Tuesday, November 1, 2011

British government calls for a halt to power games by British judges

Theresa May has launched a fresh attack on British judges accusing them of being overzealous in their use of the Human Rights Act. The Home Secretary has claimed that the courts in this country go further than the European Court of Human Rights itself when considering immigration appeals.

Mrs May says judges are allowing too many immigrants to stay in the country on the grounds that their relatives might suffer if they were forced to leave. Thousands of illegal immigrants cite Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to respect for private and family life – to fight deportation.

The Home Secretary’s comments are set to reignite her bitter feud with Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has dismissed her suggestion that the British courts are too lenient. Mr Clarke publicly ridiculed Mrs May after she highlighted a case in which an illegal immigrant’s pet cat was taken into account at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month.

However, defiant Mrs May has continued her onslaught against the Human Rights Act in a letter to Westminster’s joint committee on human rights which is examining judgements.

Mrs May said there was a major divergence in the approach of British judges with the stance of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Mrs May said that deportation appeals made under article 8 were only upheld by Strasbourg in the ‘most exceptional circumstances’.

In contrast, she went on to cite the case of a woman who was allowed to remain in Britain because she would be forced to live with her mother who ‘she did not feel a close bond’ in Kenya.

One of the judges in the case said that forcing her to return to Kenya was ‘unreasonable’.

The judge also considered whether the woman, who had been in Britain since 2002, would struggle to adjust to Kenyan society and would be able to continue her hobby of singing in a church choir.

She said judges are supposed to consider whether there are ‘insurmountable’ obstacles to families being sent home, the test applied in Strasbourg. But they are increasingly setting weaker tests of their own.

Mrs May wrote: ‘There is now a divergence in approach between the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over whether the family of a person facing removal from the UK can live elsewhere, and the weight given to family relationships formed whilst migrants are knowingly breaking immigration laws.

‘We have wide-ranging concerns with the operation of article 8 in an immigration context’.

The Home Secretary cited another case of a judge found there was no ‘compelling public interest’ in deporting a woman to Jamaica although she had made a mockery of the immigration system. ‘This was his conclusion, despite the fact (she) originally entered the UK as a visitor, switched into a student category and then married as an overstayer’, Mrs May wrote.

Mrs May’s letter was sent to the committee after it asked for some examples of ‘inappropriate application’ of article 8 in immigration cases.

She added: ‘In a number of more recent cases, the UK courts have substituted for whether there are ‘insurmountable obstacles’ the alternative question of whether it is ‘reasonable to expect’ the family of an applicant facing removal to join him or her in his or her country of origin’.

A spokeswoman for Mrs May said: ‘We don’t comment on leaked documents.’


Border Patrol Arresting Illegal Crossers in Arizona, and Returning Them Through Texas and California

People who unlawfully cross the U.S.-Mexican border into southern Arizona are getting a bus ride – to Texas or California, and sent back to their countries.

The government has been shipping undocumented immigrants caught in Arizona, the main entry point for illegal border crossers, to other border states for several years. Last year, the number of transfers, known as lateral repatriations, skyrocketed.

From Oct. 1, 2010, through July 30, the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector transferred nearly 44,000 undocumented immigrants arrested in Arizona to Texas or California. That is 128 percent more than the number transferred during all of 2010.

"What that does is break up that smuggling cycle so that they are not going to keep coming through kind of a revolving door," said Colleen Agle, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, which covers most of Arizona's border with Mexico.

The Arizona Republic reports Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was in Nogales on Sunday to tour part of the border on horseback.

She praised the lateral transfers, calling them part of stepped-up efforts to deter illegal immigration by imposing consequences on illegal border crossers instead of simply returning them to Mexico.

"There are a number of things that all together are acting as deterrents to recidivist crossers in particular," Napolitano said. "All those added together make it less and less appealing to try and cross this very forbidding terrain."

Some humanitarian groups have raised concerns that the transfers separate families.

A September report by the Tucson-based humanitarian group No More Deaths found that based on interviews with more than 12,800 undocumented immigrants deported by the Border Patrol, 869 family members had been removed separately, including 17 children and 41 teens.

The separations often occurred after the Border Patrol transferred undocumented immigrants to other states so they could be deported through ports far from where they were apprehended, the report said.

Meanwhile, groups opposing Arizona's immigration enforcement law are trying to chip away at a section of the statute that bans the blocking of traffic when people seek or offer day-labor services on streets.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and other opponents asked a federal judge on Friday to block enforcement of the provision. They argue that it unconstitutionally restricts free speech rights and they say the state can't justify a statewide ban based on scattered instances of solicitations creating traffic problems in Phoenix.

The ban was among a handful of provisions in the law that were allowed to take effect after a July 2010 decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked enforcement of the law's more controversial elements.


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