Thursday, January 31, 2013

From Cromwell to Kipling and Ennis, a new 'patriotic' test on Britain's culture for migrants

Migrants who hope to become British citizens will have to learn about 1066, Rudyard Kipling and Olympic hero Jessica Ennis under new citizenship tests, ministers said yesterday.

They will be examined on their knowledge of William the Conqueror, the Reformation and Oliver Cromwell in a reformed version of the tests that must be passed before qualifying for a passport.

But some names familiar to schoolchildren will be missed out of the tests developed by the Home Office.

While the Life in the UK handbooks praise Florence Nightingale as ‘the founder of modern nursing’, there is no mention of Mary Seacole, her Jamaican-born contemporary promoted over the past two decades as of equal importance.

The decision to omit Miss Seacole is the second indignity her reputation has suffered in a month. At the end of last year Education Secretary Michael Gove instructed she should no longer be part of the National Curriculum.

The handbook, to teach newly-arrived migrants ‘the values and principles at the heart of being British’, also contains no use of the word ‘multicultural’.

History exams will be introduced for those wanting to take out British citizenship in March, and the handbook they must study is available today.

The citizenship tests first brought in by Labour seven years ago contained no questions on history or the development of British culture, and instead concentrated on ensuring migrants had grasped practicalities like how to make a GP appointment or claim benefits.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: ‘We have stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet.’

People living in Britain should already be capable of using public transport, credit cards and coping with job interviews, the Home Office said. The history chapter demands knowledge of the Stone Age, the Wars of the Roses and the Glorious Revolution.

Politicians including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher are featured, alongside literary heroes and heroines.

Industrial pioneers are praised, although, oddly, the handbook has a section on Isambard Kingdom Brunel but does not mention he was the son of an immigrant.

Musical figures run from Henry Purcell to The Beatles and migrants are required to learn about literary figures from Geoffrey Chaucer, through Jane Austen to Wilfred Owen.

Those taking the test will also be expected to be familiar with details of sporting events including the Olympic Games and to know about sporting icons such as heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

Existing Life in the UK tests were taken by 150,000 people last year. At present it contains 24 multiple choice questions and candidates have 45 minutes to answer them. The pass mark is 75 per cent.


Marco Rubio: Obamacare Is an Obstacle in the Immigration Debate

Appearing Tuesday on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, Senator Marco Rubio said that the comprehensive immigration-reform deal he wants to reach with President Obama could be jeopardized if those made legal through a "path to citizenship" would be eligible for Obamacare.  As he put it: 
"If you are a lawfully present in the country but you are not a green-card holder, you do not qualify for any federal benefits. That's existing law. And so that means that the folks that are gonna be in this probationary stage that's in our principles, they don't qualify for any federal benefits except for one, Obamacare. Obamacare is the only federal benefit where you qualify for it, not because you have a green card but only because you're lawfully present. 

That needs to be resolved because if Obamacare is available to 11 million people, it blows a hole in our budget and makes this bill undoable. That's one of the major issues we're gonna have to confront.

Forget what existing law says, or whether or not Rubio has explained it correctly. The point is that the immigration negotiations unfolding in Washington are going to include the question of when, if ever, illegal immigrants covered in an amnesty would be eligible for the Affordable Care Act and subject to its mandate to purchase health insurance. Current legal immigrants will need to purchase health insurance in accordance with the mandate at the beginning of 2014. Says Sarah Kliff of Wonkblog, summing up what's at stake:
Undocumented workers are barred from federal subsidies and also exempt from the individual mandate .... Due to these constraints, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated about 7 to 8 million undocumented immigrants will remain uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.

If immigration reform were to shrink the undocumented population, or eliminate it altogether, new paths to coverage would open up, and that uninsured population would likely shrink. The Congressional Research Service estimates that 80 percent (17.5 million people) of non-citizens would, due to their income level, qualify for some part of the insurance expansion.

The president didn't take a position on Obamacare eligibility for the formerly undocumented in the Nevada immigration speech he gave Tuesday, but did signal comfort with gradualism:
These men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. We've got to lay out a path, a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally, that's only fair. All right? So that means it won't be a quick process, but it will be a fair process and it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to green card and, eventually, to citizenship.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Migrants with no medical insurance 'won't get NHS care': British Minister's tough stance on new influx from the East

Migrants from Romania and Bulgaria who travel to Britain without a job are to be told they must have private medical insurance to prevent the NHS becoming an ‘international health service’.

Immigration minister Mark Harper told the Daily Mail that limiting access to free healthcare is seen as key to preventing a fresh influx of migrants when controls are lifted at the end of this year.

He suggested the requirement for medical insurance would apply to all student incomers and those who claim they are ‘self-sufficient’, meaning they are not coming looking immediately for work.

Ministers are also examining incomers’ rights to benefits and other public services. Other measures under discussion include requiring migrants to leave Britain if they fail to secure a job after three months – or cannot prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves for at least six months.

Transitional arrangements in place since 2005, which restrict the rights of 29million Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to live and work in other EU states, will expire on January 1. No official figure has been put on the anticipated number of arrivals, but Tory MPs warn there must be no repeat of the situation when Poland joined the EU and Labour catastrophically underestimated the numbers that would come.

A significant influx of immigrants from the two former Communist regimes could derail the Conservatives’ testing target of reducing net immigration to under 100,000 by 2015.

Campaign group MigrationWatch has claimed as many as 250,000 people could arrive in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria over the next five years, though ministers do not believe there will necessarily be an influx of that size since other EU countries are lifting restrictions at the same time.

Mr Harper, who is chairing a new cross-Government committee examining measures to deter incomers who would be a burden, said: ‘We are all clear we need an immigration system that works in the national interest. That is why we are bringing together colleagues from other departments to address the pull factors that drive immigration to the UK.

‘European nationals do not have unrestricted access to the UK – they must be exercising their treaty rights. This means they must be working, studying or self-sufficient. We already have tough rules on access to benefits; we need to see if there is more we can do to tighten them up.

‘In addition, EU students and those that are self-sufficient should not be a burden on the host member state, which means they should have things like health insurance. We have a National Health Service, not an international health service.’

It is unclear how the proposals would work in practice but it is likely NHS staff would be asked to check healthcare entitlements when migrants first came into contact with the NHS.

But restrictions on access to free healthcare are likely to run into opposition from some doctors, who resent the idea they should act as another branch of the immigration service.

Ministers insist Britain must have the right to address ‘pull factors’ that are blamed for attracting jobless migrants from the EU. Areas being looked at include healthcare, education, housing and benefits.

The NHS has written off debts of at least £35million incurred by foreign national patients since 2002.

As well as restrictions on students and non-working migrants from the EU, ministers are understood to be considering making non-EU migrants have health insurance before being granted a visa.

Downing Street said the Government was determined to prevent potential damage to the labour market from a fresh influx of migrants, but acknowledged Britain will have to operate within EU rules on the right to free movement. The Government is also examining the idea of an ad campaign telling potential migrants in Romania and Bulgaria that British streets are not necessarily ‘paved with gold’.


Key senators agree on immigration reform

A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws.

The deal, which was to be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain, the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation's inefficient patchwork of immigration laws.

President Obama also is committed to enacting comprehensive immigration legislation and will travel to Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his vision, which is expected to overlap in important ways with the Senate effort.

The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles Monday are Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

In a statement, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "As the President has made clear for some time, immigration reform is an important priority and he is pleased that progress is being made with bipartisan support. At the same time, he will not be satisfied until there is meaningful reform and he will continue to urge Congress to act until that is achieved. The President looks forward to redoubling the administration's efforts to work with Congress on this important issue this week."

Several of these lawmakers have worked for years on the issue. McCain collaborated with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on comprehensive immigration legislation pushed by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, only to see it collapse in the Senate when it couldn't get enough GOP support.

Now, with some Republicans chastened by the November elections which demonstrated the importance of Latino voters and their increasing commitment to Democrats, some in the GOP say this time will be different.

"What's changed, honestly, is that there is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle -- including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle -- that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill," McCain said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"I think the time is right," McCain said.

The group claims a notable newcomer in Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate whose conservative bona fides may help smooth the way for support among conservatives wary of anything that smacks of amnesty.

