Sunday, September 30, 2012

U.S. immigration to treat same-sex partners as relatives

The Obama administration has directed immigration officials to recognize same-sex partners as family members in deportation cases, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Pelosi in a letter that she had ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to notify its field offices "that the interpretation of the phrase รข€˜family relationships' includes long-term, same-sex partners."

Pelosi welcomed the federal recognition of gay and lesbian couples. At the same time, she called for more to be done to protect undocumented immigrants in long-term relationships with American citizens.

Napolitano's directive "will provide a measure of clarity and confidence to families dealing with separation in immigration cases," Pelosi said in a written statement. "Our nation is served when loving families are kept together."

But she added: "We need to ... relegate DOMA to the dustbin of history." The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from extending federal benefits, such as Social Security, to married gay and lesbian couples.

DOMA restricts the Obama administration from outright ordering that gay and lesbian couples be treated the same as heterosexual couples.

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama called DOMA unconstitutional and said they would no longer defend the measure in court. In response, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives stepped in to fund an effort to try to uphold the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next month whether it will review a number of cases questioning the constitutionality of DOMA.

Meanwhile, married couples like Brian Willingham, 38, and Alfonso Garcia, 35, of Orinda, California, have been fighting for the right to be considered related in the eyes of immigration authorities. After a traffic stop, officials began deportation proceedings against Garcia, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was 14.

"We're definitely happy that the Obama administration took this good first step," Willingham told Reuters Friday. "But it's just a Band-Aid. It helps us because we are faced with deportation. But it leaves thousands of couples in exile."

Immigration officials last year said they would consider same-sex partnerships as family relations in deciding whether to deport undocumented immigrants.

But 83 members of Congress led by Pelosi and Jerrold Nadler of New York criticized the government for unevenly applying the directive, and they pressed for written guidelines.

"This is a huge step forward," said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a national gay-rights group. "Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise. The administration's written guidance will help families facing separation and the field officers who are reviewing their cases."


Obama's fantasy world on immigrationvarrette: Obama's fantasy world on immigration

By Ruben Navarrette

There was only one acceptable response from President Barack Obama when he was grilled over his immigration policies by Univision's Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas: "Lo siento" (I'm sorry).

Instead of going on the defensive and retreating into the fantasy world where he and his administration do no wrong, and where it's those dastardly Republicans who prevented him from keeping his promise to make immigration reform a top priority, Obama should have offered up a mea culpa.

The president has made a mess of things. He broke campaign promises and, more important, broke up hundreds of thousands of families by deporting parents, and placing their U.S.-born children on this side of the border in foster care so that other people could raise them.

He did all this not -- as some of his supporters argue -- to lay the groundwork for comprehensive immigration reform. He did it to score points with conservatives and win back independents by trying to prove that he heard their concerns about illegal immigration, and that he was tough enough to address them. And he did it to please two vital elements of the Democratic Party's base: African-Americans and organized labor, both of whom claim that illegal immigration takes jobs away from U.S. workers and keeps wages low.

But his immigration policies got away from him. He let the genie out of the bottle by doing on a federal level what Arizona has done on a state level -- namely, rope

thousands of local police officers into the enforcement of federal immigration law. The program, Secure Communities -- which was started under the George W. Bush administration -- was put it into overdrive by Obama with the goal of expanding it nationwide by 2014. By forcing local police to act as surrogates for immigration agents, the administration was able to round up and deport more than 1.5 million people. But it also eliminated police and prosecutorial discretion and ensured that people who years ago might have been left alone -- for instance, victims of domestic violence -- were arrested and deported.

Obama is not a bad person. But when it comes to immigration, and the pain inflicted on the Latino immigrant community in this country, he's been a bad president.

You'll never hear any contrition for this, from Obama or his surrogates. It's not in the president's DNA to accept responsibility for his excesses, mistakes or failures. Harry Truman said that the buck stopped here. Obama seems to think the buck stops down the block.

When pressed by Ramos and Salinas about his failures on immigration, Obama trotted out all the old and familiar excuses, justifications and half-truths that he and his surrogates have used for the last two years to explain away their policy of "broken promises, broken families." This included the assertions that have already been discredited, like the claim that most of those who were deported had criminal convictions. Not so.

But what really was outrageous was when Obama blamed Republicans for the fact that as president, he didn't even propose an immigration reform bill to Congress. These are the same Republicans who were in the minority for the first two years of his tenure, and couldn't have stopped immigration reform if they wanted to.

It's time to exit fantasy world. These are the realities underlying the immigration debate, even if Obama will never admit them.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Immigration activists fear demobilization of Latino vote

Leaders of the U.S. immigrant community said they are concerned about the possible demobilization of the Latino vote in the November election.

"If you don't go vote, use your voice in the democracy, it means that you have lost hope and are voluntarily giving up your political power," Joshua Hoyt, co-president of the National Partnership for New Americans, told Efe on Monday.

Hoyt is among some 800 experts, activists and community leaders gathering in Baltimore this week for the National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012.

Among the speakers at the conference there is unanimity in pointing to the responsibility borne by Latinos who are citizens and are eligible to vote.

"You have to go out and vote and you also have to punish the politicians or reward those who are talking about issues that concern you," said Hoyt.

Participants at the conference admit that the fear of demobilization exists.

"There are people who are frustrated by the lack of immigration reform during the term that's ending now, others simply have not voted for a long time," Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, which is hosting the event, told Efe.

Despite that, groups such as his are calling upon activists to make an effort to convince Latinos of the importance of their vote and used current political issues to demonstrate it.

"The best way to integrate immigrants is to pass immigration reform," Torres argued.

He asserted that "if President Obama gets reelected he's going to have an extraordinary political moment, because the Republicans will take notice that they have lost the Latino vote and they will finally want to get moving on the problem of immigration."

Hoyt, who has known Obama since the 1980s, was more emphatic in affirming that if Obama wins the election people will have to demand that he take action on immigration.

"If Obama is elected thanks to the Latino vote, on Nov. 7 we have to be on top of him, beating him like a mule, so that he does what he has to do for the Latino community," he said.

Another issue that is on the table is deferred action, the Obama administration's temporary suspension for thousands of undocumented youths of the risk of being deported.

"If Gov. Romney is elected, we don't know what's going to happen," said Torres.

On the other hand, Hoyt said that the deferred action, which benefits so many undocumented students, has no reverse gear.

"If Romney manages to become president, he will be interested in getting reelected at the end of four years, he will support young Latinos. If not, there would be a revolution, not only in the Latino community, and it would be political suicide for him."


Indonesia foils "asylum seeker" voyage to Australia

Indonesian authorities have arrested more than 120 asylum seekers who were trying to reach Australia.

Water police intercepted them at the mouth of a river in west Java as they attempted to make their way to the ocean and beyond to Australia.

On board were 126 asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but five managed to escape from authorities.

It is understood the remaining asylum seekers are certified as having refugee status, but they will be detained in Indonesia which is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention.

Indonesian immigration authorities are transferring the detainees to the West Java town of Bogor with the involvement of the International Organisation for Migration.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio loses narrow appeal on immigration law limit

A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied an Arizona sheriff's request to reverse a lower-court decision barring his deputies from detaining people solely on the suspicion that they're illegal immigrants.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a 23-page ruling after considering the narrow question of a preliminary injunction while a Phoenix trial court considers the merits of the entire lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The appeals court ruling focused only on the lower court's limit on Arpaio's immigration powers and doesn't confront the case's ultimate question of whether deputies in Arizona's most populous county have racially profiled Latinos on their patrols.

A three-judge panel ruled U.S. District Judge Murray Snow didn't abuse his authority in granting the order and said the ruling didn't impair the sheriff's ability to enforce state and federal criminal laws.

A call to Arpaio's office for reaction to the appeals court ruling wasn't immediately returned Tuesday evening.

A small group of Latinos claim Arpaio's deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks during regular traffic patrols and the sheriff's 20 special immigration patrols.

A federal judge in December ordered Arpaio's department to refrain from conducting such traffic stops while the class action suit was being considered.  Arpaio appealed, arguing his deputies had probable cause to make the stops.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 against the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America."

The Latino group also accuse Arpaio of ordering some of the patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

Arpaio has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying his deputies only stop people when they think a crime has been committed and that he wasn't the person who picked the location of the immigration patrols.

Both sides are awaiting Snow's verdict after a seven-day trial without a jury ended Aug. 2. Snow hasn't indicated when he would rule.

The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff's office has been accused of systematically racially profiling Latinos, and will serve as a precursor for a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.

There has never been a finding by a court that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos, though a case that made such an allegation was settled last year for $200,000 without an admission of wrongdoing by the sheriff's office.

