Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romney softens immigration stance on 'self-deportation' at debate

Or so The  Guardian says below

Mitt Romney continued his march towards a centrist position on immigration during the second presidential debate, presenting a friendly face to undocumented immigrants starkly in contrast to his previous position.

Quizzed about his support for the policy of "self-deportation" that he articulated during the primary season debates between Republicans, he portrayed it as a matter of choice on the part of individuals. "People make their own choice, and if they can't find the job they want, then they'll make a decision to go to a place where they have better opportunities."

But that ignored a crucial aspect of the "self-deportation" policy espoused not just by Romney during the primary season but by his main immigration advisers, notably the Kansas politician Kris Kobach who was the architect of several of the laws clamping down on undocumented immigrants introduced across the US.

As Kobach explained to the Guardian earlier this year, the idea would be to make life so uncomfortable for undocumented Latinos and jobs so hard to find that they would be forced out.

Romney, mindful no doubt of the importance of the Hispanic vote in several crucial battleground status such as Florida and Nevada, also went further than he has before in embracing the idea of offering a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. He said that service in the US military would be "one way" that such a pathway would be found – in contrast to previous statements that military service would be the only way residency could be obtained.

Barack Obama did overstep the mark in one regard, however, in that he accused Romney of exhorting Arizona's law clamping down on undocumented Hispanics as a "model for the nation". In fact, during the primary season Romney lauded just one specific part of the Arizona law, SB 1070, called E-Verify – a system that allows employers to check a federal database to see if people applying for work are documented or not.


Boat People arriving in Australia now a flood

IMMIGRATION officials have conceded that more asylum seekers have arrived by boat since the budget than had been predicted, but they refused to be drawn on how much the extra numbers will cost taxpayers.

The government says people smugglers are profiting by as much as $2 million for each vessel that arrives.

The Coalition has seized on budget forecasts in May of 450 asylum seeker arrivals each month - a predicted total of 5400 for the financial year, which has already been eclipsed in the first three months starting in July.

The arrival of almost 500 asylum seekers on five boats at the weekend underlined the pressure on border controls. Nearly 8000 people have arrived by boat since July.

Labor's revised Pacific plan for Nauru and Papua New Guinea will accommodate about 2100 people, far fewer than the number who have arrived since August 13, when the policy was embraced.

The Home Affairs Minister, Jason Clare, said people smugglers were making more money than some drug smugglers and they would fight hard to keep making money. People smugglers earned more than $1 million per boat and sometimes up to $2 million, he said.

Immigration officials were questioned in parliamentary hearings yesterday about the surge in arrivals but deflected the potential cost to the budget, which Labor brought down with only a thin surplus.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, denied offshore processing on Nauru, embraced by Labor in August after months of political stalemate over the people swap with Malaysia, had failed to deter arrivals.

''There is no doubt that there is wide awareness now of our new policies and that they are being noted,'' he told ABC Radio. ''However, as I've consistently said, we have a very significant challenge in that we are tackling the lies and the spin of people smugglers.''

The Immigration Department chief, Martin Bowles, said the number of asylum seekers was higher than expected. He said the costs were a matter for the government to deal with in the midyear budget update.

The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked officials who would bear responsibility for the psychological health of asylum seekers on Nauru.


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