Daily news updates from CIS
November 2, 2009 -- Click here for overseas news
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[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Chamber of Commerce targets AZ law
2. Senate Dems avoid checks on benefits
3. Senators send Obama letter on 287(g)
4. Detention center is target of petition
5. Authorities pursue criminal aliens
6. Yemini Jews given refugee status
7. MD county sheriff worried about gangs
8. CO city auto impound law questioned
9. OH changes car registration rules
10. OR county officials back DREAM Act
11. CA city undercover sting snags day laborers
12. FL Gov. hopeful speaks on official English
13. FL day laborers fall on hard times
14. CA city police not charged for 2007 fracas
15. Group fights illegal immigration in MD
16. Groups concerned about labor rights
17. Church leaders advocate for amnesty
18. Customs agent charged for transporting (link)
19. Ex-National Guard member fights deportation (link)
20. Alleged baby kidnapper to appear in court (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
US High Court Seeks Opinion On Ariz Immigration Case
By Kristina Peterson
The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2009
Washington - The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to comment on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's challenge to an Arizona immigration law on Monday.
At issue is whether federal immigration law prevents states from imposing their own penalties on businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
'Without immediate action by this Court, the crazy-quilt of state and local immigration statutes will continue to expand, multiplying burdens on employers and unfairness to employees,' the Chamber of Commerce argued in its brief to the high court.
The Chamber filed suit after Arizona passed a law in 2007 imposing penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants and requiring all employers to use an online verification system.
The Chamber argued that Arizona's law violates the intent of the national immigration law Congress passed in 1986. That law created a 'comprehensive scheme' prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens and prevented states from imposing civil or criminal sanctions against employers except for 'licensing and similar laws.' Congress also specified that use of the online verification system would be voluntary.
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard countered in a brief to the court that the state law falls within the domain of the licensing provision. And while Congress prohibited employers nationally from requiring the use of the verification system, states still have the right to mandate its use, Goddard argued.
Both the district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the Arizona statute did not interfere with federal law.
The case is Chamber of Commerce v. Criss Candelaria, 09-115.
In other news, the court took several actions:
* Agreed to hear an appeal from Ohio Tax Commissioner Richard Levin in a dispute between in-state and out-of-state natural gas suppliers. Levin sought to dismiss a lawsuit from Commerce Energy Inc. (CMNR), a unit of Universal Energy Group, challenging several provisions in the state's tax laws that it said benefited local companies. Levin argued that federal tax law prohibits state tax disputes from being heard in federal courts, a divergence from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision. The case is Levin v. Commerce Energy, Inc., 09-223.
* Denied an appeal from a group of bondholders seeking to renegotiate terms of the Delta Airlines (DAL) bankruptcy settlement. The plaintiffs held $50 million worth of municipal bonds issued by the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport to construct a terminal leased by Delta Airlines. When the airline filed for bankruptcy, it signed a settlement renegotiating its lease and changing who directly paid the bondholders.
Lower courts ruled that the plaintiffs, a minority group of the total bondholders, could not challenge the settlement after it had been approved by the majority. The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts' ruling without comment. The case is Kenton County Bondholders v. Delta Air Lines, 09-104.
* Declined to hear a challenge from the American Insurance Company and Columbia Casualty Company in a dispute over a legal matter. The disagreement arose in a larger battle over whether paper products manufacturer Asten Johnson, Inc. could force the two insurance companies to cover its damages in asbestos-related lawsuits, despite specific exemptions for asbestosis in their contracts. The case is American Insurance Company v Asten Johnson, Inc., 09-254.
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Senate votes to take up jobless benefit extension
The Associated Press, November 3, 2009
Washington (AP) -- After weeks of political haggling, the Senate agreed Tuesday to take up legislation that would give people running out of unemployment insurance benefits up to 20 more weeks of federal aid.
Senate Democrats, saying that 7,000 people a day are exhausting their benefits, called on their colleagues to move quickly to a final vote. Republicans insisted they get a chance to offer amendments on the benefit bill and other issues.
Also in play was the possibility the bill would be used as a vehicle to extend another policy that has been central to the Obama administration's efforts to revive the economy: an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.
The vote was 87-13 to bring the bill to the floor. Sixty votes were needed to pass that procedural hurdle.
The legislation would provide 14 weeks in extra financial aid for everyone exhausting their benefits by the end of the year, and another six weeks for those living in 27 states where the unemployment rate is at least 8.5 percent.
The White House issued a statement in support of extending benefits. 'Helping unemployed workers is an effective way to boost the economy and an important part of the administration's broader efforts to move swiftly and aggressively to jump start job creation and grow our economy.'
The House passed a less generous benefit extension more than a month ago, but Senate Republicans, at odds with Democrats over what amendments they can offer to the bill, have blocked Senate consideration.
As the Senate voted, Senate leaders were still trying to reach agreement on a formula to extend the homebuyer credit and whether it would be combined with the unemployment bill or brought up separately.
Various proposals are on the table, including one by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., that would extend the $8,000 tax credit through March 31. The value of the credit would then drop to $6,000, $4,000 and then $2,000 over the next three quarters. Another idea would extend the tax credit to home buyers who already own homes, as long as they have been in those homes for at least seven years.
Democrats are also mulling a plan to extend the ability of money-losing businesses to claim refunds on taxes paid during profitable times up to four years ago.
Republicans, meanwhile, were demanding that they be given a chance to offer amendments on federal aid to the beleaguered community activist group ACORN and on requiring that people receiving unemployment insurance be processed through E-Verify, an Internet-based system that employers use to check on the immigration status of new hires.
Democrats, in floor speeches and news conferences, have voiced frustrations at the delay. 'If the American people knew that legislation to help jobless workers pay their bills and purchase necessities was being held up to score political points, they would be outraged,' said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a leader on the unemployment benefit issue.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., calculated that in the three weeks that action on the bill has been stalled nearly 150,000 people have lost their benefits. 'To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.'
The states normally provide 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, with payments of about $300 a week. Since the beginning of the recession, the federal government has chipped in with added help, and the jobless in those states hardest hit by the economic downturn are now entitled to up to 79 weeks.
Supporters of another extension point out that up to 2 million people are going to run out of benefits by the end of the year and that despite some signs of economic recovery there is still only about one job available for every six job seekers. The unemployment rate is now 9.8 and is expected to top 10 percent before companies begin rehiring.
'A positive GDP is not the answer for people who are looking for work unsuccessfully,' said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. 'They need the benefits of extended unemployment compensation.'
The extended benefits would be paid for by dedicating money from the federal unemployment tax, a payroll tax companies pay for individual employees.
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Bartlett argues for broad application of local immigration enforcement program
By Meg Tully
The Fredrick News Post (MD), October 31, 2009
Frederick 's representative in Congress is closely watching efforts to limit local jurisdictions who participate in a federal immigration enforcement program.
U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, joined 53 other lawmakers in sending a letter to President Barack Obama this week, arguing local jurisdictions should have broad discretion in immigration enforcement.
The letter comes as the Obama administration has just completed revised, standardized agreements in all 57 jurisdictions that participate in the program, including the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.
Specifically, Bartlett said local law enforcement should be able to check immigration status of those arrested, including nonviolent offenders.
The new guidelines for the program do not restrict those types of offenses, but the administration has placed higher priority on applying immigration law against violent offenders.
'If you limit it to crimes of violence, this doesn't provide the deterrent that I believe the present program provides,' he said.
Critics of the program think broad powers with limited supervision could lead to racial profiling, with police pursuing minor offenses just to check immigration status.
Of 284 criminal charges processed through Frederick County's program in 2008, nearly half were driving without a license, a 2008 sheriff's office report stated.
Bartlett said he does not consider driving without a license to be a minor offense. Jaywalking would be a better example of a minor offense, he said.
'As far as I know, our local sheriff's department is bending over backwards to not appear to be profiling,' he said.
Bartlett said he wants to send the message that illegal immigrants will probably be able to stay in the country, unless they break the laws.
He thinks keeping the law broad will keep illegal immigrants from speeding more than 10 miles over the speed limit, driving without a license, driving while drunk, or getting involved in more serious crimes.
'This law, I think, has been very effective in encouraging the vast number of them to be exemplary residents in our country,' Bartlett said.
The new agreements were intended to standardize the program across the country, and provide more federal oversight. They also contain language that encourages law enforcement to follow through on charges that initially brought about an arrest.
Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security visited Frederick on Thursday to deliver a revised, signed agreement between the sheriff and the federal government.
That agreement, known as 287(g) for the law that created the program, allows trained sheriff's deputies and correctional officers to check immigration status -- a power otherwise restricted to the federal government.
The Frederick News-Post has submitted a Public Information Act request for a copy of the revised agreement.
Sheriff Chuck Jenkins stated in a press release Friday that the new agreement will have 'no impact' on his program.
That's because the office has had a supervisor from Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to it from the inception of the program, Jenkins said.
Capt. Tim Clarke, who has been tasked by the sheriff to implement the county's immigration enforcement program, said the agreement changed little in part because Frederick County only recently started participating in 287(g).
From the program's inception in April 2008 to mid-October of this year, the county sheriff's office has processed 500 criminal aliens, the press release stated.
Bartlett said he was glad to hear the new regulations will not change the sheriff's program. Frederick County is the only jurisdiction in Maryland that has signed a 287(g) agreement.
'Our county and our sheriff has kind of led the fight in this, and I think they're doing a very good job,' Bartlett said.
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Immigrant Jail Tests U.S. View of Legal Access
By Nina Bernstein
The New York Times, November 2, 2009
A startling petition arrived at the New York City Bar Association in October 2008, signed by 100 men, all locked up without criminal charges in the middle of Manhattan.
In vivid if flawed English, it described cramped, filthy quarters where dire medical needs were ignored and hungry prisoners were put to work for $1 a day.
The petitioners were among 250 detainees imprisoned in an immigration jail that few New Yorkers know exists. Above a post office, on the fourth floor of a federal office building in Greenwich Village, the Varick Street Detention Facility takes in 11,000 men a year, most of them longtime New Yorkers facing deportation without a lawyer.
Galvanized by the petition, the bar association sent volunteers into the jail to offer legal counsel to detainees — a strategy the Obama administration has embraced as it tries to fix the entire detention system.
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement considers the access to legal services at Varick Street as a good model,” said Sean Smith, a spokesman for Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, who oversees immigration enforcement.
But the lawyers doing the work have reached a different conclusion, after finding that most detainees with a legal claim to stay in the United States are routinely transferred to more remote jails before they can be helped. The lawyers say their effort has laid bare the fundamental unfairness of a system where immigrant detainees, unlike criminal defendants, can be held without legal representation and moved from state to state without notice.
In a report to be issued on Monday, the association’s City Bar Justice Center is calling for all immigrant detainees to be provided with counsel. And an article to be published this month in The Fordham Law Review treats the Varick jail as a case study in the systemic barriers to legal representation.
The new focus on Varick highlights the conflict between two forces: the administration’s plans to revamp detention, and current policies that feed the flow of detainees through the system as it is now. A disjointed mix of county jails and privately run prisons, where mistreatment and medical neglect have been widely documented, the detention network churns roughly 400,000 detainees through 32,000 beds each year.
“Any attempt to get support or services for them is stymied because you don’t know where they’re going to end up,” said Lynn M. Kelly, the director of the Justice Center.
When she asked that the lawyers’ letters of legal advice be forwarded to detainees who had been transferred from Varick, she said the warden balked, saying he had to consider the financial interests of his private shareholders: 1,200 members of a central Alaskan tribe whose dividends are linked to Varick’s profits under a $79 million, three-year federal contract.
Federal officials would not discuss their transfer policies, but asked for patience as they try to make the detention system more humane and cost-effective.
“We inherited an inadequate detention system from the previous administration that does not meet ICE’s current priorities or needs,” said Matthew Chandler, a Homeland Security spokesman. Officials say they are committed to a complete overhaul, including less-penal detention centers with better access to lawyers.