Earlier Tuesday, the 9th Circuit turned back the latest effort by a civil rights coalition to bar police from enforcing the most contentious part of Arizona's immigration law.

Opponents of part of the law requiring police to question some people they contact about their immigration status wanted the federal appeals court to block its enforcement.

That provision survived a U.S. Supreme Court review and it went into effect Sept. 18 after a federal judge in Phoenix said it could be enforced.

The 9th Circuit denied the coalition's emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal and their request for certification to the Arizona Supreme Court. An attorney with the National Immigration Law Center said the coalition is assessing its next step.


Migration fuels 4m rise in population of England and Wales over the last 10 years

The number of people living in England and Wales has soared by around four million in only ten years, according to the latest count released yesterday.

The increase, driven by large-scale immigration, pushed up the population at its fastest rate during the past 100 years.

Rapid growth outpaced even the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s, the historic post-war period when record childbirth levels helped fuel long-term economic and social upheaval.

The scale of the population boom that has followed Labour’s decision to ease curbs on immigration after 1997 was revealed by the Office for National Statistics in new estimates for England and Wales in the middle of last year.

The figures showed the population rose by 3.8million, or 7.3 per cent, from 52.4million in 2001 to 56,170,900 last year. And in three months last year – between the day of the 2011 national census at the end of March and the end of June – the population went up by 95,000, the equivalent of a city the size of Worcester.

‘The population of England and Wales increased by approximately 20million during the last 100 years and by approximately four million during the last decade,’ the ONS said.

‘The increase in population between 2001 and 2011 was the largest in percentage terms in the last century.’

The decade between 1941 and 1951 showed a bigger jump, from 38.7million to 43.8million. But these figures were skewed because the 1941 wartime estimate left out millions in the forces.

ONS analysts said last year’s three-month population increase of 95,000 was a result of around 66,600 more births than deaths and net migration of 28,400. Net migration – the number of immigrants minus the number who have emigrated – was at a low level compared with other times of the year.

‘Immigration flows are higher in the later summer and autumn months, for example, when students enter the country to take up courses in higher education,’ the ONS report said. Migration is usually reckoned to be responsible for 70 per cent of new population growth, partly because of higher birth rates among recent immigrants.

Until now the recent population explosion was thought to be similar in scale to the baby boom that peaked 50 years ago. Between 1951 and 1961 the number in England and Wales rose by 2.4million, from 43.8million to 46.2million, while between 1961 and 1971 it increased by a further three million to 49.2million.

Yesterday’s figures show that the post-war increase has been eclipsed, mainly because of the opening of Britain’s borders after 1997 to migrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Sir Andrew Green, of the MigrationWatch think-tank, said: ‘This is further evidence to show that we must get immigration under control. It is driving the population up and up in numbers that we have never seen before.’

Coalition ministers have pledged to reduce levels of net migration to those of the 1990s – lower than 100,000 a year. But latest indicators show the annual total is still in excess of 200,000.

The population of the UK as a whole is around 63million. Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed fears that a UK population of 70million – likely to be reached by 2027 – will put too great a strain on housing, transport, education and other state services.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alabama Firms find LEGAL Immigrants to Fill Jobs

The law would seem to have achieved its objectives in reducing the welfare rolls

Esene Manga, an Eritrean refugee living in Atlanta, hadn’t heard of Albertville, Alabama until a recruiter offered him a job there. Now Manga, 22, earns $10.85 an hour cutting chicken breasts on a poultry-plant night shift, an unexpected beneficiary of a year-old law designed to drive out illegal Hispanic immigrants.

This isn’t what the law’s backers said would happen. Republican state Senator Scott Beason, a sponsor, said at a news conference last year that the restrictions on undocumented workers would “put thousands of native Alabamians back in the work force.”

Instead, it caused a labor shortage that resulted in the importation of hundreds of legal African and Haitian refugees, and Puerto Ricans, according to interviews with workers, advocacy organizations and businesses. Most were recruited by the poultry industry, in a segment of the economy that has been a heavy employer of undocumented workers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington research group.

Alabama is one of five states that last year passed immigration laws modeled on a 2010 Arizona measure largely invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. Last month, an appellate court in Atlanta said many of the Alabama law’s requirements also aren’t constitutional. Other provisions, including one allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants, remain in place.

Destination: Albertville

In Albertville, a city of about 21,000 in the northeast corner of the state, Manga, his friend Abrahaley Araya and about 18 other African refugees started at Wayne Farms LLC’s plant in the days after the law took effect a year ago, according to the two men and Albert Mbanfu of Lutheran Services of Georgia, which helps refugees find jobs.

Johnell Rodriguez, 26, said he was among 17 Puerto Ricans who arrived at another Alabama Wayne Farms plant a week after the law took effect. Haitian Saul Jules said he was recruited in Miami to work in Albertville by JBS SA (JBSS3)’s Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. a few months ago.

Plants sought refugees because too few local residents were interested or qualified, said Frank Singleton, a spokesman for Wayne Farms, based in Oakwood, Georgia.

Many legal Hispanic employees left after the immigration law took effect, he said. The company, which operates six plants in the state, spent $5 million to replace and train new workers, he said. Turnover in North Alabama was 50 percent last year, and is now as high as 90 percent in some plants because replacements didn’t stay, he said. The company is “having to use alternative methods and sourcing,” including recruiting refugees, Singleton said.

Wayne Farms found Eritreans, displaced by war and conflict, and other Africans through East Coast Labor Solutions LLC, a Fairlea, West Virginia-based labor broker. East Coast has about 200 workers in Alabama, owner Ray Wiley said in an interview.

“Our jobs are often in states where immigration laws have hit the hardest, and mostly in the poultry industry,” he said.

East Coast began calling Atlanta refugee agencies several months ago looking for legal immigrants to come to Alabama for a year, said Mbanfu, refugee employment director for Lutheran Services in Atlanta. He said the company would have taken as many refugees as he could refer.

The agency connected East Coast with refugees who had been in the country three to five years, he said.

Chris Gaddis, head of human resources for Greeley, Colorado-based Pilgrim’s Pride, which has four plants in Alabama, said the law didn’t affect its workforce. Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN), which has two plants in Alabama, also said there was no effect.

Alabama doesn’t track the number of refugees who come to fill jobs. The state had an estimated 120,000 illegal Hispanic immigrants in 2010, of whom 95,000 were in the labor force, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. They were 2.5 percent of the population and 4.2 percent of the workforce.

Changing demographics are reflected on store shelves. Albertville’s main Hispanic grocery, Tienda El Sol, added coconut milk, new varieties of hot peppers and other items to appeal to newcomers, manager Marjorie Centeno said.

The Alabama law’s intent was to attack “every aspect of an illegal alien’s life,” and “make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves,” Republican House sponsor Micky Hammon said during legislative debate, according to a Birmingham News report.


 Recent posts at CIS  below

See  here for the blog.  The CIS main page is here


1. Visa Mills, Diploma Mills, and Other For-Profit Colleges.  Sorting Out Some of the Controversies in Higher Education


2. No Hezbollah in Mexico?

3. GAO Report: State Dept. Has Good Tools but Lacks Coordinated Approach to Address Rampant Visa Fraud

4. More Proof that Visa Abuse Is Instinctive at IBM

5. Are Non-Hispanics Really that Negative Toward Hispanics, Really?

6. How Many Murders Is Enough? Slain Teen's Father Implores Calif. Gov. to Veto Sanctuary Bill

7. Bad Dreams About "Free" Health Care

8. Could It Happen Here? Probably Not, but It Did in Canada!

9. On the Notion of Risk Management at DHS

10. USCIS Does Right Thing on EB-5 Issue — and Gets Sued

11. Is Visa Abuse Instinctive at IBM?

12. Tech Immigration and the Visa Lottery

13. USCIS Annual Fee Waiver Loss Soars to $198 Million

14. When You've Lost NPR Listeners. . .

15. Reaping What We've Sown

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arizona: No 'dreamer' driver's licenses

After conducting a review, the Arizona Department of Transportation has concluded that the state will not issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants granted work permits under President Barack Obama's deferred-action program.

The decision, confirmed Friday in response to an inquiry by The Arizona Republic, is consistent with Gov. Jan Brewer's Aug. 15 executive order telling state agencies to take steps to make sure undocumented immigrants who receive deferred action on deportation do not get driver's licenses or public benefits.

Many other states are grappling with the same issue.

The decision angered advocates who believe undocumented immigrants granted deferred action should be able to get driver's licenses.

Without them, the immigrants cannot legally drive to work or school.

The state may face a lawsuit from civil-rights groups who say preventing undocumented immigrants granted deferred action from getting driver's licenses violates state law.