In an opinion piece published Sunday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Rubio wrote that the existing system amounts to "de facto amnesty," and he called for "commonsense reform."

The group says in a statement, "We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don't have a functioning immigration system. This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows. Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited."

According to documents obtained by CBS News and The Associated Press, the senators will call for accomplishing four goals:

-Creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people here on visas.

-Reforming the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, math, technology or engineering from an American university.

-Creating an effective employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants.

-Allowing more low-skill workers into the country and allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they couldn't recruit a U.S. citizen; and establishing an agricultural worker program.

The principles being released Monday are outlined on just over four pages, leaving plenty of details left to fill in.

What the senators do call for is similar to Mr. Obama's goals and some past efforts by Democrats and Republicans, since there's wide agreement in identifying problems with the current immigration system.

The most difficult disagreement is likely to arise over how to accomplish the path to citizenship.

In order to satisfy the concerns of Rubio and other Republicans, the senators are calling for the completion of steps on border security and oversight of those here on visas before taking major steps forward on the path to citizenship.

Even then, those here illegally would have to qualify for a "probationary legal status" that would allow them to live and work here -- but not qualify for federal benefits -- before being able to apply for permanent residency. Once they are allowed to apply, they would do so behind everyone else already in line for a green card within the current immigration system.

That could be a highly cumbersome process, but how to make it more workable is being left to future negotiations. The senators envision a more streamlined process toward citizenship for immigrants brought here as children by their parents, and for agricultural workers.

The debate will play out at the start of Mr. Obama's second term, as he aims to spend the political capital afforded him by his re-election victory on an issue that has eluded past presidents and stymied him during his first term despite his promises to the Latino community to act.

"As the president has made clear for some time, immigration reform is an important priority and he is pleased that progress is being made with bipartisan support," a White House spokesman, Clark Stevens, said in a statement. "At the same time, he will not be satisfied until there is meaningful reform and he will continue to urge Congress to act until that is achieved."

For Republicans, the November elections were a stark schooling on the importance of Latino voters, who voted for Mr. Obama over Republican Mitt Romney 71 percent to 27 percent, helping ensure Obama's victory. That led some Republican leaders to conclude that supporting immigration reform with a path to citizenship has become a political imperative.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why not keep the talented?

As we head into the New Year, there are signs that Congress may finally allow an increase in legal immigration. Specifically, it now appears that Congress is becoming increasingly aware that it is folly to kick out foreign students who achieve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees.

In fact, both Republicans and Democrats have now sponsored bills to reform immigration laws to encourage STEM workers to immigrate here. And a very recent report by the Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the US Chamber of Commerce provides ample evidence that the time is ripe for reform.

The report, “Help Wanted: The Role of Foreign Workers in the Innovation Economy,” looked at three questions: Is there a STEM worker shortage? If so, how bad is it and in what fields is it the worst? Does hiring foreign STEM workers take jobs away from native-born workers?

Take the issue of whether there is a general STEM worker shortage. A number of the report’s findings indicate there is indeed such a shortage, and that it is pervasive across the various STEM fields. Remember that economists typically hold that an overall unemployment rate of about 4% represents essentially full employment (with people who are out of work being mainly in transition between jobs in a fluid market). Our current national unemployment rate has hovered around 8% for four years, which is high by recent standards (those of the 1990s and 2000s).

Well, the report notes that the unemployment rate for American citizens with STEM PhDs is only 3.15%. For those with STEM MS degrees it is only 3.4%.

As to whether foreign-born STEM workers are taking jobs from American-born workers, the data the report surveyed show no such effect. While only 6.4% of non-STEM workers with PhDs are foreign-born, 26.1% of STEM workers with PhDs are foreign-born. (For workers with Master’s degrees, the figures are 5.2% of non-STEM versus 17.7% of STEM.) But even though a higher percentage of STEM than non-STEM workers are foreign-born, STEM workers still have a lower overall unemployment rate.

The job market is not a zero-sum game. There is no set-in-stone number of jobs, so that if an immigrant takes one, there is one less for you or me.

In some STEM fields, the figures are especially dramatic. While 25% of medical scientists are foreign-born, medical scientists generally have a 3.4% unemploymnent rate. In fact, the unemployment rate is lower than the general STEM average of 4.3% in 10 out of the 11 STEM fields with the highest percentage of foreign-born workers.

Moreover, the data indicate that immigrant STEM workers on average earn $3,000 per year more than equivalent native-born workers, putting paid to the myth that they “drive down wages.”

The reason none of this should be surprising is that the job market is not a zero-sum game. There is no set-in-stone number of jobs, so that if an immigrant takes one, there is one less for you or me. No, talented immigrants create jobs, by starting new companies, creating new products, or making our industries more competitive than foreign ones.

In this regard, the study argues that every foreign-born student who graduates from an American college and stays here creates an average 2.62 jobs for native-born workers. At the top 10 patent-producing American universities, more than three-fourths of all patents awarded last year were invented or co-invented by an immigrant.

Why can’t the Republicans and Democrats at least agree on removing the obviously counterproductive caps on foreign students who graduate from American colleges with STEM degrees and who want to remain here to work?

In short — why send the most talented and innovative students home — to start businesses that will only compete with ours?


British human Rights laws stop Algerian terror suspect with links to gas plant massacre group being deported because he is suicidal

An Algerian terror suspect has been allowed to stay in Britain because a judge believes he may commit suicide if he is forced to go back home.

The 43-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, does not dispute he is a risk to Britain's national security and is believed to support one of the terrorist groups which carried out the deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant earlier this month which claimed the lives of 39 hostages including six Britons.

He is also suspected of providing fake passports and travel arrangements to terrorists.

But in another blow for the Home Office, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) has allowed the married man to remain on British soil today because deporting him would breach his human rights.

Making his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting - who recently allowed hate preacher Abu Qatada to stay in the UK - said: 'We must look at the totality of the psychiatric evidence in the round.

'We are persuaded by it that the risk that G would commit suicide, especially after arrival in Algiers, is very high.

'It may be containable in the UK but no special arrangements have been negotiated with Algeria to cope with it.'

In the same judgment, Mr Justice Mitting told six other Algerian terror suspects they must leave.

But the senior immigration judge warned there was still 'no end in sight' in attempting to put the men on a flight home because they are likely to appeal the decision.

Among the six men were two fundamentalists with links to an alleged 2003 plot to commit mass murder using the poison ricin and cohorts of hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza.

The decision comes after a dramatic terror attack last week on a gas plant in Algeria, which claimed the lives of at least 39 foreign hostages, including six Britons.
Hostages at the In Amenas gas facility during the siege earlier this months which claimed the lives of 39 foreigners including six Britons

Hostages at the In Amenas gas facility during the siege earlier this months which claimed the lives of 39 foreigners including six Britons

Siac said the judgment was drafted before the In Amenas attack and it was too early to say if it would have an impact on its assessment of Algeria.

In the wake of the crisis, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to put terrorism 'right at the top of the agenda' for Britain's presidency of the G8 nations in 2013.

The successful appellant - who was referred to as "G" - claimed asylum in 1995 when he was caught entering the UK on a fake passport.

A previously published open judgment revealed he did not dispute the Home Secretary's case that he poses a risk to national security.

He is a suspected supporter of Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA), an Islamist organisation that wants to overthrow the Algerian government, and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which is now known as Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

And he is understood to have supplied passports to terrorists and been involved in fundraising and providing travel to extremists undertaking jihad and terrorist training.

But the extremist was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and is known to have made a suicide attempt in 2005 when he was found hanging in a cell in Belmarsh prison.

Experts concluded that medication would not stop him from committing suicide and he instead required round the clock supervision.

Mr Justice Mitting concluded that the UK would be in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - that no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment - if he were deported in his present condition.

The six suspects ordered to leave the country claimed they would be at risk of torture or degrading treatment if returned to Algeria.

Among them is a regular visitor to the Finsbury Park mosque, who sided with hate preacher Abu Hamza, and a senior member of an Afghanistan training camp.

But Mr Justice Mitting said the court was 'satisfied that the Algerian state's assurances can be relied upon' in the case of these men.

He added that the relations between Algeria and the UK are strong and the North African country has a good record with other men who have previously been deported.