The volunteer lawyers and the petition’s author, an ailing refugee from torture in Romania who spent eight months inside Varick, say many problems persist there, though the added scrutiny has led to improvements. Detainees who want a Gideon Bible no longer have to pay the commissary $7. Immigration officials are more responsive when a lawyer complains that a detainee in pain is not getting treatment.
But most detainees do not have a lawyer, and the few who do include men who have fallen prey to incompetent or fraudulent practitioners. Recurrent complaints include frigid temperatures, mildew and meals that leave detainees hungry and willing to clean for $1 a day to pay for commissary food. That wage is specified in the contract with the Alaskan company, which budgeted 23,000 days of such work the first year, and collects a daily rate of $227.68 for each detainee.
The Alaska connection is one of the stranger twists in the jail’s fitful history. Opened as a federal immigration detention center in 1984, Varick became chronically overcrowded after 1998, when new laws mandated the detention of all noncitizens who had ever committed a crime on a list of deportable offenses, expanded to include misdemeanors like drug possession.
A Dominican man there died of untreated pneumonia in 1999 — the first reported death in the nationwide detention system, which now counts 106 since October 2003.
The Varick facility, which is on the corner of Houston Street, fell short of national detention standards adopted in 2000, because it lacks any outdoor recreation space. But under a grandfather clause, it was allowed to remain open until 9/11, when the terror attack, blocks away, forced its evacuation. For years, it was shuttered. It quietly reopened in February 2008, operated by Ahtna Technical Services Inc., a subsidiary of Ahtna Inc. — still with no access to fresh air.
As an Alaska Native corporation, Ahtna has won numerous federal contracts without having to compete with other companies; last year it paid its tribal shareholders about $500 each in dividends. It hires a Texas subcontractor to supply guards and transportation, along with the shackles and belly chains routinely used on detainees being moved in or out.
Varick’s population includes illegal immigrants, asylum-seekers and legal immigrants who face deportation because they have past criminal convictions. Almost half of those screened by the volunteer lawyers have already been in detention for four to six months, according to the bar association report, and nearly 40 percent have legal grounds to contest deportation.
A few, the report says, have a possible claim to citizenship, which would make their detention unlawful. But the volunteers, including lawyers from 16 corporate firms, say they can offer only rudimentary legal triage to a handful of detainees a week.
The Department of Justice is asking Congress for money to expand the law project, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement invites Washington officials to visit the weekly triage sessions. The agency allowed a reporter to observe a session, but not to tour the jail. On a recent Thursday, only 11 of 35 detainees who had signed up made it into one of five glassed-in booths where they could consult with pairs of legal volunteers.
One, a 25-year-old Mexican, had been delivering food for an Italian restaurant on Madison Avenue until his detention. After a week in Varick, the government had not served him with a “notice to appear” telling why he was detained and setting the date and place where he would be heard by an immigration judge.
Volunteers were researching his case a week later when he was transferred to Atlanta. It could just as easily have been Louisiana or Texas, far from any free legal help, said Maria Navarro, a Legal Aid lawyer who supervises the volunteers. Even in cities, she said, lawyers are reluctant to represent detainees who may be suddenly moved far away.
Another 25-year-old, who had come to New York as a legal immigrant from Belize at age 2, told lawyers he had worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken to support his 5-year-old daughter, a citizen, when his sickle-cell anemia permitted. After a standing huddle, the lawyers told him that because his notice listed old convictions for possession of marijuana, he was ineligible for release on bond or with an electronic monitoring bracelet.
A Haitian, who had served time for at least one drug-related offense, had a lawyer but wanted a second opinion after being held in Varick for 16 months. He described himself as a barber, interpreter and legal resident of Brooklyn for 23 years.
“It is double jeopardy,” he protested, nursing a swollen jaw with teeth missing. “I become a diabetic here, because of anxiety, stress and suicidal conditions.”
Yet a detainee from the former Soviet Union praised the jail. “Varick is heaven” compared with some county jails in New Jersey (Bergen and Monmouth) and Florida, he said, citing abuse by anti-immigrant guards.
A century-long line of Supreme Court decisions holds that immigration detention is not a punishment or deprivation of liberty, and does not require legal counsel for fundamental fairness.
But Daniel I. Miller, 39, the Romanian whose petition reached the bar association, said his own case showed how high the stakes can be. Mr. Miller, a chef, fled his native land in 1994 after the secret police mutilated him for advocating gay rights. In New York, he had already been paroled for a criminal conviction — for signing his partner’s name on a contract — when immigration authorities detained him.
To no avail, records show, his lawyer and an outraged doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan urged his release from Varick for treatment of tumors on his liver. Instead, he was transferred in April to the Orange County Jail in Goshen, N.Y., where he said he also circulated a petition. The authorities there accused him of trying to start a riot and sent him to segregation with a murder defendant.
“These people have no rules, that’s the main problem,” Mr. Miller said, speaking from the Midtown office where he is starting an organic catering business. He credits his lawyer, Howard Brill, for that turnaround: On Sept. 2, after almost a year in custody, an immigration judge granted him the right to stay in the United States.
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Immigration officials keying in on deporting criminals
By David Olson
The Press Enterprise, November 1, 2009
Federal agents are raiding thousands of homes of criminal illegal immigrants under Obama administration directives that emphasize apprehending dangerous criminals over arresting nonviolent illegal residents.
Newly compiled data show that in fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30, the number of criminal illegal immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement fugitive-operations teams doubled, from more than 7,900 in fiscal year 2008 to almost 16,000.
The number of non-criminals arrested plummeted during the same year, from more than 26,200 to fewer than 19,200.
More than 45 percent of people arrested during the operations in fiscal year 2009 were criminals, compared to 17 percent in 2008. The data include non-fugitive illegal immigrants encountered by the fugitive teams, which search for and arrest illegal immigrants with outstanding deportation orders.
Earlier this year, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton directed ICE's field offices to go through files on illegal immigrants with standing deportation orders and put criminals at the top of the stack, said Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE. A criminal is defined as someone convicted of a crime or a suspect with an outstanding criminal warrant.
Morton also rescinded a quota that each of ICE's 104 fugitive operations teams apprehend at least 50 criminal illegal immigrants a month. The quota did not differentiate between major and minor offenses. The focus now is on serious crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking.
Christina Ramirez, 33, at right, was deported in March 2008 from her home in Neuvo. She's now reunited with her family and living in Murrieta. From left are Odallys Mojica, 15, Jose Mojica, 13, Oscar Mojica, 16, husband David Meyer, 31, and Jessilyn Meyer, 6.
'These efforts promote public safety by ensuring that ICE's focus is on dangerous criminal aliens,' Chandler said.
Non-criminals may be arrested, if, for example, immigration agents encounter them while raiding the home of a criminal.
EASIER TO CATCH
Immigrant-advocacy groups had sharply criticized ICE, saying it concentrated too much time and money on searching for and detaining illegal immigrants with no criminal records and was trying to pump up arrest numbers.
Non-criminals are often easier to find than criminals, who usually try to elude the police, they said.
Crystal Williams, deputy director for programs of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she was impressed by the dramatic rise in arrests of criminals.
'For ICE to change the emphasis so quickly is unusual,' Williams said. 'This is not only good for immigrants, it's also good for taxpayers. This is where our resources should be concentrated.'
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which favors greater limits on immigration, said he has no problem with the new focus because ICE will still arrest some non-criminals.
Krikorian said it is important that non-criminals with deportation orders continue to worry about being arrested, to ensure that the orders are taken seriously.
ICE's new focus on criminals extends to other agency programs.
Law-enforcement employees across the country who are trained by ICE to query criminal suspects about their immigration status are now being asked to put the highest priority on those accused of serious offenses.
Murrieta's Cristina Ramirez was one of more than 90,000 non-criminals arrested by fugitive operations teams since ICE formed them in 2003.
She was apprehended on March 27, 2008, at her then-home in Nuevo and deported that day. Immigration authorities last month approved a visa for her to legally return to California. She is now back at home with her husband and four children.
Ramirez, 33, was 2 when she arrived in the United States with her parents on a border-crossing card that later expired.
Ramirez did not apply for legal residency until 1997. An immigration judge called her 'Americanized' but ruled against her request because of a change in immigration law that tightened residency requirements. Judge Robert J. Barrett said Ramirez's application probably would have been approved if she had applied eight months earlier, before the law went into effect.
After four years of appeals, a deportation order was issued against Ramirez in 2001. Following her expulsion last year, her husband, David Meyer, petitioned U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to return her to the United States.
Ramirez's return was not guaranteed, even though she is married to a U.S. citizen and has four U.S. citizen children and U.S. citizen parents. Immigration authorities have denied many requests from deported immigrants in similar situations, Williams said.
When deciding whether to allow a deported illegal immigrant to return to a U.S.-citizen spouse, Immigration Services officers consider violations of immigration law, criminal records and other factors said Luz Figuereo Irazabal, an agency spokeswoman.
Ramirez is now re-connecting with her family, which would visit her most weekends in Rosarito, where she was living.
She enjoys again being able to drive her children to school and help them with their homework. Six-year-old Jessilyn no longer throws the tantrums that became common after her mother's deportation. But she hates being away from Ramirez.
'She has separation anxiety,' Ramirez said. 'In the beginning, she would wake up screaming and crying if I wasn't around.'
Now Ramirez takes Jessilyn with her each morning when she drives the older children to school, so the girl is not alone.
Her children's grades, which fell after her deportation, are back up.
'It was hard for me to concentrate on school,' said son Oscar, 16. 'I kept thinking about my mom. It felt like she was gone from my life forever.'
Meyer said he's relieved his wife is back. But the after-effects of the deportation continue. The family continues to live in the home of Ramirez's parents. Their Nuevo house was foreclosed last year because of the money Meyer spent on attorney fees, living expenses for Ramirez and gas to visit her in Mexico. He filed for bankruptcy. Now they must rebuild their sullied credit.
'The hardship this all caused will be around for a long time,' Meyer said. 'It won't go away. And there's nothing that can give us back the time that was taken away from us.'
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Secret Mission Rescues Yemen's Jews
By Miriam Jordan
The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2009
Monsey, NY -- In his new suburban American home, Shaker Yakub, a Yemeni Jew, folded a large scarf in half, wrapped it around his head and tucked in his spiraling side curls. 'This is how I passed for a Muslim,' said the 59-year-old father of seven, improvising a turban that hid his black skullcap.
The ploy enabled Mr. Yakub and half a dozen members of his family to slip undetected out of their native town of Raida, Yemen, and travel to the capital 50 miles to the south. There, they met U.S. State Department officials conducting a clandestine operation to bring some of Yemen's last remaining Jews to America to escape rising anti-Semitic violence in his country.
In all, about 60 Yemeni Jews have resettled in the U.S. since July; officials say another 100 could still come. There were an estimated 350 in Yemen before the operation began. Some of the remainder may go to Israel and some will stay behind, most in a government enclave.
The secret evacuation of the Yemeni Jews -- considered by historians to be one of the oldest of the Jewish diaspora communities -- is a sign of America's growing concern about this Arabian Peninsula land of 23 million.
The operation followed a year of mounting harassment, and was plotted with Jewish relief groups while Washington was signaling alarm about Yemen. In July, Gen. David Petraeus was dispatched to Yemen to encourage President Ali Abdullah Saleh to be more aggressive against al-Qaeda terrorists in the country. Last month, President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to President Saleh that Yemen's security is vital to the region and the U.S.
Yemen was overshadowed in recent years by bigger trouble spots such as Afghanistan. But it has re-emerged on Washington's radar as a potential source of regional instability and a haven for terrorists.