At issue is whether federal employment-authorization documents, or work permits, that will be given to undocumented immigrants approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be accepted by the state to establish legal presence.

California has said the state will issue driver's licenses to such immigrants because it already accepts the documents for other reasons.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, however, have repeatedly stated that undocumented immigrants granted deferred action do not have any legal status in the U.S.

The action simply allows them to stay temporarily in the U.S. for two years without the threat of deportation and to receive a work permit, they said.

In a written statement, Timothy Tait, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, cited those statements to justify not issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants granted work permits under the program. The agency already accepts work permits issued to undocumented immigrants for other reasons, including because they are crime victims or witnesses.

Arizona law requires that only people living in the country legally can be issued a driver's license or identification card, Tait said in the statement.

Because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said deferred action does not give undocumented immigrants legal status, their work permits "are insufficient for the purpose of obtaining an Arizona driver license or identification card," he said.

The state Motor Vehicle Division's website includes three types of employment-authorization documents on a list of primary documents already accepted to get driver's licenses. Those documents have federal identification numbers, including I-688A, I-688B and I-766.

After Brewer issued the executive order, ADOT officials said they would review that policy.

Since then, the MVD has added a sentence on its website next to the list of accepted work-authorization documents: "An employment authorization document resulting from a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival is not acceptable."

Tait's statement did not say how MVD officials will distinguish work permits granted to deferred-action recipients under Obama's program from those granted to undocumented immigrants for other reasons.

However, the work permits issued under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will have a different number: I-765.

As many as 1.7 million undocumented immigrants, including 80,000 in Arizona, may be eligible for the deferred-action program. It targets undocumented immigrants under age 31 who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have lived continuously in this country for five years.

So far, more than 82,000 undocumented immigrants nationally have applied for deferred action, and 29 have been granted deferred-action status, according to theUSCIS.

Regina Jefferies, a Phoenix lawyer who chairs the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the state will likely face a lawsuit over the decision to deny driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants who receive work permits under the new program.

"Their policy violates state law. Very clearly, state law allows people with a work permit and a Social Security number to get a driver's license," she said. "They can be sued, and I am sure that is what will happen."

Carmen Cornejo of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an advocacy group that has been helping undocumented immigrants apply for deferred action, said not issuing driver's licenses to successful applicants unjustly creates hardship for them.

"It's a necessity for them to go to work," she said. "They cannot not drive to work. They cannot not drive to school.

"It puts them in danger with the authorities," who can ticket or arrest them, she said.

Last week, officials from Maricopa Community Colleges announced that undocumented immigrants granted deferred action would be able to use the work permits to receive in-state tuition.

Under state law, undocumented immigrants are normally barred from receiving in-state tuition and must pay more costly out-of-state tuition.

The Arizona Board of Regents is considering whether to allow undocumented immigrants granted deferred action to receive in-state tuition at the state's three universities.


Australian conservative politician casts doubt on validity of Sri Lankan asylum seekers after 16 chose to return home

THE Opposition has questioned the motives of 5000 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia, as new figures show boat arrivals from the country have overtaken those from war-torn Afghanistan.

As 16 Sri Lankan asylum seekers agreed at the weekend to return home instead of facing detention on Nauru, Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the move "calls into question" the processing of every application since the country's 25-year civil war ended in 2009.

"As asylum seekers, I assume that they were seeking to flee from persecution," Ms Bishop told the ABC.

She questioned why the group would therefore choose to return home, rather than go to the "safe haven" of Nauru.

The number of Sri Lankans arriving has soared this year to 3536, up from just 211 arrivals last year, and exceeding the 2996 Afghan arrivals.

It's the biggest number of arrivals ever recorded by Sri Lankans, including during the years in which a violent civil war killed more than 70,000 people and hugely damaged the economy.

Government figures show just 163 Sri Lankans arriving by boat have been granted humanitarian visas this year, but it is understood many of the arrivals are still being assessed.

It follows Opposition suggestions earlier this month the Government strike a deal with Sri Lanka to send asylum seekers intercepted at sea back to their home country "before they set foot on Australian soil" as most were economic refugees.

The Government said such a move would break international responsibilities.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Nick Riemer said the civil war may be officially over, but conditions for Tamils were still "very dire".  "There are reports of disappearances ... there are reports of torture by the Sri Lankan authorities," he said.

"The fact that there are 16 people who have consented, or who have been pressured, into returning doesn't tell us anything about the overall situation of all of the other Sri Lankans who are still in the Australian system, who are still coming here, and who are still evidently desperate to get out of the country."

Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said more boats have arrived in the first quarter of the financial year than the Government budgeted for 12 months.

Mr Morrison said boats continued to arrive daily, in spite of the new offshore processing regime, including 25 boats in the first 23 days of this month.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Why a rare bipartisan consensus on immigration totally fell apart

Because Democrats believe that immigrants should be selected by lottery!

President Obama supports the idea. So does Mitt Romney. In fact, it’s one of the few major points of consensus on immigration policy between Democrats and Republicans. So what doomed a proposal to give more green cards to immigrants who get science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduate degrees in the United States?

The short answer: House Republicans decided to attach the STEM visa expansion to the elimination of another long-standing visa program — a condition that House Democrats soundly rejected.

The longer story is that, before the August recess, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other legislators had been engaged in seemingly promising bipartisan talks to bring forward an immigration overhaul that included the STEM visa proposal. “We had barely gotten back a consensus on immigration — that some increase on immigration is good,” says Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s Office at New York University, who describes the talks as the first genuinely bipartisan immigration effort that went beyond border security since 2006.

When Congress came back from recess, however, the bipartisan talks disintegrated because legislators couldn’t come up with a compromise on family reunification, a Schumer aide told the National Journal. So both Smith and Schumer came up with separate partisan bills.

Smith made the addition of STEM visas contingent upon the elimination of a diversity visa program that uses a green card lottery to let in immigrants from underrepresented countries, who only have to have a high-school education. The net number of green cards issues—55,000—would remain the same. Schumer, together with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), introduced a separate STEM bill that didn’t eliminate the diversity visa lottery.

That’s why House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected Smith’s bill on Thursday, which failed 257-158, with just 30 Democrats voting to support it. Their main argument was that one group of immigrants shouldn’t be disadvantaged for another group to be let in. “We strongly oppose a zero-sum game that trades one legal immigration program for another,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), according to the New York Times. Republicans accused Democrats of trying to sabotage the U.S. economy and spurning the tech companies that supported the bill to avoid handing the GOP a legislative victory.

Others, however, blame Republicans of playing politics by setting up the bill to fail so they could pin the blame on Democrats: The House GOP leadership put Smith’s bill on what’s known as the suspension calendar, which requires bills to have two-thirds instead of a simple majority to pass. Typically, the procedure is used to pass noncontroversial bills that are highly like to pass. But it can also be used “to create a difficult vote for whatever party isn’t in control,” says Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center.

But even if you put the politics aside, there’s still a major policy difference between Republican and Democratic proposals: Do we try to maintain the same overall numbers for legal immigration as we had in the 1990s, or should we look beyond quotas and encourage higher levels of legal immigration to stimulate the economy?

“If you’re unwilling to let go of the numbers from the 1990s, you’re always going to be looking to replace any new category,” says Giovagnoli. “The diversity visa has become a relatively easy target — it’s one of the few visas that’s available to someone with no basic relationship to the U.S.”

Republicans maintain that higher-skill immigration should take priority. But Democrats cast the elimination of the program as “an attack on the poorer segments of the immigration stream,” Giovagnoli explains, pointing out that nearly half of the diversity green cards go to immigrants from African countries who might not have another way to get to the United States.

Pro-immigration advocates don’t expect Congress to make another go at STEM visas until after the elections and were disheartened by the partisanship bickering on display this week. But some are heartened by the fact that legislators made even a preliminary effort to negotiate in good faith. “At least since 2008, the consensus in congress was ‘no, no, no’ on any immigration measure,” says Chisti. “Now we have seen an immigration thaw: There’s clearly a space for pro-immigration bills, and pro-migration bills.”


Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defends the transformation of Canada’s immigration system

Since the Conservatives won their majority in May 2011, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has embarked upon a strategic and systematic transformation of Canada's immigration system.

He has announced moratoriums or suspensions of the immigrant investor program, federal entrepreneur program, federal skill worker program and immigration applications from parents and grandparents. He's replaced those programs with others which, he hopes, will lead to quicker processing times and greater economic prosperity for newcomers while filling our domestic labour gaps.

His department has also put a greater emphasis on immigrants speaking either English or French:  in 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) overhauled the citizenship test, requiring a higher score to pass and a higher language proficiency. More recently, the department proposed a revamp of the immigration point grid which will put more weight on a prospective immigrant's age and language ability.