However, in a sign that the six men are expected to drag out their fight against deportation, Mr Justice Mitting warned that after seven years of litigation there was 'as yet, no end in sight'.

The Prime Minister pledged support to international efforts to track down and tear up the terror network behind last week's attack on the In Amenas gas plant.

Mr Cameron said that the world was involved in a 'generational struggle' against al Qaida-inspired Islamist terrorism in North Africa.

Siac upheld Qatada's appeal against deportation to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.

The Government will appeal against the decision next month but Qatada remains in the UK on bail conditions including a 16-hour curfew, wearing an electronic tag, not using the internet and not contacting certain people.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'We are pleased Siac has dismissed the appeals of six of the individuals in the 'W and Others' case against their deportation, recognising the strength of our assurances with Algeria. We intend to remove them as quickly as possible.'


Monday, January 28, 2013

Thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians plan to flood UK in 2014 as employment restrictions relax

Hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians are already preparing to head for Britain in search of work, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation.

Employment restrictions will be relaxed on December 31, and the UK will throw open its Jobcentres and benefit offices to what pressure group Migration Watch predicts could be as many as 70,000 people a year for the next five years.

The Government refuses to reveal its own estimates and the authorities in Romania and Bulgaria are sceptical of Migration Watch figures, but have not compiled their own.

However, our research in the EU’s two poorest countries found plenty of migrants among their combined populations of 29 million waiting for the chance to travel to Britain.

As soon as they find a job, they will also become eligible for a raft of income-related benefits far more generous than anything on offer in their home countries.

Access to welfare payments in Britain is easier than in either Germany or France, which will be relaxing work restrictions at the same time.

One job agency in Bucharest told our undercover reporter it already has hundreds registering for work in the UK from 2014 and the waiting list is so long they are no longer accepting applications.

Posing as a jobseeker, the Romanian reporter was told there was no point in even putting her name on a waiting list to travel to the UK in 2014 because of the huge numbers of her compatriots who had already applied.

Bosses at two other Romanian work-placement companies said they expected to send record numbers to Britain when open access is granted to the jobs market in the New Year.

The reporter approached three Romanian employment agencies stating she was an unemployed graduate who was struggling to find work in Romania and was keen to take advantage of the change in the law and move to Britain.

At the Albatross Travel agency’s offices in north-west Bucharest, a staff member told her the firm routinely arranged coach-loads of migrants to be driven to Britain to take up jobs on farms.

But the agent added: ‘We have so many people who want to travel to Britain in 2014 because of the lifting of the work permit restriction, there is no point in even putting you on the waiting list.’

An agent for Blue Mountain Recruitment in Bacau, north-eastern Romania, said there were likely to be large numbers of British job opportunities if she returned later in the year.

‘Currently it’s very hard to find a job without a contract,’ he said. ‘But in 2014 that will change and we’re hoping to send many more people than we have before.’

Tatiana Geogea, director of Best Opportunity in northern Bucharest, expects her company to help at least 1,000 Romanians travel to Britain next year – the company’s previous record was 700 people in a year.

‘There is little doubt the numbers will increase,’ she said. ‘I just don’t think the English are willing to pick strawberries on a farm. Romanians have a terrific work ethic.’

Across the Danube in the Zhenski Pazar market in Sofia, Bulgaria, virtually everyone we spoke to said they would come to Britain.

‘I would love to go there and next year I will take my family,’ said Roma cigarette vendor Plamen Aljoshev, a 53-year-old father of two.

Slavka Mitova, 29, a mother of two who runs a butcher’s shop in Sofia, said: ‘There is no future here. The young people should go to England and make money.’

Why England? ‘Partly because of the language – young people are speaking some English,’ she said, ‘but your country has a reputation for fairness and treating people well.’

The only state benefit available in either country is child benefit, which is £3.50 per child per week in Bulgaria and £3.69 in Romania. In Britain, a single person can claim up to £71 a week in jobseekers’ allowance and a couple can claim £111. Housing benefit varies depending on local authorities. Child benefit adds another £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each one after that.

The Department of Work and Pensions confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that visitors from the European Economic Area who demonstrate that they ‘have or retain worker status may be able to claim income-based jobseekers’ allowance, income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, and state pension credit’.

‘We are obliged under EU law to pay some income-related benefits to EEA workers, self-employed people and jobseekers,’ said a spokesman.

From January 1, 2014 that will also include the Bulgarians and Romanians


Stupidity:  Romanians and Bulgarians to be told: UK's too cold for you in advertising campaign to try and deter them from coming to Britain

Britain actually has an unusually mild climate for its latitude

Plans have been drawn up for an advertising campaign denouncing Britain as cold and wet to deter Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to the UK.

Ministers are working on ideas to prevent an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe when restrictions are lifted on citizens from the two countries moving to the EU next New Year's Day.

A public information campaign would warn those considering a move that they won't be able to cash in on state largesse – and that the weather is bad.

Under proposals being examined in Downing Street, the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, the new migrants – who are expected to number at least 70,000 over the next five years – would face tough restrictions on the benefits they could claim.

One option would see new arrivals deported after three months if they don't have a job. Another plan would require those arriving from Romania and Bulgaria to show they have the means to support themselves for six months.

The 'nuclear option' would be to declare an 'economic emergency' to defer arrivals – though government lawyers are nervous about the legality of such a move.

Once the plans to limit the amount of money new arrivals can claim are in place they are likely to form the heart of an advertising campaign later this year.

A senior Government source told the Mail: 'By the time people are able to come here we would want to have something in place and we would want people considering coming here to know what they could expect.'

A minister said an advertising campaign was needed to 'correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold'.

David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May are concerned new arrivals will wreck efforts to slash immigration – a key election pledge.

One of those involved in discussions said: 'Every single thing we've done on immigration risks being blown out of the water by this. Bettering Labour on immigration is one of the best cards we have.'

But despite the warnings of restrictions, agencies have sprung up in Romania and Bulgaria offering to arrange work in the UK.

Britain has a buoyant job market, in contrast to some EU nations, and access to welfare payments is easier than in Germany or France, which will be relaxing work restrictions at the same time.
even though

One job agency in the Romanian capital Bucharest told undercover reporters it has hundreds registering for work in the UK and the waiting list is so long they are no longer accepting applications. While the minimum wage in the UK is £6.19 per hour, in Bulgaria it is just 73p and, in Romania, 79p.

The average weekly wage is £63.50 in Bulgaria and £86 in Romania. The only state benefit available in either country is child benefit, which is £3.50 per child per week in Bulgaria and £3.69 in Romania. In Britain, a single person can claim up to £71 a week in jobseekers' allowance.

Housing benefit varies depending on local authorities. Child benefit adds another £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each one after that.

Visitors from the European Economic Area who demonstrate they 'have or retain worker status may be able to claim income-based jobseekers' allowance, income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, and state pension credit.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

British minister blocks moves to ease immigration rules

The Home Secretary has blocked a proposal by the Treasury to help the economy by relaxing immigration rules, it has emerged.

Sources said Theresa May has been fighting against moves by her Cabinet colleagues to give more visas to highly-skilled people.

A number of senior ministers, including George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, believe letting in more well-qualified foreign workers could help boost the economy.

However, Mrs May has been standing up to her colleagues amid fears that watering down the rules would stop the Coalition meeting its targets on cutting immigration.

She warned in a speech before Christmas mass immigration can push up house prices, forces people onto benefits, and suppresses wages for the low-paid.

The Home Secretary is in charge of enforcing a promise made by David Cameron at the last election to reduce net migration to the tens, not hundreds of thousands.

Over the last year, the Prime Minister has come under pressure from within the Coalition and business groups to scrap that target.

One senior ministerial source said the target should be abandoned because it is harming the economy and would be “virtually impossible to achieve” anyway. The sources described the targets as "a bit absurd" and counter-productive at a time when Britain needs all the help it can get to return to growth.

In November, John Cridland, the director-general of the CBI, was one of the first public figures to call for the policy to be changed.

He said the immigration of students and business people were not so much a concern of the public.

“I don’t think this will ever be resolved until the government changes the target.”

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has also warned that limiting access to Britain for students and business people is harming the City of London.