The impoverished nation is struggling with a Shiite revolt in the north, a secessionist movement in the south, and growing militancy among al-Qaeda sympathizers, raising concern about the government's ability to control its territory. Analysts believe al-Qaeda operatives are making alliances with local tribes that could enable it to establish a stronghold in Yemen, as it did in Afghanistan prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The State Department took something of a risk in removing the Yemenis to the U.S., as it might be criticized for favoritism at a time when refugees elsewhere are clamoring for haven. The U.S. calculated the operation would serve both a humanitarian and a geopolitical purpose. In addition to rescuing a group threatened because of its religion, Washington was seeking to prevent an international embarrassment for an embattled Arab ally.
President Saleh has been trying to protect the Jews, but his inability to quell the rebellion in the country's north made it less likely he could do so, prompting the U.S. to step in. The alternative -- risking broader attacks on the Jews -- could well have undermined the Obama administration's efforts to rally support for President Saleh in the U.S. and abroad.
'If we had not done anything, we feared there would be bloodshed,' says Gregg Rickman, former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
Mr. Yakub says the operation saved his family from intimidation that had made life in Yemen unbearable. Violence toward the country's small remaining Jewish community began to intensify last year, when one of its most prominent members was gunned down outside his house. But the mission also hastens the demise of one of the oldest remaining Jewish communities in the Arab world.
Jews are believed to have reached what is now Yemen more than 2,500 years ago as traders for King Solomon. They survived -- and at times thrived -- over centuries of change, including the spread of Islam across the Arabian Peninsula.
'They were one of the oldest exiled groups out of Israel,' says Hayim Tawil, a Yeshiva University professor who is an expert on Yemeni Jewry. 'This is the end of the Jewish Diaspora of Yemen. That's it.'
Centuries of near total isolation make Yemeni Jews a living link with the ancient world.
Many can recite passages of the Torah by heart and read Hebrew, but can't read their native tongue of Arabic. They live in stone houses, often without running water or electricity. One Yemeni woman showed up at the airport expecting to board her flight with a live chicken.
Through the centuries, the Jews earned a living as merchants, craftsmen and silversmiths known for designing djanbias, traditional daggers that only Muslims are allowed to carry. Jewish musical compositions became part of Yemeni culture, played at Muslim weddings and festivals.
'Yemeni Jews have always been a part of Yemeni society and have lived side by side in peace with their Muslim brothers and sisters,' said a spokeswoman for the Embassy of Yemen in Washington.
In 1947, on the eve of the birth of the state of Israel, protests in the port city of Aden resulted in the death of dozens of Jews and the destruction of their homes and shops. In 1949 and 1950 about 49,000 people -- the majority of Yemen's Jewish community -- were airlifted to Israel in 'Operation Magic Carpet.'
About 2,000 Jews stayed in Yemen. Some trickled out until 1962, when civil war erupted. After that, they were stuck there. 'For three decades, there were no telephone calls, no letters, no traveling overseas. The fact there were Jews in Yemen was barely known outside Israel,' says Prof. Tawil.
After alienating the West by backing Iraq during the first Gulf War, Yemen sought a rapprochement with Washington. In 1991, it declared freedom of travel for Jews. An effort led by Prof. Tawil and brokered by the U.S. government culminated in the departure of about 1,200 Jews, mainly to Israel, in the early 1990s. Arthur Hughes, American ambassador to Yemen at the time, recalls that those who chose to remain insisted: 'This is where we have been for centuries, we are okay; we're not going anywhere.'
The few hundred Jews who stayed behind were concentrated in two enclaves: Saada, a remote area in Yemen's northern highlands, and Raida to the south.
In 2004, unrest erupted in Saada. The government says at least 50,000 people have been displaced by fighting between its troops and the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group.
Animosity against Jews intensified. Notes nailed to the homes of Jews accused them of working for Israel and corrupting Muslim morals. 'Jews were specifically targeted by Houthi rebels,' says a spokeswoman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington.
In January 2007, Houthi leaders threatened Jewish families in Saada. 'We warn you to leave the area immediately... [W]e give you a period of 10 days, or you will regret it,' read a letter signed by a Houthi representative cited in a Reuters article.
Virtually the entire Jewish community in the area, about 60 people, fled to the capital. Since then, they have been receiving food stipends and cash assistance from the government while living in state-owned apartments in a guarded enclave, says the Yemeni embassy in Washington.
President Saleh, a Shiite, has been eager to demonstrate goodwill toward the Jews. On the Passover holiday, he invited TV crews to videotape families in the government complex as they feasted on lamb he had ordered.
Raida became the last redoubt of Yemeni Jews, who continued to lead a simple life there alongside Muslims.
Ancient stone homes dot the town. Electricity is erratic; oil lamps are common. Water arrives via truck. Most homes lack a TV or a refrigerator. The cell phone is the only common modern device. Some families receive financial aid from Hasidic Jewish groups in Brooklyn and London, which has enabled them to buy cars.
Typically, the Jewish men are blacksmiths, shoe repairmen or carpenters. They sometimes barter, trading milk and cow dung for grass to feed their livestock. In public, the men stand out for their long side curls, customarily worn by observant Jewish men. Jewish women, who often marry by 16, rarely leave home. When they do, like Muslim women, only their eyes are exposed.
For fun, children play with pebbles and chase family chickens around the house. At Jewish religious schools, they sit at wooden tables to study Torah and Hebrew. They aren't taught subjects like science, or to read and write in Arabic, Yemen's official language.
'I showed them a multiplication table and I don't think they had ever seen one,' says Stefan Kirschner, a New York University graduate student who visited Raida in August 2008 and says he sat in a few classes.
In September 2008, militants detonated a car bomb outside the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital of Sanaa, killing 16 people. The attack raised fresh concern about Muslim extremism and the government's stability.
Then, on Dec. 11, a lone gunman shot dead Moshe Nahari, a father of nine and well-known figure in Raida's Jewish community. Abdul-Aziz al-Abdi, a retired Air Force pilot, pumped several bullets into Mr. Nahari after the Hebrew teacher dismissed his demands that he convert to Islam. In June, the shooter was sentenced to death.
Israel's offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip later in December sparked protests in Yemen. Jewish men and children in Raida were heckled, beaten and pelted with rocks. A grenade was hurled at the house of Said Ben Yisrael, who led one of three makeshift synagogues in Raida, and landed in the courtyard of his two-story home.
From the safety of his new home in suburban New York, Mr. Yakub recounted his last months in Yemen. Rocks shattered the windows of his house and car. Except for emergencies and provisions, Jews began to avoid leaving home. When they did, Mr. Yakub and other Jews took to disguising themselves as Muslims.
'This was no way to live,' he said, seated at the head of a long table surrounded by his wife and children.
Salem Suleiman, who also arrived recently in New York, bears scars from rocks that hit his head. 'They throw stones at us. They curse us. They want to kill us,' he said. 'I didn't leave my house for two months.'
New York had a community of about 2,000 Yemeni Jews. Yair Yaish, who heads the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America, says he was barraged with 'desperate calls from the community here saying we have to do something to get our families out.'
The U.S. Ambassador to Yemen urged Yemeni ministers to facilitate the departure. After initial reluctance -- the government preferred to give the Jews safe haven in the capital city -- Yemen agreed to issue exit permits and passports.
'It was the embassy's view, and the Department concurred, that because of their vulnerability, we should consider them for resettlement,' says a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
Jewish Federations of North America raised $750,000 to help the effort. Orthodox groups also pledged to pitch in. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was tasked with their resettlement.
Word reached Jews in Raida that there was an American plan afoot to rescue them.
The first applicants signed up at the U.S. Embassy in January. To avoid attracting attention, families convoyed to Sanaa in taxis at dawn.
Later they traveled to a hotel for interviews with U.S. officials. To establish a case for refugee status, they had to demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution. For many of the women, it was the first time speaking with anyone outside the home.
As news spread of their imminent departure, many families reported trouble selling property. Potential buyers offered low prices or refused to bid, thinking they could get the property free after it was deserted.
'All they have is this little house worth $15,000,' says Yochi Sabari, a Jew from Raida who lives in New York and has relatives in Yemen. 'They can't leave until they sell it.'
About three weeks before their travel date, the U.S. embassy contacted the first four families cleared for travel. On July 7, their 17 members traveled to the airport in Sanaa and boarded a Frankfurt-bound flight.
When the Yemenis landed in New York the next day, Jewish organization officials there to greet them spotted several women cloaked in black robes, only their eyes exposed.
'The Jewish women were the ones in burqas,' says Gideon Aronoff, president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. He says he was 'initially shocked.'
Several families missed the two flights offered to them by the U.S. and, therefore, forfeited their chance to move here. Family members say they are having trouble disposing of assets. An undisclosed number of people have reached Israel, including the family of Mr. Ben Yisrael, whose home was the target of a grenade, and the family of Mr. Nahari, who was slain in December 2008. In the U.S., the Yemeni refugees are being settled in Monsey, a suburban enclave of ultraorthodox Jews, lined with strip malls that sell black coats and wide-rimmed hats worn by Hasidic men.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society's network established a Monsey office, where case managers arrange housing and disburse food stamps, cash and other refugee benefits to the Yemeni arrivals. Many of the adults, caseworkers say, aren't yet capable of budgeting, following a schedule or sitting still in a structured classroom to learn English.
On a recent morning, Mr. Suleiman, a 36-year-old father of three, retrieved an alarm clock that he received with his furnished apartment.
'I still don't know how to use this,' he said. 'The children have been playing with it.'
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Gangs in Montgomery Co. worry Frederick Co. sheriff
By Evan Haning
The WTOP News, November 2, 2009
Frederick, MD - After two armed robberies by gang members in Frederick County, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins says Frederick County is seeing the effects of what happens in Montgomery County.
'I believe that the policies of Montgomery County are beginning to affect Frederick County,' Jenkins tells The Examiner.
The suspects in the armed robberies -- three teens and a 20-year-old -- are believed to be members of a street gang that is known to have illegal immigrants as members.
The two counties have very different procedures to check the immigration status of suspects. Montgomery County Police are only allowed to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement when a suspect uses a firearm or commits a violent crime. Frederick County's Sheriff considers an arrest sufficient cause to contact ICE.
The most recent gang assessment by the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force said anecdotal evidence suggests that crackdowns on illegal immigrants, combined with other law enforcement efforts, are driving gangs out of Northern Virginia and into Maryland and the District. More than 40 percent of the gang members arrested by the task force between 2003 and 2008 were charged with an ICE violation, the study finds.
Jenkins wants to keep the pressure on in Maryland.
Frederick County processed nearly 300 criminal charges through a federal immigration program last year. Nearly half of those charged were driving without a valid license.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, tells The Frederick News-Post he does not consider driving without a license a minor offense. He wants to see local jurisdictions have broad discretion in immigration enforcement.
The Latino and immigrant advocate organization CASA tells The Examiner that Jenkins is trying to 'stoke fear' about illegal immigrants. Kerry O'Brien, CASA's director of services, blames recent gang violence in Frederick County on the county's increased urbanization rather than Montgomery County immigration policies.
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Denver car impound initiative has many foes
A proposed mandate to seize the vehicles of unlicensed drivers is called an attempt to target illegal immigrants. But the proposal's author says it's about safety.
By DeeDee Correll
The Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2009
Like their counterparts in cities across Colorado, Denver police decide when to seize cars from people they find driving without licenses. Sometimes they issue a ticket and let a relative take the car home; other times, they call a tow company.
But officers stand to lose that discretion as voters on Tuesday will consider a measure that would mandate authorities to impound vehicles driven by unlicensed motorists -- an initiative pushed by a local man who says law enforcement isn't doing its job of ridding city streets of unsafe, uninsured drivers.
'They talk about how police have better things to do. I don't agree. I think taking unlicensed drivers off the road is one of the most important things they can do,' said Dan Hayes, 62, who wrote the initiative and collected enough signatures to place it on the ballot.
