Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Judge blocks Alabama immigration law to buy time

A federal judge on Monday blocked Alabama's tough new immigration law from taking effect this week, making it the latest U.S. state to have a measure on illegal immigration halted in court.

Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn cited the need for more time to consider the legal challenges against the law in an injunction that blocks implementation of the law through September 29. "In entering this order the court specifically notes that it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions," the judge wrote in her two-page order.

Federal judges have previously blocked key parts of other immigration laws passed in Georgia, Arizona, Utah and Indiana.

The Alabama law, widely seen as the toughest state measure on illegal immigration, requires police to detain people they suspect of being in the United States illegally if they cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.

The law also makes it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an illegal immigrant, and requires public schools to determine, by reviewing birth certificates or sworn affidavits, the legal residency status of students upon enrollment.

Lawyers for the Obama administration and other groups asked the judge last week to halt the law, which was set to take effect this Thursday.

The administration argued that the U.S. Constitution bars states from adopting their own immigration regime that interferes with the federal system. Other opponents say the law will deter children in immigrant families from enrolling in school and criminalize Alabama residents who interact with those in the country without documents.

Conservatives have complained that President Barack Obama has failed to sufficiently stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. The Obama administration successfully sued to block Arizona's tough law last year.

Attempts to overhaul federal immigration policy have gone nowhere in the U.S. Congress.


Britain’s new brain drain: A million of our best-qualified citizens now live abroad

More than a million of the highest-qualified and best-trained Britons have gone to live abroad and are contributing to the wealth of other countries, a report found yesterday.

They have made up more than half of the British emigrants who have gone abroad over the past 14 years to work in countries including America, Australia, or, increasingly, Germany, it found.

The report from the immigration think tank MigrationWatch warned of a new brain drain and said that no other country loses as many university graduates through emigration.

But at the same time British immigration rules are offering entry clearance to the country to engineers and other highly qualified technicians because the country is suffering from shortages.

The analysis of who is going abroad comes at a time when numbers of people leaving the country to live abroad have plummeted, mainly thanks to the recession. At the same time levels of immigration have remained at sky high levels.

As a result net migration – the number of people added to the population by migration – last year totalled 239,000, the second highest total ever.

The new report said that professionally qualified workers and experienced managers continue to make up the majority of emigrants from Britain, numbering more than 50,000 in 2009.

It put the number of British graduates working abroad at 1.1 million, and added many will stay away permanently.

Citing the verdict produced by the Paris-based grouping of rich nations, the report said: ‘This is consistent with the findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that the UK suffers from a brain drain less serious only than Mexico whereby a significant proportion of its tertiary level educated go overseas to work,’ the report said.

It added: ‘There is something of a brain drain occurring in Britain whereby our most talented and skilled are leaving the UK in search of opportunities abroad.’

The report said the need to import engineers means that British companies may be paying too little for highly qualified staff.

‘The UK Border Agency Shortage Occupation list includes civil engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers among others,’ it said, ‘perhaps suggesting that UK companies are not paying sufficiently well to keep the brightest and the best.

‘Despite the NHS claiming to be reliant on migrant labour, 27 per cent of our skilled emigrants had a health or education degree.’

MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘The profile of those who are leaving is a concern.’

The report said around six out of ten emigrants from Britain have since 1997 been aged between 25 and retirement age, and the most numerous among these are people under 44 looking to promote their careers.

France and Spain have dropped down the table of the most popular destinations for Britons moving abroad during the recession, the MigrationWatch report said.

Numbers leaving for a life in France last year were below 20,000, well under half the peak of emigration to France five years ago, and emigrant departures for Spain are now running at around 25,000 compared to more than 60,000 in 2004.

The report pointed to the high euro and worries about property values as among the reasons.

‘One possible explanation for the fall in emigration to Spain is the uncertainty caused by the illegal construction of homes along the Spanish coastlines, discouraging the British from buying property,’ it said.

‘However, the wider fall in the value of the pound against the euro can explain this decline in emigration to France and Spain; the pound lost 28 per cent of its value against the euro between January 2007 and January 2009. For those on fixed incomes this changes the economics of a life of retirement in France or Spain.’

The European country now attracting greater numbers of British emigrants is Germany, where Britons are going to work in the comparatively strong economy.


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