And he's cracked-down on fraudsters — boy has he cracked down on fraudsters.

Earlier this year, Kenney introduced a new regulatory body for immigration consultants that actually has some teeth to punish crooked-consultants.  To the protest of doctors and refugee advocates, CIC has restricted refugee claimants' health benefits and proposed tougher spousal sponsor rules in order to reduce marriage fraud. It is also now strictly enforcing residency requirements for permanent residents.

"[Fraud] has been a very significant problem," Kenney told Yahoo! Canada News in a telephone interview last week.

"I wouldn't over-state it...but unfortunately a significant minority have used crooked immigration agents overseas and in Canada to try to beat the system...We've seen a number of significant problems which were undermining public confidence in our immigration system."

[ More Political Points: Consulate in Toronto forced to drop ‘diaspora tax’ ]

Critics argue that Kenney is merely using fraud as guise to push forward his changes. Liberal immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux has even called some of Kenney's immigration bills "anti-immigrant."

"I certainly do believe that the changes the Minister and the Conservative government have been implementing are unfair, unprecedented and, ultimately, harmful to Canada's immigration system," Lamoureux told Yahoo! Canada News in an email.

"There has always been a sense of compassion in Canada's immigration system whether it's refugee policies or family reunification."

But Kenney insists that the fast pace of changes is necessary.  And he says the public, especially immigrants already in Canada, support his government's initiatives.

"Our system had been terribly mismanaged, to the point where we had over a million people waiting up to nine years for decisions on their immigration applications," he says.

"We are moving towards a fast immigration system which will allow us to do [a] much better job of selecting people likely to succeed in Canada's economy [and] likely to integrate quickly and successfully."

In 2011, Canada accepted about 240,000 permanent residents and 8,000 refugees  — numbers that are among the highest per-capita level in the developed world.

Kenney says that's a level of immigration that he'd like to maintain in the years ahead.

"Most employers would like to see bigger [immigration] numbers but only about 10 or 15 per cent of Canadians want us to raise immigration levels," he said.

"They're already very high and our focus is on improving the outcome [and] the experience of immigrants before increasing the numbers."


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Immigrants Are Not Miracle Workers Who Can Fix Any Broken Economy

Lessons from Detroit, Baltimore, and other struggling cities

Many U.S. cities caught in a spiral of economic decline think they have a rescue plan: an influx of immigrants. Officials are carrying out policies aimed at attracting foreigners in hopes that their energy and drive will reverse decades of population losses and set the stage for a revival.

Such thinking is a breath of fresh air—and the polar opposite—of the restrictionist rage that has led Arizona and other states to adopt draconian tactics to chase away such people. But immigrants aren’t miracle workers who can fix any broken economy. Their absence often signals that cities have taken a wrong turn. But that doesn't mean that rolling out the welcome mat will get a place back on track without fundamental reform.

The notion that immigrants can revive dying cities isn’t new. Cleveland started trying to get its “fair share” of the foreign-born from traditional immigrant magnets such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Houston about a decade ago.

Its efforts petered out, but other struggling cities have recently jumped on the immigrant bandwagon.

In Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wants to attract 10,000 new families, including foreigners, within 10 years. To this end, she has barred authorities from asking city residents about their immigration status. The mayor, a Democrat, is also offering nutrition and exercise programs in Spanish, an overture that was anathema to her predecessor.

Dayton, Ohio, is also courting immigrants, offering legal services to people with visa-related questions and connecting them with local businesses and community groups interested in hiring or helping them.

In Michigan, a former Democratic state representative, Steve Tobocman, runs a nonprofit group, Global Detroit, that has raised $4 million to investigate ways to attract and retain immigrants. The group is experimenting with programs to connect low-income immigrant and minority entrepreneurs with lenders who offer loans without collateral. Tobocman is also seeking ways to keep foreign students in local universities from moving away.

“No one strategy will, by itself, revitalize the Detroit regional economy,” he says. “However, nothing is more powerful to remaking Detroit as a center of innovation, entrepreneurship and population growth, than embracing and increasing immigrant populations.”

The problem with this thinking is that it misunderstands the role that immigrants play in an economic revival. They aren’t the engine for growth. They are only the fuel, albeit a high-octane one. The difference is crucial.

But the stories of an immigrant-led renewal—the Korean store owners in blighted New York neighborhoods and wig manufacturers who created the vibrant Koreatown in Los Angeles starting in the 1970s—overestimate the economic collapse of the cities that the newcomers are credited with restoring, says Sanda Kaufman, a professor of planning, policy and public administration at Cleveland State University. She conducted a study in 2003, at the behest of Cleveland’s mayor, that examined using immigration for urban renewal. Kaufman found that much of the research in the U.S. linking immigration with growth came either from large cities with thriving economies, or ones that were never completely down and out.

Even New York in the 1970s wasn’t quite as desolate a place as Detroit is today. Its population losses were not as severe. The financial industry had not retrenched as badly as Detroit’s auto industry has. And its government wasn’t as badly broken. New York got a federal loan to avoid bankruptcy, to be sure -- but not until President Gerald Ford was convinced it was serious about dealing with its structural fiscal imbalances, not to mention crime and crumbling schools. That is when the city became a magnet for immigrants who speeded up its turnaround.

The newcomers are very good at finding and seizing openings in an economy that the native-born residents don’t see or don’t want. This is one reason cities should remove the barriers keeping immigrants away. But first these opportunities have to exist.

When they do, a city’s population loss is reversed rather quickly as immigrants move in to capture the openings left by departing residents. A 2003 Brookings Institution study found that five of six metropolitan areas, including New York, with the biggest exodus of residents in the 1990s also had the largest influx of foreigners. By contrast, Rust Belt cities such as Detroit have experienced only outflows since the 1960s.

Why? New Yorkers were mostly leaving for greener pastures elsewhere, while Detroit’s residents are mostly fleeing to escape a lack of opportunities.

Kaufman argues that a relevant experience for Detroit and Baltimore isn’t in New York, but in Israel’s development-town experiment in the 1950s and 1960s. The Israeli government tried to settle newcomers from North Africa, Yemen and Romania in Galilee and the southern part of the country to ease crowding in the cities and coastal regions. It offered big incentives to the new residents in hopes that they would stay and flourish. But the efforts mostly didn’t pan out, and the immigrants left to join their communities elsewhere.

It turns out, immigrants aren’t pioneers whose survival depends on conquering an inhospitable frontier. Yes, they can put up with far greater hardship than the native-born, but they aren’t clueless ingenues who are easily seduced. They have word- of-mouth networks that alert them to places that offer them the best economic and social fit, making it difficult to plunk them anywhere and expect results.

So what should Detroit, Baltimore, and other struggling cities do to become more attractive to immigrants? Offer them a decent quality of life at an affordable price. This means improving schools, tackling crime, creating an entrepreneur- friendly climate and keeping taxes reasonable.

In short, fix the economic engine first.


Sri Lankan illegals sent home voluntarily from Australia rather than face long detention

So much for their need of "asylum"

SRI LANKAN male asylum seekers have been sent home after refusing to be transferred to the offshore processing centre on Nauru, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said today.

Mr Bowen says the 18 Sri Lankans left Christmas Island for Colombo today after asking to be sent home instead of being sent to the Pacific island for the processing of their claims as asylum seekers.

The first group to be sent for offshore processing since new asylum seeker laws were enacted were transferred from Christmas Island to Nauru on September 14.

Australia has reopened the processing centre at Nauru and is soon to reopen Papua New Guinea's Manus Island as part of the federal government's policy to stem the number of boat arrivals.

Mr Bowen also said the government would introduce a recommendation from the Houston independent panel to bar people arriving by boat from sponsoring family under the Special Humanitarian Program.

The Houston report on asylum seeker policy, handed to the government on August 13, recommended 22 key measures to stem the boat arrivals to Australia.

Mr Bowen said the plane carrying the 18 men left Christmas Island at 0815 (11.15am AEST) today bound for the Sri Lankan capital.

He said 16 of the 18 men arrived in Australia after August 13, when the government announced its new border protection policies.

"They have asked not be transferred to Nauru, but instead to be returned to their homeland of Sri Lanka,'' Mr Bowen told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

"That has been arranged and facilitated."
The minister said the changes to the concessions under the special humanitarian program would ensure family reunions occurred only through the normal channels.

"There will be no special concessions," Mr Bowen said.

"Up until now it had been possible for people who arrive in Australia by boat to sponsor family members and not to show that the other requirements under the special humanitarian program were met."