On a visit to India, he said last year, he said the public does not want to highly-skilled people.

“A tough immigration policy would have said that you can’t come here unless you have a visible means of support and are not going to be a burden on the National Health Service or housing system,” he said.

“People understand that... what they don’t understand is excluding talented people.”

On the same trip, Mr Johnson also called for ministers to “shift the debate on student visas away from numerical targets and squarely onto policy based on promoting jobs and growth in the UK”.

The Government has since tweaked the rules to allow foreign PhD students to stay in the UK for a year after their studies.

However, Mrs May has been standing firm on the key targets amid wider worries that loosening the rules could threaten national security.

A letter leaked to The Daily Telegraph earlier this year showed the Home Secretary’s office issued Downing Street with a warning against relaxing the rules for Chinese tourists.

Her private secretary wrote in a letter to Number 10 that this could lead to a rise in organised crime and bring more asylum seekers to Britain.


Immigrant who lured underage schoolgirls to house for sex can't be deported from Britain because he is a member of 'persecuted African tribe'

An immigrant who was locked up for four years after he had unprotected sex with a 13-year-old girl cannot be deported because he is member of a 'persecuted' African tribe, it was disclosed today.

Jumaa Kater Saleh, 24, who arrived in the UK in November 2004 hidden in a lorry, was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a female under 16 in May 2008.

After serving his sentence, Saleh was recommended for deportation and detained under the 2007 Borders Act pending moves to send him back to Sudan because of the seriousness of his criminal offences.

But deputy High Court judge Philip Mott QC, speaking at the High Court, said Saleh had not been deported because it had been established that he was a member of the Zaghawa tribe, which was subject to widespread persecution and it was 'not possible' to return him to Sudan.

The details of Saleh's case were disclosed during a court hearing in which he attempted to claim damages for unlawful detention during the Government's failed bid to send him back to Sudan.

Judge Mott rejected his application and ruled there was no evidence of him being held unlawfully or unreasonably  and said his case failed 'on all grounds'.

The judge ruled that the refusal to release him earlier on bail pending a final decision on whether or not he could be deported was reasonable, given the nature of his offences.

He said: 'It was deliberate, targeted abuse of a young and vulnerable girl.  'The risk that the claimant, in his early 20s, would commit a further sexual offence if released on a precarious basis at risk of return to Sudan had to be considered as substantial.'

The judge rejected submissions that Saleh, now of Leicester, could have been released because bail conditions and the requirements of him being on the Sex Offenders' Register would have provided safeguards.

The judge ruled: 'The experience of the criminal courts is that these have a very limited ability to prevent or deter re-offending.'

Saleh was one of a group of five immigrants convicted of luring schoolgirls to a house for sex, two of whom were aged 13 and one 14, and unprotected intercourse took place.

Saleh was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and he was sentenced on the basis that they were planned offences and he knew the girl's age.

The trial judge had remarked that all three girls were "clearly disturbed and vulnerable, far from mature for their years and had been targeted by the group".

After smuggling his way into the country, Saleh's application for asylum was initially refused in January 2005 because he was a minor, he was granted discretionary leave to remain in the country until his 18th birthday in October 2006.

Later he applied for permission to stay in the country longer. But in May 2007 he was arrested and charged with the sex offences.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Migrants with no job or money are being allowed to settle in Britain because of failure of background checks

Immigrants are being granted permission to settle in Britain despite having ‘zero income and no employment’, a government inspector warned last night.

The failure to carry out full background checks on the migrants undermines a key Home Office policy that applicants should be able to support themselves and their families without relying on the State.

Foreign nationals who want to remain in the UK permanently are supposed to undergo strict checks by officials into their financial background.

As a minimum, they require enough money to pay for housing, plus a disposable income of more than £100 a week.

But the chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, found potentially tens of thousands were having their applications rubber-stamped without either a face-to-face interview or HMRC investigation.

An estimated one million migrants apply for permission to stay in the UK each year.

But, incredibly, HMRC is willing to do only 3,000 checks a year for the UK Border Agency – just 250 every month. Such checks would establish if a migrant who claimed to be able to support themselves was telling the truth about their income or even having a job.

As a result of the HMRC policy, officials are letting migrants stay without having had access to wages slips, P60 forms and other crucial data.

Mr Vine, who carried out spot checks on a small sample of cases, said officials had granted permission to settle here despite the applicant having ‘zero income and no employment’.

He said the number of HMRC checks was ‘insufficient’ and must be urgently increased.

Of 49 cases he looked at where migrants were asking to stay on the grounds of marriage, not a single person was interviewed. This is despite huge concern over sham marriages.

In other cases, the application was decided while the husband or wife was still overseas. Mr Vine said in one in every ten of such cases the decision reached by immigration officials was ‘unreasonable’, mainly due to  insufficient evidence the migrant could afford to support themselves.

The inspector raised his concerns in a report which focused on how UKBA handles cases involving marriage and civil partnerships.

In it, he also said there are currently more than 16,000 migrants waiting to hear from border officials whether they can stay in Britain in yet another ‘unacceptable’ UKBA backlog.

Some 14,000 applicants, growing at a rate of 700 a month, have already been refused the right to stay but are pleading with officials to reconsider.

An additional 2,100 cases – shipped in a box from a UKBA office in Croydon to Sheffield – are still waiting for an initial decision, some dating back a decade. Mr Vine said: ‘This is completely unacceptable and I expect the Agency to deal with both types of case as a matter of urgency.

‘Delays also mean enforcement action is likely to be more difficult in the event the case is ultimately refused. This is because the individual will have been in the UK for a number of years and may have developed a family or private life.’

He also said the percentage of successful appeals in marriage cases was too high, at 53 per cent from April 2011 to February last year. Sir Andrew Green, of Migration Watch, said: ‘This is yet further evidence of the chaos in the immigration system.’

UKBA said last night: ‘We are working with HMRC to increase the number of searches we can do against their systems. Since this report we have brought in strict new rules on proving income levels to make sure that those bringing in family members are able to support them.’


Endanger America, Keep Your Citizenship?

National Security Threats Should Be Denaturalized

In light of the discussions of a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants, it's important to note that in extraordinary cases, the path to citizenship can be run in reverse. Naturalized citizens who acquire their citizenship through fraud, especially those involved in terrorism or espionage, can and should be subject to denaturalization.

The Center for Immigration Studies today released a new report, "Upholding the Value of our Citizenship: National Security Threats Should Be Denaturalized", that discusses the danger of allowing naturalized U.S. citizens who have been charged with serious national security-related offenses to retain their citizenship. Even immigrants who fraudulently conceal material facts in order to be granted citizenship remain citizens and receive all the benefits, including sponsorship of family members for immigration and traveling abroad using a U.S. passport. The report also reveals that the Department of Homeland Security has no method in place for reviewing such cases, which ensures there will not be any future improvement of the vetting process.

The report is  here

Prior to 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service administratively denaturalized individuals when facts came to light revealing that an applicant had been ineligible at the time of naturalization. Presently, however, denaturalization can only occur through criminal prosecution or civil suits in the already overburdened federal district courts. The report recommends re-instituting the capability to administratively denaturalize individuals granted citizenship in error or as a result of misrepresentations, concealment of material facts, or other forms of fraud.

“It is the government’s responsibility to protect the American people”, said Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center. “If we are unwilling to provide better screening at the front end, then we certainly should be willing to reverse mistakes and strip citizenship from those involved in terrorism, espionage, and theft of sensitive information and technology.”

The report includes an appendix listing dozens of recent examples of naturalized citizens who have been charged with serious national security offenses.

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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Immigration into Britain from Eastern Europe

An upbeat view  -- but time will tell

On January 16th Stewart Jackson, a conservative member of parliament, presented a bill calling to limit the immigration process for Romanian and Bulgarians coming to Britain: “We don’t want to make the same mistake that we made in 2004, which was to import a very large number of low-wage, low-skill workers and embed welfare dependency in our indigenous workforce.” In a speech last month, Theresa May, the home secretary, said that migration puts a downward pressure on wages and has a bad influence on the social cohesion of the country.

