Thursday, May 31, 2012
Fingerprinting Of Immigrants Questioned In New Report, Raises Privacy Concerns
Police officers have drastically increased their use of fingerprinting technologies to track immigrants and non-criminals, according to a new report. Some immigrants rights groups are speaking out against the new technologies used for immigration enforcement, calling them a violation of privacy.
The report released last week by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Immigration Policy Center, both policy research organizations, claims that day laborers and immigrants are stopped at random, and submitted to fingerprint testing. Jennifer Lynch, who authored the new report, believes that the expansion of biometric data collection programs should raise concerns for the average American.
“These day laborers are not suspected of any criminal activity that we know of,” Lynch told the New American Media. “While most of us would be really suspect if a police officer randomly asked us to submit to a fingerprint scan on the street, when you feel like you have little voice in society and you lack power to challenge authority, I think harassment like this is a big issue.”
Lynch argues in her report that increased legal protections against biometric data collection could benefit not only immigrants, but all people in the U.S.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration expanded the Secure Communities program, a contentious federal initiative which expands the practice of fingerprinting immigrants, into Massachusetts and New York, despite opposition from the governors of those states. Last year, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to opt out of the program.
"There are concerns about the implementation of the program as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York," Cuomo wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security. "As a result, New York is suspending its participation in the program." The federal government announced shortly after Cuomo's letter that state participation in the program is not voluntary, and that states like New York could not opt out.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez told The New York Times that the program is working. “Secure Communities has proven to be the single most valuable tool in allowing the agency to eliminate the ad hoc approach of the past and focus on criminal aliens and repeat immigration law violators,” Gonzalez said.
But it's not just fingerprinting that's raising concerns -- in recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has tried out a number of new hi-tech solutions to it's immigration enforcement problem. The agency has deployed ten 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned drones, with a price tag of 250 million dollars, as part of a six year effort to build the nation's largest fleet of domestic surveillance drones. The ACLU called drones "a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities.”
And Texas, where border patrol agents were overwhelmed by the number of migrants attempting to cross their expansive border, established a program in 2008 called BlueServo.net to "crowd-source" their challenge. The website describes itself as "an innovative real-time surveillance program designed to empower the public to proactively participate in fighting border crime." Volunteers around the world sit at their computers watching surveillance cameras set up across the Texas-Mexico border, and when the "Virtual Texas Deputies" detect movement on one of these cameras, they report the encounter. When enough reports coincide, border patrol agents are deployed to the location. Although Governor Rick Perry provided $2 million in Criminal Justice grant funds to support the initiative, the El Paso Times reported that the project largely failed to meet its projected goal of 1,200 BlueServo-related arrests in the first year. In the first six months, only three arrests were made, according to the paper.
As new fingerprinting technologies have expanded, enforcement agencies have been asked to justify the practice. Sgt. Rudy Lopez, who works for the Los Angeles Police Department, told the New American Media that his officers routinely use a new portable fingerprint scanner called a "Blue Check" in the field. The technology was introduced in 2008, and has grown in use over the past four years. According to Lopez, police only use the technologies when they have reasonable suspicion, probably cause to make an arrest, or when they have permission of the person that they're stopping.
Immigrant rights advocates say that these are circumstances which violate the privacy of immigrants and open the door for racial profiling of Latinos. Tony Bernade, a senior organizer for CHIRLA, an LA-based immigrant rights group, says that the government is keeping large amounts of private information without substantially justifying the practice.
“They are saving and keeping the data,” Bernade told the New American Media. “Nobody knows how it’s going to be used.”
Genuine students don't need to fear crackdown on overseas recruitment, says British immigration minister
The immigration minister yesterday insisted genuine foreign students have nothing to fear from a crackdown on overseas recruitment.
Damian Green spoke out after university leaders warned that the Government’s student immigration policy is damaging British universities. Universities rely heavily on tuition fees paid by overseas students, whose numbers have edged upwards over the past 15 years.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the heads of 68 universities attacked policies they claim will deter thousands of genuine foreign students and cost the economy billions.
Immigration minister, Damian Green, has said the Government's policy towards foreign students is not damaging British universities. However Mr Green said: ‘There is no limit on the number of genuine students who can come to the UK and our reforms are not stopping them.
‘But we are determined to prevent the abuse of student visas as part of our plans to get net migration down. Students coming to the UK for over a year are not visitors – numbers affect communities, public services and infrastructure.’
Meanwhile, umbrella group Universities UK admitted a fifth of foreign students remain in Britain once their studies have ended. Nicola Dandridge, UUK chief executive, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that studies suggested about 20 per cent stay on.
The row erupted over a target to reduce net migration – the difference between the numbers arriving in the UK and those leaving – to the ‘tens of thousands’ per year. It currently stands at a record high of 250,000. About 40 per cent of migrants arrive on student visas, mainly to study at universities but also schools and colleges.
University chancellors have warned the changes to immigration policy could put off foreign students from studying in Britain
Universities fear the immigration target can be met only if deep cuts are made to foreign student numbers. And they claim changes to the student visa system are deterring genuine foreign students.
Measures include barring students from remaining after graduating unless they earn at least £20,000 in a skilled job and preventing them from taking degrees or masters courses that last for more than five years.
There are also new rules governing when international students can bring dependants with them.
Universities say foreign students generate £8billion in tuition fees and other investment, with this expected to more than double by 2025.
‘Global competition for international students is intense and a number of other countries are increasing their efforts in this area,’ the letter says. ‘We therefore ask you to consider how your Government can do more to support our universities in their international activities.’
Signatories include former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell, chancellor of St Andrews University; broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, chancellor of the University of Leeds; former Tory minister Virginia Bottomley, chancellor of the University of Hull, and Patrick Stewart, chancellor of the University of Huddersfield.
In response, the immigration minister said: ‘Public confidence in statistics will not be enhanced by revising the way the net migration numbers are presented by removing students.’
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch pressure group, said: ‘All three of our major competitors – the US, Canada and Australia – include students in their net migration figures, although they distinguish them for internal purposes.
‘Students who stay on, legally or otherwise, add significantly to our population which is why all those countries include them in their figures.’
Posted by jonjayray at 11:01 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Marco Rubio defends immigrant tax-credit crackdown bill
Sen. Marco Rubio just returned from Gitmo and, after the pro-forma hailing of the troops and batting down of the VP shortlister questions from the press, also responded to criticisms from liberals who accuse him of hypocrisy for supporting an immigration proposal meant to help immigrant kids while quietly filing a bill that would require extra documentation for immigrants who apply for a child tax credit.
“I haven’t taken any heat because it’s the logical thing to do. It’s filed publicly. It’s available for everyone to see,” he said.
“The bill’s pretty straightforward. There are people in this country filing for child tax credits for children who don’t even live in the United States and it has been documented and it was never intended for that purpose,” he said. “It’s not even legal to do it now. All this does is say if you don’t have a Social Security Number, and you did file for the tax credit, you have to file paperwork proving that those children who are receiving the tax credit are here in the United States.
“A television station in Indianapolis did pretty extensive coverage of it. And the IRS inspector general says it’s illegal and the loophole should be closed. There’s bipartisan support for it. I know one of my colleagues from the Democratic side has also expressed an interest in it. It’s basically illegal to do it now. All this does is require documentation.”
U.S. steps up deportation efforts for criminal immigrants
Immigration and Customs Enforcement increases the number of agents responsible for finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records. Critics, including some within the agency, denounce the push as a political stunt.
In an aggressive effort to boost deportations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun to increase by nearly 25% the number of agents tasked with finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, pulling 150 officers from desks and backroom jobs to add extra fugitive search teams around the country.
The plan was launched when the number of deportations slumped after several years of growth, partly due to the drop in illegal immigration along the Southwest border. But critics, including some inside ICE, denounced the effort as politically inspired to help President Obama's reelection campaign.
The move, which began without public notice on May 14, calls for increasing the number of fugitive operations teams to 129 from 104. Each team has been given a goal of arresting 50 suspects per month, according to documents obtained by The Times, although ICE officials insisted Friday that no quotas were set for the teams.
An early draft of the plan says ICE is "experiencing a shortfall in criminal removals for the fiscal year," and called for using 300 Border Patrol agents, dressed in ICE uniforms, to close the gap. The plan was scaled back to 150 ICE officers after objections were raised by union organizers for the Border Patrol.
The fugitive teams were instructed for the first time this month to focus chiefly on finding and deporting illegal immigrants convicted of a felony or more than two misdemeanors, multiple immigration violations, or having used fraudulent documents, and not on broader categories of illegal immigrants.
