Monday, December 31, 2012
Britain to miss key immigration target, says report
David Cameron is likely to miss his key pledge of reducing the number of people coming into Britain to fewer than 100,000 a year, according to a new study.
A leading think tank predicts that “net” migration will continue its downward trend in 2013 but will start rising again in the following year.
The report, from the Left-of-centre Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), is a blow for the Prime Minister, who pledged in 2011 to get net migration – the difference between the number of people entering Britain and those leaving – down to the “tens of thousands” before the general election in May 2015.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has introduced new restrictions, including a clampdown on student visas and curbs on the numbers allowed in from outside the European Union to work and to join family members.
The efforts received an apparent boost when figures last month from the Office for National Statistics showed that net migration fell to 183,000 in the 12 months to March 2012, down from 242,000 the previous year.
In the biggest drop for four years, the number of foreign students coming to Britain fell by eight per cent, the number of new foreign workers was down by nine per cent, and the number of migrants from outside the EU fell by seven per cent.
However, the IPPR annual report on migration warns that the downward trend is likely to continue only into next year, with net migration falling to 140,000.
It predicts that the total will then start rising as ministers run out of options to cut numbers further. It forecasts that the Government will miss Mr Cameron’s key target, but points out that final totals for the 12 months up to February 2015 will not be available until after the general election.
In 2014, a new wave of Eastern European citizens will gain the right to live and work unrestricted in Britain under the EU’s “freedom of movement” rules. Bulgarians and Romanians – with a total population of 29 million – have had restricted rights to come to Britain since they joined the EU in 2007, but those limits end on Dec 31, 2013.
Sarah Mulley, the associate director of the IPPR, said: “Although net migration will fall next year, the Government is fast running out of options for further restricting non-EU immigration in any significant way.
"This may leave future progress against the net migration target dependent on patterns of EU migration and emigration, both of which are unpredictable and largely outside government control.
“The next two years will show the limits of government action on net migration as the Government runs out of ways to significantly reduce numbers further.”
The “tens of thousands” pledge is not official government policy because of disagreement between Conservatives and Liberal Democrat ministers. The issue has been one of the running sores since 2010, despite party differences being enshrined in the Coalition Agreement.
After Mr Cameron made his promise, Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, branded the intervention “unwise” and said the Prime Minister risked “inflaming extremism”.
Universities and MPs also claimed that including students in permanent migration figures was misleading and risked damaging higher education.
Mr Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimated the total value of Britain’s education exports as £14.7billion in 2010.
In future, after a Government announcement this year, overseas students will be clearly identified in official immigration figures and “disaggregated” within net migration data for the first time.
Revealed: 3 in 4 of Britain's danger doctors are trained abroad
Good to see that this is now in the open. Also of great interest would be to see how many are Muslims. Judging by the names, a great lot of them
The vast majority of doctors who have been struck off in the past five years were trained abroad, new figures from the General Medical Council show.
The full extent of the danger presented by foreign doctors working in the health service can be revealed.
New figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) show that the vast majority of doctors who have been struck off were trained abroad.
The revelations will add to concerns that NHS patients are not adequately protected from health professionals from countries where training is less rigorous than in the UK, and from those who are unfamiliar with basic medical practices in this country.
The figures, disclosed for the first time and obtained by The Sunday Telegraph using freedom of information laws, show:
* Three quarters of doctors struck off the medical register this year were trained abroad.
* Doctors trained overseas are five times more likely to be struck off than those trained in the UK.
* The country with the biggest single number of doctors who have been removed or suspended from the medical register, is India, followed by Nigeria and Egypt.
In total, 669 doctors have been either struck off or suspended by the GMC over the last five years.
Of those, only 249 were British (37 per cent) while 420 (63 per cent) were trained abroad – whereas one-third of doctors on the register were trained abroad, and two-thirds in Britain.
In recent years, a series of cases have raised concerns about the competence and language skills of overseas doctors.
In 2008, the pensioner David Gray was killed by a German-trained doctor, Daniel Ubani, who gave him ten times the recommended dose of pain relief while working as a locum.
Dr Ubani, who was born in Nigeria, was working his first shift in this country and later said he had never heard of the medication diamorphine, which is not commonly used by GPs in Germany, before he administered it.
A series of other cases at the GMC have included Vladan Visnjevac, struck off after a baby girl he was delivering died of a fractured skull and brain injuries when he used forceps wrongly, and Navin Shankar, who failed to diagnose a young woman’s cancer over six years before her death.
Julia Manning, chief executive of centre-right think tank 2020 Health said: “These figures are really worrying and shocking. I think we need to take a really hard look at the assessment of all doctors coming into this country.”
Mrs Manning said she was concerned that the European Working Time Directive, which restricts doctors’ hours, had left hospitals relying too heavily on locum staff, including those who were not familiar with British medical practices or the routines of the NHS.
“If I was a hospital chief executive looking at these figures I would be going to work tomorrow to check just how rigorously have we assessed our own doctors,” she said.
Under the current system, British hospitals and medical agencies which hire doctors are not allowed to test the language skills of those from EU countries to seek if staff will be able to communicate safely.
Until now, Britain has interpreted EU law as meaning that doctors who qualify in any of the 27 countries must be free to work elsewhere, without restriction.
The coalition has promised to change the law, so that doctors will have to prove they can speak English before they get work here, but the changes are bogged down in discussions in Brussels.
Many of the problems with locum medics arose after Labour’s 2006 GP contract meant that family doctors were able to give up responsibility for out-of-hours care, with private agencies taking over.
In recent years, locums have been increasingly used to plug gaps in care, because of shortages of doctors thanks to Britain’s strict adherence to the European Working Time Directive, which limits their hours.
Since a 48-hour maximum week came in two years ago, the number of doctors who trained elsewhere in Europe but are registered to work in the UK has risen by 13 per cent.
Those who come here from beyond Europe are subject to a language test, and a multiple choice exam, which can be taken repeatedly until it passed, before a practical assessment is made.
The new figures from the GMC give the first detailed picture of the problem facing medical regulators.
Last night, there were calls for extra safeguards and training to ensure that any doctor working in this country is familiar with the drugs and procedures used in this country.
The newly disclosed figures also suggest that the picture is worsening.
Of the 39 doctors struck off by the General Medical Council this year, 29 were trained outside the UK – 75 per cent of the total – whereas in 2009, 41 of a total of 67 doctors struck off came from overseas, 61 per cent of the total.
The figures show that India has the highest number of doctors who have been suspended or struck off the register with 123. Nigeria and Egypt also fare badly, each with 33 doctors subject to the measures since 2008. Eastern European countries account for 27 such cases.
When the numbers of doctors disciplined is compared with the total number working here from each country, the highest proportion of those who have been struck off or suspended come from Cameroon.
Since 2008, there has been average of 18 Cameroonian doctors working here at any one time.
Of those, one has been suspended, and one struck off. Mexico, Cuba, France and Uganda were the countries with the next highest proportion of doctors subject to the disciplinary measures.
The country with the best record is Hong Kong. Despite having an average of 773 doctors working in the UK since 2008, none have been struck off or disciplined by the GMC.
Similarly, New Zealand has had an average of 600 doctors working in Britain, but none have had those measures taken against them. Next best were Iran, Slovakia and the United States.
There are around 253,000 doctors on the medical register. Around 92,000 were trained abroad, an increase of around 2,000 over the past year.
Of those, more than 25,000 were trained in Europe and around 67,000 were trained in other countries.
Doctors from outside Europe have to take a test before they can work in the UK, but the GMC can refuse entry to those from medical schools which do not meet its official standards or those agreed internationally.
There have been long-standing concerns about the difficulties of monitoring the standards of training in distant overseas countries.
In 2010, graduates from seven medical schools from Nigeria were banned from seeking work in the UK, because of alarm over falling standards of training.
Corruption in medicine remains common in India, most often in the form of bribes to gain access to treatment.
In 2010, the president of the Medical Council of India was accused of accepting bribes to certify medical colleges which did not meet basic standards.
The investigation was closed earlier this year, after insufficient evidence was found to support the claims.
Last month, the same council barred 27 doctors from their register for their part in setting up fraudulent medical courses.
Some doctors claimed they were running two medical colleges simultaneously, while other courses claimed to have far more consultants to train students than they actually did.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said the health service would not have survived without the contribution from overseas doctors, and that it was important not to demonise tens of thousands of professionals who had brought their skills to this country.
He said: “We absolutely acknowledge that when it comes to the serious end of the scale, those from overseas are more likely to appear, and we have set about a series of reforms to address this.”
The regulator is reviewing the tests set for doctors from outside the EU, having raised the language standard requirements, and is about to pilot a new induction programme so all doctors who are new to UK practice undergo extra training about how medicine operates in this country and the ethical and professional standards they are expected to meet.