Mr Stewart and Ms May omit to mention the positive effects of the last big influx of workers from new EU member countries. It was vastly higher than predicted, but it was also more successful than forecast. According to a study conducted by The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford migrants from so-called A8 countries (the eight countries that joined the EU in 2004) have made a positive contribution to the country’s public finances in each fiscal year since their EU accession. While they mostly work in the lower wage sector, their labour-force participation and employment rates tend to be higher, which offsets the impact of their lower wages.

A number of studies show that immigrants are slowing the ageing of Britain’s population. And despite the popular belief that a new wave of immigrants will increase unemployment the National Institute of Economics and Social Research states that there is no aggregate impact of migration on unemployment.

Maybe most importantly, Britain today is less attractive to would-be immigrants than ten years ago, In 2004, only Britain and two other countries did away with almost all restrictions for workers from A8 countries. Since it was the largest economy of the three and its economy was booming, Britain became a magnet for them. This time, all EU countries are opening their labour markets Romanians and Bulgarians. And Britain’s economy is in dire straits.

Titus Corlăţean, Romania’s minister of foreign affairs, believes figures of Romanians immigrating to Britain next year circulated in the British press are wildly exaggerated. According to Mr Corlăţean the issue has become a British domestic political “game”, kindled by the United Kingdom Independence Party, an insurgent outfit devoted to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. He is relying on the British government that it “will respect what is written in the European Treaty for the accession of Romania, that from January 1st 2014 there will be a free access for Romanians to the labour market in Britain,” he said.

Surveys show that immigration is one of Britons’ biggest concerns. A report by British Future, a think tank, has revealed that people worry more about immigration as a national than as a local issue. Its State of the Nation poll found that 19% chose immigration as a top local worry while 30% placed immigration first when thinking about tensions facing British society as a whole. This suggests that immigration is more a problem of perception than of reality.


Obama wants it all  -- so may get nothing

President Obama’s second inaugural address was heavy on the theme of unity. He used the word “together” seven times in the 15-minute speech. But tucked inside was a prelude to a contentious fight he’ll soon have with Republicans—the battle over reforming the nation’s immigration laws.

Obama couched his comments about the issue in uplifting language: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” he said. “Until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce, rather than expelled from our country.”

On the surface, there’s nothing controversial about that. Increasing the number of visas for highly-skilled immigrants is one of the few policy goals Obama and the GOP agree on. That reflects a big change in Republican thinking in recent months, as party leaders saw support among Hispanics drop in the face of tough anti-immigrant rhetoric. When Mitt Romney talked about immigrants during the Republican primaries, he focused on undocumented workers, suggesting they should “self-deport.” By the summer, he had softened his tone, saying he wanted to “staple a green card to the diplomas” of all foreign math and science grads who study at U.S. universities.

If visas for highly -skilled workers were the only issue on the table, Democrats and Republicans could solve it fairly quickly. The GOP would need a little time to convince the staunchest conservatives to sign on. Democrats would have to win over unions, but that might not be too difficult because most science and engineering grads work in fields with few union jobs, anyway.

But that’s not the way it’s going to happen. What Obama didn’t say in his speech, and the thing Republicans will latch onto in the days ahead, is that he wants to tie the popular idea of raising visas for skilled workers to making broader changes in immigration laws—to which that Republicans strongly object.

Last week, administration officials—speaking anonymously, of course—”leaked” to reporters some of the details of Obama’s immigration plan. For the first time, the White House made clear that the president won’t agree to raise the visa caps for highly skilled immigrants unless it’s part of an overall reform plan that includes a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

These immigrants aren’t the “bright young” future job-creators Obama lauded in his speech. Most work dirty jobs for low wages, and many lack high-school diplomas. They’re the undocumented workers that Republican governors in Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, and other states have driven away with tough anti-immigration laws.

Obama’s insistence on an everything-at-once approach puts Republicans in a difficult position as the party struggles to settle on a policy that its different factions can rally around. For many House Republicans from Southern and border states, such words as “legalization” and “citizenship” are non-starters. But increasingly, party leaders and other prominent conservatives—House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Charlie Spies, counsel for the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC, even Bill O’Reilly–are advocating for a compromise—yet to be defined—between “throw them out” and “let them stay.”

This means that skilled would-be immigrants hoping for the door to open could be in for a long wait. They’ve become the essential bargaining chip in what will likely be a tense, protracted negotiation—not just between Democrats and Republicans, but among Republicans themselves.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Skilled immigration reform and STEM education advocates get spotlight in inaugural address

Washington woke early Monday to begin its quadrennial ritual of watching, waiting and bearing witness to the presidential swearing-in.

Advocates for greater investment in math and science education and for changes to the nation’s visa laws for skilled immigrants got a surge of nitrogen to their engines.  [Is that unintentional bathos?  Nitrogen does not burn.  We live at the bottom of a nitrogen sea]

In his inaugural address Monday, President Obama placed both issues front and center, emphasizing their priority with their placement in one of the most high-profile speeches of his presidency.

“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. Or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores,” said the president before a crowd estimated to be anywhere between 800,000 and a million people, with millions more watching across the country and around the world.

Then there was his reference to immigration reform, particularly that of skilled immigrants — those who acquire degrees in science and technology but are unable to stay in the United States.

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” said Obama, “until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

Obama’s remarks in his second and final inaugural address, were, as others have mentioned, a clearly broadcast signal of his position on a range of issues, including climate change, renewable energy, and entitlement programs. But for advocates who have long called for greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math education and a growing community that wants change to the nation’s immigration laws, particularly for skilled immigrants, the president sent an even clearer signal.

But this isn’t the first time Obama has incorporated these issues into a key, national address. During his 2012 State of the Union, nearly a year ago today, the president made a similar appeal for reform to the immigration laws as they pertain to those trained in science and technology:

...let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hard-working students in this country face another challenge: the fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else. That doesn’t make sense.

Let’s see if, this time, the hope of advocates for reform of the nation’s skilled immigration laws is met, to use the president’s old campaign slogan, with actual change.


Obama’s Empty Promises on Immigration
Immigration reform made a brief appearance in President Obama’s inauguration address, disappearing faster than the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day. “Our journey is not complete,” Obama declared, “until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

Much like the elusive predictor of the length of winter, the President’s promises to fix our broken borders and deeply flawed immigration system have become an annual event. The clarion call in this speech seems particularly vacuous—leaving no suggestion of what the President actually plans to do.

Many on Capitol Hill believe that the President plans to back a “comprehensive” bill—a confusing, complicated, and contentious measure that Congress has rejected before. That’s a disappointing approach that shows Obama is more interested in playing politics than solving problems.

“Comprehensive” legislation–likely to be written behind closed doors producing a massive, unwieldy bill loaded with measures for special interests–will worsen the problems it seeks to solve. A real problem-solving approach would look to unite the left and right behind the proposals we can all agree on and look for solutions that actually make the system work better.

Instead of a comprehensive bill, a problem-solving approach that treats each of the many issues in our immigration system in its own lane can offer a better solution. In this manner, reforms can move forward in multiple areas at the same time and advance toward meaningful and effective solutions. That is an approach that would turn the meaningless words in the President’s speech into real answers.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Migrant baby boom triggers midwife crisis in Britain: Half of wards being forced to turn expectant mothers away

Women in labour are being turned away from maternity units as midwives are overwhelmed by record numbers of births.

With immigrants helping push birth rates in England to their highest level for 40 years, more than half of maternity wards admit shutting their doors an average of seven times a year when the strain on midwives becomes too great.

Expectant women who then turn up are sent away to other hospitals.

Research by The Royal College of Midwives says that thousands of new midwives are needed if the ‘massive gap’ in staffing is to be plugged, the ‘relentless rise in births’ handled and for mothers and babies to be given the quality of care they need.

Yesterday Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, warned of ‘threadbare’ services with midwives ‘running themselves ragged’. She said: ‘Maternity units are under intense strain, with many midwives really at the end of their tether. We are reaching a crucial tipping point for maternity services.’

The RCM’s State Of Maternity Services report, which will be launched at an event in Parliament tomorrow, says that although there have been attempts to boost midwife numbers, England alone still needs another 5,000 – an increase of about a quarter on today’s level.

Office for National Statistics figures show there were 688,120 babies born in England in 2011, the most since 1971.

