Thursday, October 27, 2011

GOP Lawmakers Rip Obama’s Immigration Policies

Another day, another grilling for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, with House Republicans targeting the administration’s efforts to tackle illegal immigration.

In a rambunctious and wide-ranging oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Ms. Napolitano was raked over the coals by Republicans for the Obama administration’s decision to prioritize the deportation of criminal aliens; the security of the southwestern border; Homeland Security’s role in the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation; and, just for a change of pace, the background of counter-extremism advisers to the department.

Ms. Napolitano echoed recent remarks, saying the administration’s stance on illegal immigration is pilloried by the left as too harsh and by the right as too lenient. “Both these views are incorrect,” she said, asking for a “facts-based” dialogue on immigration, which is quickly becoming a hot-button issue in the GOP presidential primary fight and, most likely, for next year’s general election.

Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the committee, fired a shot across her bow even before the hearing began, with an op-ed in Politico calling the administration’s deportation numbers a “trick,” thanks to doctored statistics.

“Fourteen million Americans are now looking for work. Meanwhile, 7 million illegal immigrants have jobs in the U.S. We could free up millions of those jobs for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our immigration laws,” he wrote.

What kind of jobs would those be? According to federal labor statistics, carpet mills, garment cutting and sewing, landcaping, car washes, and laundries are among the sectors most dominated by Hispanic workers (the numbers don’t break out documented versus undocumented workers). What kind of jobs wouldn’t they be? Professional careers such as management, law, architecture and the like: Among foreign-born workers, Hispanics have the lowest participation rates in professional sectors.

Ms. Napolitano reiterated the administration’s record-setting level of deportations, with a nearly two-fold increase in deportations of criminal aliens since 2008, and the need for the Department of Homeland Security to focus its limited deportation budget on the worst offenders.

Republicans including Reps. Louie Gohmert and Ted Poe of Texas, and Jason Chaffetz of Utah didn’t want to waste much of their alloted time allowing Ms. Napolitano to answer questions; Mr. Gohmert in particular said he wasn’t going to be “filibustered” by letting a cabinet secretary answer questions in an oversight hearing.

In the end, Republicans seem to have found a way to link public concern over illegal immigration and over jobs—two crucial issues that will likely play a key role in the 2012 elections.

Despite the onslaught, Ms. Napolitano appeared more exasperated than beleaguered. “Much of the ‘information’ about the border isn’t quite accurate,” she said, complete with air quotes.


Thousands of students failed the Australian visa test

FOREIGN students caught skipping class or flunking courses are being deported in record numbers, courtesy of a federal government crackdown on student visas.

The Immigration Department has already cancelled 15,066 foreign student visas in the past year, a 37 per cent spike from the previous year, The Daily Telegraph reported.

About 3624 students are facing deportation for flunking subjects or missing classes.

A further 2235 visas were cancelled on students who quit their original courses and were either working illegally - in some cases in brothels.

The crackdown, coming after the number of cancellations was steady for four years, has targeted lax students who had won visas to study at a vocational training level, such as cooking or hairdressing.

Indian students have been hit the hardest, while the biggest foreign contingent - Chinese - fare much better because they are less likely to be studying for a trade. Trade students are not only under the spotlight but a change in policy preferencing university students has now made entry to Australian courses harder.

University graduates will have the right to work here for two years after they graduate, leaving vocational training students to wait on a second tranche of changes, due next year, to find out where they stand.

Of the 332,709 international students in Australia in June, more than half were studying at university, while a third were on vocational training visas studying diploma courses.

One in every five international students is Chinese, while one in every six is Indian. Courses are also popular with South Korean, Brazilian and Malaysian students. The majority of international students study in NSW and Victoria.

To receive a visa they must be enrolled in a course and show they can pay tuition and living costs and meet health and English language tests.

Of the 15,066 cancellations by DIMIA in the past year, 3624 students lost their visas because they flunked some or all subjects or were no-shows to class. A further 2235 visas were cancelled for students who quit their courses and 212 were from students who finished their courses early.

The Immigration Department offers eight kinds of student visas - including vocational training, university, English language courses or school education visas.

Despite oversight by the department, some students end up as illegal immigrants after failing to return home.

The department's annual report said that 8309 student visa holders became "unlawful" in the past year because their student visa expired and they did not apply for a new one, such as a bridging visa.

In some cases, foreigners were not genuine students and use the work rights of a student visa as a back door to higher wages and working conditions in Australia.

Some women have come to Australia on student visas to work in illegal brothels.


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