Mr Bowen said the government had also accepted the recommendation to increase the numbers of people accepted under the family reunion program by 4000.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Kobach defends Texas city in immigration suit

A Dallas suburb asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to uphold an ordinance that would ban illegal immigrants from renting homes in the town.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national advocate for tougher illegal immigration laws who is also representing Farmers Branch, said that one of the provisions of an Arizona law upheld by the Supreme Court ruling closely mirrors a key portion of the Texas town’s ordinance.

“The problem with the plaintiffs’ argument is that they cannot identify a single federal statute that the Farmers Branch ordinance conflicts with,” he said.

The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear the case after a three-judge panel from the court ruled in March that Farmers Branch’s ordinance is unconstitutional and impermissibly interferes with the federal immigration system.

The court’s 15 judges didn’t indicate when they would rule after hearing arguments Wednesday from attorneys for the town and a group of landlords and tenants who sued to block the ordinance’s enforcement.

Arguments largely focused on how the case is affected by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June on Arizona’s tough immigration law. That ruling rejected major parts of the law, but upheld the so-called “show me your papers” requirement, which gives law enforcement authority to check a person’s legal status if officers have reasonable suspicion he or she is in the U.S. illegally.

The ordinance, which replaced an earlier 2006 version, would require all renters to obtain a $5 city license and fill out an application that asks about their legal status. Then, the city’s building inspector would have to check whether any immigrant applying for a license was in the United States legally. Illegal immigrants would be denied a permit, and landlords who knowingly allow illegal immigrants to stay as tenants could be fined or have their renters’ license barred.

Kobach said the ordinance explicitly bars the town from making its own determination about whether someone is “lawfully present” in the U.S.  “It must always be done by the federal government,” he said.

“It’s a yes or no from the federal government, correct?” asked Judge Jennifer Elrod, who heard the case last year but issued a dissenting opinion.  “Correct,” Kobach responded.

But plaintiffs’ attorney Nina Perales said the information federal officials provide the building inspector is “very complex and varied” and doesn’t explicitly state whether an applicant is “lawfully present” in the country.

“That’s something that the building inspector is going to have to figure out for himself,” Perales said.

Fellow plaintiffs’ attorney Dunham Biles added: “No one other than the federal government has the authority to classify aliens.”

Perales said the city’s ordinance goes far beyond the Arizona law, forcibly removing illegal immigrants from rental housing instead of merely detaining them and letting the federal government decide whether to remove them from the country.

“This is a complete divergence from the federal system,” she said.

A federal district judge ruled against the city in 2010 before the three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit upheld it earlier this year.

The full 5th Circuit is generally considered to be one of the nation’s most conservative federal courts. Its decision to hear the Farmers Branch case is rare — fewer than 5 percent of petitions for a full court hearing are granted — though the court rehearing a case doesn’t necessarily mean judges intend to reverse an earlier decision.


'Hateful' Islam critic Geert Wilders wants visa to speak in Australia

If the views of Mr Wilders are "hateful and divisive", what do we call the views of the violent Muslim demonstrators in Sydney recently?  If Mr Wilders is not fit to be here, what of the demonstrators?

A DUTCH MP who is a outspoken critic of Islam is seeking a visa to visit Australia for a speaking tour next month.

Geert Wilders, who has compared the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, has been invited by the Q Society to give speeches in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Federal Government has not yet made a decision but Multicultural Affairs Minister Kate Lundy described Mr Wilders as "an extreme-right politician promulgating views that are out of step with mainstream Australia".

Mr Wilders, who calls Islam "a retarded culture" is on an international immigration movement red-alert list. The Immigration Department is still considering the case and has not yet presented it to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who is Tony Abbott's parliamentary secretary, has previously supported a bid by Mr Wilders to visit on the grounds of free speech. He said he was not involved in organising any proposed visit but asked on what grounds should a democratically elected member of a foreign parliament be denied a visa.

Victorian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale criticised Mr Wilders. "His hateful and divisive views are not welcome in Australia, but to deny him a visa risks giving him more oxygen and publicity," he said.

Mr Wilders was refused a visa to enter the UK, but appealed and won.

Q Society vice president of community relations Andrew Horwood said his organisation was not political or religious and sought to educate people about Islam and uphold Australian values. Critics call it anti-Muslim.

Mr Horwood said after last weekend's Islamic riot in Sydney it was timely for Mr Wilders to "offer advice about Islam and we need to listen and take note".

He said Mr Wilders had been waiting three weeks for a visa and asked why the government was able to "process visas for Islamic hot heads in a hurry, but leave MPs from friendly European nations hang out to dry".

He sent a letter to supporters calling on them to urge Mr Bowen to approve the visa.

Mr Bowen defended granting a visa to British Muslim leader Taji Mustafa saying he was not on any alert list, not a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation and had no criminal convictions. He said the Howard government had not banned his organisation Hizb ut Tahrir despite the Opposition now calling him a hate preacher.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

British birth rate has soared to one of highest in Europe thanks to increase in migrants

Migrants have helped push Britain’s birth rate up to one of the highest levels in Europe.

Women here are now likely to have an average of just under two children – a level exceeded only in two of the other 27 European Union countries.

A decade ago, before large-scale immigration had a major impact on birth rates, Britain was firmly in the middle of the European table.

Since then, high fertility levels among migrants and a rapid rise in birth rates among women born here have helped push up the population faster than almost everywhere else in Europe. Only women in France, with a birth rate just ahead of ours at 2.03, and Ireland, at 2.07, have more children.

Just over 723,000 babies were born in England and Wales in 2010, up from fewer than 600,000 in 2000. The average number of children each woman is likely to have has gone up from 1.64.

The main reason for the increase was immigration, with many migrants of child-bearing age, and with many from cultures where larger families are more common.

The rising birth rate is also partially attributed to those born here in the 1960s and 70s having children later because they have been focusing on careers.

Having children has for many also been delayed by the need for a couple to maintain two incomes to cover mortgage and other costs.

Other European countries where birthrates have fallen have accepted fewer numbers of migrants than Britain and have not so far shown the same resurgence in baby numbers among women who in recent years have been delaying childbirth.

France has had higher birth rates than Britain since the 1990s and its fertility levels are also pushed upwards by the arrival of high numbers of immigrants.

Most recent figures show British birthrates have remained steady since 2010.

The Office for National Statistics said this may be because of ‘Government policy and the economic climate indirectly influencing individuals’ decisions around childbearing and therefore affecting the number of births.’

However it added: ‘The combined effect of multiple government policies and the changing economic climate does not have a clear impact on fertility in a particular direction.’

High birth rates in Britain are generally reckoned to be responsible for around 30 per cent of population increase.

The growing population, especially in the south, has made England the most crowded country in Europe, except for tiny Malta.


Arizona Can Start Immigrant Status Checks, Judge Rules

An Arizona requirement for local law enforcement to conduct immigration-status checks, left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court, can take effect, a judge said.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix lifted a preliminary injunction today on what civil rights groups call the “show me your papers” provision. The judge permanently barred Arizona from enforcing three other provisions of the state’s first-of-its-kind crackdown on illegal immigration that the Supreme Court found were preempted by federal law.

The June 25 ruling by the Supreme Court was an election- year victory for President Barack Obama, whose administration had challenged the Arizona law and who is vying with Republican candidate Mitt Romney for Hispanic votes. Supporters of the law say the federal government isn’t doing enough to crack down on an estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

“Today is the day we have awaited for more than two years: the injunction against the heart of SB 1070 has been lifted,” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement. “With SB 1070 in effect, state and local officers will be empowered to inquire about an individual’s immigration status, but only as part of a legal stop or detention and when the officer has reasonable suspicion.”

‘Reasonable Suspicion’

The measure left standing by the Supreme Court requires local police to check the immigration status of a person they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is an illegal alien. The Supreme Court left open the possibility of future legal challenges to the provision.

“It’s good the three provisions are permanently enjoined,” Linton Joaquin, general counsel with the National Immigration Law Center, said in a phone interview. “We’ll continue to fight to have this provision blocked as well.”

Bolton on Sept. 5 rejected a request by a group of civil rights organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center, to temporarily prevent Arizona from enforcing the provision until the courts have ruled whether it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said she wouldn’t ignore the “clear direction” of the U.S. Supreme Court that the provision “cannot be challenged further on its face before the law takes effect.”

