Daily news updates from CIS
December 9, 2009
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[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Immigration may drive NY, CA congressional gains (story, link)
2. Census data shows rise in foreign labor
3. Leading PA hawk making third Congressional bid (story, 4 links)
4. Justice Sotomayor redefines judicial language (link)
5. Study finds illegals' kids twice as likely to face poverty
6. Report: immigration bolstering metro areas
7. Study promotes foreign skilled labor
8. Panel calls for amnesty efforts
9. NE court bestows work-injury benefits upon illegal
10. SC Census officials working to reach illegals
11. DE group gears up for amnesty campaign
12. Interview: sociologist urges better integration of nurses
13. Islamic center operates in shadow of Ground Zero
14. Illegals complicate plight of NY uninsured
15. Lithuanian Jew champions Christmas celebrations
16. Accused terrorist straddled dichotomy of cultures (story, link)
17. Five Americans detained in Pakistan
18. CA retail workers quit after status probed
19. Detroit firm facing fine for improper hires (link)
20. MS manager charged in imm. raid changing plea (link)
21. USCIS hired New Jersey fugitive (link)
22. Immigration official arrested for exploiting applicants (link)
23. Mexican woman jailed for ID fraud in CO (link)
24. Nigerian charged with KS liquor license fraud (link)
25. Two jailed for visa fraud in Virginia (link)
26. Mexican man charged with transporting (link)
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
Population shifts could boost Calif, NY in census
By Hope Yen
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Washington, DC (AP) -- A steady flow of new immigrants is providing a late-decade population boost to major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, whose states are seeking to stem declines before the 2010 census.
Even with a recent dip in immigration, the addition of foreign migrants into those major cities most attractive to them has cushioned substantial population losses from native-born Americans who had migrated to interior parts of the U.S. in search of jobs, wider spaces and affordable housing before the recession.
Now that many U.S. residents are staying put in large cities due to a housing crunch, California, Illinois and New York each are on track to avert a loss of at least one House seat. Florida could add one or two seats to its delegation depending on how much recent mortgage foreclosures have erased earlier population gains.
'From all that we have been seeing, there is a definite slowdown in the migration trends that had put these states at risk,' said Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, a Virginia-based firm that crunches political numbers. Those states have 'been given a grace of God.'
Still, noting that many of the population numbers remain in flux, Brace cautioned: 'A whole congressional seat can change at the drop of the hat.'
An analysis by the Brookings Institution think tank finds immigration is buoying many of the nation's larger cities. New York and Los Angeles picked up 1.1 million and 815,000 immigrants since 2000, respectively, and together account for one-fourth of the foreign-born arrivals. That lessened the impact of an exodus of 1.8 million residents from New York and 1.2 million from Los Angeles.
Chicago, Washington and Miami have been hurt by overbuilding and foreclosures in parts of their metro regions, but last year they reversed trends from earlier in the decade and posted increases in immigrants that more than offset losses in native-born Americans.
In all, 20 out of the 40 largest metropolitan areas sustained losses in American-born residents from 2000 to 2008, including Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, according to the Brookings study being released Wednesday. But in 15 of those 20 metro areas, immigration made up for at least half of the associated population loss.
In contrast, declining Rust Belt areas, such as Detroit, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, failed to reap substantial population benefits from immigrants.
The population projections are based on 2008 census estimates. The Census Bureau later this month will release new 2009 figures that are expected to highlight a continuing decline in U.S. mobility.
Some other population shifts:
* From 2007 to 2008, 23 states changed from having increases in the influx of residents moving in to either slower growth or population losses. Many of them were states that had benefited from the mid-decade housing boom, such as Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
* Texas in the last decade has seen large population gains due to steady immigration, as well as diverse economies in its major cities and an increase in residents from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
The figures highlight the stakes involved in next year's census, which is used to apportion House seats and distribute more than $400 billion in federal aid. Ultimately, the political winners and losers will depend on the actual head count of U.S. residents, including native-born Americans and legal and illegal immigrants.
Texas previously had stood to gain four House seats and Arizona two seats, based on earlier population trends of torrid Sunbelt growth during the housing boom. But with U.S. mobility now at a 60-year low, Texas may add just three seats and Arizona one. Missouri and Minnesota could avoid losing seats and Ohio may drop one seat instead of two. New York, which earlier had been projected to lose two seats, is now on track to lose one.
