Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sununu urges comprehensive action on immigration

Republicans hope to use their convention to spotlight some of the party’s rising Latino stars --  Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Senate hopeful Ted Cruz of Texas all have prominent speaking roles.

But at Monday’s news briefing for Spanish-language press, the headliner was neither rising nor Latino, but John H. Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff in George H.W. Bush’s White House.

Despite his Palestinian and Lebanese ancestry, Sununu speaks fairly fluent Spanish by virtue of his mother’s birth in El Salvador and his childhood in Havana. At 73, he has actively campaigned for Mitt Romney. Monday, he showed off his bilingual ability in defending Romney’s record on immigration and attacking President Obama for having presided over a stagnant economy that, Sununu said, had hurt Latino families.

Asked in Spanish how a Romney administration might handle young people who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, Sununu suggested that Romney might support a law to protect them – something that Romney himself has not said. Earlier this summer, before Obama announced his administration’s new policy, Rubio said he was trying to round up support among Republicans for a measure that would provide some type of legal status for the so-called Dream Act young people. Romney conspicuously did not endorse the idea.

Sununu appeared to take a step toward that. “We need to do something by law,” not just executive action, he said in Spanish. What one president does by executive action, a later president could undo, he noted.

“I think that if he becomes president, Mitt Romney understands that he needs to speak with people, with Sen. Rubio and other people that understand all the complexities of this situation. We need to make significant steps -- but step by step,” he said. “This problem cannot be solved in one strike.”

When the questioner -- a reporter from the Telemundo network -- noted that the Republican platform does not offer any protection to undocumented students and other young people, Sununu  replied, again in Spanish, “But it doesn’t say they won’t give it to them.”

He then mentioned two other aspects of the Republican platform on immigration -- an expanded guest worker program and a larger number of visas for legal entry. Those two steps, along with the situation of the young people, are the “three most important things” to be fixed, he said.

Responding to a subsequent question in English about immigration policy, Sununu was slightly less explicit about the so-called Dream Act youngsters.

Romney has “made it clear that there’s a whole series of steps that have to be taken,” Sununu  said. “One is the expanded guest worker program, one is the expanded program for visas.  And “one is to deal with the young people who came here through no fault of their own,” he said.

“I actually believe that what you have to do is move with a series of steps that create confidence on both sides of what is a very difficult and emotional issue,” he continued. To do that will require a “comprehensive package addressing the problems,” he said.

“Those components coming together have a strong possibility of becoming law. But the most important thing to get a law is to have a president who knows how to lead.”


British government Minister raps politicians' silence on immigration

A minister has criticised the ‘failure of mainstream politics’ to discuss immigration as the Government launched a three-pronged crackdown on illegal migrants.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said for years it had been ‘almost impolite’ for politicians to raise concerns about unprecedented numbers flowing into the UK, a silence which he said had allowed extremist parties, such as the BNP, to harvest votes.

He spoke out as it emerged a university had become the first in the UK to be stripped of its right to educate foreign students.

A UK Border Agency audit found numerous failings at London Metropolitan University, including allowing students to take lessons without valid visas and failing to report that some who had been granted visas, then failed to enrol on or attend courses.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Theresa May launched a drive to stop abuse of the UK’s marriage laws which have allowed migrants to stay here illegally.

Ministers will change the rules so ceremonies can be delayed for investigations. Last year a vicar was jailed for staging 300 fake weddings - including couples who did not speak the same language.

Mr Green said the silence around the UK’s doors being thrown open was filled by extremist parties such as the BNP, who then harvested votes from those who were concerned.

Nearly 3.5million immigrants arrived in the UK during Labour’s 13 years in power between 1997 and 2010, with the tide increasing when ten former Soviet Bloc countries joined the European Union in 2004.

Critics say public services, including schools, hospitals and transport, have struggled to cope with the influx, while some employers have been accused of using cheap, or illegal, foreign workers.

In a radio interview with LBC Radio, Mr Green said immigration had been like ‘turning on a tap’ under Labour.

He added: ‘On top of that, it was almost impolite to talk about immigration and the result of those two things happening at once was the rise of extremist politicians who scapegoated, really unpleasant parties like the BNP.

‘You saw that they rose at a time when politicians were afraid to talk about immigration so it’s very important that mainstream, moderate politicians of all parties actual deal with it as a problem.’

He compared immigration under Labour to ‘an oil tanker steaming hard in the wrong direction’ but insisted the Government was ‘getting to grips’ with the issue.

He spoke out as it emerged a controversial university had become the first in the country to be stripped of its right to educate foreign students.

London Metropolitan University’s licence will be revoked after the Home Office branded it a ‘threat to immigration control’.

Officials at the UK Border Agency identified so many failings at LMU, which has 2,600 students from outside the European Union, that it could not be trusted to ensure foreign students did not become illegal immigrants.

An audit found the university allowed students to take lessons without valid visas to stay in Britain, did not report that some granted visas failed to enrol on or attend courses, and did not test students to check they could speak English.

Malcolm Gillies, LMU’s vice-chancellor, said the university was ‘disappointed’ by the news.

He said in the past six weeks the university had ‘done everything it could to demonstrate that it... has worked to remedy past weaknesses’.

Mr Green said a national campaign to crackdown on foreigners who stayed in the UK after their student visas had expired had caught 2,000.

He said: ‘We find that a lot of those are people who came here on a student visa, maybe did study for a year or maybe didn’t study at all, but they then hang around after their visa is over and it’s clear that their main intention for coming here was to work. That kind of abuse enrages people.'

Mr Green said: ‘At the moment a registrar has the duty to marry someone if they can’t see any legal impediment then they have to marry them.

‘What we’re going to do is give the powers to say, “Actually I’m not going to marry you, because this doesn’t look like a proper marriage to me”.’

In the third prong of the crackdown, migrants who falsely claim benefits after coming to Britain to work, study or visit face being stripped of welfare payments, according to leaked documents.

Nearly 20,000 people who arrived from outside Europe will be the first to be targeted in the new crackdown which will begin next month.

They will receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling them to send back a photocopy of their passport or residence permit within 28 days, according to the Sunday Telegraph. If they cannot, they must email the UK Border Agency (UKBA) with a range of identifying information.

In total, 370,000 people who came to Britain as visitors, students or workers are now on work-related benefits.

Foreign-born claimants is understood to make up 6.5 per cent of the total 5.5 people on benefits in the UK.


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