From this month, all UK doctors will also have annual checks of their competence, under a new licensing system called revalidation.
Dr Umesh Prahbu, national vice-chairman of the British International Doctors Association, said he believed the reasons why overseas doctors are far more likely to be struck off were complex and varied.
He said: “The NHS is known for having problems with discrimination and racism and I think this is part of it.”
Dr Prahbu said that patients were no more likely to lodge complaints about doctors trained overseas than they were about those from the UK, yet when it came to referrals from NHS trusts, foreign doctors were far more likely to be referred to the GMC.
Analysis of the 2008 to 2012 figures shows that among cases of those struck off, 17 per cent of those involving UK-trained doctors began with a complaint from a patient, compared with 11 per cent in the case of those from abroad.
Dr Prahbu, medical director of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS foundation trust, said other problems stemmed from cultural differences and communication problems, more than from differences in clinical training.
Dr Prahbu, who trained in India, said the technical training was very similar to that in the UK, but it was more difficult to learn about the “softer” skills and ensure that patients felt treated with courtesy.
A Department of Health spokesman said the checks being introduced would “ensure that the small number of dangerous, often overseas trained, locum doctors who do not understand the British medical system are stopped from treating patients.”
Posted by jonjayray at 9:32 AM
Saturday, December 29, 2012
ICE: Illegal aliens must now commit at least three crimes to be deported
On Friday, the Obama administration quietly issued a memo stating that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will no longer detain or seek to deport illegal aliens charged with misdemeanor crimes.
Among the conditions under which ICE agents are now allowed to issue a detainer, is if "the individual has three or more prior misdemeanor convictions."
Supposedly, there are a few exceptions to the new policy, including those charged with, or convicted of a DUI and sexual abuse.
The memo was signed by John Morton, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and released on Friday evening.
The Obama administration has become very fond of the infamous so-called 'Friday night document dump,' a long-practiced attempt to not draw attention to the unpopular or damning information contained in the release.
This latest policy, Morton said, restricts action "against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses."
What are some of the crimes that will now be overlooked by ICE? The following is a partial list of misdemeanors as defined by the state of California:
-Receipt for stolen property
-Driving without a license
-Assault and battery without minimum injury
Not surprisingly, this decision from the Obama administration has been completely ignored by the mainstream press.
Miliband set for policy clash with his own MPs: Labour leader plans to woo middle Britain with tougher stance on immigration
Labour MPs remain firmly opposed to curbs on immigration and red tape, a survey reveals today - as Ed Miliband pledges to unveil a string of policies to woo middle Britain.
In his New Year’s message the Labour leader says the party will finally begin setting out its policies for the next election, with a focus on rebuilding the economy and helping struggling families.
Mr Miliband insists he has learned ‘hard truths’ about what Labour ‘got wrong’ on issues like immigration in the past.
In recent weeks Mr Miliband has flirted with taking a tougher stance on immigration without spelling out how he would limit the number of migrants coming to the UK.
But a new Ipsos/Mori survey suggests that his own MPs remain opposed to a crackdown on immigration.
Some 49 per cent of Labour MPs surveyed said that placing any restriction on immigration would harm the competitiveness of Britain’s economy. Just 22 per cent said immigration controls would not be damaging.
By contrast, 82 per cent of Conservative MPs said that immigration restrictions would not harm the economy.
In his New Year message Mr Miliband also pledges to bring forward new proposals to kickstart the economy, including plans to help ‘small businesses struggling against the odds’.
But the Ipsos/Mori survey reveals that Labour MPs remain deeply opposed to any effort to slash red tape, which is routinely cited as a major problem for small business. Not a single Labour MP agreed that the level of regulation faced by British business was damaging the economy. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) said red tape was not holding back economic growth.
By contrast, 87 per cent of Tory MPs cited red tape as a key factor in holding back Britain’s economy.
Mr Miliband ordered a major policy review in the wake of the 2010 election defeat, saying he would start with a ‘blank sheet of paper’. But so far the review has not produced any major policies.
In a further blow yesterday it emerged that the former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling may quit politics rather than take a Shadow Cabinet job in the run-up to the next election.
Speculation has been mounting at Westminster in recent weeks that Mr Darling could make a dramatic return as Shadow Chancellor as part of a drive to improve Labour’s faltering credibility on the economy. The move would see him replace Ed Balls, whose role in helping Gordon Brown run up the huge budget deficit left by Labour is set to be a key election issue.
Mr Darling, 59, is one of the few figures to emerge from the last Government with his credibility intact after standing up to Mr Brown’s demands for more spending, and helping to shore up the banks.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:11 AM
Friday, December 28, 2012
Extra 20,000 foreign workers could head to the UK
More than 20,000 foreign workers from outside the EU could flock to Britain to replace Romanian and Bulgarian fruit pickers who will be tempted by better jobs when work restrictions are lifted next year (Dec 2013).
The new wave of overseas workers should be allowed to come from countries including Ukraine, Moldova and Croatia, despite 2.51 million unemployed people in the UK, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said. Unemployed Britons tend to be based in cities and few are interested in short-term, seasonal work on farms in rural areas, they added.
The Romanians and Bulgarians picking fruit and harvesting crops are expected to drop their tools and head to the cities for what is seen as easier low-skilled work in better conditions in bars and restaurants when restrictions on where they can work are lifted at the end of next year (2013).
Farmers want to clear the way for thousands of other foreign workers from outside the EU to take their place for up to six months at a time, picking strawberries, potatoes and cauliflowers for the supermarket shelves.
Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, chief horticultural adviser for the NFU, said: “Without those 21,500 workers we simply won’t have enough people here to pick crops. “In the past there have been years where we simply haven’t been able to get enough workers – not on that scale, but by a few thousand – and the result is that crops go unharvested and unpicked and food has to come in from elsewhere. “There have been shortages on the shelves. It’s not somewhere we want to go again.”
The Government's immigration advisers are considering the impact on the UK and its seasonal workers on farms once restrictions are lifted and migrants from Romania and Bulgaria can take any job in the UK from January 1 2014.
Numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians living in the UK have already jumped from 29,000 to 155,000 since the two countries joined the EU five years ago, and one Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, has predicted this could treble again to 425,000 within two years of the restrictions being lifted.
But the mandatory lifting of the work restrictions will also give the 21,500 Romanians and Bulgarians already in the UK under the seasonal agricultural workers scheme (Saws) the freedom to leave their labour-intensive jobs on farms.
Given the choice of picking fruit and having up to six months work or “more comfortable work in better conditions” in hospitality, catering, or care homes, Romanians and Bulgarians on the scheme are expected to leave “as soon as those restrictions are lifted”, Mrs Campbell-Gibbons said. “We suspect we may get some people return for one season, but then they’ll use our farms as a stepping stone into work elsewhere,” she said. We’ve seen that happen in the past.”
The industry has also faced difficulties attracting unemployed Britons to take the jobs, she added. “People in the UK have a preference for permanent work, as opposed to temporary; working outdoors, picking fruit, it’s unskilled work and it’s not seen as a very attractive prospect for the majority.
“Despite government aspirations to achieve it, it’s unrealistic to expect that you can just cut the workforce by 20,000 and expect that to be filled.”
One option would be to create a new scheme for students from anywhere in the world, or to restrict it to workers from countries looking to join the EU, such as the Ukraine, Moldova, or Croatia.
Martin Ruhs, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The interesting question is, does the UK want to have jobs here that will mainly be done by people who cannot legally do any other jobs.
"If the argument is that this job will not be done by anybody who has free choice of employment, then I think there is a question about, ‘what is it about this sector and is it a good or bad idea for the UK in a way to be encouraging that?’ "It's not a straightforward question.
"On the one hand you could say, ‘Well, the UK shouldn't be in the business of promoting this very labour intensive farming and why not let the industry decline and we start importing?’
"The other argument is that there are many people who have a demand for British strawberries, and if it's important to you to have British strawberries then obviously you need to find a way of keep producing them here, which means you need to find a way of providing labour to his sector.”
Dr Ruhs, who is also a member of the Migration Advisory Committee, said it would report on the future of the Saws scheme early next year. "Saws is one of the key issues that we're looking at, absolutely," he said.
"You could encourage a scheme that brings in non-EU workers from countries that have applied to be members of the EU in the future, or you could bring in countries from elsewhere."
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The Government has no current plans to introduce a replacement for the seasonal agricultural workers scheme after 2013, but we recognise the concerns of the agricultural sector and have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to look into this issue.”
NE: Illegal immigration ordinance makes it way through courts
Fremont’s illegal immigration ordinance moved from U.S. District Court at the beginning of 2012 to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals where, by the end of the year, oral arguments had been heard and Ordinance No. 5165 rested in the hands of a three-judge panel.
In the meantime, however, employment portions of the ordinance went into effect on May 4.