'The mid-decade bubble migration, if continued, could have made Florida an even more valuable political prize than it already is, and diminished the clout of big Democratic 'blue states' like California and New York,' said William H. Frey, who wrote the Brookings report. 'The recent migration slowdown seems to have put those trends on hold, for the time being.'
Frey predicted the Sunbelt region will continue to draw new residents once the economy improves but that growth won't return to the exponential rates of earlier in the decade. He said metro areas with the largest promise for growth will have diversified economies, such as Seattle; Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; San Jose, Calif.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C., as well as 'young professional magnets' including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The Census Bureau officially launches its head count next month in parts of rural Alaska because of inclement weather in the spring. The bureau will conduct its count for the rest of the nation via mail and door-to-door canvassing beginning next April.
Texas may gain 3 instead of 4 congressional seats
The Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX), December 8, 2009
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Census Finds Increase In Foreign-Born Workers
By Sam Roberts
The New York Times, December 7, 2009
Nearly one in six American workers is foreign-born, the highest proportion since the 1920s, according to a census analysis released Monday.
Because of government barriers to immigration, the share of foreign-born workers dipped from a 20th-century high of 21 percent in 1910 to barely 5 percent in 1970, but has been rising since then, to the current 16 percent.
In 2007, immigrants accounted for more than one in four workers in California (35 percent), New York (27 percent), New Jersey (26 percent) and Nevada (25 percent).
For the first time, the Census Bureau also compared immigrants by generation. Generally, income and other measures of achievement rose from one generation to the next, although educational attainment peaked with the second generation.
Monica Boyd, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, said the second generation personified ''the overachievement model, a tendency for very high achievement that seems to come as a result of immigrant parents' instilling in these kids an enormous drive.'' Professor Boyd added, ''Many try to instill in their kids the phrase, 'We did this all for you.' ''
Among all immigrant families, median income rose from $50,867 in the first generation to $63,359 and $65,144 in the second and third, respectively. The only group to register any decrease was family households headed by single mothers; their income declined from the second generation to the third.
Similarly, the overall proportion of immigrant families living below the government's official poverty level declined, from 16.5 percent to 14.5 to 11.5 among three generations. But among adult immigrants, the proportion who are poor grew again between the second and third generations.
While the proportion of high school graduates increased from one generation to the next, the share who had bachelor's degrees or more higher education declined from the second to the third generations. The proportion with doctorates peaked with the first generation.
Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau's immigration statistics staff, said the figures suggested substantial progress from the first generation to the second.
''This really shows that immigrants integrate over time the same way they always have,'' Ms. Grieco said.
In terms of education, she said, ''the third generation seems to be stopping at bachelor's or master's degrees.''
Nancy Foner, a sociology professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said, ''If there is some evidence of third-generation decline, then this no doubt has a lot to do with persistent inequalities and disadvantages facing many of the second generation and their children.''
Professor Foner added that ''the economic declines of the past few years no doubt play a role'' and that ''it could also be that second-generation parents, themselves born in the U.S., are less optimistic and push their children less hard than their own immigrant parents who came here and struggled so their children could succeed.''
In 2007, the census found that immigrants were more likely to be employed or looking for work than native-born adults. The proportion of immigrants without a high school diploma is higher than among native-born Americans, but so is the share of immigrants with graduate degrees. While immigrants constitute 16 percent of the total labor force, the foreign-born (mostly from Asia and Europe) make up 28 percent of workers with doctoral degrees.
Noncitizens were most likely to work in agriculture, construction and the hotel and food service industries. Citizens born abroad were most prevalent in real estate, health care and transportation. Immigrants from Asia, Europe and Africa are most likely to be employed in management and professional occupations, those from Mexico in construction and farming.
The labor force figures are from the 2007 American Community Survey. The generation comparison comes from the 2008 Current Population Survey.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The ACS is available online at: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/
The CPS is available online at: http://www.census.gov/cps/
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Barletta announces candidacy for 11th congressional district
By Robert H. Orenstein
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), December 9, 2009
Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who gained national prominence for his anti-illegal immigrant stance, today announced he will run a third time for Congress from the 11th District in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Barletta lost a close race to Democrat Paul Kanjorski, who was elected to a 13th two-year term by just under 4 percentage points. He also lost to Kanjorski in 2002 by 14 percentage points.
The announcement was made this morning on Barletta's campaign Web site.