Opponents contend the initiative is a thinly disguised attempt to target illegal immigrants, noting that it would require police to take the cars of anyone suspected of being an 'illegal alien.'
They also argue that it would harm motorists who innocently forget their wallets at home. Officers can verify via computer whether someone has a valid license. But the problem, police say, is that people give fake names -- so without a photo ID, they can't be sure they're dealing with the right person.
'When laws are made out of fear instead of rational thought, it doesn't do good to anyone in our city,' said Jessie Ulibarri, spokesman for Coloradans for Safe Communities, a coalition of nonprofits and faith groups opposing the measure.
If approved, the law would make Denver's approach unique. Statewide, officers have the authority but not the mandate to impound cars, said Colorado State Patrol Sgt. John Hahn. The same is true in California, where officers have the discretion to decide when vehicles are taken, the California Highway Patrol said.
In 2008, Hayes, a real estate broker and property manager, proposed a nearly identical measure, which mandated impoundments and required that a driver post a $2,500 bond within 30 days to retrieve a car.
Denver residents approved the measure, but city attorneys ruled that the ordinance was vague and that police still had the discretion to decide when to tow cars, although the city did begin imposing the $2,500 bond.
Angered that police were not abiding by the ordinance as he intended it, Hayes wrote another version of the law that clearly removed police discretion.
He argued that unlicensed drivers generally didn't carry insurance, making them a menace.
'Almost everybody has had or knows somebody who's been hit by an uninsured driver. It's a real nightmare. It's time we did something about it,' he said.
The initiative, he added, would make allowances for drivers who forget their licenses but have other documents to prove who they are.
Hayes dismissed charges of racism, but said he considered illegal immigrants to be a large part of the problem. 'To allow illegal aliens to drive our streets and only give them a small fine is an outrage,' he said.
The measure is opposed by immigrant rights groups, elected leaders and law enforcement officials, who call it an unreasonable, expensive approach that would crowd impound lots and take up officers' time and prevent them from responding to other calls. Police seize about 50 cars a day, said Sabrina D'Agosta, spokeswoman for Mayor John Hickenlooper, who joined council members in opposing the measure.
Since the city began requiring the $2,500 bond, the percentage of people reclaiming their cars from impound lots has dropped to 66% from 75%, she said.
Officials also object to the notion of trying to assess a driver's citizenship, D'Agosta said. Police have no way of verifying immigration status and don't attempt to do so.
'That would be racial profiling,' she said.
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Auto registration checks scaring immigrants
By Stephanie Czekalinski
The Columbus Dispatch (OH), November 2, 2009
News that the state will cancel the car registrations of possibly thousands of undocumented immigrants has caused panic and created rumors among those living in central Ohio.
Before Aug. 24, a loophole in the state Bureau of Motor Vehicle's policy allowed illegal immigrants to register cars in their names by using a power-of-attorney form, even if they didn't have a driver's license.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety closed the loophole after delaying a crackdown on possibly fraudulent registrations for more than a year.
After The Dispatch reported on the delay, the bureau sent letters at the beginning of October to more than 47,000 people statewide whose vehicle registrations didn't list a Social Security number or Ohio driver's license or ID number. The state gave them until Dec. 9 to prove residency at a local BMV and pay $3.50 or have their registration canceled.
The change in policy was not aimed at a particular population, said BMV spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc. 'We have a responsibility to confirm that every document we use is verifiable.'
Not everyone who received a letter was an immigrant, she added.
But the impact on undocumented immigrants and their families -- many of whom are Latino -- will be severe, said Julia Alachan, who came to Columbus from Honduras in 2000 and volunteers with local Latin soccer leagues.
Illegal immigrants, like many other central Ohio residents, rely on their cars to get to and from work and school, she said. 'It's not like in New York or Los Angeles where a bus is coming every four or five minutes. There isn't other transportation.'
Concern over the new policy has sown seeds of misinformation within a community already isolated by a language barrier, cultural differences and fear of deportation.
Rumors of immigration checkpoints on Sullivant and Cleveland avenues and raids at Easton Town Center and Polaris mall last month kept many undocumented immigrants home from work, Alachan said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement hasn't been at any of those locations, said Corey A. Price, ICE assistant field office director. 'ICE has never done checkpoints in Ohio. Our focus is criminals. If they are criminals, we are going to do everything we can to find them, detain them and remove them.'
Illegal immigrants risk deportation whenever they drive, but expired plates and stickers will make them more visible to police, who can pull over and ticket motorists without valid registration.
Although local police agencies do not have the power to enforce federal immigration law, they can arrest people who drive without a license or who can't provide valid identification. Undocumented immigrants typically do not have valid Ohio driver's licenses or IDs.
ICE agents regularly sweep county jails for illegal immigrants and deport them, according to an ICE spokesman.
Opponents of illegal immigration hope the new policy will make undocumented workers so uncomfortable that they'll move elsewhere.
'We want only legal immigrants in this country. And if they aren't legal, then they should go,' said Jerry Martin, chairman of the America First Party of Ohio, a 7-year-old political-action committee.
'I'm not an advocate of people breaking the law, but it's more complicated than that,' said Ana Perales-Lang, a Latino community volunteer. The policy directly affects the children of illegal immigrants and other family members, many of whom are legal residents or U.S. citizens, she said.
She also fears that bad people 'will take advantage of a desperate community.'
Word has spread that unscrupulous legal immigrants or citizens are charging as much as $500 to register people's cars in their name. Others have suggested that the state might accept the nine-digit federal tax number that allows illegal immigrants to pay income tax or that they might be able to register a car in the name of a business.
None of those options will work well, according to the BMV.
To register a car in someone else's name or in the name of a business, an illegal immigrant would have to sign the title over to that person or company, Komlanc said.
If the vehicle is not properly insured, the person on the title and registration could be financially responsible, she said, and the driver would have no legal proof that he bought the car if there were a dispute over ownership.
Also, the state does not accept federal tax-identification numbers, Komlanc said.
Some illegal immigrants are making plans to stop driving altogether; carpools are popping up, Perales-Lang said.
Others find it easier to abandon their lives here and head home.
'There are a lot of people along Sullivant who are buying tickets to go home,' Alachan said.
'They're saying, 'They don't want us. There's not a lot of work. I'm going to leave.' '
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Multnomah County commissioners support education relief act for undocumented students
By Nikole Hannah Jones
The Oregonian, October 29, 2009
The Multnomah County commissioners never seem short of resolutions to pass and proclamations to make, but today's unanimous vote to support the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was particularly emotional for both the commissioners and the audience who came to support it.
Known as the DREAM ACT, the legislation that would allow children brought into the country illegally to attend and pay in-state tuition at public universities, was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in March. But as it has stalled in the past year, it again has yet to be heard on the floor of either chamber.
'All of us remember a time in our youth when the world was full of promise, when we were still deciding whether to be doctor or astronaut ... or for a few strange kids, politicians,' said Commissioner Jeff Cogen. 'We raise our children to believe that anything is possible. We tell our children to work hard and all the doors of opportunity will open to you. Now imagine that on your 18th birthday that same country that tells you to believe in the power of dreams says never mind your dreams.'
That, Cogen said, is the situation of thousands of students across the country each year who graduate from high school but then are unable to attend college because they are undocumented. It isn't fair, he said, nor does it reflect American values.
Several Portland State University and high school students shared their personal stories and the stories of friends and family members with the board. They spoke of hopes dashed and of children who as teenagers learn that the only country they've known is not their own.
'I believe everyone should have the right to obtain education after graduating from high school,' said Karla Suarez, a Gresham High School student who became a legal resident her freshman year. 'Everyone deserves a chance to pursue their dreams regardless of where they are from or the color of their skin. America has always been a place of immigrants.'
The commissioners said it was important to voice their support for the federal legislation to make a point to Washington, D.C., but also to the community.
'I want to be able to send a message to you all and all of those who couldn't be here today out of fear that I support you and I value you,' said Commissioner Deborah Kafoury.
Videl Fuentes Ramos, who recently received his visa, thanked the commissioners for supporting the act. He said he was afraid to speak when he testified at a hearing in support of a similar state act that has not passed either, because he was in the country illegally at the time.
'Having legal status makes me feel free,' he said. 'I feel this is my home and I belong here because I am one of the people that wants to make a change. There is hope because of leaders like you.'
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REGION: Undercover sting used to cite, deport Carlsbad day laborers
Police say the workers create traffic hazards along El Camino Real
By Edward Sifuentes
The North County Times (San Diego), November 1, 2009
Day laborers wait for work along El Camino Real in Carlsbad on Thursday morning. (Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle - Staff Photographer)
In a new twist, Carlsbad police have adopted an old tactic to bust day laborers: undercover sting operations similar to those used against street prostitutes.
The undercover stings and the anti-solicitation law that police have been using to cite the workers have opened a legal can of worms.
Other cities in the county and in the country that have tried to regulate day laborers have run into similar problems: How do you restrict day laborers without running afoul of their right to seek work?
Police say they are simply trying to address a safety problem. It's dangerous for drivers to stop on busy roads to pick up the workers, Carlsbad police Capt. Neil Gallucci said.
But migrant rights advocates say they see a more sinister purpose. It's simply the latest scare tactic used by the city to get rid of day laborers, whom some residents consider an eyesore.
'Are you kidding me?' attorney Victor Torres asked. 'If the issue is safety, why aren't they enforcing the traffic laws that prohibit stopping in a bike lane or the red (zone) instead of using sting operations?'
Police said they do routinely also ticket drivers who stop illegally on the road.
In an Oct. 14 operation, police officers driving unmarked cars and wearing civilian clothes approached day laborers on El Camino Real and pretended to offer them work. The workers were driven a few blocks away where they were cited under the city's anti-hawking ordinance, police said.
Nine people were cited and nine others suspected of being in the country illegally were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol, Gallucci said.
Citing day laborers under the city's anti-hawking ordinance is not new.
Police started using the anti-solicitation ordinance ----- which was originally aimed at newspaper hawkers ---- to cite day laborers in 2007. At the time, police said the department had received numerous complaints from area homeowners.
The anti-hawking law prohibits people from distributing materials or soliciting 'business or contributions from any person who is traveling in any type of vehicle' along roads with a 35 mph or higher speed limit and on some streets with lower speed limits.
Thus far this year, 22 citations have been issued for violations to the city's anti-hawking ordinance, Gallucci said. There were seven traffic collisions this year in the areas that were targeted in the Oct. 14 operation, he said, though there was no clear link between those accidents and the day laborers.
Police say they want day laborers to use the city-sponsored hiring center on El Camino Real, which is partly funded by Carlsbad and run by the nonprofit SER-Jobs of Progress. But day laborers say they prefer the streets because it's easier to get work there.
Also, the hiring hall doesn't take illegal immigrants because it receives government funding.
'They just don't want us to be here,' said Moises Ventura, an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, who has made a living as a day laborer for 10 years in Carlsbad. He said he is in the process of legalizing his status, but does not yet have a work permit.
Carlsbad is not the only North County city trying to get rid of the informal hiring sites, which have long existed on streets all across the region and the country. Vista passed a law in 2006 requiring people who want to hire day laborers off the street to register with the city.
Escondido also has discussed an ordinance to regulate day laborers, but those plans have largely faded.
'Almost like prostitution'
Until recently, Carlsbad police simply cited day laborers under its anti-hawking ordinance. But the courts said that police could not ticket someone just because they were standing on the street.
In one case, a state appellate court ruled last month that there was not enough evidence to convict Regulo Luna Colores, a day laborer, under the Carlsbad law.
'Although (Luna) admitted that he was 'looking for work' and thus impliedly intending to violate the Carlsbad Municipal Code, the evidence was insufficient to establish an attempt on his part to solicit business or otherwise violate the ordinance,' according to the court's ruling.