The ordinance, approved by Fremont voters on June 21, 2010, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp on Feb. 20 upheld its employment portions — basically requiring use of the federal E-Verify system — and portions allowing the city to issue occupancy licenses to renters, but struck down portions prohibiting the harboring of illegal aliens, revoking occupancy licenses and penalties following revocation of occupancy licenses.
Both sides declared victory, but the ACLU and MALDEF quickly appealed and the city cross-appealed.
The city council on Feb. 28 unanimously approved a March 5 implementation of portions of the ordinance requiring employers and city contractors to use E-Verify.
The ordinance applies only to new hires after the date of the ordinance’s implementation, but all businesses needed to be registered by May 4.
Penalties for noncompliance could include revocation of city-issued permits, contracts or grants; acceleration of loan terms with the city; or a public hearing.
In the same motion, the council continued to delay implementing the rest of the ordinance until the Court of Appeals issues a final ruling.
The council, on March 13, allocated $450,000 toward implementation of the employment portion. The money will come from funds that had been levied in property taxes the past two years for legal defense of the ordinance.
Later in March, the ACLU and MALDEF submitted claims to the city for legal work totaling more than a combined $1 million.
The $709,000 bill from the ACLU included more than 900 hours of work by attorneys Jennifer Chang Newell and Kenneth Sugarman at a billable rate of $390 per hour.
In contrast, attorney Kris Kobach, who wrote the ordinance and is defending it on behalf of the city at no charge, was seeking about $6,000 for expenses.
Both sides filed a joint motion on March 30 to stay proceedings on bills of costs pending appeals.
The city council on April 10 approved creation of a full-time legal secretary position and an investigator to help City Attorney Paul Payne implement the ordinance. The secretary position has since been filled, but hiring an investigator was put on hold, and that position may not be filled if city officials determine they don’t need it.
“At this point, as the ordinance stands, I believe I’ve got an obligation to go forward with (enforcement). I’m still working out a lot of the details as far as the investigatory end of things,” Payne said in April.
City Administrator Dale Shotkoski said he doesn’t want the city attorney so involved with the immigration ordinance that Payne can’t do the rest of his job.
“This is one ordinance,” Shotkoski said. “There are a whole bunch of them out there. There are also contracts he reviews and a lot of other things he’s doing for us, so we can’t have him spending 90 percent of his time on this ordinance, then we aren’t getting the benefit of having a city attorney.”
Oral arguments at the Court of Appeals were heard in St. Paul, Minn., on Dec. 13.
Chang Newell argued that the ordinance conflicts with and undermines federal control over immigration.
Kobach said plaintiffs could not identify a single federal statute that clearly conflicts with the ordinance, and referred to a federal law he said points to Congress wanting to discourage the unlawful housing of illegal immigrants in subsidized housing.
Posted by jonjayray at 9:07 AM
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Immigration and Policing
The Obama administration on Friday announced a policy change that — if it works — should lead to smarter enforcement of the immigration laws, with greater effort spent on deporting dangerous felons and less on minor offenders who pose no threat.
The new policy places stricter conditions on when Immigration and Customs Enforcement sends requests, known as detainers, to local law-enforcement agencies asking them to hold suspected immigration violators in jail until the government can pick them up. Detainers will be issued for serious offenders — those who have been convicted or charged with a felony, who have three or more misdemeanor convictions, or have one conviction or charge for misdemeanor crimes like sexual abuse, drunken driving, weapons possession or drug trafficking. Those who illegally re-entered the country after having been deported or posing a national-security threat would also be detained. But there would be no detainers for those with no convictions or records of only petty offenses like traffic violations.
John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, said this was a case of “setting priorities” to “maximize public safety.”
But wait, you ask, shouldn’t ICE have been doing this all along? Didn’t Mr. Morton say in a memo two years ago that ICE would use its “prosecutorial discretion” to focus on the most dangerous illegal immigrants? He did. But for nearly as long as President Obama has been in office, ICE has been vastly expanding its deportation efforts, enlisting state and local agencies to expel people at a record pace of 400,000 a year — tens of thousands of them noncriminals or minor offenders. By outsourcing “discretion” to local cops through a fingerprinting program called Secure Communities, it has greatly increased the number of small fry caught in an ever-wider national dragnet.
Some cities and states have resisted cooperating with ICE detainers for the very reasons of proportionality and public safety that Mr. Morton cited on Friday. California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, told her state’s law enforcement agencies this month that ICE had no authority to force them to jail minor offenders who pose no threat.
Secure Communities and indiscriminate detainers have caused no end of frustration for many police officials, who rely on trust and cooperation in immigrant communities to do their jobs. They know that crime victims and witnesses will not cooperate if every encounter with the law carries the danger of deportation. They have shied away from a federal role that is not theirs to take.
ICE’s announcement seems to make those efforts unnecessary. It puts the Obama administration on the same page as states and cities that have tried to draw a brighter line between their jobs and the federal government’s. A stricter detainer policy is better for police and sheriffs, who can focus more on public safety. It makes people less vulnerable to pretextual arrests by cops who troll for immigrants with broken taillights. And it helps restore some sanity and proportion to an immigration system that has long been in danger of losing both.
Republican Party Showing Shift on Immigration, Gun Control and Tax Hike
For years it seemed there would never be a compromise on issues on which Democrats and Republicans are so ideologically far apart.
But now, seven weeks after an electoral trouncing, Republican party leaders and rank and file are showing a willingness to bend on some of those issues: immigration reform, tax hikes and gun control.
What long has been a nonstarter for Republicans —raising tax rates on wealthy Americans— is now backed by GOP House Speaker John Boehner in his negotiations with President Barack Obama to avert a potential fiscal crisis. Party luminaries like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have started calling for a wholesale shift in the GOP's approach to immigration after Hispanic voters shunned Republican candidates. And some Republicans who previously championed gun rights now are opening the door to restrictions following a schoolhouse shooting spree earlier this month.
Of particular concern is the margin of loss among Hispanics, a group Obama won by about 70 percent. It took only hours for national GOP leaders to blame Romney for shifting to the right on immigration — and signal that the party must change.
Jindal, a prospective 2016 presidential contender, was among the Republicans calling for a more measured approach by the GOP. And even previously hardline opponents of immigration reform — like talk show host Sean Hannity — said the party needs to get over its immigration stance heavily favoring border security over other measures.
"What you have is agreement that we as a party need to spend a lot of time and effort on the Latino vote," veteran Republican strategist Charlie Black said.
Meanwhile, Boehner's attempt to get his own members on board with a deficit-reduction plan that would raise taxes on incomes of more than $1 million failed last week, exposing the reluctance of many in the Republican caucus to entertain more moderate fiscal positions.
With Republican leaders being pulled at once to the left and to the right, it's too soon to know whether the party that emerges from this identity crisis will be more or less conservative than the one that was once so confident about the 2012 elections. After all, less than two months have passed since the crushing defeat of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who moved far to the right during the primary season and, some in the party say, lost the general election as a result.
But what's increasingly clear is that the party is now engaged in an uncomfortable and very public fight over whether its tenets, still firmly held within the party's most devout ranks, conflict with the views of Americans as a whole.
Most GOP candidates — Romney among them — also long have opposed allowing people in the country illegally to get an eventual path to citizenship. But exit polls from the Nov. 6 election showed most voters favored allowing people working in the U.S. illegally to stay.
Posted by jonjayray at 9:19 AM
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
In a year up to 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will have the right to settle in Britain and claim benefits
And many from the gipsy community can hardly wait
Olympic boxer Bobby George stands on an icy street in the Bulgarian shanty town where he grew up.
A cruel wind whips his dark hair as snow falls on the chaotic rows of shacks which are home to 50,000 of the European Union’s poorest inhabitants.
Plunging his freezing hands into his thin leather jacket, he says despairingly: ‘There is nothing for my gipsy people here.
Their eyes are turning to England where they can have a better life. Hundreds of families want to go to the UK because they have no future in my country.’
George is lucky. Five years ago, he changed his name from Boris Georgiev and left the seedy slum of Fakulteta, on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, to settle in Luton, Beds, with his wife, Tina, and daughter, Gergana, now six. They have since had another daughter, one-year-old Mari.
A couple of weeks ago he returned on a cut-price flight for Christmas and found nothing much has changed. Growling stray dogs chase each other down alleyways, rats scamper over piles of rubbish, and children in slippers, long outgrown with their backs cut out, dodge horse-drawn gipsy carts as they run to the few shops for a 40p loaf of bread.
The Sofia bus route does not reach Fakulteta because the drivers refuse to go there, as do the rubbish collection men. At night, the place is pitched into darkness because there is no street lighting.
The only indication that the city authorities recognise the huge gipsy town’s existence is the electricity meter boxes bolted tightly to the tops of telegraph poles so they cannot be tampered with by residents.