ICE officials are also reviewing pending deportation proceedings to look for those who do not fall into those categories and pose no security risks. So far, about 10% of the cases reviewed have been placed under an administrative hold.
The stepped-up effort may prove politically sensitive in an election year with both parties scrambling for voters in states where immigration issues are important, including Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
Obama, who has drawn strong support from Latino voters, is under pressure from Latino activists to find more humane ways to enforce federal immigration laws and protect families with deep roots in America. Focusing on criminal immigrants tends to avoid that issue.
Republican leaders, including likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney, have demanded greater efforts to identify and deport anyone who is in the U.S. illegally, including those who have lived and worked here for years, not just those found guilty of committing crimes.
ICE Director John Morton defended the program Friday as "the best way to use our limited resources" against those who pose the greatest threat to public safety.
"We changed agency policy to focus fugitive operations more on criminal offenders," Morton said in a telephone interview. "This is part of a permanent restructuring of agency resources to meet the highest priority of removing serious offenders. … We think that is the right call because at the end of the day public safety is our goal."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:58 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
U.S., Mexico in talks to deport criminal immigrants deep into Mexico to cut down on repeat crossings
The United States and Mexico are negotiating plans to start deporting criminal illegal immigrants deep into Mexico rather than releasing them at the border, hoping to stop adding to the criminal chaos south of the border.
Some possible outcomes are fewer repeat illegal border crossings and fewer deportation flights originating from the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.
Last fiscal year, the government spent $120.9 million deporting 182,655 people by plane.
On one recent flight from Atlanta, most of those onboard had criminal records. They were being flown to Harlingen, where they would be bused to the border. Several of those interviewed said they were upset about leaving their U.S.-born children and frightened of returning to Mexico amid the gruesome drug gang violence there.
The government is flying most Mexican illegal immigrants to Arizona and Texas and releasing them at Mexican ports of entry along the border.
The deliberations between the two nations jibe with the Obama administration's emphasis on deporting criminal illegal immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano advanced the talks with Mexico officials in February when she signed a memorandum of cooperation with them.
ICE officials said the plan calls for year-round flights from U.S. border states into Mexico.
Two experts on Mexican immigration and U.S.-Mexican relations sharply criticized the government's latest plan for what they called "deep repatriation."
"It is politically attractive to do this kind of stuff," said Wayne Cornelius, director emeritus of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. "But it is essentially a waste of taxpayer money, if the objective is to keep deportees back in their places of origin."
Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based group that advocates for tighter immigration controls, said such a plan could help curb illegal immigration in the United States -- but only as part of a broader crackdown that would include blocking illegal immigrants from getting jobs and public benefits in the U.S.
On the flight from Atlanta to Harlingen were roughly 100 shackled deportees who came from an ICE detention center 145 miles south of Atlanta.
Most of them had committed crimes, from minor traffic offenses to violence. Some had been deported before.
Free markets require increased LEGAL immigration
When Mitt Romney’s campaign says it is “still deciding what his position on immigration is,” it goes without saying the political debates inside his campaign are intense. What should not be contentious, however, is the commitment for increasing legal immigration by anyone supporting free-market principles.
The current immigration system is the antithesis of a free-market economy and resembles nothing so much as a Soviet-style economic central planning bureau.
The government fixes quotas and subquotas on the number of immigrants by skill, country of origin, employer and even where they can live. Arbitrary rules, inspections and other requirements make the system virtually unworkable for all but the most committed of employers, with the result that American companies are prevented from finding the talent they want.
Alex Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
More by Alex Nowrasteh
Soviet bureaucrats thought they knew everything about the labor market, including the number of workers, their skill level and even where they should live. Their efforts failed, and so has our immigration system.
American workers, not just American employees, are hurt in the process. Foreign workers typically have different skills and experiences than Americans, which means there is little competition between them. Employing more foreign doctors and farmworkers increases the demand for American nurses and pesticide producers, creating jobs and expanding the economy. And these come with the benefits of increased choice and lowered prices for goods and services for the average American consumer.
Our immigration regulations are not just arbitrary, complex and expensive, but are based on an entirely false premise that there is a fixed pool of jobs over which people must compete. Jobs are constantly being created and destroyed in a healthy economy. And immigrants create many of them.
Immigrants are typically more entrepreneurial than native-born Americans. At the high end of the skills spectrum, more than half of all Silicon Valley startups in recent years have been founded by immigrants, many of whom were in the U.S. for more than a decade before becoming entrepreneurs. Lower-skilled immigrants, primarily from Latin America, are contributing to an immigrant business-creation rate more than twice that of native-born Americans. This penchant for business creation seems to pass down the generations.
The Great Recession has forced many immigrants into being entrepreneurs because of the tough economy. Even during good economic times, however, immigrants are at least 25 percent more likely to start a business than native-born Americans. Business creation from any source increases economic growth and employment opportunities for all.
In a free market, firms and workers should be free to negotiate and work together - regardless of nationality. The labor market is the largest market in the U.S., and increasing legal immigration will allow people to move to our relatively capitalist economy, where they are most productive, increasing economic growth in the process.
Legalizing peaceful unauthorized immigrants will give them an incentive to more quickly learn English, increase their incomes and become Americans. The same pattern was observed in the aftermath of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, when around 3 million unauthorized immigrants were legalized. Deportation or living in the shadows permanently is not a just punishment for breaking our Soviet-style immigration regulations.
Immigrants are less likely to abuse the welfare state than similarly skilled Americans, even when they are eligible. To the extent that abuse of the welfare state is a concern for anyone espousing free-market principles, they should follow the advice of the Cato Institute’s late chairman emeritus and economist, William Niskanen, who said, “Build a wall around the welfare state, not around the country.” Welfare ineligibility is a far better and cheaper solution than closing the border further. The welfare state and the perverse incentives it creates are the problem, not immigrants.
Mr. Romney has told us that free markets produce more wealth and prosperity for the greatest number of people than other systems. A true free market in labor, accessible to immigrants without the burdens of dealing with our near Soviet-style immigration regulations, will reap enormous gains for Americans and immigrants, and propel us out of the Great Recession.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:57 PM
Monday, May 28, 2012
We won't shut the door on migrants fleeing eurozone, says British Liberal leader
Nick Clegg yesterday denied that Britain is planning to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ to prevent an influx of foreign workers from crisis-hit eurozone nations.
The Deputy Prime Minister hit out at ‘apocalyptic’ warnings that Britain could be hit by a wave of immigrants from Greece and other struggling countries if the euro crisis deepens.
His intervention came after Theresa May disclosed contingency planning was under way to deal with a potential influx of would-be immigrants. Reports said the Home Secretary was considering using emergency powers to bypass European single market rules and effectively seal the border.
There are fears that Greece in particular could leave the euro and go bankrupt, causing millions of Greeks to lose their jobs and look for work abroad.
But Mr Clegg claimed yesterday she had only been talking about ‘keeping an eye on migration patterns’. ‘I really do think some of the breathless talk in the media about “Do we pull up the drawbridge to stop hordes of people migrating across Europe?” is both far-fetched, somewhat apocalyptic in tone and deeply unhelpful,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. ‘We are not there yet,’ he added.
Mr Clegg warned last week that allowing Greece to leave the euro could unleash ‘unpredictable, irrevocable damage’ to the entire European economy. Yesterday he repeated his call for European leaders to come together to shore up the single currency.
He insisted his comments were not an attack on Mrs May, saying it was ‘quite sensible’ for the Home Office to keep contingency plans under review.
In an interview at the weekend, Mrs May said that ‘work is ongoing’ to deal with large movements of people in the event of the break-up of the single currency, although she did not indicate the exact response that was under consideration.
In normal circumstances the Government’s hands are tied because EU nationals are largely entitled to live and work anywhere in the single market. But she said the Government was ‘looking at the trends’ on immigration from struggling European economies. She said there was no evidence of increased migration at present, but said it was ‘difficult to say how it is going to develop in coming weeks’.
Mrs May suggested that the ‘abuse’ of freedom of movement within the EU more generally was an issue that was under consideration. She said: ‘Discussions within the EU are much more looking at the immigration issue, the migration issue, as something that needs to be considered and addressed. Within the EU, in a wider context, people are increasingly recognising the need to prevent the abuse of free movement.’
Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said moves to curb immigration from within the EU were ‘fraught with dangers’. He said: ‘Firstly, the Government has always maintained that they could never do anything about EU migration as it was illegal to do so.
‘The statement [from Mrs May] is concerning, considering that the Home Office’s record of acting on legal advice has not been brilliant. ‘Secondly, the Home Secretary is suggesting a short-term fix, whereas the eurozone crisis will be long-term and involve several countries.
