Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mitt Romney promises to stop illegal immigration

This will up the pressure on other GOP candidates

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed a standing-room only crowd Wednesday afternoon at a country club in Sun Lakes, where he vowed to build a border fence and stop illegal immigration.

He also disagreed with fellow candidate Rick Perry, saying Social Security is not a "Ponzi scheme" although he said the system needs to be improved. He said he would consider three long-term ways to save Social Security: lower, inflation-based benefits increases for higher income groups, investments with higher yields and a higher retirement age.

At least 400 people attended the town Hall meeting at the Oakwood Country Club.

Sun Lakes Republican Club chairman Mike Tennant said Romney's campaign selected the location because "We've got senior voters down here who are very intelligent, and this is an important part of Arizona."

Maricopa County voting records show that Sun Lakes' nine precincts have about twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats and voter turnout is extremely high - nearly 70 percent in the 2008 presidential election. Tennant said Sen. John McCain R-Ariz. campaigned at the same clubhouse that year.

The former Republican Massachusetts governor has talked a lot about Social Security, an issue that will resonate in a retirement area like Sun Lakes, said Chandler District 21 Republican activist and Romney supporter Scott Taylor. His appearance there so early in the campaign "shows his commitment to the state," Taylor said.

It was one of three stops in the state Wednesday for Romney, who came here from a strong performance in Monday's CNN/Tea Party Express GOP debate. He hosted a morning business roundtable in Tucson and was to head to an evening fundraiser at Tempe Center for the Arts after the Sun Lakes session.

Romney's visit officially kicks off the 2012 presidential campaign in Arizona, an important GOP battleground state that is set to have an earlier-than-most primary. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday ended speculation about the date of the state's presidential-preference election by issuing a proclamation declaring that it will be held Feb. 28, the same day as South Carolina's Republican primary and a week before Super Tuesday, March 6. The early primary and Arizona's high profile issues like immigration, border security, the mortgage meltdown and Social Security could play well in the battle for the Republican nomination.

Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said Arizona is an important state for Romney and one in which "he intends to campaign vigorously."

Until Monday, few who live outside the retirement community knew about Romney's visit, including key Republican leaders in District 21 that includes Sun Lakes. Tennant said organizers didn't want publicity about the session because they wanted a Sun Lakes audience and seating was limited to 300. Word of the town hall was disseminated through e-mail by club members and forwarded to other area Republicans.

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and Chandler Councilman Kevin Hartke, both Dist. 21 Precinct Committeemen, and former District 21 Chairman Jerry Brooks said they received no advance notice of Romney's visit and learned about it Monday through forwarded e-mails. Tibshraeny and Brooks said they are puzzled that organizers withheld information about such an important visit from local Republican leaders.

The three said they have not yet decided who they will support in the presidential primary.

Kelly Townsend, a Gilbert resident and co-founder of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots, helped organize her group's viewing of Monday's presidential debate but said she did not know about Romney's Sun Lakesappearance.

Williams, the campaign spokesman, said the lack of advance notice was not intended to limit participation or prevent contentious debate like the kind that erupted last month when U.S. Sen. John McCain hosted a town-hall meeting in Gilbert. McCain's session broke down into a shouting match at times as "tea party" activists directed their anger and frustration toward the senator. At one point during the meeting a heated verbal exchange between two men prompted McCain to call for "a modicum of courtesy" and sent town officials scurrying for more security.


98,000 asylum seekers have been 'lost' by bungling British immigration workers

Nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have been ‘lost’ by bungling immigration officials, it was revealed last night. The 98,000 cases were among nearly half a million found abandoned in boxes at the Home Office in 2006 in a major immigration scandal.

Five years later, officials have finally announced that the backlog has been cleared. But Jonathan Sedgwick, the acting chief executive of the UK Border Agency, admitted yesterday that in 98,000 cases they had not been able to track down the applicant.

Those cases have now been placed in a ‘controlled archive’ – effectively put on ice indefinitely – after officials could find no trace of their existence.

When the scandal emerged, the Daily Mail predicted around 160,000 would be granted the right to stay here in what was effectively an amnesty. At the time, the prediction was dismissed as ‘scaremongering’ by the pro-immigration lobby. But yesterday’s figures revealed even that prediction was too optimistic. Of the total, 172,000 have been given the right to stay in the country, claim benefits and bring in family members, or more than one in three of the total.

Many gained the right to stay simply for being here for so long. Others had children or relationships and used Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to argue they should not be removed. Only 37,500 – or less than one in ten – have been kicked out or left voluntarily. Around 170,000 have been written off as duplicates or errors.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘Now we have it. Nearly half a million case files left lying around in a warehouse for years on end. ‘This must be one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the Home Office, not to speak of the immense cost to the taxpayer.’

Appearing before the Home Affairs Committee of MPs, Mr Sedgwick said there were another 18,000 cases which had ‘barriers to conclusion’.

They have now been passed to a special group at the Border Agency called the Case Assurance and Audit Unit, Mr Sedgwick said. Many have been told they must leave but are mounting human rights or other legal challenges to escape deportation.

Committee member and Labour MP Alun Michael said: ‘We were told they were going to be cleared up by this summer. They should be cleared up by now.’

Committee chairman Keith Vaz also criticised the agency for making overpayments to both staff and asylum seekers totalling some £4million last year, and for paying out £14million in compensation claims.

A Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are improving the asylum system across the board, clearing the backlog of claims, bringing down costs and resolving cases more quickly.’


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