The main supermarket — the owner is himself a gipsy — has stopped all credit because of the debts racked up for unpaid groceries.
No wonder that in a year’s time, when a total of 29 million Bulgarians (and Romanians) gain the right to live, work, and claim state benefits in Britain under EU ‘freedom of movement’ rules, a great many families from Fakulteta plan to decamp the 1,250 miles to the UK.
‘The gipsies have no jobs because ordinary Bulgarians do not like or trust us,’ explains Bobby George.
‘We are discriminated against as gipsy people. In Britain it is different. You treat everyone, black, white, brown or yellow, just the same. Of course, they will want to go.
‘But there will be a day when your country is full up, when you cannot afford to give benefits to any more people from Europe and the rest of the world, too. They hope to get there before that moment happens.’
Bobby, a good-looking 30-year-old with a pugilist’s nose, is probably right about Britain nearing its limits.
The latest Census, published this month, reveals how mass immigration has dramatically changed our country. Since EU borders were opened up in 2004, 1,114,368 Eastern Europeans have uprooted to live in England. Last year, 40,000 Bulgarians and Romanians moved to the UK, joining 130,000 of their countrymen who have settled here during the past decade.
But these numbers are nothing compared with the flood of migrants expected when the rules change in a little over a year’s time.
Until now, migrants from the two former communist nations (officially barred from working or claiming benefits in Britain until the freedom of movement rule comes in on January 1, 2014) have neatly exploited a gaping loophole in the EU rules.
It allows Bulgarians and Romanians claiming to be self-employed to get a British national insurance number and a raft of hand-outs, including housing and child benefit.
Many of the new arrivals have worked hard, cornering the market in car-wash companies, for instance. But others are less industrious, and include Roma gipsies who, remarkably, now sell a third of all copies of the Big Issue.
Even selling one copy a week of the magazine (created to help the British homeless) miraculously gives them self-employed status and allows them to beg with impunity outside shops and on street corners.
Bulgarian and Romanian incomers have been blamed by police in their own countries and in Britain for a massive rise in organised crime, including the trafficking of children to Britain to beg, pickpocket, milk state benefits and even enter the sex trade.
It is estimated that 2,000 children from Romania and Bulgaria are under the control of modern-day Fagins in our major cities.
According to Scotland Yard, a skilful child thief can make up to £100,000 a year ‘working’ on the streets, buses and Tubes in London — cash that is sent back to Roma villages and towns at home.
So critical is the problem that Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister visited Britain earlier this month to meet Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss how child trafficking and other organised crimes can be controlled when the UK doors swing open yet more widely.
Meanwhile, Antoaneta Vassileva, head of Bulgaria’s National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, warns that the UK is now the EU hot-spot for Roma child pickpockets from her country — a problem that will almost certainly get worse when the rules change in a year’s time.
The attitude that Britain is a land where benefits flow like milk and honey is commonplace — even though few of these Roma people speak any English and would struggle to point to Britain on a map.
The Roma, who call themselves ‘gipsy’ proudly because it means ‘free man’ in their language, are an ignored under-class in Eastern Europe.
Back in the communist era, they were protected and were guaranteed jobs — like every adult in Bulgaria.
‘Now everything has changed,’ says Mari. ‘I have to go to the rubbish tip in Sofia to rifle through other people’s throw-outs to find something to sell so my family can eat. You can see why we like Britain where everyone is treated fairly.’
Bobby George, who is acting as my guide, nods in agreement as he listens to the conversation.
The boxer won a bronze medal for Bulgaria as a light welterweight in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. After turning professional, he left for the UK.
‘I went to Luton because that is where there are cheap flights to Bulgaria. I rent a small flat for my family and half of the £550-a-month rent is paid by housing benefit and, of course, we get the state benefits for the two children.
‘When I am not in training, I try to work. I have done labouring jobs and, officially, I am self-employed so I have a national insurance card. My wife works as a cleaner sometimes, too.’
Bobby — who boxed his way to success via the local Sofia fitness centre — is a devout Christian, like most of the Roma in Bulgaria. On Saturday night, he takes me to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fakulteta for the weekly service of worship.
There is perfect singing by the small choir of women, and the visiting pastor stands up at the pulpit to deliver a sermon.
The theme is on obeying the Ten Commandments — and, particularly, the virtue of not stealing.
There is not a flicker of an eyelid in the small whitewashed church as the congregation listens intently to his words. And, at the end, the Roma people bow their heads in prayer and say Amen.
There are decent people here — and Bobby George, with his sporting talent and determination to succeed, is proof that many migrants wish only to strive hard and provide for their families.
But it would be misguided to ignore the concerns that he, and many others, voice at the impact on Britain when we swing open the doors to these hard-pressed people, so marginalised and mistrusted in their own lands.
Australia' conservatives claim latest boat arrivals bring number of asylum-seekers to 25,000 under current Leftist Government
TWO more boats have arrived in Australian waters, which the opposition claims brings the number of asylum-seekers travelling to Australia by sea under the government's watch to 25,000.
HMAS Melville and HMAS Albany were called to help a suspected irregular entry vessel near Christmas Island on Sunday.
It is believed 87 passengers and three crew were on board. They will be transferred to Christmas Island for the usual security, health and identity checks.
A separate vessel with 35 people on board sailed into Australian waters north-west of Cocos Island on Friday.
Coalition border protection spokesman Michael Keenan said this meant 25,000 people had now travelled to Australia by boat during the Gillard government's watch.
"One of the main excuses Julia Gillard had for outing former prime minister Kevin Rudd was his failure to protect Australia's borders," he said in a statement on Monday night.
"Given that over 25,000 people on more than 400 boats have arrived under her leadership, then by her own measure she has categorically failed to restore any control to Australia's borders and stop the boats from coming."
He called for more funding and personnel for frontline border protection agencies.
"The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has been spread so thin that merchant vessels, Australian Navy ships and Customs vessels are being used as water taxis because our patrol vessels are so overworked and rundown that they are literally cracking under the pressure," he said.
Posted by jonjayray at 2:14 PM
Monday, December 24, 2012
Audits of companies for illegal immigrants rise
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reached its highest number yet of companies audited for illegal immigrants on payrolls this past fiscal year.
Audits of employer forms increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal years 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew to nearly $13 million from $1 million. The number of company managers arrested has increased to 238, according to data provided by ICE.
The investigations of companies have been one of the pillars of President Obama's immigration policy.
When Obama recently spoke about addressing immigration reform in his second term, he said any measure should contain penalties for companies that purposely hire illegal immigrants. It's not a new stand, but one he will likely highlight as his administration launches efforts to revamp the U.S. immigration system.
"Our goal is compliance and deterrence," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge at ICE's Seattle office. "The majority of the companies we do audits on end up with no fines at all, but again it's part of the deterrence method. If companies know we're out there, looking across the board, they're more likely to bring themselves into compliance."
While the administration has used those numbers to bolster their record on immigration enforcement, advocates say the audits have pushed workers further underground by causing mass layoffs and disrupted business practices.
When the ICE audit letter arrived at Belco Forest Products, management wasn't entirely surprised. Two nearby businesses in Shelton, a small timber town on a bay off Washington state's Puget Sound, had already been investigated.
But the 2010 inquiry became a months-long process that cost the timber company experienced workers and money. It was fined $17,700 for technicalities on their record keeping.
"What I don't like is the roll of the dice," said Belco's chief financial officer Tom Behrens. "Why do some companies get audited and some don't? Either everyone gets audited or nobody does. Level the playing field."
Belco was one of 339 companies fined in fiscal year 2011 and one of thousands audited that year.
Employers are required to have their workers fill out an I-9 form that declares them authorized to work in the country. Currently, an employer needs only to verify that identifying documents look real.
The audits, part of a $138 million worksite enforcement effort, rely on ICE officers scouring over payroll records to find names that don't match Social Security numbers and other identification databases.
The audits "don't make any sense before a legalization program," said Daniel Costa, an immigration policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "You're leaving the whole thing up to an employer's eyesight and subjective judgment, that's the failure of the law. There's no verification at all. Then you have the government making a subjective judgment about subjective judgment."
An AP review of audits that resulted in fines in fiscal year 2011 shows that the federal government is fining industries across the country reliant on manual labor and that historically have hired immigrants. The data provides a glimpse into the results of a process affecting thousands of companies and thousands of workers nationwide.
Over the years, ICE has switched back-and-forth between making names of the companies fined public or not. Lately, ICE has emphasized its criminal investigations of managers, such as a Dunkin' Donuts manager in Maine sentenced to home arrest for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants or a manager of an Illinois hiring firm who got 18 months in prison.
Many employers also wonder how ICE picks the companies it probes.
"Geography is not a factor. The size of the company is not a factor. And the industry it's in is not a factor. We can audit any company anywhere of any size," Bench said. He added ICE auditors follow leads from the public, other employers, employees and do perform some random audits.