‘Finally, she will cause unnecessary panic as people in Greece seek to move to the UK before any new measures are put in place. This risks causing chaos at the borders just before and during the Olympics. ‘The Home Secretary should choose her words and the methods of announcing changes much more carefully in future.’
Furore over allowing skilled legal immigrants into Australia
It is only uselesss illegal immigrants who must be accepted without question
JULIA Gillard faces a split within her Cabinet after she distanced herself from her Government's decision to allow Gina Rinehart to import 1700 foreign workers.
The move has infuriated Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and his supporters.
They insist he followed standard processes before the decision to permit migrants to work on a major West Australian iron ore project, 70 per cent owned by Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting.
Ms Gillard told union leaders on Friday she was not comfortable with the deal and had only learned of it when she returned from overseas last Wednesday.
But Mr Bowen's office said it had been in regular contact with Ms Gillard's senior staff, as well as the offices of senior ministers Bill Shorten and Wayne Swan, about the deal.
Other Government sources accused Ms Gillard of trying to blame Mr Bowen and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who both backed former prime minister Kevin Rudd in the last leadership challenge, for the decision.
But Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes, who has described the decision as "sheer lunacy", yesterday accused Mr Bowen of accepting an "ambit claim" from Mrs Rinehart without question.
Ms Gillard refused to comment on when she became aware of the deal, despite saying she demanded new conditions just before the announcement on Friday, to ensure it could not be used if there were Australians willing and able to do the work.
This has not been enough to calm anger among the Labor Caucus, with Senator Doug Cameron threatening a fiery debate at tomorrow's meeting.
Amid renewed leadership tensions, chief Government whip Joel Fitzgibbon gave only a vague denial that he had been actively canvassing support for Mr Rudd, tweeting: "no one does more to support the PM and the Government than me!".
Ms Gillard said Mr Fitzgibbon's words "speak for themselves".
But some of her allies said Mr Fitzgibbon had made it clear he no longer supported the Prime Minister after he was overlooked for a promotion.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the tweet "put in flashing neon lights the division ... inside the national Government right now".
Posted by jonjayray at 1:43 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2012
UK plans to stop Greek influx
The British Home Secretary Theresa May said "work is ongoing" to restrict European immigration in the event of a financial collapse.
The British Home Secretary Theresa May said "work is ongoing" to restrict European immigration in the event of a financial collapse. Photo: Getty Images
THE British government is drawing up plans for emergency immigration controls to curb an influx of Greeks and other European Union residents if the euro collapses.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said "work is ongoing" to restrict European immigration in the event of a financial collapse.
People from throughout the EU, with the exception of new member countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, are able to work anywhere in the single market.
However, there are growing concerns that if Greece was forced to leave the euro, it would effectively go bankrupt and millions could lose their jobs and consider looking for work abroad.
The crisis could spread to other vulnerable countries such as Spain, Ireland and Portugal, although Britain is regarded as a safe haven because it is outside the single currency.
Details of the contingency plan emerged as the euro crisis deepened on Friday. Catalonia was forced to turn to the Spanish government for a bailout and speculation mounted that Bankia, the troubled Spanish bank, would need $24 billion in state support. European markets fell again as the euro dropped in value against other major currencies.
The Home Secretary said while there is no evidence of increased migration at present, it was "difficult to say how it is going to develop in coming weeks".
Several European governments introduced temporary immigration controls when countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic joined the EU, to stop an influx of workers. France also threatened to reintroduce passport controls at the Italian border after an influx of Libyan and Tunisian refugees during the Arab Spring.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said it had made contingency plans to deal with the break-up of the single currency. They involve preparations to evacuate Britons from Greece if civil disobedience spirals out of control and for banks to take steps to protect Britain against euro liabilities.
Ms May indicated she is looking at limiting free movement of labour, irrespective of the financial crisis, and that the issue is already being discussed at a European level.
Germany has reportedly drawn up a six-point plan to rescue Greece and the eurozone's other failed economies in the same way east Germany was rebuilt after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, wants to revitalise the eurozone's weaker countries with a package of privatisations, according to Der Spiegel.
The comments came amid rumours detailed by the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ that a "planned departure" for Greece would take place over June 2 and 3.
Israel: Violent Tel Aviv protesters rally against African migrants
Violence broke out as several hundred people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night against the sizeable community of African immigrants in the city, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. “Following the violence, we arrested five demonstrators,” Samri added.
The media reported that people shouted xenophobic slogans, such as “blacks out,” and chided the “bleeding heart leftists” who defend immigrants. There were also reports that two demonstrators attacked a foreigner, and that the windshields of several cars carrying Africans were smashed.
Over the years, an estimated 60,000 Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have slipped over the border into Israel from Egypt.
Following a number of recent crimes, a lively debate has erupted over the tensions caused by the presence of the large African community concentrated in south Tel Aviv.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “phenomenon of illegal immigration from Africa is extremely serious and threatens the foundations of Israeli society, national security and national identity.”
Israel is building a wall along its border with Egypt and a detention centre in the southern Negev desert.
Posted by jonjayray at 11:42 AM
Friday, May 25, 2012
Recent posts at CIS below
See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.
1. Janice Kephart Testifies on Business Travelers and Tourists
2. Mark Krikorian Debates Dual Citizenship in the New York Times
3. Mark Krikorian: Public wants to enforce U.S. sovereignty
4. Jessica Vaughan Discusses Secure Communities in Massachusetts
5. S.B. 1070 Goes Before the Supreme Court: A Summary of the Oral Argument
6. USCIS Ombudsman Wants to Help Incompetent Employers Hire Alien Workers
7. U.S. Sells Visas for Less Than the Net Worth of the Average U.S. Household
8. Does Immigration Status Really Matter for a Student Body President?
9. Libertarian for Open Borders
10. Media Memes and the GOP's Immigration Stance in the 2012 Election: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't
11. Another Bit of (Hidden) Good Immigration News from the Government
12. Media Memes and the GOP's Immigration Stance in the 2012 Election: Narratives and Conventional Wisdom
13. The Clichéd Sentimentality of Jon Meacham on PBS
Posted by jonjayray at 12:24 PM
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Senators beckon immigrant entrepreneurs and workers with Startup Act 2.0
A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to help American companies hire immigrant workers, particularly those with hard-to-find math and science expertise — but the bill faces a tough battle on the Hill.
Startup Act 2.0 would essentially create two new types of visas, one for foreign students who obtain graduate degrees in science- and math-related fields from American universities, and another that offers permanent residence to immigrants who start successful companies and create jobs in the United States.
Similar legislation failed earlier this year after it got caught in larger questions about immigration policy, and complaints that the non-natives could squeeze Americans out of well-paying jobs.
Freshman Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) worked across party lines on the new bill, which would also eliminate caps on the number of work-based visas allotted to each foreign nation, further easing the path for skilled immigrants who want to bring their talents and business ideas to the United States.
Startup Act 2.0 “will help solidify America’s position as the world’s most entrepreneurial nation,” Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, said in a statement. “Winning the global battle for talent is essential if we are going to keep our entrepreneurial economy moving forward.”
The United States is currently falling behind in that battle, according to research published the same day by The Partnership for a New American Economy and Partnership for New York City, which shows a widening gap between the supply and demand of American graduates educated in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology engineering and mathematics.
Right now, the number of job openings requiring such degrees is increasing at three times the rate of the rest of the job market; however, college students majoring in non-STEM fields still outnumber their math- and science-minded counterparts 5-to-1, according to the National Science Foundation. Moreover, the growth rate of new STEM majors remains among the slowest of any category.
Should the trend continue without intervention, American businesses would be looking for an estimated 800,000 workers with advanced STEM degrees in 2018 but only find 550,000 American graduates with that type of training.
But that’s where easing restrictions on immigrants can help, according to the researchers behind the report, who point to studies showing that 60 percent of foreign graduate students in the United States were enrolled in science and engineering in 2010. In addition, a study earlier this year showed that half of the nation’s top venture-backed companies have at least one immigrant founder, and three out of four claim at least one foreign-born executive.
However, many foreign-born graduates are forced to return to their home countries, where they often create or work for businesses that compete against those in the United States.
“America has always been a magnet for the world’s most talented and hardest working” New York City Mayor Bloomberg said. “But we are quickly losing our edge as other countries adopt smarter economic-driven immigration policies. The future is on the line – now is the time to reform the system and welcome the workers who will continue our success as the world’s leading economy.”