Dorothy Johnson, an attorney with the nonprofit legal aid group California Rural Legal Assistance in Oceanside, said the court made the right call. She said not only is the ordinance wrong, but police are misusing it.
'If someone is simply standing on the sidewalk, not engaged in any kind of conduct that would be consistent with soliciting, like whistling or waving or yelling, they are still getting ticketed,' Johnson said.
Because of the ruling, police changed their tactics, Gallucci said. Officers have to observe that there is an agreement between the day laborer and the employer, he said.
'There has to be an agreement,' Gallucci said. 'It's almost like a prostitution citation.'
Several day laborers said that police are simply looking for excuses to intimidate and harass them.
'They are tricking us, and that's not right,' said Gudelio Mendoza, one of the people cited Oct. 14 by police.
Mendoza said he and other men were picked up by police and taken a few blocks away, where a Border Patrol vehicle was parked. He was asked for an ID, and because he is a legal resident, he was able to show one and was simply cited. Other people who could not show an ID were turned over to the Border Patrol, he said.
Immigrant rights advocates have criticized such close cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities. They say it raises a suspicion among immigrants that if they call police to report a crime, they could be handed over to immigration agents for deportation.
Gallucci said they use immigration agents to verify people's identification and to help translate between mostly Spanish-speaking day laborers and English-speaking police officers. He said people who call police to report a crime have nothing to fear.
Torres, a Rancho Penasquitos attorney who has defended several of the day laborers, including Luna and Mendoza, said the police's explanations don't make sense. Torres is also the spokesman for El Grupo, an umbrella organization of various local civil rights groups.
'It's outrageous,' Torres said. 'If someone cannot be identified, then they can either do a check by fingerprints at the station or by laptop in the field. They don't need to have live Border Patrol intimidating day laborers and putting more fear and distrust into the hearts and minds of the Latino community.'
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Senate candidate Marco Rubio shows conservative stripes in Panhandle swing
By Beth Reinhard
The Miami Herald, November 2, 2009
Navarre — U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio is an unlikely contender in northwest Florida, a strip of the Bible Belt closer to Alabama than his hometown of Miami.
For the young, Cuban-American politician, Panhandle voters could be a tough crowd: They've come across few Hispanic candidates and often view South Florida as a cesspool of incivility and corruption.
But in a Republican primary that's shifted from a cakewalk for Gov. Charlie Crist to a referendum on whether he's sold his Republican soul, many voters in northwest Florida say they don't care if Rubio speaks Spanish — as long as he speaks 'true conservative.'
. . .
Under his leadership in 2008, several House bills aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration languished. Now, 'securing the border'' is a centerpiece of his platform.
When asked about 'English-only'' legislation at the Republican women's club meeting, Rubio declared: 'I believe English is the unifying language of America.' The sweeping statement glossed over Rubio's previously stated opposition to proposals in Congress that could outlaw ballots and government documents in Spanish.
And in 2007, Rubio urged the Republican presidential candidates to participate in a debate aired on Spanish-language television. Then-Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado boycotted the event because, he said, all Americans should be fluent in English.
'You're asking candidates to debate in front of a Hispanic audience, and not to do so would be a disservice,' Rubio said at the time.
. . .
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Undocumented laborers in Lake Worth struggle as once-dependable jobs vanish
By John Lantigua
The Palm Beach Post, October 31, 2009
Lake Worth — A young Guatemalan immigrant named Juan Carlos stands along Lake Avenue with many other men eyeing each car that passes. They are waiting for a would-be employer to pull up and offer them work for a day, or two or maybe more - landscaping, painting, digging ditches, whatever. This has been a familiar scene for years in downtown Lake Worth, but Juan Carlos, 25, says until recently he wasn't part of it.
'For two years I was working construction, making $14 an hour and a lot of overtime,' he says. 'I had my own apartment. I sent money home, as much as $2,000 one time.
'Now I haven't worked more than one or two days a week in three months,' he says. 'I pay $150 to share an apartment with other people. I used to eat out sometimes, but now I cook. I've only sent home about $300 in these past three months for my wife and child.'
And he is lucky. Standing across the street, Manuel, 30, also Guatemalan, an experienced roofer, says he hasn't worked a day in two months.
'I have two brothers here who are supporting me,' he says. 'I would go back home to Guatemala, but now I owe money and I can't. Some people are going back, but those are ones that don't have any debts.'
All over the largely Hispanic immigrant community, both legal residents and the undocumented say the recession is causing convulsions in their lives. Some of the industries that have provided them with work for years - construction and restaurants in particular - are among the hardest hit by the economic downturn in South Florida.
A Pew Research Center study released in September indicated that many Mexicans also are crossing back across the border because they can't find work in the U.S. The study said that in the construction industry alone, Hispanic workers, both documented and not, lost 250,000 jobs between 2007 and 2008.
'We saw a wave of people going back a few months ago,' said Manuel Allende, director of the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County.
Sister Rachel Sena, who works with Guatemalans at the Maya Mission in Lake Worth, says she saw such departures last year. But now Guatemala is experiencing drought and widespread malnutrition, and the flow of people leaving for economic reasons has slowed.
'Those who have gone back say it is very difficult there,' she said. 'No jobs, more hunger.'
Local caregivers say most immigrants are hunkering down. Many have been here for years, started in itinerant agricultural jobs, but worked their way into full-time local jobs during the boom years, when work was plentiful for the undocumented.
'You're seeing a lot of those people getting laid off and going back to farm work,' said attorney Greg Schell of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project in Lake Worth. 'And there aren't many jobs that pay less than farm work.'
Jim Kean, a Catholic Church social worker in the farming town of Immokalee, confirmed that many undocumented workers who had moved on to other work are showing up back in town.
'But the growers are saying it's supposed to be a wet winter so they may not plant as much as normal,' he said. 'There may not be work for those people even here.'
Immigrants in South Florida are moving in with each other, sometimes creating overcrowded conditions. They are visiting free food pantries, where demand is up about 30 percent this year
Immigrants who have been here for decades, are U.S. citizens and might normally help those in need can't always do so.
Alex Rivera, 52, from El Salvador, came 35 years ago and is a U.S. citizen. He runs Alex Painting and says he has hired many immigrants over the years.
'But I can't give anybody work now because I don't have work myself,' said Rivera, interviewed at the Lake Worth Resource Center, where immigrants search for work. 'I've hardly worked the past 10 months. There was a kind of immigrant economy here - in the corner stores, the restaurants, the movie theaters - but no money is moving through there now.'
The Rev. John Mericantante, pastor of St. Mary Church in Pahokee, has heard that from many people. His congregation is overwhelmingly Hispanic and many members are undocumented.
In years past he helped people who had trouble paying bills. Now so many people are unemployed that demand is way up while donations are way down. 'I've been here 19 years and this is the worst I've seen it,' he said. 'I have a woman who usually gives me $5,000 per year to help others. This year she couldn't do it. Both her sons are out of work. She has to help them. What can you say?'
As in the past, when people call the church they get Mericantante's warm recorded greeting in both Spanish and English. But today he has had to add a sentence that is just a bit harsh, much like the economic situation.
'If you are calling for help in payment of bills, because of the recession we can no longer help pay bills here at St. Mary's,' he says. 'Please do not call us back for that kind of assistance.'
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Prosecutors won't charge LAPD officers in immigration march melee at MacArthur Park
Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2009
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced today it would not file criminal charges against any LAPD officers for their actions during the 2007 May Day melee at MacArthur Park.
Prosecutors said in a statement that after a lengthy review, there was insufficient evidence to prove any officer violated the law when using force, although some might have used 'questionable tactics.'
They described the incident as 'unfortunate and preventable' but said that the office was 'closing our file and will take no further action in this matter.'
Last year, Police Chief William J. Bratton said he planned to discipline 11 officers and called for the termination of four others for their roles in the melee in which police were accused of using excessive force to clear immigration rights demonstrators and journalists.
LAPD officers were videotaped wielding batons and shooting rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse a largely peaceful crowd. A scathing internal investigation into the incident blamed poor leadership and overly aggressive tactics by officers in the field.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay nearly $13 million to people injured or mistreated in the melee.
Under the settlement, the department must submit to court oversight of its crowd-control procedures -- another layer of federal involvement that comes as LAPD leaders are impatient to be free of a longstanding and more onerous monitoring program imposed after the Rampart Division corruption scandal.
[Updated at 12:32 p.m.: Prosecutors reviewed an extensive LAPD investigation into 30 officers that including 7,500 pages of documents.
Prosecutors said that the series of events led to actions by officers against 'both violent protesters and nonviolent protesters and media personnel.'
'The media had innocently and unwittingly positioned themselves in an area directly in the path of officers attempting to clear the park,' the report noted. However, prosecutors noted, 'not every push or shove amounts to excessive force We cannot establish that any particular officer's actions were unreasonable or without lawful necessity in light of the tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances.'
Prosecutors added that identity 'is a factor which must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.'
The LAPD officers union praised the decisions. Union President Paul Weber said the distict attorney's review 'sought only truth and justice, and was not influenced by any political agenda.'
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Anti-illegal immigration group draws controversy
By Tina Irgang
The Capital News Service, November 1, 2009
Brad Botwin has been called an extremist and even a Nazi.
Others say he is an asset to the discourse on illegal immigration in the state, and Botwin himself maintains he is merely a concerned citizen asking questions about how the government spends his taxes.
In just two and a half years, Help Save Maryland, the anti-illegal immigrant group Botwin founded, has grown from a small protest movement in Rockville, Md., to a statewide organization with volunteer coordinators in almost every county. The organization protests at day labor centers, attends public meetings, publishes a blog and sends out regular newsletters. Botwin said Help Save Maryland counts roughly 2,000 members and organizes its protests and appearances mostly by e-mail.
Illegal immigration is likely to become the subject of contentious national debate in coming months, as Congress is expected to take up immigration reform after finishing the current health care reform effort. Representatives from both parties have said reform must address illegal immigration and make sure visa quotas align with employer needs.
But Botwin said his group is ready to fight reform.
Help Save Maryland was founded in response to the opening of a day labor center in Gaithersburg in 2007. Botwin said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett built the center contrary to popular opposition.
'He just took it upon himself to plop it on county land without any public hearings,' Botwin said. 'This was an egregious act on his part, and that just prompted me to start this group.'
Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for Leggett, said, 'It's a free country, and we understand that they think what they think, but basically our feeling is that in Montgomery County, we value our diversity, we value our immigrants.'
Help Save Maryland garnered national attention this spring when Alabama-based nonprofit The Southern Poverty Law Center listed it among 'nativist extremist groups,' a category that stops short of the label 'hate group,' which the center gives to overtly racist organizations.
A nativist extremist group, Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Heidi Beirich said, is usually an 'aggressive anti-immigration group.'
'They're not necessarily groups going out and using slurs,' Beirich said. 'But these are organizations that don't debate policy -- they don't lobby their legislators or have what we would call a civil and democratic debate. They're people that get in the face of immigrants and confront people rather than legislators.'
Botwin, who is Jewish, said he views the listing as an 'anti-Semitic act against me.'
'We're not radicals. We are all tax-paying, working American citizens, all walks of life, every ethnic group, every nationality, we've got them,' Botwin said. 'We are just questioning what our elected officials are doing with our money on this issue.'
Among Help Save Maryland's most active members is Steve Berryman, a coordinator for Frederick County. Berryman writes the group's blog and is a regular contributor to other regional blogs.
The Help Save Maryland coordinators, Berryman said, 'act as a communication nexus. We will pass along information about protests or speaking opportunities on e-mail chains, which are sometimes different by region.'
Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins has spoken at several events organized by Help Save Maryland. The group, Jenkins said, supports his participation in 287(g), a government program allowing local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Frederick County is the only participating jurisdiction in Maryland.
Help Save Maryland also cooperates with People for Change in Prince George's County, a predominantly African-American organization that lobbies for government accountability. The group describes itself as nonpartisan, but it has expressed strongly conservative positions on issues.