Barletta became became a favorite of the conservatives in 2006 when he successfully pushed through a regulation in Hazleton that denied business permits to companies that employ illegal immigrants and fine landlords who rent to them.
Kanjorski has yet to announce his candidacy although he is expected to seek another term. His campaign committee has $808,000 as of Sept. 30, according to the latest campaign finance report.
Corey O'Brien, who was elected in 2007 as a Lackawanna County Commissioner, is seeking the Democratic nomination and would run against Kanjorski. O'Brien, 36, a lawyer from Moosic, spent 10 years in Washington before returning to northeast Pennsylvania.
The district includes all of Carbon, Columbia and Monroe counties and parts of Lackawanna and Luzerne.
Barletta says Washington ignores Americans as he announces third bid for Congress
By Borys Krawczeniuk
The Scranton Times-Tribune (PA), December 9, 2009
Barletta Announces Third Bid For Kanjorski's Seat
By Shira Toeplitz
The Congressional Quarterly (Washington, DC), December 9, 2009
Anti-illegal immigration crusader runs for Congress again -- with a different message
USA Today, December 9, 2009
Barletta to try for third time vs. Kanjorski
By Aaron Blake
The Hill (Washington, DC), December 9, 2009
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Sotomayor Draws Retort From a Fellow Justice
By Adam Liptak
The New York Times, December 8, 2009
Washington, DC -- The Supreme Court released its first four decisions in argued cases this term on Tuesday. They were all minor, but one was notable for being Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court debut and for prompting a testy concurrence from Justice Clarence Thomas.
The case concerned whether federal trial-court rulings concerning the lawyer-client privilege may be appealed right away. Justice Sotomayor, with methodical reasoning and a formal writing style, said no.
. . .
In an otherwise dry opinion, Justice Sotomayor did introduce one new and politically charged term into the Supreme Court lexicon.
Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term 'undocumented immigrant,' according to a legal database. The term 'illegal immigrant' has appeared in a dozen decisions.
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An undesirable inheritance
U.S.-born kids of illegal immigrants twice as likely as others to face poverty
By N.C. Aizenman
The Washington Post, December 9, 2009
Eight-year-old Alex picked up a 75-cent can of fruit punch from one of the grocery store's shelves and called excitedly to his mother in Spanish.
'Mami! Can we buy something to drink?'
Maria, 38, gave her stocky third-grader a sympathetic smile. She'd already made Alex and his 3-year-old sister, Emelyn, walk 30 minutes under a broiling sun from their house in suburban Maryland to the Safeway, the closest place that accepts Emelyn's federal milk and cereal vouchers. Then they'd trekked 20 minutes more to this cheaper Latino grocery so Maria, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who can't afford a car and wouldn't be eligible for a driver's license anyway, could save $3.40 on chicken.
'At home, my son,' Maria said soothingly. 'When we get home, you can drink some water.'
'But I'm really thirsty,' Alex persisted.
'No, son. At home.'
'But I need to drink now.'
'No! No!' snapped Maria. 'I already said, 'No!' '
She hates these moments, she said later -- these unavoidable reminders of the hardships her U.S.-born children face because she and their father, Luis, are illegal immigrants.
Of all the disadvantages that U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants might confront, none is more significant than being raised by parents who are in the country illegally.
Forty percent -- or 3.3 million of these children -- have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, mostly from Mexico or Central America, according to a recent analysis of census data by demographer Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center. And researchers warn that the long-term consequences for the country could be profound.
'The fact that so many in this population face these initial disadvantages has huge implications in terms of their education, their future labor market experience, their integration in the broader society, and their political participation,' said Roberto Gonzales, a professor at the University of Washington who has studied this generation.
The most immediate result has been a substantial increase in the number of American children growing up in poverty. Partly because illegal immigrants tend to have low levels of education and partly because their immigration status makes it harder to move up the job ladder, their U.S.-born children are almost twice as likely to be poor as the children of legal immigrants or native parents, the Pew Hispanic Center found.
To supporters of immigrants, that's an argument for offering a path to legalization for the adults in 'mixed-status families.' These are households in which the parents are in the country illegally while their U.S.-born children are entitled to all the benefits and aid that their parents are not.
'When you talk about someone who is undocumented, the chances are extremely high that they are in a mixed-status family. . . . Legalization would be one of the best anti-poverty strategies we could employ,' said Frank Sharry, executive director of the advocacy group America's Voice.