But ICE auditors hit ethnic stores, restaurants, bakeries, manufacturing companies, construction, food packaging, janitorial services, catering, dairies and farms. The aviation branch of corporate giant GE, franchises of sandwich shop Subway and a subsidiary of food product company Heinz were among some of the companies with national name recognition. GE was fined $2,000.
In fiscal year 2011, the most recent year reviewed by AP, the median fine was $11,000. The state with the most workplaces fined was Texas with 63, followed by New Jersey with 37.
The lowest fine was $90 to a Massachusetts fishing company. The highest fine was $394,944 to an employment agency in Minneapolis, according to the data released to AP through a public records request.
A Subway spokesman said the company advises franchise owners to follow the law. A Heinz spokesman declined comment.
Bench didn't have specifics on what percentage of fines come from companies having illegal immigrants on their payroll, as opposed to technical paperwork fines in recent years.
Julie Wood, a former deputy director at ICE who now runs a consulting firm, said she'd like to see the burden of proving the legality of a company's workforce go from the employer to the government. She'd like to see a type of program, such as E-Verify, be implemented with the I-9 employment form. E-Verify is a voluntary and free program for private employers that checks a workers eligibility.
"At the end of the day, the fine is the least of it," she said. "Usually the company will spend more on legal fees. But it is a huge headache for the company to lose workers."
Wood said she'd like to see the agency go after more criminal charges and focus on companies that treat workers inhumanely.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks immigration, opens up about religion in TV interview
Canada will no longer “passively” accept immigrants as it shakes up its immigration system to ensure it gets the newcomers it needs to fill growing labour shortages, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
“We have been making some fairly profound changes to how we handle immigration,” Harper said in a year-end interview with Global News.
“We have traditionally just been a country that passively accepts applications. We are now trying to go out and shape those immigration applications and process those in a way that will serve the labour force holes that are emerging.”
Canada faces a labour shortage now that will only worsen as the aging population retires from the workforce, Harper said.
“Even with the challenging economic situation, we have serious labour shortages in many regions of our economy and in many sectors of our economy,” the prime minister said.
Speaking to Global News national anchor Dawna Friesen, the prime minister said that tackling the labour shortage in the long-term will require changes to immigration system as well as changes at home to the education system.
“What we really need are Canadians trained for the jobs and we need an immigration system that’s going to bring people in permanently to take advantage of those opportunities,” he said in the interview that will air Sunday morning.
Harper said training Canadians to fill job vacancies would be one of the “big challenges” for the spring budget, hinting that the federal government is planning further measures on this front.
He voiced frustration that the education system isn’t doing enough to fill what he called a shortage of tradespeople, scientists and engineers. But he said the responsibility lies with the provinces, which handle education, to “reorient” programs to address those shortfalls.
Harper touched a number of topics in the year-end interview, from the crisis to Syria, the tragic school shooting in Connecticut and his own religious beliefs.
A father of a son and daughter, Harper said he had to turn away from the coverage of the shooting, unable to listen to details about the deaths of 20 young children and six school staff.
“I think once you’ve been a father, you’re affected by the deaths of children in a much more profound way than other people. It’s hard for me to talk about,” Harper said.
Asked about how faith influences his decisions, Harper said that he prays regularly to “ask for strength and for wisdom.”
But given Canada’s diverse population, he said he’s also careful not to impose “my particular theological views on the country.”
He said tragedies like the school shooting make him reflect on his faith.
“There are times like this where you know where we’re all reassured by the fact that there is you know a benevolent power ultimately looking over all of us,” he said.
Despite the sharp criticism of opposition critics and the federal spending watchdog, Harper defended the government’s initial process for selecting for the Lockheed Martin F-35 as Canada’s next fighter jet.
He said the previous Liberal government signed on early with an international consortium to develop the jet.
“I think because of that, an assumption was just made all along the way that of course, if we’re developing this plane, this will be the plane we’re purchasing. It’s not an unreasonable assumption,” Harper said.
But the prime minister said that decision will now be reviewed “step by step” to ensure the government is “making the right purchases.”
On the crisis in Syria, he said the days of the Assad regime are numbered but expressed concern that the government that replaces it could still be marked by “sectarian warfare and chaos.”
Posted by jonjayray at 10:42 AM
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Britain's Labour Party gets tough on immigration, in policy as well as rhetoric
It looks as if Labour really are preparing to walk the walk on immigration. Last week Ed Miliband delivered a speech which – while measured in tone and delivery – laid out some of the hardest policy lines ever drawn on the issue by a Labour leader. A language test for public sector workers. Cuts in translation services. Transitional controls for new EU members. And boldest of all, the prospect of support for an immigration cap.
Then yesterday, the shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper followed up. The focal point of her announcement was uncontroversial, a call to allow Afghan interpreters who have worked for British forces in Afghanistan to settle in the UK. But alongside the compassionate commitment to our allies in the war in terror, she again unveiled a hardening of Labour’s immigration policy prospectus, this time in the area of enforcement.
Too little action was being taken to tackle illegal immigration, she said: “People who have entered illegally, absconded from airports or broken the rules undermine the rule of law and badly damage confidence in the entire system. Illegal immigration can also involve criminal exploitation and modern day slavery. Rightly the public feel strongly about this and think it should be the priority for action.”
To tackle this, Labour would provide new powers to the UK Border Agency. They would establish a new, dedicated enforcement task force. And they would give the power of immediate arrest to UKBA compliance officers.
This represents more than warm words. And it certainly goes beyond the agenda of inclusion Ed Miliband was outlining last Friday. Yvette Cooper’s agenda involves arrest, incarceration and deportation. Not One Nation, but a one-way ticket out of Britain.
This is brave stuff for a Labour shadow minister, especially one with long-term designs on the leadership of her party. But again, it is illustrative of the fact that Labour really has decided to grasp the immigration nettle.
Over the coming months Labour is going to try to seize control of the immigration debate, and reshape it. The plan is a simple one – to begin to draw a distinction between “good” and “bad” migration.
The case will be made forcefully for the benefits of skilled migration: “Bringing more talented students from China or Brazil to learn at Britain’s top universities not only brings in substantial investment in the short term,” Cooper said yesterday, “it also helps Britain build cultural and economic links with the future leaders of the fastest growing economies on earth. In total foreign students bring in £8bn a year.”
But at the same time Labour will also be moving to recast itself as the hammer of the illegal immigration industry, the scourge of the people traffickers and the nemesis of the 21st-century white slavers. The message will be “The more illegal immigrants we deport, the more capacity we will have to bring skilled migrants into the country, and effectively integrate them.”
Labour believes they will be helped to shape this message by the Coalition. Shadow ministers regard the Government’s migration cap as too blunt an instrument, and one that will be seen to have failed as net migration begins to rise again in advance of the election.
But they also recognise the benefit of caps and targets for reassuring a nervous electorate that ministers have immigration under a semblance of control. Which is why, Labour insiders say, Ed Miliband has finally been won round to the case for some form of migration limit. “He’s basically there,” said one source close to the Labour leader, “Ed is definitely looking at caps and limits for the manifesto.”
In the past Miliband has adopted a Hokey Cokey approach to issues he feels run against the ideological grain of his party. A speech in which he indicates a shift in stance has invariably been followed by backlash which results either in a period of prolonged silence, or a briefing or article indicating everyone got the wrong end of the stick, and Ed is sticking doggedly to Labour’s traditional policy position after all.
That doesn’t appear to be happening this time. Miliband and Cooper are starting to deploy a consistent narrative over immigration. It hasn’t created uproar within Labour ranks, which is testament to the trust Labour activists have in their leader, and also a recognition of the sensitivities surrounding immigration issue on Labour doorsteps. And for once Miliband is actually aligning flowery rhetoric with hard policy.
Labour’s leader is starting to walk the walk on immigration. If he can start to do it in other policy areas, we could yet see him walking all the way to Downing Street.
Should Canada screen out Muslim immigrants?
A security expert says Canada needs to go beyond screening for terrorists landing on our shores and consider the religious beliefs of some prospective immigrants.
Scott Newark says Canada should be concerned about "Islamist" immigrants.
Newark served as executive officer of the Canadian Police Association and also worked as a security and policy advisor to both the Ontario and federal Ministers of Public Safety.
"We need to think hard about what I would call 'Islamism', the political Islam that has absolutely no interest whatsoever in integration, that is intolerant and unyielding and absolutely committed to eradicating Western values," he said in an interview.
Newark says if Canada did a better job screening prospective immigrants, Omar Khadr might not be household name. [Khadr is a Canadian-born son of an Egyptian caught fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan]
Canada knew of Omar Khadr's father's fundraising activities for al-Qaida, for example, and of his father's taking his children to spend time with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Newark says.