The trend seems set to continue, with provisional data for 2012 pointing to it being another record-breaker and ONS projections suggesting the birth rate in England could hit 743,000 by 2014.

Corby in Northamptonshire saw the biggest baby boom, with a 63 per cent jump between 2002 and 2011 – three times the rise across England as a whole.  Other hotspots include Bournemouth, with a 54 per cent increase, Boston, Lincolnshire (53.5 per cent), the London borough of Barking and Dagenham (52.5 per cent) and Slough in Berkshire, which saw a 50.5 per cent rise.
birthrate hotspots

Immigration is one factor, with foreign-born mothers now having nearly a quarter of all babies in Britain, but the RCM report says midwives are also struggling to look after record numbers of older mothers, who are more prone to complications.

The report follows a survey of new mothers which found that despite a Government pledge for mothers-to-be to have their care overseen by one midwife, 40 per cent always saw a different one.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said that more than 800 new midwives have started work since 2010, and 5,000 more are due to qualify in the next three years.

He added: ‘The number of midwives is increasing faster than the birth rate. Most women already have one-to-one maternity care, and we are working closely with The Royal College of Midwives to ensure that is available for every woman.’

Thousands of patients are at risk from appalling care reminiscent of scandal-hit Stafford Hospital, the health secretary has claimed.

Jeremy Hunt’s warning comes just weeks before the report of a public inquiry into the deaths of up to 1,200 people from poor care in the hospital’s A&E department between 2005 and 2009.

He said that while there are no hospitals as bad as Stafford, ‘there are little bits of Stafford dotted around the system’.

He added: ‘The biggest change the NHS needs to make is to embed compassion at the heart of what it does.’


Illegal immigrants pay £1,500 to be smuggled OUT of Britain: Fears gangs are helping foreign criminals flee the country

Illegal immigrants are paying criminal gangs £1,500 a time to smuggle them out of Britain, it emerged last night. The foreign nationals – many of whom sneaked into the UK undetected in the first place – are put in the back of lorries and transported to France.

By avoiding contact with the authorities they can travel on to a European destination of their choice, rather than risk being sent back to their homeland thousands of miles away.

It is feared that foreign criminals on the run from the police are fleeing in this way.

The bizarre trade, exposed by a BBC Panorama investigation to be shown this evening, is an embarrassment for ministers.

Critics will say it shows how the Government cannot stop illegal migrants from leaving Britain, let alone entering.

Over a year, Panorama made contact with three criminal gangs offering to smuggle illegal immigrants out of the country with no questions asked.

Reporter Paul Kenyon secretly recorded the meeting with the fixer of one gang, held in a fast-food restaurant in London.

He posed as an immigrant from Moldova who had been working illegally in the UK without a passport or paperwork and who wanted to return home to his sick wife.

The fixer, a former Indian police officer called ‘Munga’, said for £1,500 per person the gang would smuggle groups of three or four illegal immigrants across the Channel in the back of a lorry, taking them to Calais train station.

Mr Kenyon told the Daily Mail: ‘This is a trade in human cargo of a very different kind to the one the UK Border Agency is used to.

‘Many people will be astonished – as well as relieved – to learn that illegal immigrants are abandoning the UK in search of work abroad.

‘It suggests that attempts to crack down on failed asylum seekers and overstayers – as well as the downturn in our own economy and subsequent lack of work here – could at last be having an effect.

‘But who is to say that when these people fail to find work abroad, they won’t simply buy their way back to Britain via the very people traffickers they used to leave the country.

‘Once back here, they might then try again to claim asylum, or simply vanish into the “ghost” community.’

Illegal immigrants who are caught by the authorities are offered financial ‘bribes’ if they agree to go home.

Officials estimate a forced deportation costs more than £11,000.

Mark Harper, the immigration minister, yesterday admitted:  ‘It is possible we don’t catch every single person who tries  to enter the country clandestinely.’

But he added: ‘When we do catch people, we’re increasing the work we do with our European colleagues. We make sure people are fingerprinted so we can check to see if they have entered the European Union in another country.

‘If they have, we can return them back to the country where they first entered.’


Monday, January 21, 2013

Santorum's view

Rick Santorum suggested on Sunday that Republicans are ready to tackle immigration reform.  "I think the Republicans are ready to do something on immigration," he said on ABC's This Week.

He stressed that President Obama and the Democrats would need to be willing to compromise with Republicans, though.

"They're not willing to give the president everything he wants, because I think they believe the rule of law still matters in this country and that -- and that we have to respect those who did it the right way, who waited in line, and did -- and made sacrifices, and that they shouldn't be treated the same as people who broke the law and came here," he said.

The former presidential candidate said he thought Obama was unwilling to compromise on immigration.

"There's not a single Republican up on Capitol Hill who believes he wants to get it done. They all believe ... he will put a measure that the Republicans can't accept and then blame Republicans and then continue to drive a wedge between Republicans and Hispanics."

He also criticized the president over the recent debt ceiling negotiations. He said that the administration's reaction to Republicans' announcement that they would seek a 3-month extension of the debt limit was harsh.

"That's the problem with this administration," he said. "They're not very gracious winners. And I always said, you know, there's one thing worse than a sore loser, and that's a sore winner. And the president's a sore winner.

Santorum also sounded off on gun control.

"Fifty years ago, you could go on a catalog and buy a gun," he said. "There were no restrictions on gun ownership. There were no restrictions on magazines. There were no restrictions on anything. And we had a lot less violence in society than we do today."

The former Pennsylvania senator, who now chairs conservative group Patriot Voices, has in the past made strong statements against immigration reform. During his 2012 presidential run, he said that families with undocumented immigrations should be broken up. However, he has taken a softer tone on the issue since ending his campaign. In December, he said that the U.S. needs immigration.

“I think the fact that we send some of those people back and don’t give them the opportunity to participate here is wrong," Santorum told Politico. “I think we need to look at a simple fact: We are not having enough children to replace ourselves. Our country is not growing in population simply by the people that are here.”


Asian Immigration To California Has Surpassed Latin-American Immigration

California is facing the end of an era as Asian immigrants have begun to come to California faster than Latino immigrants.

"This is a pretty astounding change over a short period of time," Hans Johnson, co-director of the Public Policy Institute of California, told the Sacremento Bee, citing census data.

In 2001, 42 percent of immigrants coming to California were from Latin America, primarily Mexico, while 37 percent were from Asia, the Bee reports. In 2011, 57 percent of new immigrants were from Asia, and just 22 percent were from Latin America.

The demographic breakdown of California's swearing-in of new citizens Wednesday was as follows:

450 from Asia (100 from India, 94 from the Philippines, 63 from Vietnam, 33 from China, 29 from Laos), 160 from Latin America (119 people from Mexico), 35 from Ukraine,

Johneric Concordia, a restaurant owner in LA's Filipinotown, told NBC that he is optimistic that the state's new immigration trend will mean more Asian political candidates, loans and scholarships.

One hurdle that Asians face in advocating for such access, however, is the diversity of Asian languages -- whereas most Latinos speak Spanish.

Doreena Wong of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Legal Center, told ABC that a lot of Asian immigrants are highly-educated and employable. "There are a lot of students from overseas countries in Asia and then they come here and get jobs," Wong said.

But this immigration change doesn't mean that the number of Asians in California is about to surpass the number of Latinos.

In fact, Latinos are expected to become California's largest ethnic group sometime this year, which is a couple of years earlier than demographers predicted. That's partially because California's birthrate is declining, as is migration from other states and nations.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Gets in the Way of U.S. Immigration Reform

A useful summary below but it ignores the elephant in the room:  Republicans would be out of their minds to add millions more of Democrat voters to the voter lists.  Hispanics are their own worst enemy.  The big majority are and will remain poor so will always vote Democrat even if Republicans do an octopus job of "reaching out"

There's been lots of talk about legislation, but reform could face significant roadblocks in Congress.