Collectively, the groups urged federal policy makers to start prioritizing the nation’s economic goals ahead of their political views on immigration, beginning with legislative recommendations that nearly match verbatim those unveiled hours later in the Senate.
“To get America’s economic engine roaring once again, entrepreneurs, both American and foreign-born, must be free to pursue their ideas, form companies in the United States and hire employees,” Sen. Moran said in a statement following the bill’ introduction.
But with the election looming and partisan tensions running extraordinarily high, what chance does Startup Act 2.0 have in Congress? Moran said that likely depends on whether lawmakers can set aside their differences on sweeping, comprehensive immigration reform and focus on the intentions of this more targeted piece of legislation.
“I would guess that 80 percent of my colleagues in Congress would agree with the visa provisions in this legislation,” he said. “And what I would encourage is that we not take the attitude or approach that unless we do everything, we can’t do anything.”
Greek police clash with anti-immigrant mob
Greek police fired tear gas against protesters on Tuesday as a mob tried to attack migrants following the fatal stabbing of a Greek man.
The protesters, which reportedly included members of the far-right group Golden Dawn, gathered outside an abandoned factory where homeless migrants have taken refuge.
They threw stones at riot police and set fires to garbage bins in Greece's western port of Patras.
A 30-year-old Patras resident was fatally stabbed outside his home on Saturday following a dispute with three men, believed to be Afghan nationals. A 17-year-old Afghan has been arrested over the case.
Tension in Greece over immigration and a perceived surge in crime has spiked in recent months, fueled by the country's economic woes.
Golden Dawn on May 6 picked up over 440,000 votes in general elections and entered parliament for the first time in Greece's political history. The group has pledged to "scrub the country clean" of illegal immigrants.
Patras is a gathering point for thousands of migrants and refugees hoping to sneak onto Italy-bound ferries.
One of Golden Dawn's newly-elected deputies was assaulted outside a Patras television station on Tuesday after giving an interview. One of the station's journalists was also hurt in the incident, the Athens News Agency said.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:06 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Britain must limit European immigration during the recession, says ex-Labour minister Frank Field
Britain must stop letting in so many immigrants from Europe during the recession because the job market is “flooded”, Downing Street's poverty adviser has warned.
Frank Field, a former Labour minister and MP for Birkenhead, said immigration from Europe was a major reason that millions of people are struggling to find jobs in the recession.
He said it would be increasingly difficult for unemployed British people to find work while the “market is flooded with over-qualified applicants from Europe”.
He said temporary restrictions would help give the Government’s welfare reforms a “fair wind”, as ministers try to encourage the long-term workless back into jobs.
“During the recession, the Government just needs to tell Brussels that we just can’t have free movement of labour," he told The Daily Telegraph.
“How is Iain Duncan-Smith [the Work and Pensions Secretary] going to get people off benefits into work if the market is flood with over-qualified people from Europe?
“There’s a huge haemorrhaging of Tory support to UKIP. I would have thought the leadership should look at an idea that would appeal to Tory and indeed many Labour voters.”
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Eastern Europe have settled in Britain since countries such as Poland joined the European Union.
However, the Government quickly dismissed Mr Field’s suggestions as it could make it difficult for British people to get jobs abroad.
Damian Green, the immigration minister, said “closing off” the European market would “badly impact” workers.
It is not unprecedented for countries imposed temporary measures to stop an influx of workers from eastern Europe.
Earlier this month, Switzerland said workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia would have to seek authorisation before arriving for work.
The country is not in the European Union (EU), but it said immigration from the economic bloc would now be subject to quotas.
At the time, the EU warned Switzerland it was in breach of a free movement treaty and hinted it could face legal action.
Britain has already limited the arrival of unskilled workers from outside the European Union.
However, free travel within the EU is a key principle of the union.
Earlier this year, David Cameron led a coalition of countries claiming that workers should be able to get jobs abroad within Europe even more easily as migration will help the economy.
Backing for immigration ban grows in Australia
MORE than half of Australians want to ban immigration because population growth is out of control. The number of people wanting to close the border to immigration has risen from 41 per cent in 2005 to 51 per cent, research by AustraliaSCAN reveals.
Almost two-thirds believe migrants should try to "fit in" when they arrive.
Mary Drost, from suburban residents' action group Planning Backlash, said the results confirmed community concerns about rapid population growth, with Australia running the highest per capita migration program in the world.
"The roads are getting more congested, the trains are full, the schools and the hospitals are overloaded," she said. "We can't cope with it in Melbourne."
Just a third of the 2000 people questioned by Quantum Market Research believed overseas migration made Australia "a more interesting and exciting place", down from almost half in 1995.
Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell said the results showed public opinion had moved into new territory.
"I think they are right to be worried," he said. "We have record levels of immigration and, as a consequence, we are allowing 100,000 migrants to enter the workforce at a time when employment growth is at a level lower than that."
The Government's immigration and refugee program for 2012-13 is expected to reach a record 203,000 people, similar to the mass migration intakes of the 1960s.
But the major political parties show no signs of wanting to slash immigration. Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison blamed Labor's border protection policies for public hostility to migration, which was why the Coalition wanted to reinstate its border protection policies to stop the boats,
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said migration had brought substantial economic and cultural benefits, and net overseas migration had blown out under the Howard government.
"Our immigration reforms are delivering a sustainable level of migration, while responding to labour market needs," he said.
Jennie Blencowe, research and policy manager of AMES, a migrant resource group, said Australia was a nation of migrants with 45 per cent of the population either born overseas or with a parent born overseas.
"Refugees and migrants who come here have a very strong desire to fit in to Australian society," she said.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:43 AM
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Supreme court rules for government on immigrants' residence
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the length of lawful residence in the United States by immigrant parents cannot be considered by the federal government in deciding whether their children should be deported.
The justices unanimously handed a victory to the Obama administration and overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that immigrants who entered the United States as children may count their parents' years in this country to satisfy the residency requirements.
Under federal immigration law, people who have been lawful permanent residents in the United States for at least five years and have lived continuously in the country for seven years can seek leniency from the government when facing deportation.
The ruling was unrelated to a more controversial pending immigration case involving the Obama administration's challenge to Arizona's tough crackdown on illegal immigrants. A decision in that case is expected by the end of next month.
One case decided Monday involved Carlos Gutierrez, a Mexican citizen who became a lawful permanent residence in 2003 when he was 19. He was stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2005 with three young illegal immigrants in his car and the U.S. government began procedures to deport him for immigrant smuggling.
He argued his father's immigration status and years of residence in the United States could be taken into consideration to meet the eligibility requirements to avoid deportation. The Supreme Court disagreed.
The other case involved Damien Sawyers, a Jamaican citizen who became a lawful permanent resident in 1995 at the age of 15. The government began deportation proceedings against him after his conviction for having a controlled substance in 2002 and for cocaine possession in 2005.
He argued the time he spent as a minor living with his legal resident mother should be considered, a position rejected by the justices.
The administration argued that the appeals court's ruling would hurt the government's high-priority efforts to deport immigrants who are criminals.
Administration lawyers said the general preference for family unity does not trump the law's plain language that the immigrant personally must satisfy the eligibility requirements.
The Supreme Court's opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, accepted the government's position.
She concluded in the 13-page opinion that the view of the government's Board of Immigration Appeals was based on a permissible interpretation of the law, that it was consistent with the statute's text and was entitled to deference.
There were no precise statistics on the likely number of individuals affected by the ruling.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is based in California, which also covers Arizona and which has a significant part of the nation's immigration cases, granted 11 such petitions for review last year, legal experts said.
The Supreme Court cases are Holder v. Gutsier, No. 10-1542, and Holder v. Sawyers, No. 10-1543.
Europe's Anti-Immigrant Voters
In our poll of nine EU states, a majority in seven said that immigration has had a negative impact on their country.
Election campaigns often reveal politicians' perceptions of public opinion more clearly than when they are in power. The scramble for votes focuses their minds on what they think people want to hear. Recent elections in Europe have highlighted, among other things, that political leaders across the spectrum are now much more sensitive to public concerns about immigration.
In the recent French presidential elections, for example, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy placed significant emphasis on anti-immigrant rhetoric in the last few weeks of his campaign. Among many pronouncements, this included a threat to remove France from the Schengen area, the zone of passport-free travel in continental Europe.
Obviously, this was partly aimed at capturing the votes previously won by Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate, but it reflected a broader assessment of popular opinion—that in times of crisis, a leader needs to be seen to look after his own citizens first.