"But we ignored that," he said. "And that is contrary to what's in our own national security interest."
Newark, unsurprisingly, is a fan of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who has made significant changes to the immigration system to keep more undesirables out.
"We're bringing in biometric visas on January 2nd and information sharing with the U.S. so that we can screen out the people who represent a security threat," Kenney recently told reporters.
Dr. Salim Mansur, a political science professor at London's Western University, wants Kenney to go a step further and introduce a moratorium on immigration from Muslim nations.
"This is not racist," Mansur said, referring to Newark's comments. "Their values, ideologies, politics and culture is completely incompatible with the values of Canada as a liberal democracy."
Posted by jonjayray at 10:57 PM
Friday, December 21, 2012
Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?
Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.
The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It's placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers, and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and manned helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.
So here's the question: Is the Southwest border secure?
The statistics paint a picture that says "yes." The number of illegal crossers apprehended is at a 40-year-low, which can be partly attributed to a weak U.S. job market and improving economy in Mexico. Drug seizures continue near historic highs and violent crime in border cities on the U.S. side has gone down.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says all of those facts are indicators of progress in the right direction.
"If I were a police chief of a major city and I came in and I said we had reduced crime in four years by 70 to 80 percent, people would say, 'That's a great job'," Napolitano says. "'You're a great police chief.' If you took that and you applied it to what's been going on along the Southwest border, you'd have to say objectively the same thing."
A 'Byzantine' Immigration System
But more and more people are realizing that illegal immigration is tied directly to the broken legal immigration system, not necessarily security.
People come for work without visas because they can't easily get visas. Employers who need guest workers say it's a long, frustrating, costly process to get the workers.
Here's an analogy: Imagine immigration, especially from Latin America, as a two-lane residential street with a 20-mile-an-hour speed limit. Over the decades, it's grown to an eight-lane superhighway. But the speed limit is still 20 miles an hour. That is, visas for needed workers haven't risen along with the traffic.
"If you want to keep it at 20 miles an hour, you have to put a cop every 20 feet. And that's what the 'secure the border first' people are in effect trying to do," says Daniel Kowalski, a Texas-based immigration attorney and editor of Bender's Immigration Bulletin. He says demanding border security first is backwards.
"You need to line the border with border patrol, shoulder to shoulder, and that's just the wrong way to do it," he says. "It's too expensive. It's easier to fix the numbers, rather than militarizing the border."
Because the immigration system is so byzantine, up to half of the estimated 11 million people illegally in the U.S. came in legally, then overstayed their visas. No amount of border security would have stopped that.
How Can Security Be Measured?
Congress still wants to know whether all the resources along the border are working. There is no single objective measure of border security.
Until two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security used something called "operational control," which Arizona Republican Senator-elect Jeff Flake wants the department to keep using.
"In essence, it basically means if someone sneaks across, you have a reasonable expectation of catching them," Flake says. "We're talking about something that is achievable and measurable."
The House has passed a bill requiring DHS to use operational control, but the department says it's obsolete. The measure only counts territory where actual Border Patrol agents are located.
DHS says something it calls the Border Security Index will take into account other things as well: areas covered by technology, air power, the rate of violent crime.
It's been nearly three years since that new index was announced and it hasn't been implemented yet. Even the Government Accountability Office said last year that DHS needs to do a better job of reporting its effectiveness on the border. But, even taking that into account, almost everyone agrees the border is more secure than it was 20 or even 10 years ago.
Napolitano says people who demand complete border security before immigration reform are not being realistic.
"There's no border in the world that doesn't have some form of migration, legal and illegal," Napolitano says. "So saying it has to be zero is like saying we have to put the United States under some sort of Tupperware container and seal it off. That's not how our country operates."
Many lawmakers who've been blocking it now seem to realize that some sort of comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. The political reality is that more border security — or at least more accountability — is still likely to be part of any legislation.
Amnesty decries migrant exploitation in Italy
An informal penalty for lawbreaking?
A new report from Amnesty International is alleging widespread exploitation of foreign migrant workers in Italy, saying they often receive less than the minimum wage and sometimes are not paid at all.
The international human rights group said Tuesday that two visits to Italy this year, mainly in southern farming areas, confirmed other studies that also found a "pattern of labor exploitation" of migrants across Italy. Amnesty said migrant workers are frequently paid much less than Italians doing the same job.
Migrant workers, both legal and illegal, work mainly in farming, tourism and construction in Italy.
The group credits Italian investigators for prosecuting some "extreme" cases of exploitation cases, but contends less serious abuses often go unpunished.
The report focuses on migrant workers from Africa and Asia.
"Amnesty International's research found evidence of instances of widespread and/or severe labor exploitation, in violation of Italy's obligations under several international conventions on labor rights, in particular wages below the minimum wage agreed between unions and employers' organizations, arbitrary wage/salary reductions, delays or non-payment of wages and long working hours," the report said.
The places researchers visited included Rosarno, a southern farm town notorious for a violent tensions between natives and migrants in 2010. At least 38 people were wounded in clashes, which began when two migrants were shot with a pellet gun in an attack the migrants blamed on racism.
Under a crackdown by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government, which included an anti-immigrant coalition partner, formal employment contracts are required before migrant workers can obtain residence permits. Thus migrants might feel pressured to accept unattractive job conditions in return for legal permission for themselves and their families to live in Italy.
"The employer's effective power to determine the worker's migration status can easily become a tool to intimidate or threaten workers, undermining their ability to negotiate better wages and working conditions," the report said.
Amnesty International's appeal for improvement of migrant labor conditions and laws risks falling on distracted ears.
Italy's Parliament is about to be dissolved ahead of early elections, and with many politicians campaigning for government stimulus to help spur jobs for Italians during a recession, migrant labor needs are unlikely to get much political attention soon.
Posted by jonjayray at 11:08 AM
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Up to 90,000 students 'in Britain illegally': Thousands fail to attend courses and some don't even register
Ministers have been notified of up to 90,000 foreign students who may be living in Britain illegally.
Audits by universities and colleges have thrown up tens of thousands of students who may have broken the rules by failing to attend their courses or even register.
In August, London Metropolitan University had its licence to bring in foreign students after inspectors found thousands of illegal immigrants were studying there.
Since then, hundreds of other institutions have been examining their books to find if they have students who should not be in Britain.
The Border Agency revoked the Met’s licence after it discovered a quarter of overseas students sampled were in the UK illegally and around half may not have been attending lectures.
Problems have also been discovered at Teesside university and Glasgow Caledonian university.
UK Border Agency chief executive Rob Whiteman told the Home Affairs committee it had received 90,000 notifications since the Summer.
He said: ‘We are now working through them. We have a new team in the new year in the Liverpool area which includes some DVLA staff transferring over and those 90,000 notifications we have received will be processed by the end of March in terms of triaging them, making a decision on whether there’s important information in them.
‘Because the student notifications are greater than we expected - the London Met position led to a great many notifications coming through - we have created an additional team.’
Immigration Minister Mark Harper told the Committee that revoking London Met’s highly-trusted status had served as ‘a lesson’ to colleges and universities over ‘what would happen if they didn’t meet their sponsorship requirements’.
‘I think perhaps if they weren’t taking that seriously I think they will do now,’ he said.
Mr Whiteman also admitted that the Agency had found a backlog of 50,000 applications from immigrants which have not been entered into the UKBA database.
He said it should be cleared by March.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked Mr Whiteman if he could confirm the size of cases for entry to the UK that have been received but not put on the agency’s database.
After hearing the figure was 50,000, Mr Vaz said: ‘You have given me a straight and astonishing number.’
Mr Whiteman said the backlog would be cleared by March.
He said: ‘You must remember we receive one million applications a year. We work on the basis that we want all cases put on the system in a week.’
Last week Home Secretary Theresa May said she wanted to eradicate the abuse of the student visa system and encourage only the ‘brightest and the best’ to come to Britain.
Two thirds of Germans believe immigrants are an 'extra burden' which have caused 'serious problems' for the country
Ulrich Kober said that Germany failed to grasp a culture of welcoming foreigners and overplayed its own attractiveness to immigrants
Ulrich Kober said that Germany failed to grasp a culture of welcoming foreigners and overplayed its own attractiveness to immigrants
Two in three Germans believe immigrants have caused 'serious' problems for the country's social services and schools.
The poll - commissioned by the respected Bertelsmann Foundation think tank - shows two thirds of people say immigrants are an 'extra burden' on the country's social services system.
Two thirds of people quizzed in the survey also believe that incomers are a source of conflict with 'native' Germans and cause problems.
There is a widespread belief that in big cities like Berlin and Duesseldorf, where there are high concentrations of Turkish people, the foreign children 'hold back' natives because of their lack of German skills.
The poll comes after official figures showed immigration had leaped to its highest level in 16 years in 2011.