But advocates for stricter immigration laws see these families as one of the most compelling reasons to clamp down on illegal immigration.
'Not because [illegal immigrants] are ripping us off or don't work hard,' said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, 'but because they're collecting benefits for their children. In our society, people with a fifth-grade education can hold two or three jobs and still not afford to support their families. There's no way for them to avoid putting a strain on the social-welfare system.'
A family on the edge
Alex's parents, who spoke on the condition that the family's last name and address not be identified, have been struggling for the past two years, ever since Luis was fired from his construction job for using a false Social Security number.
Luis, a 27-year-old Guatemalan, said he picked up valuable skills as an electrician during his four years with the construction company. But since he was let go, he has only landed occasional jobs as a day laborer, earning no more than $200 a week, and often far less.
Maria's efforts to supplement their income by babysitting children in their house brings in an additional $100. Nearly all of the children's clothing and toys and much of their food are paid for by Maria's sister, who is also an illegal immigrant but who is having more success cleaning houses and has no children.
It was early evening as Alex, a sturdily built boy with close-cropped black hair, almond-shaped eyes and pronounced front teeth, sprawled on his Spider-Man sheets to watch a 'SpongeBob SquarePants' cartoon -- his body convulsing in giggles at the antics on the screen.
Downstairs in the kitchen, his father stared at a bill from Pepco.
'It says we need to pay $287 in two weeks, or they'll cut off the power,' said Luis. 'I don't know what to do. We're already behind on the rent. But we need the electricity to run Alex's asthma machine.'
The thought of applying for help from the government did not occur to Luis: He knows illegal immigrants are barred from almost all forms of public assistance. But as U.S. citizens, his children are eligible, not only for energy aid but also for all government relief programs.
Emelyn receives $50 to $70 per month in federal checks to cover milk and other basics, while Alex gets free lunch and breakfast at school and has received treatment for his asthma through Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.
But Maria's anxieties about her legal status have prevented her from getting the children food stamps, which can be prorated to cover only eligible members of a household.
So paranoid about running afoul of immigration authorities that she avoids taking buses and hanging out in malls, Maria finally worked up the nerve to put in an application for food stamps last winter. But when she got a letter requesting more documentation of the children's citizenship, she let the matter drop.
'They ask you so many questions at that office,' she said. 'It makes me nervous.'
Maria also was having difficulty renewing Alex's Medicaid. She used to present a letter from Luis's boss attesting to his salary, but that was no longer possible, and she wasn't aware that there were other ways of establishing their income.
Her experience mirrors that of many illegal immigrants, whose U.S.-born children are far less likely to get health insurance than the children of legal immigrants or the native-born.
The expired Medicaid has already had consequences for Alex. Though he still has enough medication cartridges for the machine he uses to help him breathe at home, unless he gets a new inhaler, the nurse can't treat him at school. He's already missed nearly three weeks of school because of asthma flare-ups.
Sometimes, as she contemplates the price her children are paying, Maria wonders whether she should have ever left Mexico.
She grew up along a main rail line in a southern town, where her widowed mother ran a small grocery and often gave food and shelter to the bedraggled Central American stowaways passing through on their journey north.
One of them was Luis, who'd dropped out of high school to head to the United States and escape the far more severe poverty of his childhood in Guatemala City.
Maria fell in love with the younger, soft-spoken Guatemalan migrant and eagerly agreed to join him in Maryland when he sent money for a smuggler to bring her to him. At the time, she was nine months pregnant with Alex, who was born at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.
Initially, they lived in a small, dank basement that Maria believes fueled Alex's asthma. In the eight years since, the family has slowly improved their living quarters. Most recently, they've moved to a small, two-story brick house in Montgomery County, subletting the basement, the den off the living room and one of the three bedrooms to five separate tenants.
It's not clear how much longer they'll be able to afford this arrangement. At least partly due to the strain of their financial troubles, the couple, who never officially married, are considering separating.
Even with their future so unsettled, Maria said she feels it's too late to return to Mexico. Her closest siblings all now live in the United States. Luis has no doubt his children should remain here.
'Yes, they live poorly,' he said, 'but they're still so much better off than if they were in Guatemala.'