'The black community is really picking up on the illegal immigration issue,' Botwin said. 'When I told some of the members of People for Change that Prince George's Community College was running a training program for illegal alien day laborers, training them to be construction workers, the report back from the crowd was 'we don't see very many black construction workers anymore.' '
Deirda Hill, director of PGCC's marketing department, said the college checks immigration status for all students who take classes for credit. If a potential student does not seek credit, the college asks only for a local address.
Help Save Maryland's ire is mostly directed at immigrant advocacy groups such as CASA de Maryland and Identity Inc. and, by extension, politicians who support them.
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Groups Call for Balance in Immigration, Worker Protection Law Enforcement
By Suzanne Gamboa
The Insurance Journal, November 2, 2009
Workplace immigration raids during the Bush administration interfered with ongoing labor investigations and allowed employers to exploit workers who complained about conditions on the job, labor groups said in a report.
The stepped-up immigration enforcement came at the expense of rigorous enforcement of labor protections that are guaranteed to all workers regardless of immigration status, the groups said.
'The single-minded focus on immigration enforcement without regard to violations of workplace laws has enabled employers with rampant labor and employment violations to profit by employing workers who are terrified to complain,'' said the authors of the report by the AFL-CIO, National Employment Law Project and American Rights at Work Education Fund.
The groups called on the Obama administration to balance immigration and labor law enforcement.
They recommend a return to the type of agreement forged in 1998 between the Labor Department and the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service. It established rules for cooperation but prohibited immigration enforcement from trumping labor law enforcement to ensure immigrant employees would not fear complaining about problem employers.
'You can do both. You can enforce immigration laws and you can protect the workers who are being victimized by unscrupulous employers,'' said Julie Martinez Ortega, American Rights at Work research director.
Martinez acknowledged that the Obama administration has ended high-profile raids. Homeland Security Department spokesman Matt Chandler said work site enforcement policy distributed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April emphasizes targeting immigrants who have committed crimes and focuses on employers who knowingly hire people who cannot legally work in the country to 'target the root cause of illegal immigration.''
Among the disruptive enforcement actions highlighted by the labor groups:
* Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, in 2008, where at least three state and federal labor agencies were investigating when ICE raided the plant.
* Pilgrim's Pride plants in five states in 2008, where a union recruiting campaign was ongoing and a law firm was developing a wage-and-hour lawsuit against the company when ICE raided.
* Arrests and detention of several day laborers in Port Arthur, Texas, in 2008. They had complained to their employer for failing to pay their promised $13 an hour wage for demolition work after Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast. The workers were evicted from the refinery where they were housed and the employer tipped off local police and ICE.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said the Bush administration work site raids helped further worker protections.
The 2008 raid at the Agriprocessors plant came after repeated reports of violations that never resulted in action against the employer. The raid 'burst open all the problems that were there,'' said Krikorian, whose center supports tougher immigration reform.
He said the report is 'background music'' for labor's ultimate objective of winning legalization for illegal immigrant workers.
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Church leaders urging welcome of immigrants
By Richard C. Dujardin
The Providence Journal, November 2, 2009
Providence – Hoping to set a new tone in the debate on immigration, some of the state’s religious leaders are reminding the faithful of the biblical command to “welcome the stranger” in their midst.
The Rhode Island State Council of Churches will release on Monday a 2,600-word document developed over the course of a year by the council’s Faith and Order Commission. The governing board adopted the document two weeks ago.
The Rev. Donald Anderson, the council’s executive minister, said it is less a policy paper on immigration than an outline of biblical principles that should help those who seek to approach the issue with the eyes of faith.
“I think everyone agrees that the system we have now is broken,” he said Friday. “We’re not trying to suggest that everyone must come up with the same conclusion as to how to fix it. But we say that if you are a person of faith, your attitudes and approach on immigration must be consistent with your faith perspective.”
The document starts with a reminder to both Jews and Christians that Abraham, the first patriarch of the Hebrews, had been “called by the Lord” to emigrate from his homeland, and that Jews were constantly admonished in the Scriptures not to “wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Similarly, it says, it speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as an example of reaching out to people across ethnic lines, and points to his admonition that punishment will go to those “who do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked.”
“All the Christian denominations in the U.S. are immigrant churches. The history of our churches is a mixed record, though, and many of us have apparently forgotten our origins,” the statement laments.
It goes on to say that while the denominations generally agree that that the stranger is to be welcomed, and that churches must try to fill the gaps when government support is lacking, there is less agreement on the gate-keeping role of the federal government.
“Since one motivation for immigration is the relative prosperity of the U.S., some may argue that the federal government should protect that prosperity from declines caused by excessive immigration,” it says. “It is not clear if the U.S. economy is improved or worsened by immigration.”
However, the council goes on to list recommendations drawn from statements of the various denominations, among them:
* That people should have equal access to immigration no matter which country they are coming from.
* That caps and quotas not be based on race, gender, income level or party affiliation.
* That priority be given to reuniting families and to opening the doors to refugees regardless of their political leanings or the affiliation of their home government.
* That illegal immigrants who have be in the United States for a certain length of time be afforded a chance for residency without having to go back to their home country.
* That there be an end to “punitive government actions.”
With 13 member-denominations and a number of other affiliates, the Council of Churches is the state’s largest ecumenical agency. The Diocese of Providence is not a member but has members on the Faith and Order Commission.
During the past year, Mr. Anderson, along with Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, have been outspoken in their criticism of the raids on factories that hired illegal immigrants, and of Governor Carcieri’s order that state agencies and vendors use an E-verify system to ensure that the people they hire are in the country legally, saying they created division and fear among the immigrant community.
However, neither the raids nor the e-verify issue is mentioned in the new immigration statement, titled “A Call to Christian Hospitality: Principles for a Politic of Immigration.”
The news conference will be at the Westside Tabernacle Baptist Church.
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Customs agent charged in illegal immigration case
The Associated Press, October 30, 2009
McAllen, TX (AP) — A 43-year-old U.S. customs officer working on the U.S.-Mexico border has been charged with transporting an illegal immigrant.
Rudy Trace Soliz (soh-LEEZ') made his initial appearance in federal court in Brownsville Friday, a day after his arrest. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Brownsville says he remains in federal custody.
. . .
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Former National Guard soldier fights deportation
Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry's father told him to serve the country he loves.
By Phil Ferolito
The Yakima Herald Republic, November 1, 2009
Yakima, WA - Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry's father told him to serve the country he loves.
Heeding those words, the 36-year-old Pakistani immigrant living in Yakima joined the Army National Guard and was sent to active duty at Fort Lewis and Fort Irwin in Southern California.
Now, the country he served is kicking him out.
Immigration authorities are denying him U.S. citizenship because he failed to disclose old misdemeanor convictions in Australia when he applied for a visa a decade ago.
Chaudhry - who claims he was coerced into pleading guilty to the crimes, for which he paid fines - says he didn't realize they were classified as convictions at the time. He alerted U.S. immigration authorities after learning otherwise years later.
He says his honesty is costing him his dream of living in this country with his wife Ann, a U.S. citizen.
But immigration authorities say he misrepresented himself just to further his stay in the United States. In April, he faces an immigration judge in a deportation hearing.
. . .
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Silas to Appear in Federal Court Today
The FOX 17 News, November 2, 2009
The woman accused of snatching an infant and stabbing his mother will be in federal court today.
Tammy Silas is accused of kidnapping Yair Carillo from his South Nashville home and taking him to Alabama.
. . .
She allegedly told the baby's mother she was an immigration agent, and took the child in September.
. . .
Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate
ATTN Federal employees: The Center's Combined Federal Campaign number is 10298.
[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Canada: Federal court will review decision to bar U.K. MP
2. Canada: Imm. Minister reduces refugee targets for 2010
3. Bahamas: Imm. Dept. chief says enforcement campaign continues
4. U.K.: Home Secretary concedes mistakes on immigration
5. U.K.: Pakistani rapist flees while being processed for deportation
6. France: Imm. minister pushes dialogue on 'national identity'
7. Netherlands: Radical muslim youths a concern five years after murder (story, link)
8. Greece: Gov't shuts island dentention center faulted by U.N.
9. Kenya: Border security strengthened after shoot-out
10. Uganda: Transporters of illegals face $2,500 fines
11. India: Police disrupt major fake Canadian visa scam
12. Australia: Report details plight of Indonesian asylum-seekers
13. N.Z.: Gov't signs pact to ease curbs on Chinese workers
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Federal Court agrees to hear complaint by barred British MP George Galloway
The Canadian Press, November 2, 2009
TORONTO — Federal Court has agreed to review a decision by Ottawa to bar a controversial British member of Parliament from entering Canada.
George Galloway says he's 'delighted' by the decision and will argue his case, likely in January.
In March, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney banned Galloway from entering the country on the grounds he engaged in terrorist activities.
The MP strenuously denied any such connection.
Galloway was to speak about his opposition to the war in Afghanistan and his humanitarian support for Hamas in Gaza.
He delivered his speeches via remote video link from New York.
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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney cuts refugee targets for 2010
By Norma Greenaway
The Ottawa Citizen, November 2, 2009
OTTAWA — Canada plans to cut substantially the number of refugees it will accept in the coming year from people who make their claim after arriving in the country, according to new government figures.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canada expects to accept between 9,000 and 12,000 claims in 2010, including their dependants, from people who apply for asylum after arriving in Canada.
The number is less than half the 22,500 to 28,800 refugees and dependants targeted for acceptance in 2006 under the former Liberal government.
The targets have dropped steadily since 2006 according to the annual reports to Parliament on immigration levels.
Olivia Chow, the NDP immigration critic, said Monday she sees the new targets as evidence the government, which is planning to introduce a refugee reform package in the coming weeks, wants to 'look tough.'
'Beatings, torture, suffering and even deaths will occur,' she said, 'and unfortunately many will be turned away. Canada is no longer a land of hope and compassion.'
Kenney has made no secret of his unhappiness with the current refugee process, which he says needs to be reformed to reduce abuse by 'bogus' refugees. He also has promised to crack down on phoney immigration consultants who, he says, tutor aspiring refugees on how to outwit the system.
The latest immigration report said Canada plans to accept between 240,000 and 265,000 permanent residents in the coming year, a number that is in line with targets in recent years.
The bulk of the new residents — as many as 166,800 — will be admitted under the economic class, meaning people willing to start a business or those having skills that are in short supply in Canada.
The targets for family class have dropped to a maximum of 63,000 from 71,000.
Canada accepted almost 22,000 refugees in 2008. The number includes those sponsored from abroad by the government and private interests, as well as those who sought asylum after arriving in Canada and their dependents.
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Immigration apprehensions 'ongoing'
By Lededra Marche
The Freeport News, November 2, 2009
Director of the Department of Immigration Jack Thompson assured yesterday that the Bahamas Immigration is continuing its drive to apprehend and rid the country of illegal immigrants.
The director was in Grand Bahama for the department's donation to a special charity and he revealed that while much of their apprehensions in the Family Islands have been kept under the radar, they are still taking place.
'Our apprehensions are ongoing, I don't know if we have been as media-friendly as we should have. I know that my team here are going out and in New Providence we are with the media every step of the way,' he said.
Noting that his department has repatriated 118 illegal immigrants this week and another 114 the week before, Thompson pointed out that those numbers did not only originate out of New Providence but include Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.
Thompson added that the repatriation exercises are not confined only to Haitian nationals.
'We're working with five Turkish (nationals) and the other day we had 20 Chinese,' he said.
The Department of Immigration also recently repatriated two Africans and Jamaicans.
Insisting that the department is still vigorous with its apprehension exercise, the director admits there is always more they can do.
Often-times the Department of Immigration is only perceived as one which apprehends and repatriates, but Thompson said the goal is to change that image.