The Gang of Eight is drafting principles. The White House says immigration reform could be in the State of the Union. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is planning Judiciary hearings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO have joined hands to push for action. There's no shortage of political will to get immigration reform done in this Congress, but attempts at an overhaul of the system have failed before, and lawmakers still have several major hurdles to overcome this time.  Here are a few:

A path to citizenship versus legal status: This is the single most divisive issue that lawmakers will have to overcome. Democrats, in general, will demand that any legislation include a path to citizenship (this is also a priority for the AFL-CIO). Many Republicans, on the other hand, remain staunchly opposed to anything resembling amnesty. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a Nevada news outlet that a bipartisan group of senators “have agreed tentatively on a path to citizenship, which is the big stumbling block.” But it remains to be seen whether that agreement would be acceptable to the entire Congress.

Comprehensive versus piecemeal reform: Proponents say a comprehensive package is the only way to fix the system. It’s also a top priority of the president and the aim of the Gang of Eight—Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and newly elected Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. But a comprehensive bill also gives everyone something to hate. Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, say it will be easier to tackle different reforms in smaller bills because different coalitions will support each piece.

Inclusion of a guest-worker program: Disagreement over granting foreign workers temporary visas to work in the United States has historically separated business and labor groups, but the two are trying to find common ground this time. Jeff Hauser, spokesman for the AFL-CIO—which has opposed such programs in the past—said his group is talking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about ways to create a depoliticized body to manage the future flow of workers.

The Hastert Rule: While a number of high-profile Republicans such as McCain have worked on immigration reform for years, it’s still likely that legislation will have more Democratic than Republican support. But House Speaker John Boehner has generally run the House in the style of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, always ensuring that a majority of the majority party supports legislation before bringing it to the floor. The rule was violated to get the fiscal-cliff legislation passed. Redistricting after the 2010 election put more and more lawmakers into safe districts, meaning they have less incentive to compromise. So it may not be possible for Boehner to get a majority of the majority to back immigration reform.

A crowded agenda: The temporary nature of the deal produced to avert the fiscal cliff means that within the first few months of the year, Congress will have to negotiate a deal to raise the debt ceiling, deal with the sequester, and fund the government. President Obama is also pushing gun control as a top priority. With limited time before legislators start focusing on their 2014 midterm races, there might not be enough oxygen for immigration reform to happen this year as well.

Plain old politics: There’s a reason that immigration reform has failed so many times: It’s a tough political nut to crack, and can bring out ugliness and name-calling on both sides of the aisle. At a Politico Pro event Tuesday, Labrador suggested that Obama wanted a political victory instead of a policy victory—which may be easier if nothing gets done and Republicans get the blame.

That’s not the way Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a longtime immigration-reform advocate, sees it. “I have had Republicans say they don't want Obama to do a bill because they want flexibility, but if he doesn't do a bill, he's criticized,” she said at the event. She says she’s just waiting for Boehner to get the ball rolling. “It's not that tough, it's just the decision to do it,” she said.


Our town's like a foreign country: Locals can't cope with all the immigrants, says British mother after TV clash with academic

A mother who tackled a leading historian on live television about immigration insisted last night that her family’s home town has become like a ‘foreign country’.

On BBC1’s Question Time, Professor Mary Beard dismissed stories about the number of migrant workers overwhelming Boston as ‘myths’ and said ‘public services can cope’.

But Rachel Bull, an office manager in Boston, who  was in the audience, immediately challenged the Cambridge University classics professor, claiming hospitals and schools are struggling to cope in the Lincolnshire agricultural town.

Mrs Bull – whose grandparents moved to Britain from Poland after the Second World War – said that she is not against immigration, but believes ministers should reconsider allowing Romanians and Bulgarians unrestricted rights to live and work in the UK from December 2013.

After Professor Beard – known to millions for the BBC2 series Meet the Romans – told Question Time on Thursday night she believed local services in Boston are able to cope, Mrs Bull raised her hand and said: ‘I’m sorry, I really disagree.’

She told the panel, which was sitting in Lincoln: ‘I have a business in Boston, I have family that live in Boston and we’ve got land at Boston and we’ve had major issues with workers who’ve got nowhere to go, camping on our land and we can’t move them off because the police aren’t interested. Boston is at breaking point. All the locals can’t cope any more – the services, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals.

‘I have a family member that’s a midwife at Boston Pilgrim Hospital. The facilities are at breaking point because of these people coming into the country and nothing is being done. You go down to Boston High Street and it’s just like you’re in a foreign country. And it’s got to stop.’

Yesterday Mrs Bull said that Boston, which has a population of around 61,000, is too small to cope with such a large number of migrants, now thought to number 9,000.

She added: ‘The problem is we’re not like these politicians or other people on television, we’re on the frontline. I’ve not been to university, I’m just a 35-year-old who spoke from the heart.’

Mrs Bull, whose  family has a retirement home business, said she is worried that more migrants from Romania and Bulgaria will make the problems worse.  She said many workers head to the area on the promise of work, but end up without employment or money.

Mrs Bull, who has a 10-year-old son, said: ‘They are going to come to Boston because of the landworkers, the farms and agriculture, that’s where they would get work.

‘But we’ve got so many homeless on the streets, this town has so many problems that are just being swept under the carpet and the locals are crying out. Someone needs to help us.

‘I don’t want it to be about them and us. We all want to work together as one, but when resources are stretched that’s when the animosity starts, and we don’t want that.’ Mrs Bull, who now lives elsewhere in Lincolnshire, said her family has had repeated problems with migrants camping on their land and that it has been impossible to get help from the authorities and police to move them.

'I don't want it to be about them and us... but when resources are stretched that's when the animosity starts, and we don't want that'

She said: ‘My dad and brother used to go there every day as my dad speaks Polish, to explain to them that they have to move on because we were getting complaints from environmental health, and local residents were complaining about the mess they were leaving. There were empty bottles, human faeces, needles.

‘We felt sorry for them as there was a young couple who had been promised work, they’d been dropped off in  Boston, had their passports taken off them, they had no money, and they were just left stranded.  ‘We gave them a bit of money for them to get some food and drink to help them out, but the numbers just grew.’

Mrs Bull’s grandfather was a flight sergeant who fought for Britain, flying Lancaster Bombers and Mosquitoes.

She said her family is proud of its background and enjoy pierogi – traditional dumplings – from the local Polish shops.

She said: ‘We just want help from the Government, and we want them to reconsider when the Romanians and the  Bulgarians come in.’


Friday, January 18, 2013

Labour got it wrong on immigration, admits Miliband

Ed Miliband has suggested he could limit foreigners’ rights to benefits in the UK as he apologised for Labour’s failures on immigration.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Miliband admitted that the last Labour government was not “sufficiently alive to people's concerns” over immigration.

The Labour leader said his party got “the numbers wrong” when estimating the number of migrants who would flock to the UK when restrictions on movements from Poland and other Eastern European countries were lifted in 2004.

He suggested that he would in future consider limiting immigrants' rights to benefits in the UK.

“We didn’t get this right in government because I think we underestimated the impact,” Mr Miliband said. “We did get the numbers wrong… I don’t think we were sufficiently alive to people’s concerns once people had come into this country.”

He made the comments as MigrationWatch suggested that 250,000 migrants from Bulgaria and Romania could head to the UK for work when working restrictions are lifted at the end of the year.

MigrationWatch said 50,000 migrants a year for the next five years could try to come to settle in the UK, based on analysis of the numbers who came from Poland and other eastern European countries into the UK after 2004.

Ministers have repeatedly refused to give estimates on how many Romanians and Bulgarians will come to the UK when restrictions are lifted on December 31 this year.

Mr Miliband said immigrants' rights to benefits in the UK “should be looked at” in the future.

“Yes, that is an issue that should be looked at,” Mr Miliband said. “Of course that’s an issue that should be looked at, the length of entitlement to benefits and how quickly people can get them.

“All of these issues would be on the table as we seek to manage our relationship with the European Union, and as we seek to manage migration. I actually think that diversity helps our country. But it can’t just work for some and not for all.”

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Ion Jinga, the Romanian Ambassador to London, suggested that the number migrants from his country will be in the low tens of thousands, possibly as low as 10,000 a year, and nothing like the hundreds of thousands of Poles who came to live in the UK after 2004.

Mr Jinga said: “It is totally ungrounded to circulate in the media that hundreds of thousands of Romanians will come, it will be an invasion.

"‘They will take our jobs, they will take our houses’. Come on! If it was not related to real human beings I would consider it to be a joke.”