Clearly it didn't work for Mr. Sarkozy, but it would be wrong to think that the election of François Hollande is likely to bring with it a radical softening of France's political discourse on immigration. Mr. Hollande still nods to the right on the issue, and has argued that limiting economic immigration is essential in an economic crisis. While Mr. Hollande was less open than Mr. Sarkozy in courting Le Pen voters, he was willing to acknowledge their anger and promised to ensure it is heard when he is in office.
This recognition of public concern about immigration has been politically necessary elsewhere in Europe, too. Across the Continent, economic stagnation, high unemployment and public-sector cuts provide a context in which immigrants are likely to be seen as a drain on finite resources and a threat to limited opportunities, particularly in the workplace.
Ipsos MORI's global poll of 24 countries on attitudes to immigration included nine EU member states. In seven of them, the majority of those surveyed regard immigration as having had a negative impact on their country; Sweden and Poland were the only exceptions. Most citizens think there are too many immigrants in their country, and this tends to correlate most strongly with the perception that immigrants place a burden on public services.
Europeans' fixation with the perceived negative aspects of immigration may have diluted their appreciation of immigration's potential benefits. Compared to countries elsewhere in the world, our survey shows that European citizens are the least willing to accept that immigrants make their country a more interesting place to live.
These negative public attitudes toward immigration are of course influencing political calculations. Mr. Sarkozy's threat to remove France from Schengen could be seen as electioneering, but the concern is real and shared by other member governments, including Germany's, which co-signed the letter to the EU demanding increased rights for nations to reinstate border controls.
The failure to stem illegal migration across the Greek border with Turkey is currently the main focus of concern, and that is also the main area identified for action in the EU's first "health check" of Schengen, published last week. This review found that 75% of illegal immigrants entering the Schengen area originate from Greece. But rather than seeing this as a reason for giving control back to individual countries, the EU concludes that more needs to be done to help Greece control its external borders.
European commissioners are worried that these concerns are causing governments to endanger the freedom of movement, goods and services that is "central to the European project," as highlighted by Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs. Commissioners, eager to ensure that decisions are reached consensually, can point to the fact that six in 10 EU citizens think decisions about immigration should be made jointly with the EU rather than unilaterally, according to a 2011 Eurobarometer report.
However, support for joint decision-making is only likely to exist if it fortifies the EU against unwanted migration. Findings from Eurobarometer also show that immigration policy is the key area the public wants European institutions to strengthen. Security rather than freedom is the course of the day for many Europeans when it comes to managing migration.
And as such, the future of Schengen is in doubt—if you listen to the public, at least. Our survey found that a majority of citizens in France (64%), Belgium (62%), Italy (62%), Sweden (59%), Spain (54%) and Germany (51%) favor the reintroduction of border controls in the Schengen zone, while citizens of Britain, a country not even in Schengen, are the most in favor (74%) of increased controls on the Continent. Only in Poland do more people oppose reintroducing border controls than support it. Among those in favor, the need to control immigration and improve security are the reasons most frequently cited.
The task facing national politicians and EU policy makers is a difficult one. The support for reintroducing border controls implies that membership in Schengen is now seen by most European citizens as a vulnerability rather than an opportunity. Remaining sensitive to these concerns will be important for politicians who are conscious of the need to keep the extreme right marginalized. EU policy makers, on the other hand, will see it as their responsibility to act as a brake on knee-jerk unilateralism.
Posted by jonjayray at 9:37 AM
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sheriff Joe is still stirring them up
Two of Arizona's most prominent advocates for tougher border enforcement are seeking financial contributions to counter potential legislation that would prevent states and cities from enforcing immigration laws.
An email solicitation made by former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on behalf of the Ban Amnesty Now group seeks donations to oppose legislation that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York has promised to pursue if Arizona's 2010 immigration law is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Critics of Pearce and Arpaio say the group is within its rights to seek the contributions but added that they believe the two are using illegal immigration as a fundraising tool and aren't all that interested in lessening the country's immigration woes.
"It seems they haven't heard the political message," said Randy Parraz, an organizer of a recall effort that led to Pearce's ouster from the Legislature in November, adding that rank-and-file Arizonans are more concerned about jobs and education than illegal immigration. "They are still playing that one note."
Pearce, the chief sponsor of the state's 2010 immigration enforcement law and now president of Ban Amnesty Now, said the fundraising pitch is no different than those made regularly by politicians and that contributions are needed to continue opposing those who seek soft immigration policies.
"Of course, they are going to complain," Pearce said. "And the reason they complain is that they are losing. The public wants the borders secured."
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in late June on Gov. Jan Brewer's appeal of a ruling that blocked enforcement of the most controversial sections of the immigration law.
The governor is asking the nation's highest court to overturn a ruling that, among other things, blocked enforcement of a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
The day before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case late last month, Schumer held a hearing regarding the Arizona law. Schumer vowed that if the Supreme Court upholds the law known as SB1070, he would pursue legislation that would prohibit states and cities from enforcing immigration laws without first getting federal permission.
Angela Kelley, an immigration analyst for the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, said the legislation promised by Schumer would have a tough time becoming law given the difficulty in recent years of getting enough support for immigration proposals to pass. Kelley said Pearce and Arpaio aren't interested in genuine efforts to fix the nation's immigration woes.
"They're more about the emotions behind it and the politics behind it rather than coming up with smart policies," Kelley said. "The tone that this and other organizations take isn't about a constructive outcome. It's about continued shouting."
Arpaio's office declined to comment and said Pearce should speak for the group.
Pearce said no one is twisting arms to get contributions and scoffed at the notion that he shouldn't seek contributions to fight potential legislation that faces tough odds at passage.
Britain's insane border controls
Hundreds of clerical staff are being drafted in to solve the crisis at airport immigration desks and will be expected to spot fake passports and suspicious passengers after just three days’ training.
Low-level filing clerks and receptionists are among 700 usually desk-bound civil servants recruited for the temporary work.
They will be able to claim up to £250 a day in bonuses and expenses on top of their salaries as they cope with the massive influx of visitors expected for the Olympics.
The move comes just months after the Home Office laid off about 1,000 passport control workers as part of a programme of cutbacks.
The temporary staff will be responsible for spotting dubious passengers, passports and visas after only the most rudimentary classroom instruction.
In contrast, UK Border Agency staff receive up to 15 weeks of training before they man the front line.
Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal that some staff from the Home Office’s human resources department in Whitehall – whose normal duties involve handling job applications and employee grievances – have already volunteered.
But the temporary staff will not be given powers to detain passengers and refuse them entry because they won’t have completed the full training.
Instead they will have to hand over suspects to qualified passport officers.
The scheme has been condemned by MPs and unions, who have accused the Home Office of compromising Britain’s national security as up to 600,000 extra passengers are expected for the London Games....
Home Secretary Theresa May was criticised when passengers faced three-hour queues at Heathrow last month because of a shortage of border staff.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: ‘The delays at our airports have been caused by a 22 per cent cut in staff, and the Home Office is simply trying to put a sticking plaster on what is a very serious injury.’
Posted by jonjayray at 9:11 AM
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Immigration: ACLU alleges rights violations at detention centers
The ACLU seems to think that jails should be run like the Hilton. Fancy handing out secondhand underwear! What a horror!
Suspected illegal immigrants in Georgia are suffering from a “systemic violation ... of civil and human rights” during their confinement in “substandard” federal immigration detention facilities, including Stewart Detention Center, the largest of its kind in the nation, according to a new report by the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The 182-page report, released Wednesday, immediately added fuel to the hot-burning debate over illegal immigration in this Deep South state, where the presence of an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants — the seventh-largest population in the nation — has transformed large swaths of both cities and countryside.
D.A. King, a prominent supporter of stricter illegal immigration policies here, dismissed the document as a “pseudo-report” that relied too heavily on the testimony of detainees, who, by the nature of their circumstances, would tend to be in a complaining mood.
King, president of the activist group the Dustin Inman Society, added in an interview that the ACLU “is leading the anti-enforcement charge here in Georgia.... Their goal here is to stop any enforcement of U.S. immigration law.”
Officials from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and an attorney for Detention Management LLC, the owner of the Irwin Center, did not respond to queries about the investigation.
But Steve Owen, a spokesman for the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates Stewart and the North Georgia Detention Center, called the report an “unfortunate example of the lack of seriousness with which ACLU lawyers approach the very real and practical challenges our nation faces in safely, humanely and cost effectively housing our immigrant detainee population.”
Owen said in an interview that the ACLU ignored or underplayed CCA responses to some of the criticisms of its facility. Those responses argued that the facilities featured clean cells, with a “robust and effective” grievance process at Stewart. The company also argued that some of the allegations were unsubstantiated or incorrect.