Almost a million people arrived in Germany, many of them from Spain and Greece as well as the new Eastern European states now in the European Union, such as Poland.
Around 163,000 Poles moved to Germany in 2011 and 41,000 Hungarians.
'Germany underestimated the importance of a culture of welcome and overestimated the attractiveness as a country of immigration,' said Ulrich Kober of the Bertelsmann Foundation which commissioned the study released on Monday.
He fears that Germany, which has a falling birthrate and is desperately in need of skilled workers to drive its export led economy onwards, will continue to be 'shunned because we are not attractive to the skilled immigrants we need.'
Less than half of Germans who took part in the survey were in favour of relaxing immigration rules or allowing immigrants to take dual nationality.
Pollsters Emnid said the anti immigration views were less marked in under 29s.
Nearly three quarters - 70 per cent - said immigration could make Germany more attractive to international investors and believed that it facilitated the placing of international companies in the country.
But almost 90 percent of respondents demanded that immigrants adapt to 'German culture' and seek out a 'good relationship' with the Germans they are living amongst. Fully 96 percent thought that learning German should be made mandatory.
The country could pay a heavy price for its anti-immigration views as its older workforce dies out, concludes the Foundation. 'Highly qualified people from non-EU countries actively avoid moving to Germany,' added Herr Kober.
'Without more social openness, we are not attractive for qualified immigrants, who we badly need to counter the demographic development.'
The poll comes after a new research revealed that Germany's population is set to soar by 2.2 million by 2017 as immigrants from failing EU states try to take advantage of the country's stable economy.
Around 6.93 million people with only foreign citizenship lived in Germany at the end of 2011 - 177,300 more than a year earlier. Federal Statistical Office figures showed that the increase of 2.6 percent was the highest in 15 years.
Currently there are 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, making up 5.4 percent of the population. Most of these are of Turkish origin, the descendants of the 'Gastarbeiter' or guest workers who flooded to the country after WW2 to fill the manpower vacuum left by the conflict.
The vast majority, some 88 percent, of arrivals moved to Germany from other European Union countries.
Rising neo-Nazism and a long-held belief among mostly elder-Germans that their's is not a country for immigrants have contributed to the image abroad of the place being unwelcoming to newcomers.
Two thirds of people quizzed in the survey also believe that incomers are a source of conflict with 'native' Germans and cause problems with schools and the education of their own children.
Posted by jonjayray at 9:46 AM
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
DHS to Create a Class of *Undocumented* Permanent Resident Aliens in 2013
Starting on February 1, 2013, America will have a new legal class of aliens — they will be undocumented permanent resident aliens.
This bizarre new category of immigrant was created by a notice in the December 14 Federal Register by order of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
I discovered this startling anomaly simply by reading the fine print of the Federal Register announcement; I have seen nothing else in print about it.
These aliens will have all the rights of other legal immigrants, but they will not have the government form commonly called a green card to prove it. And it is all perfectly OK with the government. Though the term "undocumented permanent resident alien" is not mentioned as such in the publication, that is, in fact, what these aliens will be.
What USCIS has done is to announce that it will start collecting a previously authorized, but never-collected $165 fee on Department of State-cleared immigrants as they arrive in the United States on and after February 1, 2013. But unlike most government fees it is not, strictly speaking, a mandatory one. The Federal Register announcement states:
Failure to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee will not directly result in denial of admission to the United States as an immigrant or the loss of status as an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. However, USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) to an individual who is subject to the USCIS Immigrant Fee until the individual has remitted the fee. Failure to obtain the Form I-551 will make it difficult for the individual … to show that he or she is authorized to accept employment in the United States or to return to the United States from temporary foreign travel.
This is ridiculous. If the government is going to levy a fee on incoming immigrants and they don't pay, they simply should be stopped at the port-of-entry. But, no, DHS does not want to inconvenience any arriving immigrants by demanding payment so it has created a class of undocumented green carders.
The $165 fee (admittedly in addition to earlier ones) is a screaming bargain giving the new arrival full access to the American labor market and other valuable privileges as a legal resident of this nation.
The fee could have been collected as early as September 24, 2010, but wasn't because of a lack of coordination between the Department of State and DHS; that error has cost the U.S. Government $166,000,000 based on the government's own figures, indicating that typically 36,000 immigrants a month come from overseas, and that there was a 28-month gap between the fee's authorization and its first planned collection.
Illegal Labor Pool Impacts U.S. Unemployment
Americans with Minimal Education Compete for Jobs with Illegals
A new study released by the Center for Immigration Studies shows the impact of amnesty on American workers. Illegal immigrants, of whom 79% have no more than a high school education, compete with less-educated U.S.-born citizens for employment opportunities. Of the 54.7 million working-age Americans not holding a job, more than half (27.7million) have no education beyond high school.
The complete study can be found here
"The president seems to believe that jobs are plentiful for less-educated Americans who compete with illegal immigrants for jobs. In fact, the employment picture for such workers remains bleak," notes the study’s author, Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research.
Of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, seven to eight million are thought to be holding jobs. It is less-educated U.S.-born minorities and the young who are impacted the most by the size of the pool of potential workers in the U.S., as their unemployment rates are much higher than those for the population as a whole.
For the native-born who are young (18-29) with a high school education, the unemployment rate is similar to those who have not completed high school (all ages) — 18.5 percent vs. 17.2 percent.
For U.S.-born Hispanics without a high school education, the U-6 unemployment rate is 32.5 percent.• For young U.S.-born Hispanic high school graduates, the U-6 unemployment rate is 28.8 percent.
For U.S.-born blacks without a high school education, the U-6 unemployment rate is 44.4%.
For young U.S.-born blacks without a high school education, the U-6 unemployment is 41.8%.
The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: email@example.com.
Posted by jonjayray at 10:15 AM
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Republican leaders balance politics and principle on immigration reform
Senior Republicans say the party is struggling to thread the needle on immigration reform, an issue emerging as the next big item on the political agenda once the ongoing deficit talks reach their conclusion.
On the one hand, GOP leaders recognize the party needs a new approach. Mitt Romney performed dismally with Latino voters in November’s general election.
On the other hand, internal skeptics fear that a GOP rush to embrace a more liberal approach to immigration would risk sundering the conservative movement without paying any electoral dividends.
These dilemmas are not entirely new. President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed immigration reform in the middle of the last decade.
They had no success, were subjected to considerable criticism from other conservatives and the issue almost capsized the latter’s run for the 2008 presidential nomination.
The difference this time might be that the party is coming off a sizable election loss in which its unpopularity among Hispanics was a key factor.
Romney received the support of only 27 percent of Latino voters, according to exit polls — a stark contrast to the 44 percent Bush racked up in 2004.
But some influential voices in the party worry that a more centrist line on immigration reform is being pushed too hastily. They also face a tactical decision — whether to support broad reforms or back a more piecemeal approach to the issue.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who will replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) in the next Congress, said that while “there is a recognition” that the immigration issue had hurt the GOP with Hispanics, he believed “some might overplay it.”
He added that there was a danger in “thinking [that] if we do immigration reform, we all of a sudden get 44 percent, like Bush. That’s not the case.”
Even so, however, Flake acknowledged that the party’s current position was simply doing it too much damage, especially when the dangers were exacerbated by an inflammatory tone.
“Our policy on immigration, or the voices that come from our party, certainly have alienated some in the Hispanic community, but it also alienates others,” he said. “It’s not just that it’s turned off Hispanics -— and it has — but more broadly it’s turned off a lot of people.”
Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the chairman of the House Policy Committee, argued that “a vast number of Republicans are supportive of immigration reform.” He also asserted, as do many conservatives, that a significant proportion of the Latino population is simpatico with the GOP’s worldview on economic and social issues.
Lankford emphasized that as Republicans ponder whether to modulate their position on immigration reform, “the first consideration can’t be the political benefit.”
Yet he fears Republicans who supported any kind of sweeping reform would come under attack from their right flank while most of the benefit could accrue to President Obama.
“Whoever is president, they sign it and they get credit for it,” he said. “Some say that if Republicans push immigration reform here, we’ll get credit for it. That’s not true. The president will get credit for it.”
The answer, many Republicans and strategists believe, could lie in part with a shift toward supporting something akin to an expansive DREAM Act, without going so far as any deal involving a broader amnesty.
Republican strategist Hogan Gidley, who worked closely with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and served as the communications director for former Sen. Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential bid, told The Hill that Republicans need to convince Latinos they are receptive to the challenges the community faces.
“It doesn’t mean we open our borders. It doesn’t mean that we grant amnesty. But Huckabee used to make that point that the children were here through no fault of their own. Why deny them a college education?”
Gidley cautioned that a broader reform package could be a big political loser for Republicans. He cited the amnesty to which President Ronald Reagan agreed in the 1980s, and added “he still never got their votes.”