The civil rights groups on Sept. 13 filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to prevent Arizona from implementing the law while they are appealing Bolton’s decision.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Non-Citizen Voters Diluting the Rights and Privileges of U.S. Citizenship

Recommendations to Ensure the Integrity of Elections Outlined

WASHINGTON, DC (September 18, 2012) – A new Center for Immigration Studies’ (CIS) Backgrounder examines efforts by state electoral officials to verify the accuracy of voter registration lists and the federal government to deny state access to information allowing ineligible non-citizen voters to be identified. The report emphasizes the need for federal-state cooperation in ensuring the integrity of voter enrollment. By not actively working with the states, the federal government blurs the distinction between citizens and aliens, thus diluting the value of citizenship as defined by the US Constitution.

The report is online here

The Backgrounder discusses evidence of voter lists containing the names of non-citizens, citing the Government Accountability Office’s discovery that 3 percent of the potential jurors on the voter list in one federal court district were non-citizens, and evidence from states like Colorado and Florida of non-citizens appearing on their voter lists. The document notes that states moved forward with their obligation to verify voter eligibility with the overwhelming consent of the public. A June Quinnipiac University poll found that three-fifths of Floridians approved of state officials' investigations.

The federal government attempted to deny states access to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database for vetting voter lists in violation of federal law which unambiguously requires immigration authorities to respond to queries from state officials seeking information relating to an individual's citizenship or immigration status.

“How many fraudulent voters are too many? The integrity of our elections must be upheld, and the federal government must support the states in ensuring non-citizens are not registered or permitted to vote when they are not eligible,” commented Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s Director of Policy Studies. “Surely we do not want to allow non-citizens to become a factor in any election. In addition, state and federal officials must prevent the registration of ineligible voters and clean up the voting lists to prevent fraudulent voting, either by non-citizens or imposters.”

Voter registration efforts are essential, and the Backgrounder provides recommendations for ensuring the integrity of voter lists. The report urges systemic vetting efforts including front-end voter registration screening, use of technology like biometrics to complement the more error-prone biographic screening, reinstitution of the issuance of ID Cards to newly naturalized and derivative citizens to facilitate registering and voting, distribution of a pamphlet for registrars to aid in identifying various forms of citizenship and naturalization, and USCIS assistance for state and local elections’ officials in identifying an individual's status as an alien versus a derivative or naturalized citizen.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: CONTACT: Marguerite Telford,, (202) 466-8185

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Australia:  End the boatpeople-Welfare cycle

Judith Sloan

FREE-market economists support free trade in goods and services. Free-market economists also support the free movement of capital and labour. But free-market economists warn against the corrosive and adverse effects of government-provided income support and welfare services on people's incentives to participate in the labour market and to improve their economic lot through their own efforts.

I fit comfortably into the category of free-market economist. Not surprisingly, I find the following comment of one of the doyens of free-market economics, Nobel Prize winner Professor Gary Becker, very persuasive.

"Since I am a free-trader, readers might expect my preferred alternative to the present system (of controlled migration to the US) to be 19th-century-style unlimited immigration. I would support that if we lived in the 19th-century world where government spending was tiny. But governments now spend huge amounts on medical care, retirement, education and other benefits and entitlements. Experience demonstrates that, in our political system, it is impossible to prevent immigrants gaining access to these benefits."

This comment applies no less to Australia. Immigrants, particularly those entering under the humanitarian visa (refugee) category, are attracted to Australia in part because of the generous safety net provided by governments. Free health care, free education, income support - these sorts of luxuries are potent magnets for refugees when seeking another country in which to live. It is a form of welfare arbitrage - safety from persecution with the additional advantage of a raft of government-provided benefits.

No doubt, I will be accused at this point of being heartless and ignorant. Surely refugees bring all sorts of economic benefits to Australia and these should form part of the equation when devising the size of the humanitarian quota. After all, refugees have shown determination to leave their homelands and, in the case of those who arrive by boat, to hand over money to people-smugglers to expedite their permanent entry to Australia. Does this sort of energetic resolve not correlate with subsequent economic success in Australia?

Sadly, the figures point to the exact opposite. They show that refugees have very low rates of labour force participation and extremely high rates of welfare dependence, even years after being granted permanent residence. And these figures are the official ones - admittedly released without fanfare - of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

The report, Settlement Outcomes of New Arrivals: Report of findings, was released last year by the department. The report's bland title is a give-away - vacuous, alliterative titles for government reports are virtually de rigueur these days. (Think: Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia.) The results on settlement outcomes are ugly.

Using the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia, the research describes the position of the three key groups of migrants five years after settlement: skilled, family and humanitarian.

In keeping with the findings of previous research, it is absolutely clear that refugees fare very badly in terms of employment and financial self-sufficiency. And note that this study was conducted during a period of low overall unemployment.

For example, the employment rate of humanitarian migrants from Afghanistan was recorded at only 9 per cent - note this is not the unemployment rate - five years after settlement and nearly 94 per cent of households from Afghanistan received Centrelink payments.

According to the report, "Afghans have a different settlement experience compared with most other cultural groups, such as having poorer English skills and lower qualifications levels. Yet they are more likely to borrow money, obtain mortgages and experience difficulties in paying them."

Those from Iraq did little better, with 12 per cent employed and 93 per cent of households in receipt of Centrelink payments. Interestingly, those who did best in the humanitarian group were from Central and West African countries such as Sierra Leone.

Note that these refugees are the least likely to have arrived by boat.

For the sake of typical bureaucratic "balance", the report notes that "given that we are exploring only the first five years of settlement in this study, [The low proportion in employment] is not a surprising result as many humanitarian entrants are strongly focused on creating a new life, and studying for a qualification is an important step in this journey".

But the comparisons with those entering under the other visa categories - and who are also focused on creating a new life - are stark.

Whereas the overall proportion of humanitarian migrant households in receipt of Centrelink payment was 85 per cent, the figure for the family group was 38 per cent and 28 per cent for the skilled group.

In other words, humanitarian migrant households were three times more likely to receive Centrelink payments than skilled migrant households, five years after settlement. (Note that skilled migrants are not entitled to receive Centrelink payments for the first two years of their residence.) Moreover, skilled migrants were more than five times likely to be in employment than refugees.

So how should policy-makers interpret these results?

The first point to note is that there must be a strict limit to the numbers allowed to enter under the humanitarian visa category given the drain on public finances.

The fact that the numbers were kept at about 13,750 for so long probably is a reflection of this reality. The recent increase in the quota to 20,000 is likely to cause an additional strain on both the federal and state budgets.

The second point is to open the debate about whether a portion of the humanitarian intake should be reserved for those prepared to pay a bond to obtain permanent residence.

Indeed, this has been suggested by Gary Becker. "Given these realities of free immigration, the best alternative to the present system is charging a price that clears the market. That is why I believe countries should sell the right to immigrate."

We have clear evidence that some refugees are prepared to pay people-smugglers to facilitate a speedy entry to Australia.

It therefore seems an obvious policy alternative to allocate a certain number of humanitarian places to proven refugees who are prepared to pay and/or forgo welfare benefits for a period of time.

There is clearly not a particularly strong correlation between refugee status and ability to pay, given the numbers of refugees who have paid people-smugglers to reach Australia.

Surely it would be preferable that this money is paid to the Australian government, rather than to people-smugglers offering travel on rickety boats.

The money raised could be used to benefit refugees who cannot pay.

In the light of the arrival of over 2000 asylum-seekers by boat since the government announced the change of policy to deter boat arrivals - a policy which looks set to fail - there is a clear and urgent case for some lateral thinking.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Australian Labor Party's  'Pacific Solution' now relocating illegals to Nauru

A PLANELOAD of Sri Lankan boat people is expected to land on Nauru today as the Labor Party’s reinvigoration of the so-called "Pacific Solution" gathers pace.

The new arrivals, the second group to go to Nauru since Labor reopened the John Howard-era detention centre on the tiny Pacific island, were expected to touch down shortly after 7am (5am Australian time).

Like the 30 Tamils who arrived on Friday, they will be  taken by bus to the 500-person capacity tent city in the sweltering middle of the island, where they will be hemmed in by thick jungle, the island’s rubbish tip and a rock quarry.

With the Australian Army almost finished building the tent city and with the Christmas Island detention centre already exceeding its capacity due to an influx of boats  this year, today’s arrivals will soon be followed by more. Indeed a boat carrying 10 people was detected off West Australia’s coast last night.

Another planeload of several dozen Tamils are expected later this week, and the first group of Afghan Hazaras early next week. By then the camp will house more than 150 asylum seekers.
Some of those 150 may also turn out to be women, children or whole families, as Immigration Minister Chris Bowenlast week told a press conference that "you can expect to see a broad cross-section of people transferred to Nauru next week and in coming weeks".

Despite promises by Mr Bowen that Labor’s system on Nauru would involve a processing centre, not a detention camp, the site’s inhabitants are forbidden from leaving.

A Nauruan government spokesman, Rod Henshaw, said on ABC radio that the situation was a "period of settling in".

