Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arizona Senators Return to Fray on Immigration

 The political risks of supporting an immigration overhaul have long been apparent to Senator John McCain, as evidenced by his evolving position on the topic over the years. This week offered another sharp reminder of what getting out in front of the issue can mean when crowds at back-to-back town-hall-style meetings in Arizona turned hostile toward Mr. McCain’s plan to introduce legislation that could lead to legal residency for some who broke the law in entering the country.

“Everybody in this audience, you’re taking away from Social Security to give it to a dependent class of people,” shouted one man, who Mr. McCain eventually called “a jerk.”

The senator, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said he was undergoing “an Orwellian experience” as his constituents shouted that he needed to build the “dang fence” that he had once promised in a notable campaign ad. Attendees also suggested that guns were the only way to stop the influx of immigrants from coming across the border.

Like it or not, Mr. McCain is now back at the center of the immigration debate, sharing the spotlight with Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, also a Republican, as the two men help fight to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Longtime followers of the immigration debate could be forgiven for having déjà vu.

After all, the sight of the two Arizonans taking the lead on the divisive issue feels a lot like 2007, when Mr. McCain and Mr. Flake, then a member of the House, were each co-sponsors of their own immigration proposal. Mr. McCain that year pressed his broad plan with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Mr. Flake joined with Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, to introduce a plan to tighten border security while giving illegal immigrants a chance for legal residency.

Then Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain did something of an Arizona shuffle, trading in their calls for a broad overhaul that could lead to legal residency to focus more on border security. During a 2008 Republican presidential primary debate, Mr. McCain disavowed his own 2006 immigration proposal, and Mr. Flake, facing a challenge from the right during his Senate bid last year, called his previous broad approach to immigration reform “a dead end” until the border was secure.

Now the two senators are back as Republican point men on the issue. Though their hope of overhauling the nation’s immigration system in 2007 died on the Senate floor, the two have returned to the negotiating table, with the goal of finishing what they started.

“If you’re from Arizona and you’re not involved in trying to fix the immigration problem, then it’s tough to say you’re representing your state,” said Mr. Flake in an interview. “You ought to be involved. I understand that some people don’t agree with the direction I want to go, but you’ve got to be involved.”

Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain are part of a bipartisan group of eight senators working to produce legislation by the end of March. The two other senators making up the group’s Republican half are Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida.

But the Arizona senators’ journey has involved fits and starts. Facing a primary challenge in 2010 from J. D. Hayworth, a conservative and former talk-radio host, Mr. McCain switched his focus from a comprehensive approach to border security, running an ad that ended with him walking along the state’s border and declaring, “Complete the dang fence.”

During Mr. Flake’s Senate race two years later, he similarly doubled down on border security.

“Those of us who have been pushing this for a decade, we ran into a brick wall, again and again,” Mr. Flake said, explaining his 2012 stance. “And I think all of us recognized the political reality, that unless we addressed the border situation, then we don’t have the political oomph to get it across the line.”


At last, most new jobs in Britain are filled by British workers thanks to stricter immigration policies

The majority of jobs created in Britain over the past year have been filled by workers who were born in this country, official figures revealed yesterday.

It represents a dramatic reversal on Labour’s 13 years in power when there was a haemorrhaging of jobs to foreign workers.

Office for National Statistics figures show that three in four jobs have gone to workers born outside Britain since 1997, even hitting more than 90 per cent at times.

Of the 3.1million increase in employment since 1997, some 2.3million jobs went to foreign-born workers and just 794,000 went to those born in the UK.

But the latest figures reveal that the situation has dramatically reversed, helped by the Government’s stricter immigration policies.

Over the past year, employment levels in Britain have increased by 584,000, with 380,000 (65 per cent) going to British-born workers.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper heralded the long-awaited change, which comes six years after then Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for ‘British jobs for British workers’.

He said: ‘These figures show that we are building a better immigration system that works in the national interest and is supporting growth.

‘The rise in numbers in employment has benefited British citizens first, but our system is still allowing skilled migrants to come to the UK where they are needed by British businesses.

‘This follows significant changes to the immigration rules – clamping down on bogus students who only came to the UK to work, often in low-skilled jobs, while remaining open to the brightest and the best.’

Overall, the ONS said the number of workers in Britain has reached its highest level since records began in 1971, with a record 29.7million people in work.

Despite the stream of dismal economic data, the number of workers soared by 584,000 last year, the biggest annual increase for nearly a quarter of a century.

This is equal to 1,600 new jobs being created every day, a robustness which puzzles experts at a time when economic output is falling.

Dr John Philpott, a director of The Jobs Economist, said: ‘The UK jobs market continues to astound.

‘We are in the middle of both a jobs boom and a pay slump as jobseekers struggle to gain or retain employment in a stagnant economy by pricing themselves into work.

'This is unlike anything seen in this country since the Second World War, with the economy using more and more people at falling rates of pay to produce a static level of output.

‘For the time being this looks like a decent trade-off if the alternative is even higher unemployment.’

And there is evidence that people are finally finding full-time jobs, rather than being forced to accept part-time work, typically poorly paid, in the absence of a better offer.

Between October and December, the ONS said an extra 197,000 people found full-time jobs, the largest increase since records began in 1992.

Tory MP David Ruffley, a member of the influential Treasury select committee, said: ‘These figures suggest that economic austerity really is biting.

‘Before you were either better off on benefits or you turned your back on part-time work.

'But UK-born workers now think that any job is better than being in no job.

‘Whether the threatened influx of Romanians and Bulgarians takes the same view remains to be seen.’


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