Monday, October 10, 2011

U.K. to Restrict Family Immigration

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will announce steps on Monday to make it harder for immigrants to bring their families into Britain, in a further sign of how the U.K. is tightening rules to decrease immigration after more than a decade of increasing numbers.

Measures the government is looking at include increasing the amount of income immigrants must have before family members are allowed to join the immigrants, and looking at ways to make sure that family immigrants are in a genuine relationship with their partners.

The government also will look at ways to criminalize forced marriages.

"People do want to move to different countries to be with loved ones, we all understand this human instinct," Mr. Cameron will say in a speech, according to extracts.

"But we need to make sure—for their sake as well as ours—that those who come through this route are genuinely coming for family reasons."

Mr. Cameron's government has set a targeted cap on the number of immigrants from outside the European Union who are allowed into the country. It has proved hard, however, to get the numbers below that level, meaning that the government has been forced to look for ways to bring immigration down.

In 2010, family migration accounted for almost one-fifth of total non-EU immigration to the U.K., with nearly 50,000 visas granted to family members of British citizens and those with permanent residence in the country.

Mr. Cameron will say that around 70% of those looking to move family into Britain from abroad had post-tax earnings of less than £20,000 ($31,000) a year, which creates the "risk that the migrants and their family will become a significant burden on the welfare system and the taxpayer."

The government will look at ways to make it harder for the family of poorer migrants to enter the U.K., including whether posting a financial bond would be appropriate before allowing family to enter Britain.

The government will also make migrants wait longer when they want to bring over a partner, to show "they really are in a genuine relationship before they can get settlement," and toughen the tests used by officials to see whether a relationship is genuine, Mr. Cameron will say.

Mr. Cameron will also announce the government is looking at ways to criminalize forced marriages, a practice sometimes used in some Asian cultures that the British leader compares to slavery. The move to make illegal such cultural practices is a sign that Mr. Cameron is acting on his promise early this year to reject multiculturalism.

Countries across Europe are increasingly erecting barriers to immigrants, amid rising unemployment and increased intolerance of mass immigration.

For Mr. Cameron, however, the policies are not without risk. Businesses often complain tough immigration rules are stopping talent coming into Britain, while the announcements will likely anger his coalition Liberal Democrat Party, whose lawmakers have often complained about such policies.


Perry talks up immigration credentials

Rick Perry used his two-day Iowa swing that ended Saturday to address head-on his perceived weakness on immigration, a tactic that GOP operatives said is a smart campaign strategy and one that is even necessary to save his campaign.

“Nobody’s got a stronger record on immigration than myself,” Perry told a crowd in Spencer, Iowa.

And, in an exclusive interview with The Des Moines Register, Perry said the issue has peaked because of the legitimate concern of the American people.

“Americans are more and more concerned about their safety and they’re more and more concerned about these drugs that are coming into their communities and one of the reasons is because of the federal government’s complete and absolute lack of support to states and to this country to secure the border,” Perry said.

Perry, the governor of Texas and a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, has taken several hard political knocks in the past few weeks, partly stemming from his support behind the 2001 “Texas Dream Act.”

The act allows illegal immigrants in Texas who have graduated from high school and lived in the state for three years to go to college paying in-state tuition. Four of 183 legislators voted against the measure.

The issue has become a point made by critics to question Perry’s commitment to immigration reform.

Perry brought up his stand on immigration at each of the four events he held over his two-day swing, making it a central point of his talks.

He outlined how he signed into law an act requiring voter IDs, which advocates say helps retain the integrity of voting systems. And he reiterated his advocacy for more security on the border, including building fences in strategic areas.

Perry did not, however, bring up the Texas Dream Act on his own. An audience member in Sioux City asked him whether he intended to institute the in-state tuition policy on a nationwide basis should he become president.

He answered a definitive no, telling the crowd that it is a decision each state must make on its own. But Perry also took the opportunity to publicly defend the 10-year-old act.

“We decided as state in 2001 that to deal with this population we had one of two choices,” Perry said.

“We could either kick them to the side of the road and say, ‘We’ll deal with you as a tax waster,’ or we’re going to give them the opportunity to pursue citizenship, to pay in-state tuition — full-fare, not subsidized in any form or fashion — and be part of an educated workforce.”

The issue of immigration for Perry is even more critical to the conservative base of the GOP than other issues he faces such as the overall perception that he performed poorly in recent presidential debates, said Kedron Bardwell, assistant professor of political science at Simpson College in Indianola.

“I think it’s strategically smart for him to address this upfront and right away to get it off the table so he can move on to defining other parts of his record,” Bardwell said.

Bardwell continued: “The lesson learned is you don’t want something to bleed out over a period of weeks and then kind of just consistently keep coming up.”

Sioux County resident Kevin DeWeerd said Perry’s overall stand on immigration is not overly dissimilar from that of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008.

“Right now the conservative base is really demanding,” DeWeerd said of the party’s intense focus on border security.

Perry says Mormonism isn’t cult

Asked if rival candidate Mitt Romney is a Christian, presidential candidate Rick Perry told the Register on Saturday that others’ comments on Mormonism and Christianity are their own opinions.

“I don’t think the Mormon Church is a cult,” Perry said. “People who endorse me or people who work for me, I respect their endorsement and their work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I endorse all of their statements.”

Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, sparked a controversy Friday by disparaging Romney and his religion.

Jeffress introduced Perry to a group of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., on Friday, telling audience members that they have a choice between a conservative out of convenience or a candidate of true conviction.

Jeffress later spoke with reporters and said Romney is not a Christian and that Mormonism is a “cult.”

The incident highlights an ongoing question surrounding Romney’s second presidential bid: whether his religion is a negative with his party’s base.


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