"I know the Nauru government is anxious to have them settled and, over a period of time, to give them the privileges of wandering around."

He said he hoped the asylum seekers would be free to leave the camp in weeks or a month. "I couldn’t put a time on it ... but that is the objective, [to give the asylum seekers] the freedom of the island to some degree."

Questions also continue to be asked about the decision to process the refugee claims under Nauruan law. Last week the regional head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Rick Towle, said that Australia was handing over legal responsibility for people seeking asylum in that country.

Some  have  expressed concern that Australia may disagree with a refugee approval made under Nauruan law and refuse to take the person, meaning they can’t be returned to their country or resettled in Australia.


 Recent posts at CIS  below

See  here for the blog.  The CIS main page is here


1. Non-Citizen Voters Diluting the Rights and Privileges of Citizenship (Backgrounder)


2. ICE Does Exactly the Right Thing to a Pair of Third-Rate Hotels (Blog)

3. What Should Be Done with Those Granted DACA Amnesty? (Blog)

4. Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen — Or, Early Returns for the DACA Amnesty (Blog)

5. Report Dings DHS for Data Problems That Undermine Critical US-VISIT Screening Process (Blog)

6. U.S. Further Softens Its Position on Birth Tourism — But a Remedy Lurks (Blog)

7. The Cost of Responding to Faux Analysis, Part 2: Ignoring Inconvenient Truths That Detract from Your Hypothesis(Blog)

8. Mixed Reviews as ICE Breaks Up a Mass Marriage Fraud Ring in Florida (Blog)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Should high-skilled immigrants get special treatment?

Some in Congress want to give special visas to foreign-born graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math. But critics say it could come at the expense of diversity in legal immigration

Tucked into Congress’s scramble to get back on the campaign trail is an interesting debate about America’s immigration priorities. It’s in the form of a GOP-sponsored bill that would offer high-skilled advanced graduates of American universities a special visa option at the expense of the green card “lottery” system that aims to diversify the immigrant population to the US.

House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R) of Texas unveiled a bill Friday that would grant 55,000 visas a year to foreign-born graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“These students have the ability to start a company that creates jobs or come up with an invention that could jump-start a whole new industry,” said Rep. Smith, a frequent critic of the administration’s immigration policy, in a statement. “In a global economy, we cannot afford to educate these foreign graduates in the U.S. and then send them back home to work for our competitors.”

The bill prioritizes PhD recipients who will work in the US for five years and who come from 217 universities that are qualified as top research institutions by the Carnegie Foundation. The bill attempts to protect US workers from foreign competition by excluding biological and biomedical advanced graduates from the program and requiring companies that want to hire applicants for the special visa to post the job on the site of state workforce agencies.

The provocative question is not whether the US should have more STEM immigrants. From 165 university presidents who sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders arguing for STEM visas to bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for similar STEM-boosting legislation in the past to polls showing three in four Americans (including six in ten conservatives) support such measures, support for more STEM immigration is widespread.

The thorny issue is that public support for more STEM visas has not been previously linked to reducing another form of immigration; can Congress and the President stomach more STEM visas if they come at the expense of the diversity green card program?

“I would like to improve the STEM visa program without doing damage to other parts of our legal immigration system,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) of Illinois in a statement. “The President has made this a priority and I am prepared to support a clean STEM increase because it will help our economy and create jobs. Republicans are only willing to increase legal immigration for immigrants they want by eliminating legal immigration for immigrants they don't want.”

The value of the visa program Smith’s bill would eliminate is a broadening and deepening of the foreign-born that America makes its own. The diversity program, although only about 5 percent of the US’s typical total annual immigration, specifically targets nations that have had low rates of immigration to the US in the previous five years – Bangladesh and Poland, for example.

“The beauty of our immigration system is that it allows for diverse streams of people, family unification, low wage, high wage, refugee,” says Muzzafar Chisti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York University law school. “The diversity visas had provided another stream of balancing the ethnic and racial composition of our immigration stream and that itself is a value.”

Why might diversity visas be on the chopping block? Chisti says there is no strong, single group advocating for their continuance – while many groups are loaded up on the side of STEM grads.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California, the ranking member of the House Immigration Policy and Enforcement subcommittee, proposed competing legislation Friday that offers the same number of STEM visas without cutting back on other visa programs. Representative Lofgren’s bill would sunset the new visas after two years to force Congress to reexamine how effective the program had been.

Smith’s bill, however, is the only one with a slot on the House floor. It will be offered under special voting procedures this coming Wednesday that require a two-thirds majority of the House to pass. The bill faces an uncertain path in the Senate, although members in that chamber have supported similar legislation in the past.

"There should be bipartisan support for efforts to retain the world's best and brightest after they've received STEM training at American universities. It makes no sense that we require these graduates to return home so they can compete against us,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia, an advocate for previous measures like the JOBS Act 2.0 that created a special visa for STEM graduates, in a statement.

"I am hopeful this commonsense proposal – which could do so much to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness – receives quick action by Congress,” he said.

However, the Senate is likely to join the House in leaving Washington after next week. Any negotiations over differences in bills passed between the two houses, then, would have to be resolved either in two short days as lawmakers skedaddle from D.C. or in a lame duck session after the election.


Boat-borne Hispanic illegals

The Pacific Ocean is the latest frontier in human smuggling, shifting the battle over illegal immigration to California's coast.

As the federal government tightens patrol of land routes once popular with immigrants sneaking from Mexico into California and Arizona, the sea has become the latest method for people trying to cross illegally into the United States from Mexico. Apprehensions along California's coastline have nearly tripled since officials first tracked the phenomenon in 2008.

Orange County Register reporter Cindy Carcamo traveled to Mexico and Guatemala, asking people who have become part of the sometimes deadly phenomenon how and why they do it or, in some cases, why their loved ones were willing to risk their lives.

The project was sponsored by an International Reporting Fellowship administered by The International Center for Journalists and funded by the Ford Foundation.

In recent years, the United States has tightened land routes long used by people trying to get into California and Arizona illegally from Mexico. Patrols increased. Fencing expanded. As a result, fewer have made successful trips by land from Mexico into the U.S.

But as land routes have tightened, the unexpected result has been a spike of illegal immigration by sea.

These sea journeys, starting in Baja and ending somewhere on the Southern California coast, generally cost more than land crossings. People pay up to $9,000 to make the trips. The voyages are fraught with danger, with people crammed into tiny boats designed for day fishing trips. Life jackets are rare. Communication is scarce. Night landings are typical.

While land travel still accounts for the majority of illegal immigration from Mexico, apprehensions along the Pacific Ocean have tripled since 2008 along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to federal estimates.

Apprehensions along the California coastline are on pace to break records.

In the first 10 months of this fiscal year – starting in October – U.S. immigration agents picked up 558 people in connection with 156 smuggling incidents along the coastline from San Diego to San Luis Obispo counties, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data. The numbers include drug and human smuggling.

It's unclear how many boats go undetected. Some make it to California beaches. Others may disappear in the ocean. What's known is that enough boats reach their target to make it lucrative for smugglers, said Mike Carney, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.

Carney said immigration agents noticed an upturn in sea smuggling soon after President George W. Bush signed the 2006 Secure Fence Act. In the first years after that, immigration enforcement agents saw boats and other watercraft on the shores of San Diego. Some were found empty. In a handful of cases, officials caught people trying to swim from Mexico to San Diego.

As crews raised more fences – some 600 miles added from California to Texas by the end of fiscal 2009 – the ocean became a more popular smuggling route. Smugglers took greater risks and formed new alliances with drug cartels.

In San Diego, ICE officials threw resources and agents at the problem, Carney said.

In response, smugglers pushed farther north. In 2010, at San Onofre State Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente, agents apprehended 63 people on seven incursions. Last year, the number of people detained in sea smuggling events in Orange County nearly doubled, to 119.

Smugglers continue to readjust their routes – taking boats out behind the Mexican Coronado Islands and into international waters before making a beeline north of San Diego – as far as San Luis Obispo County.

The shift in tactics has led to the creation of a regional anti-smuggling maritime task force that would reach all of Southern California.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

France will continue to kick out gypsies

France will continue to evict gypsies who camp illegally, the French interior minister said while visiting Romania.

Minister Manuel Valls’ comments today came after French police expelled hundreds of Roma from illegal camps in Parisian suburbs in August and in similarly in Lyon and Lille.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also expressed her concern about Roma rights on Monday.

In Romania, where more than one million Roma live, Mr Valls said: ‘France has a policy of evacuating illegal camps and of escorting them to the border.’ 