For Anton Flores-Maisonet, co-founder of Alterna, a Georgia-based immigrant rights ministry, the report bolstered his long-standing contention that suspected illegal immigrants in federal detention centers were being treated like criminals, or worse, when in fact many of them were guilty of violating only civil immigration statutes.
“I think every American, regardless of how knowledgeable they are about the complexities of our broken immigration system, should be able to agree to some codified, basic human rights minimums as to what we do with individuals we've chosen to detain for immigration purposes,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
The report, “Prisoners of Profit,” was based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as tours and interviews at Georgia's four federal immigration facilities.
Three of those facilities, including the 1,750-bed Stewart Detention Center, are run by private corporations. The report challenges the wisdom of the private model, alleging the “systemic violation of immigrant detainees’ civil and human rights while detained in substandard prison-like conditions ill suited for civil detainees.”
The report highlights a number of instances in which detainees were allegedly coerced by staffers at the centers into signing “Stipulated Orders of Removal,” which allow them to be deported without a court hearing.
In some cases, guards at the jails allegedly screamed at and threatened immigrants who would not sign the orders. In two cases, a officer allegedly physically forced immigrants to sign.
The report also alleges that detainees are not given information about pro bono legal services, denied adequate medical care, and subject to regulations that could violate attorney-client confidentiality rights.
Hygiene was also a concern: At the privately run Irwin County Detention Center, female detainees are provided with used underwear and, in at least one case, a woman was given “soiled” underwear, causing her to suffer from an infection that left her legs and genitals scarred, according to the report.
Last year, Georgia passed a tough illegal immigration crackdown law, but parts of it are on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court renders a decision on a similar law passed in Arizona in 2010.
Alabama's Governor Signs Controversial Immigration Law
Two days after sending the state’s controversial immigration bill back to lawmakers for revisions, Alabama’s governor signed the bill into law without any of his proposed changes made.
Gov. Robert Bentley signed HB 658 into law on Friday, claiming that Alabama’s legislature "did not have the appetite" to make anymore changes to the bill at this time.
"In an effort to remove the distraction of immigration from the other business of the special session, I decided to sign House Bill 658 and allow the progress made in the legislation to move forward," Bentley said in a statement. "We can now also move forward on the other business of the special session."
Bentley, a Republican, had previously argued that the state legislature should remove a provision in Alabama's immigration law that requires school officials to ask students about the legal status of their parents. He called a special session of the state’s legislature to address the immigration issue along with state budget and redistricting.
"I still have concerns about the school provision in the original law," Bentley said in a statement Friday. "That provision is currently enjoined by a federal court, so it is not currently in effect, and we can re-address this issue if the need arises. I also still disagree with certain aspects of the new provision in House Bill 658 that called for expending state funds to create a public database with the names of illegal immigrants."
Bentley appears to be concerned that the revised measure tramples on constitutional rights.
Alabama Sen. Scott Beason, the sponsor of the 2011 law and its 2012 revisions, said that he "couldn't be more pleased" with Bentley’s decision to sign HB 658. Beason views the signing as another victory, as he was successful in getting lawmakers to approve limited changes to state's law pending the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law.
"Now we're set to hear from the Supreme Court on Arizona," Beason said, according to AL.com.
Some activists are threatening to take civil action against the state for alleged unconstitutional provisions in the immigration law.
"This so-called “reform” bill is nothing more than window dressing – apparently aimed at appeasing the state’s business leaders even though the majority of small businesses and the state’s farmers will continue to suffer," wrote Mary Bauer, the legal director of Southern Poverty Law Center, in a press release last week. "And, in some areas, the bill actually makes the original law much worse."
“And, given the added unconstitutional provisions it will create, the Southern Poverty Law Center will be forced to file more lawsuits against the state of Alabama,” Bauer added.
Despite his own misgivings about the law, Bentley believes that the immigration law is a good thing for Alabama and that is has made progress within the state.
"The bottom line is there are too many positive aspects of House Bill 658 for it to go unsigned. I don’t want to lose the progress we have made," Bentley said. "This bill reduces burdens on legal residents as they conduct government transactions. The bill also reduces burdens on businesses while still holding them accountable to hire legal workers. These changes make this a stronger bill."
Posted by jonjayray at 11:03 AM
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Number of babies born to ethnic minorities surpasses whites in U.S. for first time
America has reached a landmark point as, for the first time in its modern history, most of the babies being born there are non-white. White children aged under one are outnumbered by those from ethnic minorities including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and mixed race, US Census Bureau figures show.
Of the four million children born in the US in the 12 months to July 2011, 50.4 per cent were from ethnic minorities. That compares with 37 per cent in 1990.
The figures also reveal the prolonged impact of a weak economy, which is resulting in fewer Hispanics entering the U.S.
Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University, said: 'This is an important landmark. This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders.'
In recent years, births have been declining for both whites and minorities as many women held off having children due to the economic slump, although the drop has been larger for whites.
Minorities increased 1.9 per cent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 per cent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.
But a recent slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is shifting notions on when the tipping point in U.S. diversity will come - the time when non-Hispanic whites become a minority.
After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December.
The annual growth rates for Hispanics and Asians fell sharply last year to just over two per cent, roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. The black growth rate stayed flat at 1 per cent.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:48 AM
Friday, May 18, 2012
Large number of foreign criminals roam free in Britain instead of being deported
More than 100 foreign criminals whom the Government wants to deport are being released on to Britain’s streets every month to protect their ‘human rights’. In total, there are 3,900 overseas convicts on bail in the community, free to commit new offences. Incredibly, 817 of them have been at large for five years or more.
A string of murders and sex attacks have been committed by foreign nationals who should already have been booted out.
The scale of the problem was revealed in a letter to MPs by Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK Border Agency.
Officials start proceedings to boot out the convicted criminals or offer them bribes to go home.
But once they have served their sentence, the convicts can continue to be held only if there is a good chance of them being deported imminently.
The offenders immediately use the Human Rights Act to say they have a right to a family life in the UK – and the courts let them go, pending their lengthy appeals through the British legal system.
Mr Whiteman said that, in an average month, 110 foreign convicts were freed from immigration centres on bail. In 90 per cent of cases, the decision was taken by a judge. In the remainder, the Home Office itself decided there was little chance of immediate removal so let them go.
UK Border Agency statistics show that of the 3,900 currently walking the streets, some 2,500 were released from jail more than two years ago – including the 817 who have been at large for five years or more.
Mr Whiteman admitted to MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that foreign criminals were not being deported quickly enough. He blamed the delays on lengthy judicial processes, difficulties obtaining documents from other countries and deliberate attempts to frustrate the system. Asked about the numbers, he added: ‘I don’t think I can guarantee that it will come down rapidly.’
Immigration Minister Damian Green blamed Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to respect for family life and private life – for many cases.
Leaked papers have revealed how released foreign criminals on immigration bail have committed a string of violent crimes including three murders, three kidnappings and 14 sexual offences, among them rape. There have also been arrests in relation to 27 other ‘violent crimes’ and 64 thefts.
Mr Whiteman revealed that there are 11,127 foreign criminals in Britain’s over-crowded jails. He also updated MPs on the scandal of the 1,103 foreign prisoners who were released without being considered for deportation under Labour. Six years on, only 399 of the convicts, who included killers and rapists, have been deported. Some 455 have since been told they can stay, while other cases are continuing. Fifty-seven have never been traced.
Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has campaigned for reform of human rights law, said: ‘The Government inherited a lousy regime from Labour, and given the scope of judicial legislation we need primary legislation to fix the problem.
'Inherited a lousy regime'
‘We should amend the UK Borders Act 2007 to cut back on spurious human rights claims and strengthen our capacity to deport foreign criminals. That ought to be a priority in the forthcoming Crime and Courts Bill.’
Eurocrats are demanding that Britain introduce powers to seize the property of people who have not been convicted of any crime.
Under the draft directive, the state would be able to go to a civil court to claim someone probably got assets or property by breaking the law.
In some cases, a freeze could be put on their finances before a court order has even been granted.
The directive would apply to crimes including corruption, counterfeiting, terrorism, money laundering, organised crime and human trafficking.
MPs are due to debate the diktat next week, but ministers have said they are sympathetic to it. Mr Raab said: ‘This is a shocking power grab by Brussels.’
Posted by jonjayray at 10:52 AM
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Immigration permit auction touted as reform that would aid economy
America's decades-old immigration system should be replaced with an auction of work permits, says a UC Davis economist who is attracting attention on Capitol Hill.
His market-based reform, which is being unveiled Tuesday, would have U.S. companies compete in a quarterly electronic auction to buy permits to hire foreign workers.