In that vein, the department has adopted the Freeport Seventh-Day Adventist Out-reach Program as the charity to assist at this time.
'While that is a part of our job we are sensitive to the needs of our community. We know that there are persons out there who are hurting. We are coming up on Thanks-giving, the month and the time of giving and we thought it most appropriate to assist those who are in need,' said Thompson.
'In New Providence we have embarked upon a similar outreach program in the fact that we are giving blood to the bloodbank.'
Already, the officers in New Providence have donated 37 pints of blood.
'We are not going to stop until we donate 70 pints to coincide with our 70th year – one pint for every year,' he said.
In Grand Bahama, the staff has accumulated a number of new and used clothing and donated the items to the Freeport Seventh-Day Adventist Centre yesterday.
'We thought here in Grand Bahama this would be a wonderful gesture to assist. They (the staff) thought to organize themselves to make available the clothing items and the teddy bears and water for those who are in need at this time.'
They became aware of the centre from some of the staff who are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and familiar with the work at centre situated on East Beach Drive and Gambier and feeds and clothe the needy daily.
'They thought it would be wonderful for us to partner with them and assist with the centre,' he said.
Thompson said Friday's donation will not be the last as they have one or two more projects up their sleeve in the immediate future.
'We think that we must assist. We must come to the assistance of our brothers who are less fortunate and we're very pleased about it,' he said.
In New Providence, the department intends to donate gifts during the Christmas.
'We have identified a charity and we are going to sing and present gifts to some of the kids who are less fortunate who otherwise would not have received a Christ-mas gift.
That program is being carried out in New Providence but Thompson said they would love to have the gift giving spill over to Grand Bahama.
Alicia Garland, community service director at the Freeport Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was pleased with the donation.
'We're thrilled that the immigration department saw fit to choose us as their favourite charity and to contribute these (items) to our centre. We are God's hands extended in the community and we try to do the best that we can.'
Committee member Benjamin Sands said the donation speaks volumes as the centre takes care of the whole man and while it is the first donation of its kind to the centre it is the hope that other organizations and individuals will follow suit.
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Johnson Admits Mistakes On Immigration
The Prime Minister's spokesman has said immigration 'can be done better' after Alan Johnson admitted the Government had made mistakes on the issue.
By Miranda Richardson
Sky News Online, November 2, 2009
The Home Secretary said Labour had been 'maladroit' in handling immigration and problems left over by the last government had been 'ignored'.
Asked about Mr Johnson's comments, Gordon Brown's spokesman said: 'Clearly there are always things that can be done better, but I haven't seen the full context of what the Home Secretary said.'
Mr Johnson told an audience at the Royal Society for the Arts in central London: 'Whilst I accept that governments of both persuasions, including this one, have been maladroit in their handling of this issue, I do believe that the UK is now far more successful at tackling migration than most of its European and north American neighbours.
He added: 'The legacy problems with unreturned foreign national prisoners and asylum seekers may have accumulated under previous administrations, but they continued to be ignored for far too long on our watch.'
Was Mr Johnson apologising?
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of think tank Migrationwatch UK, said: 'This apology is three million immigrants too late.
'Labour have secretly encouraged mass immigration so as to engineer a huge change in our society in the full knowledge that it would be totally against public opinion.
'The least they can do now is to cut net immigration to zero and deport the huge number of illegal immigrants that their inattention has allowed to stay on in Britain.'
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the Government needed to recognise public concern about immigration.
'It has jeopardised this country's traditionally liberal stance by its disastrous mismanagement of our borders, its decision to open up to eastern European migrants when other EU members were applying transitional provisions and its failure to funnel legal migrants where they are needed.'
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: 'Three months ago the Home Secretary said he isn't losing sleep over immigration.
'Now he's admitting that it's putting massive pressure on many communities.
'And he's reverting to the old days when Labour accused Conservatives of dog whistle politics, rather than dealing with the issues in a sensible and measured way.'
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Diplomatic row after rapist flees
Police have warned anyone who sees Hussain not to approach him
The BBC News, November 2, 2009
The escape of a rapist being processed for deportation at the Pakistan High Commission has caused a diplomatic row.
Officials there have lodged a formal complaint that UK officials failed to alert staff that he was dangerous.
Police have been hunting for Imtiaz Hussain, 44, since he climbed out of a toilet window at the London embassy and escaped last Friday.
The UK Border Agency said it never commented on operational issues but the police were told immediately.
The convicted double rapist was brought under guard to obtain a passport so he could be deported at the end of a nine year prison sentence.
Syeda Sultana Rizvi, of the Pakistan High Commission, said a formal complaint had been made to the British authorities and accused immigration officials of failing to make an appointment and leaving the man inadequately guarded.
Mrs Rizvi said diplomatic staff only learned of his visit from panicking private security guards after he disappeared from the building.
She said: 'Why did they bring him for the interview without prior information in the first place?
'And why was the criminal inadequately guarded?
'There are many questions that can be raised surrounding the entire episode.'
Hussain was last seen running across Sloane Square, in west London, after escaping from the building in nearby Lowndes Square at about 1435 GMT last Friday.
He told private security guards from G4S Care and Justice Services that he needed to visit the toilet before escaping.
Hussain was approaching the end of a prison sentence after trying to rape two women at knifepoint in Derbyshire.
David Wood, of the UK Border Agency, said: 'Police were immediately informed. His details have been placed on the Police National Computer and watch lists.
'We are actively searching for this individual to return him in to custody and remove him from the UK.'
Det Ch Insp Brent Lancaster, of the Metropolitan Police, said: 'This individual is believed to very dangerous and we need to apprehend him as soon as possible.
'If anyone sees him, please don't approach him, but call police immediately.'
Officers were working with colleagues in Derbyshire to establish if Hussain had any contacts in Britain who may help him while on the run.
He was described as about 5ft 5in tall, of medium to chubby build with dark cropped hair. He was wearing a blue T-shirt, blue jeans and white trainers.
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Immigration minister launches nationwide debate on 'national identity'
Immigration Minister Eric Besson has kicked off a three-month countrywide debate on France's 'national identity', a move polls say is backed by sixty percent of French voters.
France 24, November 2, 2009
AFP - Well over half of French voters back government plans for a vast public debate on France's 'national identity,' attacked by the opposition as pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment, a poll showed Sunday.
Sixty percent of the French, including 72 percent of right-wing voters and half of left-wingers, back the plan tabled by Immigration Minister Eric Besson and set to kick off this week, according to the CSA poll for Le Parisien.
Another 35 percent thought it a bad thing, while the rest had no opinion.
President Nicolas Sarkozy -- who made national identity a key campaign theme when he was running for the presidency in 2007 -- is also to take part in a debate on the subject in December.
Public meetings are to kick off Monday in some 450 government offices around the country, involving campaigners, students, parents and teachers, unions, business leaders and French and European lawmakers.
The debates will end with a congress early next year on the twin questions of 'what it means to be French today' and 'what immigration contributes to our national identity.'
The Socialist opposition has accused the government of pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment to shore up support on the right, and warns it risks alienating France's large communities of immigrant descent.
But Besson, who is also minister for integration and national identity, says the debate aims to reassert republican values, not to stigmatise France's large immigrant communities, including from its former African colonies.
Le Parisien's poll asked respondents to choose from a list of symbols representing France's 'identity'.
Top came the French language -- cited as 'important' or 'very important' by 98 percent -- followed by the tricolour French flag with 88 percent and the Marseillaise national anthem by 77 percent.
But 72 percent also said that the custom of 'welcoming immigrants' was an important part of French identity.
The national identity issue has reemerged as Sarkozy seeks to reassure right-wing voters following a storm over the sex tourist past of his culture minister, Frederic Mitterrand, and a nepotism row surrounding his son Jean.
A senior Socialist deputy said the circumstances in which the debate was launched 'shows that France is sick.'
Alone on the left, Sarkozy's defeated rival for the presidency Segolene Royal -- who once asked supporters to sing the Marseillaise at her rallies -- argued France needs to 'reconquer the symbols of our nation' from the far-right.
Meanwhile dissenting voices in Sarkozy's own camp have criticised the plans, including his own junior minister for youth and solidarity Martin Hirsch.
'France does not have an identity problem,' said Hirsch, calling it a '100-percent political debate.'
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Amsterdam grapples with integration since filmmaker's murder
Five years after Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam, where half the population is of immigrant origin, the city is grappling with social integration.
By Alix Rijckaert
Agence France Presse, November 2, 2009
'It was as if, before Van Gogh, they had never seen a Muslim in the Netherlands,' Ahmed Marcouch, the Moroccan-origin mayor of Amsterdam suburb Slotervaart, told a recent press event.
'From one day to the next, they realised that Muslims existed and that something had to be done -- there was much panic.'
Mohammed Bouyeri who shot, stabbed and cut the throat of virulent Islam critic Van Gogh on 2 November 2004, had been a resident of Slotervaart.
Though of Moroccan origin, he was born and bred in the Netherlands.
Bouyeri was jailed for life for the murder that stoked ethnic tensions in the Netherlands and raised fears of home-grown terrorism.
During his trial, Bouyeri said that 'the law compels me to chop off the head of anyone who insults Allah and the prophet'.
Amsterdam and the Netherlands, a city and country once known for their 'multicultural tolerance', became places of 'mutual fear and ignorance', according to Amsterdam policy advisor Joris Rijbroek.
Several mosques were burnt around the country after the murder of Van Gogh, a distant relative of post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.
In a bid to prevent a spiral of retaliation, the city adopted an emergency plan by the end of that year, at an annual cost of between EURO five and seven million (USD seven to 10 million), to combat Islamic radicalisation and stimulate social cohesion.
The council subsidised projects of immigrant associations and pursued dialogue with mosque representatives.
Even a television reality show, featuring the daily lives of Turkish, Surinamese and Moroccan families, was financed and broadcast on a local station.
A recent study commissioned by the Amsterdam municipality found that two percent of the capital city's Muslim population, some 1,000 to 1,500 people, were orthodox and politically active and 'sensitive to radicalisation'.
'It concerns mostly the 16- to 18-year-olds, who feel discriminated against and have a distrust of politics,' said political scientist Jean Tillie, who led the study.
'This group is big enough to warrant a special policy approach, which is what happened in Amsterdam.'
Slotervaart, which has yielded several radical young Muslims investigated for links to extremist groups in recent years, appointed a 'radicalisation specialist' in the person of Hassan Maimouni in 2007.
In collaboration with social workers, the police and mosques, Maimouni has since then identified 35 youngsters at risk of being absorbed by extremist groups, and opened dialogue with them.
'We try to reincorporate them into society, to give them guidance, because the rift is very big,' Maimouni told AFP. 'They often feel themselves to be very socially isolated.'
Some were reported to the police for monitoring.
Have these efforts help curb radicalisation? Only time will tell, say the experts.
'The fact that nothing (like the murder of Van Gogh) has happened again suggests that we have been successful so far,' said Tillie.
'But it is important to keep the issue high on the agenda.'
Marcouch predicts that 'the tensions are bound to remain'.
'Muslims are afraid of losing their identity, and Dutch society is afraid of them,' said the mayor who encouraged the building of a western-style mosque in his neighbourhood where sermons are in Dutch and men and women pray together.
'The debate on Islam has hardened' since 2004, added Tillie -- citing the popularity of far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders whose anti-Islam film 'Fitna' prompted protests across the Muslim world when it was released.
'The problem in Dutch society is that there are groups of people who don't trust each other.'
Dutch mark Theo van Gogh killing 5 years on
Canadian Broadcasting Centre News, November 2, 2009
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Greece shuts down migrant detention centre on island
Earth Times, November 2, 2009
Athens - The Greek government shut down a detention centre on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Monday, after months of criticism from the United Nations refugee agency about conditions facing migrants housed there. 'We have shut down the centre of Pagani,' Deputy Civil Protection Minister Spyros Vougias told an immigration conference in Athens.