It comes as Romania and France signed a two-year deal to repatriate dozens of Roma families yesterday. Around 80 families will return to Romania under the pilot programme signed by Mr Valls and European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during talks with Romanian officials in Bucharest.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Roma immigrants live in France

Under the new socialist government, Mr Valls has continued the much criticised repatriation policies of the previous conservative French government and defended the police raids to break up Roma camps on the basis of health grounds.

He said in Romania after meeting Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta: ‘We wish to send a message to the public that... our joint efforts should be focussed on a solution in which the Roma settle in their country of origin, Romania.’

The Roma come mostly from Romania and Bulgaria, fellow European Union member states that human rights groups say discriminate against the minority group.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Roma immigrants live in France mainly in squalid camps in city outskirts. The French authorities say they lack the necessary residency permits.

Mr Valls has said in the past that the camps were a ‘challenge’ to ‘people living together’ and that neighbours of the camps often complained about noise and anti-social behaviour, as well as serious crimes.

Humanitarian organisations have also linked the camps to ill health, including serious diseases such as tuberculosis.

The Romanian leader said his country accepted its responsibility to integrate the Roma community, adding that his government needed support from the European Union and France.

Roughly 200 Roma and supporters protested earlier outside the government and president's offices, saying Romanian officials were only pretending to care about the problems facing their minority.

France's actions have come under close scrutiny from U.N. human rights investigators, as well as the European Union, which two years ago criticised a crackdown on illegal Roma camps launched by Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost the presidency in May.

Roma groups accused Mr Sarkozy of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Romania has been a full member of the European Union since 2007 and its citizens can enter France without a visa.  But they must get residency permits if they want to settle long term and work.


Sheriff Arpaio Appeals Court Decision on Racial Profiling

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not taking the latest decision surrounding his deputies and racial profiling lying down.  After filing to reverse a lower-court ruling barring his deputies from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're undocumented immigrants, a federal appeals court is considering the appeal.

On Thursday a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it would rule later after hearing from lawyers representing the Arizona lawman.

The ACLU and other attorneys filed a federal lawsuit that alleges that Arpaio's deputies pulled over Hispanics without probable cause, making the stops only to inquire about the immigration status of the people in the vehicles.

A federal judge in December barred Arpaio's deputies, who are enforcing Arizona's immigrant smuggling law, from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're in the country illegally. In their appeal, Arpaio's attorneys argued the ruling was deeply flawed and that the decision means that the sheriff's office couldn't enforce certain state laws, even though no judge has declared those statutes unconstitutional.

The San Francisco-based court will consider the narrow question of a preliminary injunction while a trial court in Phoenix is considering the merits of the entire lawsuit.

Both sides are awaiting the verdict of U.S. District Judge Murray Snow after a seven-day trial without a jury ended August 2.

The Latino group claims Arpaio's deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks during regular traffic patrols and the sheriff's 20 special immigration patrols.

They also accuse the sheriff of ordering some of the patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

Arpaio has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying his deputies only stop people when they think a crime has been committed and that he wasn't the person who picked the location of the immigration patrols.

Snow's verdict could render the 9th Circuit's decision unnecessary. Snow hasn't indicated when he would rule.

The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff's office has been accused of systematically racially profiling Latinos and will serve as a precursor for a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.

There has never been a finding by a court that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos, though a case that made such an allegation was settled last year for $200,000 without an admission of wrongdoing by the sheriff's office.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Joe Arpaio still standing even as allies against illegal immigration fall

Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio is gearing up for what he expects will be the toughest of his five re-election campaigns.

He is facing a determined effort from immigration rights activists to push him out. A ruling may come any day in a lawsuit that alleges his department violated the civil rights of Hispanics. A second lawsuit filed by the Justice Department is making its way through the courts.

And in TV ads, he doesn’t mention the signature issue that helped bring him to national prominence — a sign, people in both parties say, that illegal immigration is losing its potency.

“Issues in campaigns are like flowers: They bloom, go away and then they bloom again,” GOP lobbyist Stan Barnes said. “The bloom is off illegal immigration.”

Arpaio, who retains a massive $4.2 million campaign treasury, remains the favorite in the November election. In an interview, he was defiant and confident as always, and disagreed that illegal immigration has lost its political punch.

“I get hundreds of people coming up to me and thanking me,” said Arpaio, the sheriff in Maricopa County, the state’s largest, which includes much of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Whatever the relevancy of the issue at a time when the number of illegal immigrants has declined, the last several tumultuous years has trimmed the cadre of anti-illegal immigration crusaders here.

Two allies — tough-talking former lawman Russell Pearce, who authored many of the state’s strict immigration laws, and Andrew Thomas, a telegenic Harvard law graduate and once the county’s top prosecutor — are out.

Thomas was stripped of his law license by a state court panel. Pearce was recalled, then lost a bid to return to the statehouse last month. “There were three prime movers behind the immigration crackdown” in Arizona, Thomas said. “Two of them have been sidelined, and they’re gunning for the third.”

Arpaio, who usually wins re-election by double-digit margins, allowed he may have a tighter race ahead of him. “It might be a little bigger challenge because I have people coming after me — the Justice Department,” he said, adding that he believed the federal probes were politically motivated.

Both began during the Bush administration. One was closed on Aug. 31, with prosecutors announcing they would not file criminal charges over allegations that the sheriff and Thomas abused their offices’ power.

Barnes noted that Arpaio, 80, was already famous for forcing jail inmates to sleep in tents and wear pink underwear before he signed up in the fight against illegal immigration. “He’s got so many goodwill chips in the bank with voters he can afford to make a few mistakes,” Barnes said. “His brand is solid, not just because of illegal immigration.”

Arpaio’s new national role has been cemented, however, by his stance on illegal immigration. His tactics have been emulated by some law enforcement agencies and shunned by many others. His endorsement is much sought after in Republican primaries -- Arpaio backed Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential one -- and the sheriff often campaigns for other immigration hardliners. He and his state have become a symbol to both sides in the acrimonious debate.


UCLA shuts down controversial illegal immigrant college program

 Following scrutiny from a California lawmaker, the University of California is shutting down a controversial college program for illegal immigrants, though the reasons for the closure are not satisfying critics of the so-called National Dream University.

Critics of the plan of the so-called National Dream University (NDU) welcomed the decision to stop the program, though they weren’t satisfied with the reasons given for its closure.

"I believe the procedural issue gave UCLA an out, but it was public pressure and public scrutiny during such difficult economic times that was ultimately turned Dream University into a nightmare for UCLA President and regents," says California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks).

NDU earlier this summer began actively recruiting those seeking a college degree and a career in activism focused on immigration issues. Its website, which has since been taken down,  promoted "an educational opportunity to those who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to the immigrant and/or labor rights movements {with admission} open to everyone, regardless of their immigration status." 

Operated by the UCLA Labor Center and the National Labor College, NDU would have offered credit for online courses in immigrant rights and political advocacy. At about $2,500, tuition was thousands less than what legal residents pay to attend UCLA, one of California's premier public universities.

Assemblyman Donnelly was the first lawmaker to publicly express outrage. "Here, you're going to have the taxpayers subsidizing it, so that illegal aliens can go to college, have their own little college, teach their own ideology, and all at taxpayer expense," he said in August.

In an email to Fox News, a university spokesman admitted UCLA was "unaware of the courses to be offered" by NDU. Fox News has repeatedly reached out to the UCLA professors who, on their own, established NDU, with no oversight from university administrators.

When asked for comment, Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center, hung up on Fox News several times. He does, however, speak frequently in support of so-called DREAMers.

At one rally, he told an audience of cheering young activists "you will go onto become lawyers and teachers and doctors and members of the U.S. Senate to replace those old white men."

In a response to a query by Donnelly, University of California President Mark Yudof said the two research groups behind NDU did not go through the proper channels, and therefore would not be allowed to continue the program.

The certificate program, he wrote, "was negotiated without the consultation or approval of UCLA's academic and administrative leadership. Therefore, the agreement has been declared void. As a result, UCLA has asked the Labor Center to immediately suspend all work on the National Dream University."

UCLA has not disavowed Kent Wong, however, and the closure of NDU does not mean there could be future activist programs.

"UCLA's actions do not preclude a future agreement between the Labor Center and National Labor College," Yudof wrote. "Any such future agreement will require the completion of a formal proposal process with approval from the appropriate academic and administrative leadership."

Still, Donnelly, who, as a member of the state's appropriations committee approves funding for UC schools, is glad to see NDU disappear.

"I think that given the news coverage of this story by Fox News and others, the inquiry by my office, and the National Labor College's financial difficulties, UC's President decided this is not the way to expend the precious limited resources, which should be available to California citizens rather than illegal aliens, no matter how deserving they may seem."