In essence, U.S. firms' willingness to pay for work-based visas would become more important than family connections and fixed quotas in determining who gets to move to the United States.
"This would be quite a new system," said Giovanni Peri, a professor who studies labor economics, explaining how it would replace today's first-come, first-served waiting list and random lottery that dictate who gets work visas.
Each auctioned permit would be tied to a temporary visa. Visa-holders would be free to move from one job to another, making it harder for hiring companies to exploit them. Those who remain employed could later apply for permanent residency.
Work permit bids would start at a minimum $7,000 for high-skilled workers and $1,000 for lower-skilled seasonal jobs. Higher demand for workers could push employers' bid prices higher, compelling Congress to make more visas available.
Revenue from the auction would be channeled to the federal government and to state and local agencies that provide public education and other services to immigrant families.
"Giovanni has a very ambitious proposal
that would fundamentally reshape the immigration system," said Michael Greenstone, director of The Hamilton Project and an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Greenstone's group commissioned Peri to create the three-phase immigration overhaul. The project is affiliated with the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank, and named after Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first secretary of the Treasury.
"All it's doing is taking this very opaque, lawyer-heavy approach to who gets employment visas and (replacing it with) a very transparent approach," Greenstone said.
Gone would be the long and arbitrary waits that for some would-be immigrants can last a decade. The auction would also make inviting a foreign worker more costly to employers than hiring an available local worker, undercutting concerns that low-paid immigrants are taking American jobs.
The new approach is informed by Peri's economic research, which has found that immigration rarely hurts and often helps native-born workers in the United States by raising overall productivity.
"Immigration creates a large economic surplus for the American economy," Peri said. "Immigrants move from their country and become much more productive in the U.S., generating more income and wealth."
Peri puts his plan into a divisive national debate over illegal immigration and job competition that many economists believe is divorced from economic realities. Shifting to a labor-driven system would make the need for immigrants more apparent, he said.
"It would certainly generate more awareness and clarity on the economic value of immigrants and immigration," Peri said.
After a pilot program for temporary work visas, Peri would expand the auction model to most of the immigration system and restrict family-based immigration to immediate relatives.
That would shift American immigration away from the family focus that has guided policy since 1965. However, Peri believes the expansion of auctioned work permits would open doors for many Latin American immigrants for whom extended family connections is the only legal immigration option today.
Peri said his funders wanted him to create a proposal that "had a real chance of being implemented, accounting for the possible roadblocks and criticisms."
No country has tried such an auction before, he said. Canada and Australia have a points-based system that favors high-skilled immigrants, but the government, not the labor market, determines the rankings.
The professor presented his 30-page proposal Tuesday morning at a forum attended by a White House domestic policy adviser and a bipartisan group of political and business leaders.
Peri said the new system would help solve the problem of unmet business demand for low-skilled labor that drives illegal immigration, but lawmakers would still need to do something about the roughly 11.5 million undocumented immigrants already here.
Peri said he supports "a demanding but reasonable" path to legal residency for those illegal immigrants coupled with better workplace verification to stop future flows.
His proposals, if implemented, would not affect the admission of refugees and other humanitarian cases, which is a small part of the current immigration system. It would, however, eliminate the random lottery that delivers green cards to people from countries with lower rates of immigration to the United States.
Education Trumps Immigration among Top-Tier Issues for Latino Voters, New Poll Finds
Education ranks behind only the economy and jobs as the most important consideration among likely Latino voters in five battleground states, according to a survey released today by the American Federation for Children (AFC) and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO).
The poll results revealed that improving K-12 education--and not issues related to immigration--is the second-most important issue in the minds of Latino respondents, and education ranks in a near-statistical tie as the second most important issue among all likely voters.
Voters in five states--Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Nevada--were surveyed by the Democratic-leaning polling firm Beck Research on a host of education and other issues that will prove critical to deciding the 2012 presidential election. A majority (58 percent) of Latinos surveyed expressed a desire to hear more from both presidential campaigns on how the candidates will improve education, and large proportions of respondents also voiced strong support for a host of private school choice initiatives, including vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs, education savings accounts, and special needs scholarship programs.
"The support for making education a fundamental part of the campaign discourse over the next six months is remarkably strong across demographic, geographic, and ideological lines," said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. "The message to the candidates is clear: expanding educational options for parents, and education reform generally, should be a priority in 2012. It not only makes good political sense, but it's the right thing to do, too."
A total of 85 percent of voters and 91 percent of Latinos think vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs should be available in some form, while majorities of likely voters and Latinos also support specific school choice proposals as well. Support is especially high for special needs scholarship programs, which are favored by 74 percent of voters and an astounding 80 percent of Latino voters.
Latino respondents particularly supported arguments in favor of school choice because of the immediate help it provides to children from low-income families, and their positive effect on graduation rates, academic achievement, and parental satisfaction.
"No voting bloc is more important to this election than Latinos, and it's clear that education is among the most important issues," said Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of HCREO. "Latino families want their children to have a chance to prosper, and that opportunity best exists through access to a quality education."
In a campaign season dominated by talk of the economy, more than half (53 percent) of Latino voters also cited education as central to improving our country's economic situation.
The Beck Research survey interviewed a total of 1,050 likely November voters, including an oversample of 300 Latinos. The poll's margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:02 AM
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Recent posts at CIS below
See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.
1. Swiss No More (Op-ed)
2. USCIS Promises NOT to Correct Previous EB-5 Mistakes (Blog)
3. DOJ Guns for Sheriff Joe (Blog)
4. Michele Bachmann's Dual Citizenship: 'Tea-Party Queen' Strikes an Ironic Blow Against Immigrant Assimilation (Blog)
5. Blurring the Line Between Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas (Blog)
6. Michele Bachmann: Presidential Candidate, Swiss Citizen (Blog)
7. Making Significant Decisions About Aliens Without Interviewing Them (Blog)
8. House Appropriators Nix Obama Request for Less Enforcement Funding (Blog)
9. Obamacare Loopholes May Benefit Illegals at Taxpayer Expense (Blog)
10. Obama's Catch-and-Release Policies Blunt Secure Communities (Blog)
Posted by jonjayray at 11:13 AM
Saturday, May 12, 2012
NY State to join data sharing program
Fingerprints collected by the New York Police Department and submitted to the FBI will be shared with immigration officials once a controversial federal program opposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and other city officials is activated in the state next week, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official.
Cuomo withdrew New York from the Secure Communities program last June, noting that it failed to meet its stated goal to “deport serious felons.”
But after some contradicting statements related to whether the program was mandatory, the Department of Homeland Security’s principal investigative arm, ICE, said last year states could not opt-out of the program and that it would be implemented nationwide by 2013, rendering the governor’s decision ineffective.
The program has already been activated in 50 percent of the state, including Nassau, Dutchess and Westchester counties.
On Tuesday, the rest of the state, including New York City, will become a part of the program.
“Secure Communities has proven to be the single most valuable tool in allowing the agency to eliminate the ad hoc approach of the past and focus on criminal aliens and repeat immigration law violators,” an ICE spokesman said in a statement.
According to ICE, Secure Communities has helped ICE remove more than 135,000 convicted criminal aliens including more than 49,000 convicted of major violent offenses like murder, rape and the sexual abuse of children.
Critics of the program argued that it ensnared victims of domestic violence, individuals with no criminal record and low-level offenders.
Immigration advocates, who applauded Cuomo’s decision last summer, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision made by ICE.
“We are very concerned about the Department of Homeland Security’s insistence on moving forward in light of the strong opposition against it,” said Jackie Esposito, director of Immigration Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition.
Esposito said the changes ICE made to the Secure Communities program, after it was criticized, were not substantial. According to its new policy, for example, the agency will take into its custody individuals arrested solely for minor traffic violations only if they are convicted.
Department of Homeland Security said last year that state and local jurisdictions could not terminate their participation in Secure Communities because it is essentially an information-sharing program between two federal agencies: the FBI and DHS.
That means the fingerprints local law enforcement agencies, such as the NYPD, submit to the FBI for routine criminal history checks will also be shared with DHS and checked against immigration databases. If ICE decides an arrested individual is of interest, the agency determines what enforcement action to take.
A spokesman for the Governor’s office said they were monitoring the developments around the program.
California immigration plan to legalize workers faces hurdles
In the past two years, Arizona and five other red states made national waves and raised constitutional questions by passing laws designed to crack down on illegal immigration. Now, lawmakers in the biggest blue state are poised to focus the immigration spotlight in another direction.
A bill quietly moving through California's Legislature would grant state work permits to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who are already harvesting fields, cleaning offices and preparing fast-food.