The lesson to be drawn, he added, was that “we shouldn’t run to change our principles or sell out our convictions for votes, because there is no guarantee that you will get the votes. Then you’re left without your principles and without political support.”
Some Republicans believe that progress could be made simply by adopting a less hostile tone when addressing issues like immigration.
Such an approach, according to pollster Whit Ayres, could help win over those Hispanics who, ethnicity aside, fit the demographic profile of Republican supporters neatly.
“A great deal of what needs to change is adopting an attitude that says, ‘We want Hispanics who believe in limited government and lower taxes and entrepreneurial opportunity as part of our coalition,’ ” he said.
Ayres’ company, North Star Opinion Research, last week released a poll from four battleground states — Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico — that underlined this point.
In each of those four states, the poll found many Hispanics who considered themselves conservative did not vote for Romney in November.
In the three states other than Florida, the margin was striking. In Nevada, 40 percent of Hispanics declared themselves conservative but only 25 percent said they voted for Romney. In New Mexico, the figures were 47 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
“If we simply got the portion of Hispanic voters who consider themselves conservative, we would be back in the hunt,” Ayres said.
For Republicans, the current crisis has been a long time coming.
Strategist Ed Rollins told The Hill he remembered having a conversation in 1982 with legendary consultant Lee Atwater about how to boost the GOP’s standing with blacks and Latino.
Rollins added that the damage that has been done in the interim could not be undone overnight. He counseled the party to think in terms of five-year or 10-year plans that involved selecting more Hispanic candidates among other things.
But a more generous approach to immigration reform, he insisted, had to be part of the picture.
“It might be a piecemeal thing where you begin with the DREAM Act and move beyond it,” he said. “Republicans, realistically, can’t be obstructionist.”
Recent posts at CIS below
See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.
1. Amnesty and the U.S. Labor Market: The Employment Picture for Less-Educated Workers
2. Jessica Vaughan discusses the Secure Communities Program on FOX News Boston
3. DHS to Create a Class of *Undocumented* Permanent Resident Aliens in 2013
4. Administration Pushes for Both Floods and Tiny Flows of Migrants
5. "Hispanic" Bishops Offer Sympathy, but to Whom?
6. Government Seems to Juggle Financing of Appeals Process to Increase Migration
7. Great — if Tentative — News at the Border
8. Politico and George Washington University Spread Push Poll on Amnesty
9. More Foreign Workers = More Patents Argument is Disputed at DC Session
Posted by jonjayray at 9:50 AM
Monday, December 17, 2012
British Labour party leader: Labour made mistakes on immigration
But no mention of the vast pressure on schools, roads, hospitals and welfare payments that resulted from the immigration upsurge
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband today admitted his party made “mistakes” over immigration when in power – and told migrants they must learn English.
Mr Miliband said the former government failed to tackle the growing problem of racial segregation in British cities, adding that Britain needs a fresh strategy to cope with its multi-ethnic society.
He vowed not to sweep public anxieties over British cultural identity under the carpet – while praising the country’s “tolerant, open-minded society”.
The Labour leader also called on the country to back Mo Farah in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards – saying his first victory was the “defining moment” of the London Olympics.
He hailed the Games as an example of Britain’s ethnic diversity in a speech urging more direct action to further integration.
Labour would expect migrants to learn English, tackle landlords who pack migrant newcomers into overcrowded houses and ban recruitment agencies from seeking workers only from particular countries or ethnic groups, he said.
But in his high-profile speech in south London, Mr Miliband insisted that the multi-ethnic Britain revealed in this week’s census and in the summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games is a cause for celebration.
Drawing on his own parents’ experience as Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, Mr Miliband said: “We should celebrate multi-ethnic diverse Britain. We are stronger for it - and I love Britain for it.”
He continued: “Britain is at its best when it comes together as a nation, not when it stands divided. That’s what One Nation is about.
“But at the same time we know there is anxiety about immigration and what it means for our culture.
“The answer is not to sweep it under the carpet or fail to talk about it, nor is it to make promises that can’t be kept. It is to deal with all of the issues that concern people.”
He admitted that previous Labour administrations were “overly optimistic” in assuming that integration would happen by itself and that Labour did “too little to tackle the realities of segregation in communities that were struggling to cope”.
He added: “The last Labour government made mistakes in this regard. We have said we will learn lessons from eastern European migration and ensure maximum transitional controls in future.
“And we will look at how the Government’s immigration cap works in practice. “But I believe we can all cope with these pressures if we recognise them and understand how to respond.”
Calling on Britain to back Mo Farah as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, he said: “If anything was a defining moment of the Olympics, amidst so many defining moments, it was Mo Farah’s victories.
“And wasn’t that an amazing interview when he was asked: ’Wouldn’t you rather be running for Somalia?’ and he replied: ’This is my country, mate’.”
Labour has no right to lecture on immigration
Labour leader Ed Miliband's call for a 'strategy for integration' is just so much hot air
Exactly 10 years ago, a tiny campaign group captured the headlines with a startling prediction that net immigration to the UK would grow by two million over the next decade. Since this was four times more than occurred in the previous decade, the forecast was rubbished by the Home Office. Moreover, the people behind the group, Migration Watch UK, were denounced as closet racists for even raising the subject. Yet everything that Migration Watch foresaw came true; indeed, as the figures published this week from the 2011 census show, they were overly cautious.
Sir Andrew Green, the founder of the organisation, wanted to inspire a debate about immigration that he thought the politicians wilfully refused to have. There was a good reason for this: until the mid-Nineties most voters believed successive governments had operated sensible immigration controls. However, everything changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening up of the eastern borders into the EU. This resulted in a huge influx of economic migrants, many claiming to be political refugees, initially settling in Germany but eventually in the UK. By the time Labour came to power in 1997, more than 100,000 foreign nationals were claiming asylum annually compared with just a few thousand in the late Eighties.
As a result of chaotic administration at the Home Office, most of these new immigrants were allowed to remain in the country whether they were entitled to or not. At the same time, Labour abolished the “primary purpose rule”, which was intended to ensure that marriage was not being used principally as a means to enter Britain. The rules surrounding work permits became too lax, exit controls from the country were abolished, visa departments became overwhelmed and human rights law made it difficult, if not impossible, to deport illegal immigrants.
Then, in 2004, the Labour government announced that Britain would allow access to its jobs market to workers from the new members from the old Warsaw Pact bloc. It estimated that the impact would be minimal, with about 13,000 people a year coming from the eight countries, including Poland. In the event, around one million have arrived here to work. This combination of events meant that controls over immigration, rigidly applied since 1971, were lost.
Partly, this was beyond the Labour government’s control; but none the less it could – and should – have prepared for the consequences. And the main reason that it didn’t is because Labour leaders simply denied that it was happening. As a result, ministers refused to heed warnings that mass immigration would result in a shortage of housing or lead to pressure on schools, the NHS and transport. Even today – and especially with budget cuts – public services are poorly prepared for the consequences: hundreds of new primary schools, for instance, will be needed over the next 10 years for which plans have not, so far, been made.
So, for Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, to make the speech he did yesterday stating that “the last government made mistakes” in its immigration policy is the political understatement of the decade. The difficulties that parts of the country face as a result of large-scale immigration, such as a failure of integration, a lack of affordable homes and high benefit dependency, stem from those “mistakes”.
It is pointless for Mr Miliband now to argue that the country is a better place because of the arrival of millions of newcomers. While many people might agree with that sentiment, if that was Labour’s intention all along why did they deny it was taking place? Either they were incompetent or dishonest. Furthermore, Mr Miliband’s call yesterday for a “comprehensive strategy for integration” is just so much hot air in view of his party’s track record. After trying to shut down the debate on immigration for years, Labour now seeks to claim some unique insight into the problems it has caused.
Unhappily, Labour’s failure was so spectacular that the Coalition has responded by making mistakes of its own. David Cameron’s pledge to reduce net immigration to the “tens of thousands” is not only unachievable but is arguably not in the country’s interests. Perversely, this target could be reached even with high levels of immigration if they were matched by a rise in emigration.
What Britain needs is an immigration policy that chooses the people the country wants while being honest about those it wants to exclude. Instead, we are in danger of producing a system that rejects and deters those whose presence here would be of benefit. As this week’s census illustrated, the levels of immigration seen over the past 20 years have been unprecedented in our history. Some economists argue that this has been a good thing because a vibrant economy needs a growing population to sustain it and the indigenous birth rate is unable to do so. But the fact remains that as recently as 15 years ago, ministers and officials were working on the assumption that net immigration would be a quarter of what it is now.
As the party in government for most of that time, Labour should have acknowledged what was happening and acted accordingly. It miserably failed to do so. Why Mr Miliband thinks we should listen to him now is anyone’s guess.
Posted by jonjayray at 6:48 PM