate conference committee. "This is not the final version of what our immigration reform bill ultimately will be," said Steele, R-Shawnee. "It's a work in progress, and there's no secret about that."


Tony Blair changes his tune over immigration saying it produced a 'challenge'

Tony Blair yesterday admitted for the first time that mass immigration has produced a ‘challenge’ which causes alarm to millions. The former prime minister acknowledged there was a ‘debate’ over the impact of immigration and whether British generosity in allowing it had been abused.

Mr Blair said immigration had produced both a cultural and economic ‘challenge’. He made his admission in an article in which he accepted that ‘there is a perception of failure’ over the issue. The view contrasted strongly with his stance as prime minister. In the 2005 election campaign he insisted immigrants had made a ‘huge contribution’ to Britain and condemned opponents for ‘exploiting people’s fears’.

In his 690-page autobiography published last year he devoted only one page to the controversial subject. Yesterday, however, in Roman Catholic journal The Tablet, Mr Blair declared that immigration – 3.2million came to live in Britain during Labour’s years in power – was a matter of major importance.

He said: ‘A new type of debate is taking shape. While it can centre on immigration or protectionism, it is above all about issues to do with culture and integration – issues that are altogether more vigorous and potentially more explosive. ‘In Europe, the debate is about whether our attempt to integrate cultures has succeeded or failed and, insofar as there is a perception of failure, it is about whether our “generosity” in allowing inward migration and encouraging multiculturalism has been abused.’

Last night Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, said: ‘What a pity that Tony Blair waited until he left office to address an issue of concern to millions of people in this country.’

And Sir Andrew Green, of MigrationWatch, said: ‘Having ignored the development of mass immigration for 12 years, Mr Blair has now discovered that Labour’s legacy has left us with huge problems, both economic and social.’


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