Frustrated that comprehensive immigration reform is a non-starter in Congress, proponents say the bill would allow California to solve a problem worsened by federal inaction.
"We believe we can become the model," said Manuel Pérez, a Democratic Assembly member who represents the Coachella and Imperial valleys. "The state of California, up until this point, really has been silent on this issue."
Pérez's bill, AB1544, which has already cleared a key Assembly committee, comes as the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates the constitutionality of Arizona's 2-year-old immigration law, which directs local police and sheriffs to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
During recent oral arguments, the court's conservative majority sent out strong signals that it may support key elements of the Arizona law.
"If the Supreme Court says states can make some of their own policies -- if it upholds that -- I would expect you would see not just the enforcement stuff, but this kind of law as well," UC Davis economist Phil Martin, who studies agriculture and immigration, said referring to AB1544.
Many states are likely to follow Arizona's tough approach, which was partially inspired by California's voter-approved Proposition 187 in 1994. The law, which would have kicked undocumented children out of school and denied their parents most public benefits, was overturned by the courts because California was seen as usurping the federal government's immigration authority.
But some states could also use a states'-rights argument to push their states to the left on immigration.
The California bill is being opposed by suburban Republicans but buoyed by a tenuous alliance between liberal Democrats and conservative rural business interests.
Bipartisan cooperation would strengthen the message, but California Democrats don't need Republican support to pass the bill, Pérez said.
California lawmakers are not the first to try to legalize undocumented workers. Utah passed legislation in March 2011 that would legalize some immigrant workers if the Department of Homeland Security granted a waiver -- which it never did.
Oklahoma state Sen. Harry Coates, a Republican, introduced a similar bill in December after a state crackdown forced many illegal immigrant workers south to Texas, hurting Oklahoma's construction industry.
But Coates said his bill is not getting anywhere because immigration is too toxic in an election year. "My colleagues don't want to touch a hot potato like this," Coates said. "Every state's just trying to fend for themselves."
Pérez may have more luck in California, but the legislation could be merely symbolic if the federal government refuses to authorize the plan. Still, even a new law blocked by the federal government could force the country into a larger discussion.
"I think," Puglia said, "this is about shining as many bright lights as possible on the stagnation that surrounds the immigration debate in Congress."
Posted by jonjayray at 9:50 AM
Friday, May 11, 2012
Illegal immigration from Mexico has stopped! -- the Walrus said
In one night, 330 AZ Border Illegal Entrants
Janice Kephart has written a blog post, using data and maps from the Border Patrol, which discusses the illegal entries along certain areas of the Arizona border on the night of March 23, 2012.
Excerpt: "During the night of March 23, 2012, illegal activity was significant along 12-mile stretch of border in the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in Arizona and extending into the United States northwest about 80 miles to the Sonoran Desert National Monument's Vekol Valley on I-8 and about another 20 miles north of the interstate. None of this area is privately owned; it is all owned and operated by the federal government with the exception of the Tohono O'odham Nation's border property."
When viewing the blog, clicking on a map will link to a larger, more easily read version of the map.
Wasteful British immigration control
British Border staff search white air passengers to 'even up racial mix' -- at a time when the border agency is seriously understaffed and many passengers are let through without basic checks
White air passengers are routinely stopped and searched by customs officials simply to ensure the right racial ‘mix’ of travellers are being approached, a report reveals today.
It found staff searching for illegal goods at Gatwick Airport selected white passengers to balance the numbers against black and other ethnic minorities they suspected to help avoid race discrimination complaints.
Details of the practice are exposed in one of two highly critical reports by John Vine, chief inspector of the UK Border Agency, who said it was unlawful and must stop.
The second, criticising Heathrow Terminal 3, raised concerns about queues at the borders and found staff were allowed to clock off at some of the busiest times, resulting in long delays for passengers.
Targets for queuing times for passengers from outside the European Economic Area were breached 62 times between September 18 and 30 last year. The longest wait was two hours and 15 minutes.
The racial scanning, seemingly widespread at Gatwick, involved pulling out white passengers when officials wanted to question a black passenger.
One official told inspectors he and his colleagues ‘specifically detained a number of white passengers’ from one flight so they could ‘show that white people were also being questioned’.
He said that when they saw arrivals they ‘knew they had a problem’ because the person they wanted to intercept was the only black passenger on the flight.
The inspectors added: ‘The officer also reported that this practice ... is also used for Caribbean flights to reduce the potential for future race claims.’
At Heathrow Terminal 3, inspectors found two-thirds of passenger searches were ‘neither justified nor proportionate or in line with legislation and agency guidance’.
The reports reveal a number of other areas where the border controls at Britain’s two biggest airports are failing.
At Heathrow Terminal 3, they raised questions over immigration controls, with the number of people refused entry by border staff falling by 20 per cent from 2009/10 to last year.
The numbers kicked out of the country after being blocked at the terminal border fell by one third.
Mr Vine questioned whether the UK Border Agency was still able to maintain ‘an effective and efficient border control’.
At Gatwick’s North Terminal, inspectors found passengers arriving from outside the EU were routinely allowed to enter through the ‘nothing to declare’ channel with too much alcohol and up to three times the legal amount of cigarettes.
Staggeringly, customs officers waved through passengers found with cannabis in their luggage, instead of arresting them. The report said they had failed to follow ‘appropriate procedures’ and the passengers should have been arrested.
Inspectors reported ‘an almost total lack of visible detection presence’ in customs for ‘large parts of the day’.
And too many suspected illegal migrants were being allowed through, including cases where attempted deception and breaches of immigration rules were clear, it found.
The reports are published today as two major immigration unions – the PCS and Immigration Services Union – walk out on strike.
Posted by jonjayray at 9:40 AM
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Illegal immigrants benefiting from billion-dollar tax loophole
Immigration may be among the most divisive topics in U.S. politics today. So when a reporter in Indiana uncovered a billion-dollar tax loophole that allowed illegal immigrants, who may not even be paying taxes, to get a 5-figure dollar amount in tax returns, more questions were raised than answered.
"We found, in many cases, they're getting these tax credits for nieces and nephews and children who aren't even in the United States," explained Bob Segall with WTHR in Indianapolis.
Segall told 97.3 KIRO FM's Dori Monson Show that in order to get the tax credit for dependents, illegal immigrants only need a letter from the school where the child attends, a birth certificate and a child's photo.
It's a loophole that the U.S. Treasury Inspector General has raised questions about since 2005, when the benefits being claimed were only in the millions. Last year, undocumented workers received approximately $4.2 billion from the government.
Why the increase?
The longer the tax credit has been available - the more people are discovering how to use it, and, in some cases abuse it. While you do need proof that there is a child eligible for dependency, they do not have to live in the United States.
Illegal immigrants, many of which are from Mexico - but not all, can provide a letter from a school in Mexico.
Segall said in one case, there were four undocumented workers living in the same mobile home. Between the four of them, they claimed 20 children as dependents, but while investigating the story, only one child was seen living at the home.
Border Patrol shifts strategy as illegal immigration slows
The U.S. Border Patrol, unveiling its first new strategy in eight years on Tuesday, said it aims to become more nimble as illegal immigration plummets.
The new plan calls for increased intelligence gathering, greater cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and quicker deployment to combat the biggest risks, said Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher.
The change means a shift away from the strategy of deploying a growing army of agents at trouble spots. The number of agents has more than doubled to 21,000 since the last plan in 2004, along with a heavy investment in boats, aircraft, cameras and other equipment.
"The principal theme of the 2012 Strategic Plan is to use information, integration and rapid response to meet all threats," Fisher said in prepared remarks before the House of Representatives' subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
The previous plan also focused on organizing the Border Patrol after the September 11, 2001, attacks and melding it into the new Department of Homeland Security, he said.
The more nuanced approach reflects sharply different conditions on the U.S-Mexico border as immigration has slowed.
Arrests on the southwest border last year were down more than 80 percent from the peak year of 2000. Violent crime in the region has fallen by an average of 40 percent over the last 20 years, Fisher said.
The Pew Hispanic Center reported last month that the largest wave of immigration from a single country to the United States had come to a halt and may have reversed.
Fisher said the Border Patrol's main goals included "preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons" from entering the country and to disrupt cross-border criminal gangs.
Republican Representative Candice Miller of Michigan, the subcommittee's chairman, praised the Border Patrol for its "extraordinarily professional job" in protecting the border.
But she also questioned how the new strategy could be shown to be working since it relied on assessing risks rather than such numbers as miles of border controlled or number of arrests.
"The border may be more secure, but by what? How do you measure it?" she said.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:45 AM