Up to 70,000 Romanian and Bulgarian migrants a year ‘will come to Britain’ when controls on EU migrants expire

Up to 70,000 Bulgarians and Romanians will travel to Britain each year when they finally gain open access to the jobs  market, a report claims today.

Almost 29million people from the two countries will be free to work in Britain from the end of this year when temporary controls on new EU migrants expire.

But although ministers have their own estimate of the scale of the influx, they refuse to reveal it.

The figure is likely to be the crucial factor in deciding whether the Government will hit the Prime Minister’s goal of cutting net migration – the difference between those arriving and leaving each year – to ‘tens of thousands’

The report by the pressure group MigrationWatch says Romanians and Bulgarians will add between 30,000 and 70,000 to our population in each of the next five years. This is partly based on the events of 2004 when immigration soared after Poland and seven other nations joined the EU.

The report estimates an average of 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians will arrive here each year, a total of 250,000.

But it warns the figure could soar if Roma gipsies or the nearly 1million Romanians already in other EU countries also come.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but the number who could take jobs here was capped at 25,000 for low-skilled workers. That limit expires this year.

The study explains why Britain is likely to be attractive to Romanians and Bulgarians. Both are relatively poor with a minimum wage of around £1 an hour, compared to £6.19 here, and income per head of about a fifth of Britain’s. In addition, destinations such as Spain, Italy and France have high youth unemployment.

The UK also offers full benefits when immigrants find work, including housing and child benefit and child tax credit.

MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘It is not good enough to duck making an estimate of immigration. It is likely to have significant consequences for housing and services. It will also add to the competition young workers face.’

David Cameron indicated he did not have confidence in Government figures, saying the estimated influx of around 14,000 Poles in 2004 turned out to be ‘ridiculously low’.

The Home Office said it was looking at ‘factors that may encourage EU nationals to come to the UK’.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

1,500 foreign criminals 'held beyond sentence' in Britain

Britain is being forced to pay tens of millions of pounds to keep nearly 1,500 foreign criminals behind bars beyond the term of their sentence as they fight deportation.

The cost could reach the equivalent of £55 million a year as more than 500 foreign prisoners are held in jails after their sentences should have ended while almost 1,000 are being kept in immigration removal centres, figures showed.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged nearly two years ago to put an end to agreements that mean foreign offenders cannot be returned home without their consent.

Tory MP Priti Patel, who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question, said the number of foreign criminals who can not be deported showed the Government needed to scrap the Human Rights Act.

“Ministers must remove dangerous foreign criminals quickly from Britain,” she said.

“Taxpayers should not be paying for foreign offenders to remain in the UK after their prison sentence has ended.  “It’s a disgrace they’re allowed to remain here for such a long time, which is only made worse by the Human Rights Act which must be scrapped so we can send foreign criminals back home as quickly as possible.”

Ms Patel went on: “There’s no doubt that the Government wants to do more to remove foreign criminals from Britain.

“But we have to look at issues like the Human Rights Act which clearly hinders them from doing that.  “We can no longer sit back because clearly it’s having a serious impact on the number of foreign criminals in the country.”

Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, said: “In September 2012, 547 foreign national offenders were detained by the UK Border Agency in prisons following completion of their custodial sentence.  “A further 919 foreign national offenders were detained beyond the end of their sentence in immigration removal centres.’

He could not say for how long each prisoner had been detained.

However, the latest figures from the Prison Reform Trust showed the average number of days taken to remove a foreign prisoner at the end of their sentence has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 77 in 2011.

Each prison place costs an average of almost £38,000 a year, while immigration detention costs £102 per night, the trust’s figures also showed.

The number of foreign criminals awaiting deportation was released on Tuesday as ministers signed a new deal to ensure a wave of Albanian prisoners held in England and Wales will be sent back to their home country to finish their sentences.

The move, which is expected to save taxpayers around £25 million over the next 10 years, should see the first batch of prisoners deported in around two months time.

It is the first agreement providing for transfer from the UK to outside the European Union and Albanian nationals make up the 16th highest foreign national population in English and Welsh prisons.

A total of 77 out of nearly 200 Albanian prisoners who are currently eligible for transfer under the agreement between the two nations have been referred to the UK Border Agency for deportation, the Ministry of Justice said.

Jeremy Wright, the Prisons Minister, said: “The British Government wants more foreign national prisoners to serve their sentences in their home country.”

In April 2010, there were 701 foreign offenders detailed in jail after their sentence, which fell to 516 in April 2011 but rose again to 552 in the same month in 2012, the figures revealed.

The number of people held in immigration detention centres after completing a prison sentence has fallen from 1,213 in April 2010 to 812 in April 2012.


Immigration Enforcement Law Proposed in Montana

It’s not a magnet for undocumented immigrants. And that's just the way at least one Montana lawmaker likes it.  State Rep. David Howard, a Republican known well in Montana for his take-no-prisoners stance on illegal immigration, is determined to keep the state nicknamed “Big Sky Country” as the last place any undocumented immigrant would want to call home.

Howard is pushing a bill that calls on government agencies across the state to enforce federal immigration laws.

Howard told the Montana House Judiciary Committee on Monday that his bill, HB 50, ensures local governments will enforce immigration laws and not turn a blind eye to undocumented immigrants.

Howard said that some cities in other parts of the United States barred their police officers and other public agency workers from inquiring about immigration status. Montana, he told the committee, had to make sure it protected itself against that ever happening within its borders.

His measure, he said, would send a message a message to undocumented immigrants that they are not welcome in Montana. “It creates a defense in wonderful Montana where they won’t come here … all this does is to protect Montanans,” he told the committee. His office did not return various attempts for comment from Fox News Latino.

Montana’s small foreign-born population is mainly Latinos, though many Canadians have settled there too. The Latino population is about 28,565, or 3 percent of the total state population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Howard’s move runs counter to trends across the nation that have seen a softening by Republicans on illegal immigration, as well as less clamor at the state level to pass immigration laws.

In 2011, 30 state legislatures introduced more than 50 bills similar to that of Arizona, which, among other things, calls on police to check the immigration status of a person they have stopped for another reason and whom they suspect of being in the country unlawfully. 

But in 2012, after court challenges blocked parts of many such laws, and as public support for these measures waned, only five states – Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island and West Virginia – considered immigration bills.  None were enacted, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

On the political front in recent years, many GOP leaders adopted a hard-line position on illegal immigration that was similar to the one embraced by Howard’s in Montana. But after that approach – which dominated much of the Republican primary and debates – was blamed as a key reason for many Latinos walking away from the GOP, the party has softened its tone.

Many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, have pledged to soften their positions since the Nov. 6 election, in which the vast majority (71 percent) of Latino voters chose President Obama over the GOP challenger, Mitt Romney.
Echoing many other Republicans, Boehner said he would consider proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, which would include tightened enforcement as well as a pathway to legalization for certain undocumented immigrants.

Some Republican leaders expressed dismay over Howard’s proposal.
“It’s amazing that after everything we went through, after our terrible performance with Latino voters in the election, that you would still have some Republicans who would be willing to present this type of legislation,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a Washington, D.C.-based group.

“If it passes, it will not help the Republican Party.”
“Republicans who are pro-immigrant have to come forward and condemn those laws,” said Aguilar, a former Homeland Security Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “What killed us before was that Republicans who were pro-immigrant remained silent.”

Proponents of strict immigration measures praised Howard’s proposal.  “Rep. Howard’s bill ensures common sense state-federal enforcement practices for those of us who believe in the rule of law and the restoration of an immigration law that works,” said Dan Stein, director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, based in Washington D.C. “Americans are tired of paying for the same old political games designed to reward, promote and encourage illegal immigration. We applaud his efforts.”

Montana has taken on illegal immigration before; in November, voters approved a measure requiring proof of legal U.S. residency in order to receive public services. A measure similar to HB 50 cleared the state legislature two years ago, but former Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed it, calling it unnecessary in Montana.

Immigration advocacy groups in Montana say they are worried about Howard’s latest proposal, given the approval that voters gave to the referendum measure in November.  “Montana does not have an immigration problem,” said Shahid Haque-Hausrath, executive director of the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance. “Montana is one of the states with the least number of immigrants – documented or undocumented.”