Vougias, who paid a visit to the centre soon after the Socialist party was elected to power on October 4, had described it as 'Dante's Inferno.'
'The conditions there are unbearable, inhuman and go against human dignity.'
Pagani was designed to accommodate 200 people, but an influx of migrants meant it often houses 1,200 migrants.
Vougias said the center would be temporarily closed to undergo improvements.
Officials said the migrants currently held at the center were in the process of being moved to other migrants centers on nearby islands.
Sitting at the crossroads of three continents, Greece has become the main transit point for tens of thousands of immigrants seeking entry into the European Union via Turkey.
Greece has come under strong criticism from the UN refugees agency UNHCR for its reluctance to grant asylum to genuine refugees and for horrible conditions at migrant reception centres after repeated reports of police brutality came to light.
The country's new Socialist government has promised to improve human right conditions for immigrants while at the same time it is asking for European help to protect its long coastal border from an influx of illegal immigrants.
Officials on the eastern Aegean islands of Mytilini, Samos and Patmos have been besieged with almost daily boatloads of migrants chiefly illegal immigrants being chiefly Iraqis, Afghans, and Palestinians.
Arrivals from Africa, mainly Somalia, are also increasing - a sign that routes to Italy and Spain are proving more arduous.
Many are reported to be thrown overboard in the dangerous Aegean waters by human traffickers evading coast guard police, with hundreds drowning every year.
Eight Afghanis, including five children, drowned last week off the coast of Lesvos after their vessel capsized.
The immigrants are often trying to escape war zones in Africa and end up paying thousands of dollars to smuggling rings for their assistance to reach the west.
Mytilini is considered one of the main points of arrival for the illegal immigrants and in 2008 more than 13,000 illegal immigrants entered Greece via the island or Samos.
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Kenya moves to secure borders
Security Patrol: A Sudanese motorist drives past a Kenyan security officer at the Lokichogio-Nadapal-Sudan road. PHOTO/ JARED NYATAYA
By Dominic Wabala
The Daily Nation, November 2, 2009
Shootout with Sudan’s militia prompts action by authorities
Kenya has taken a step to secure her borders, three weeks after a security threat on the Sudan border led to an exchange of fire with militiamen.
Nation has established that an inter-ministerial team made the decision to secure the borders days after reports of encroachment on Kenyan territory in Nadapal, Turkana.
There have been reports that some of the country’s boundaries had been interfered with and beacons moved.
Officers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army are said to have a camp seven kilometres into Kenyan territory
And Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers are occupying parts of Kenya — on Migingo Island and on the Kenya/Uganda border in Turkana area.
The security forces have already established camps in Nadapal and other areas on the Kenya/Uganda and Kenya/Somalia borders to ensure that no part of the country is occupied by foreigners.
The decision comes in the wake of reports that the AP had set up a border patrol unit. The unit will be equipped with helicopters, boats, high frequency communication and patrol vehicles.
“We have, unfortunately, been ignoring to secure our borders and we have paid the price for that. However, it has been decided that all borders should be secured to avoid incidents like the Nadapal one,” said a senior Internal Security ministry official who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
The government, which deployed the Administration Police’s Rural Border Patrol Unit, the General Service Unit and the military, wants to secure border points at all actual boundaries.
A Kenyan technical team comprising officers from Immigration, Customs and Lands departments has already visited the border area to prepare for the establishment of their offices on the Kenyan side.
Kenya has been conducting all its immigration and customs transactions in Lokichoggio, 25 kilometres inland.
“Initially, they had crossed 25 kilometres into Kenya but after ministerial meetings, they were asked to pull back although they are still in Kenyan territory,” a senior security official told Nation.
The government is also working on a project to fit all livestock with micro chips through which the animals will be tracked, to prevent cattle rustling.
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Transporters to be fined $2,500 over illegal immigrants
By David Ssempijja
The New Vision (Uganda), November 2, 2009
Cross-boarder passenger transporters risk being fined $2,500 (about sh4.7m) per illegal immigrant brought into the country. “This is one of the deterrent measures the internal affairs ministry has devised to curb the current massive entry of illegal immigrants into the country,” Eunice Kisembo, the immigration directorate spokesperson, said.
She said the meausure would force transport companies to always scrutinise clients’ travel documents to ascertian their immigration status.
She added that most transporters do not scrutinise the clients’ immigration status, but were only interested in money.
“We are executing these regulations in line with the required standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.” However, she added that the measure would also cover road and sea transporters.
The Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act provides for prosecution of the owner, agent or a person in charge of a ship, an aircraft or a vehicle, who brings in an illegal person.
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Indian police uncover fake Canadian visa scam
Anil Kumar allegedly heads a ring that may have cheated victims out of more than $650,000.
By Rick Westhead
The Toronto Star, November 2, 2009
New Delhi – Indian police say they have cracked a ring of criminals who conspired to operate one of the biggest fake visa scams in years involving Canada.
The alleged crooks lurked on the leafy streets outside Canada's diplomatic mission in New Delhi, as well as in the office of a bogus travel and tourism company in Punjab, a state in northwestern India.
The Star has learned Indian police have made three arrests in New Delhi and two more in Punjab, charging five men with making false documents, passing fake documents as genuine and criminal conspiracy. Police are still searching for at least three others.
The fake visa service charged Indians as much as $21,000 to obtain bogus visas, police said, adding they believe the ring operated through a company called Kaavi Tour and Travels in Chandigarh, Punjab's capital city.
Documents and files seized by police indicate the ring, allegedly headed by a man named Anil Kumar - who has at least three aliases - may have cheated victims out of more than $650,000. That would make it one of the biggest visa fraud operations police here have exposed in years.
'People in Punjab are so desperate to get to Canada for work, that's why they fall into this,' New Delhi police sub-inspector M.P. Saini said.
Canadian High Commission staff say privately that immigration consultants such as Kumar continue to be a vexing problem. Immigration agents are not regulated and the business has become huge, particularly in Chandigarh, where Canada is the only foreign country with a visa-granting office.
'This latest one is big,' said a Western diplomat familiar with the Kumar case. 'It's a huge ball of yarn. We keep unwinding it and finding more leads to more victims and more crooks.'
New Delhi police said they learned about Kumar's alleged criminal operation on Oct. 13 when a 22-year-old Punjabi man named Sukhdeep Singh filed a complaint, saying that he and three relatives had been fleeced out of $32,000.
In late August, Singh went to the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi to apply for a visa to Canada. He said a man named Sandeep Kaul approached him on the street outside the high commission and told him he could guarantee Singh a visa for $16,000.
Singh and three relatives paid Kaul a collective $32,000 - half his asking price of $64,000 - in advance. A day later, Kaul filed visa applications on behalf of Singh and his relative. When an immigration agent denied those applications, Kaul put Singh and the others in contact with Kumar, the scam's alleged ringleader in Punjab.
Singh and his relatives were later told Kumar has secured visas for each of them as promised and, indeed, they were given their passports with what appeared to be visas. But Singh learned the visas were fake after taking them to the Canadian mission in Chandigarh to confirm their authenticity.
Instead of paying the remaining $32,000, Singh called police, who set up a sting operation.
Kaul and two other Delhi men, Jassi Khassria and Lakhander Singh, were arrested in New Delhi near the Nehru Park metro station as they waited, police say, for Singh to show up with their money.
Police raided Kaul's apartment and discovered an embossing machine, colour photocopier, fake income tax returns and school records - one document the Star reviewed was an 'Employemant Agreement' with an Alberta company called 'IS2 Staffing Services' - that probably would have been used to try to obtain visas.
Police continue to hunt for Kumar.
Roughly 30 visa applications have been linked to Kumar, who used the same mobile phone number as a contact on various applications.
Kaul and the other men have not yet had bail hearings or submitted their pleas.
Their next court appearance is Nov. 14. The five are being held at New Delhi's Tihar Jail and face at least seven years in prison if convicted.
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Report Released on Indonesian Immigration
Scoop.co.nz, November 3, 2009
Behind Australian Doors: Examining the Conditions of Detention of Asylum Seekers in Indonesia.
A new empirical report released today describes poor conditions across many Indonesian immigration detention facilities. The report, produced by lawyer and refugee advocate Jessie Taylor, highlights cramped conditions, grossly inadequate hygiene and sanitation, rodent infestations, inadequate and inappropriate food, polluted water, and a lack of medical care available to asylum seekers.
‘Behind Australian Doors: Examining the Conditions of Detention of Asylum Seekers in Indonesia’ is based on Taylor’s examination of detention facilities throughout July 2009, during which she met with over 250 asylum seekers in 11 places of detention and accommodation across the Indonesian archipelago. Along with Taylor, film-maker David Schmidt obtained many hours of footage of conditions inside detention centres, and interviews with detainees, including children.
“Conditions in asylum seekers’ accommodation ranges from acceptable to appalling”, said Taylor. “In the worst places, we saw babies and children behind bars, with filthy drinking water, deprived of basic education, malnourished and very, very frightened”.
“Particularly confronting were conversations with unaccompanied minors, many of whom are housed in immigration jails with adult male populations”, Taylor said. According to the report, families are generally housed in more appropriate accommodation, when there are women and babies. However, there are many 13 to 17 year old children in adult jails, slipping through the cracks because they are alone and do not have parents or siblings to look out for them. The report observes that many are orphans with no family at all, while some have families who sent them away from home after older siblings were killed.
Taylor expressed her surprise at the hesitance of asylum seekers to get on a boat. “On one thing, the Australian government and the asylum seekers agree completely: that it is a terrible idea to attempt the boat journey to Australia. Asylum seekers are horrified at the prospect, and are driven to make an attempt only after they are convinced at the hopelessness of their
situation. At the moment, there is just no viable prospect of a safe, formal resettlement into Australia”.
Department of Immigration and Citizenship figures indicate that in 2008-2009 there was resettlement of 35 people from Indonesia. According to Taylor, “these figures display the gross inadequacy of Australia’s resettlement program in dealing with the ‘queue’ in Indonesia. It must come as no surprise that, given the apparent impossibility of resettlement, asylum seekers make the frightening decision to attempt the boat journey, channeling profit to people
The report recommends that in order to stop boats from coming, the Australian Government needs to install a controlled, robust and fair assessment and resettlement process from Indonesia to Australia, wiping out the demand for people smugglers. It must also increase its resettlement intake slightly to accommodate those found to be genuine refugees, in accordance with international obligations.
“Given that there is no sign of a decrease in global refugee numbers, it is in the best interests of all parties (except people smugglers) that Australia should increase its resettlement intake and bolster the processing capabilities and efficiencies of the UNHCR, taking a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region, and satisfying its obligations under international law”, Taylor
Taylor and Schmidt hope to produce a documentary with the footage they have obtained, and are in the process of seeking funding to do so.
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China, New Zealand sign labor market agreement
Xinhua News, November 3, 2009
WELLINGTON, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- China and New Zealand signed a labor market agreement on Monday, under which the New Zealand government would ease restrictions on Chinese workers seeking temporary jobs in the island nation.
The agreement, part of efforts to fully implement the free trade agreement between the two countries, was signed after visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang held talks with his New Zealand counterpart Bill English.
Under the deal, the number of technical Chinese workers in New Zealand could reach 1,000 at any given time while the number in five specially designated sectors was set at 800.
Both countries also agreed that the quota system did not apply to Chinese citizens who were permitted to work in New Zealand under the country's immigration regulations.
By the end of September, there were about 320 Chinese laborers working in New Zealand.
A Chinese official traveling with Li said the agreement would help protect the legitimate rights of Chinese laborers in New Zealand.
China and New Zealand have seen rapid growth in bilateral trade since the two sides implemented a free trade agreement in October 2008.
New Zealand is the first developed country to sign a free trade agreement with China. China is currently the second largest trading partner and the third largest export market of New Zealand.
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