Anxiety's staying power
How all this early adversity will play out for Alex and the millions of other U.S.-born offspring of illegal immigrants is hard to predict. Most are still young. A recent in-depth survey of those in their late teens and early 20s suggests many carry the burden well beyond childhood, said Roberto Gonzales, the professor who conducted the study. Most of those interviewed felt a responsibility to help their parents by getting jobs at an early age, contributing $400 to $600 a month even as they struggled to complete high school or go to college.
'This impacts their own ability to save or to move into better neighborhoods, which then affects their own children,' noted Gonzales.
There is also the sometimes-subtle-but-still-powerful psychological impact of knowing that their parents don't have the same rights as them and can theoretically be locked up and deported at any moment.
Vanessa Castillo remembers that anxiety well. As a child, her grandmother would call her into the house and draw the curtains at the sight of UPS trucks, which she mistook for immigration enforcement.
Her Mexican-born parents and grandmother eventually received legal status through a 1986 amnesty. Yet 'even now, I'm very conscious of walking in somewhere and being cautious of making sure that I fit in, that this is a crowd that will make me feel like I belong,' said Castillo, a 31-year-old college graduate who works for a child abuse prevention group in Southern California. 'I guess I shouldn't really feel that because I was born here, and I have rights just like everybody else. But the truth is that there's always that fear, that sense that I will be questioned.'
Alex got his first inkling of his parents' precarious legal situation when 'El Show de Cristina,' a popular program on Spanish-language television, featured children whose parents chose to leave them in the United States when they were deported.
'For the next couple of weeks he'd say to me over and over again, 'Mami, I don't want you to go,' ' said Maria. ' 'I don't want to be without a mom and a dad.' '
But even if his parents are never threatened with deportation, their immigration status is curtailing Alex's prospects in other ways.
Once Maria mused that her son could become a lawyer or an electrical engineer. Now she and Luis are too focused on their day-to-day struggles to think about the future. Sure, it would be nice if their son could go to college, they say. 'But honestly, I see very little possibility of that,' said Maria. 'It's so expensive.'
Alex already appears to have absorbed that message.
In many ways he's a typical American boy -- decorating the walls of his tiny bedroom with drawings of dinosaurs and becoming animated as he describes the Transformer costume he wore for Halloween. He's attentive and obedient at his Montgomery County elementary school, where nearly all the children are also offspring of poor immigrants. And he's in the top reading and math groups of his third-grade class.
Yet ask Alex what he thinks he might do when he grows up, and he looks surprised at the question. 'I don't know,' he mumbled. 'A construction worker, maybe?' Then he perked up, remembering one of his mother's past jobs. 'Or maybe I'll go to work at McDonald's.'
To spend a day with Alex at school is to watch him grapple with obstacles that might further limit his ambitions.
He started kindergarten speaking almost no English, and though he graduated from the English for Speakers of Other Languages program last year, his teachers warn that he faces a long road to true fluency.
'I can't tell you how many kids who are technically not in ESOL have serious language issues,' his writing teacher said, after helping Alex through a letter-writing assignment. 'He has real difficulty processing the meaning of what he hears and then organizing his thoughts and producing a response.'
Though Maria graduated from high school in Mexico, giving her more education than many Hispanic immigrant parents, she can't offer Alex much help. His math homework that day was an assignment about expressing numbers through words.
'I don't understand any of this,' Maria muttered under her breath as she looked it over. She handed the worksheet to her son, who lay on the living room floor.
'Well, you should do it now, before we go out,' she said.
Alex frowned at the paper.
'But I don't understand this. I can't do it.'
'Just do it. Stop squirming. Concentrate, Alex.'
Half an hour later, he handed Maria the page. It was riddled with errors.
'Good,' she said. 'Good job, my son.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pew Hispanic Center can be found online at: http://pewhispanic.org/
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Immigrants prop up metro areas
By Haya El Nasser
USA Today, December 9, 2009
The recession has brought a nation built on moving from place to place to a standstill not seen since World War II, but immigration continues in major metropolitan areas, according to a report out today.
Despite a slowdown fueled by fewer jobs in construction and service industries, immigrants are helping metro areas such as Chicago, Miami and New York make up for the net loss of residents to other parts of the USA.
Los Angeles gained about 90,000 more immigrants, people from other countries, than it lost from 2007 to 2008. The trend was reversed for residents leaving Los Angeles for other parts of the state or the country: 115,000 more left than moved in.
'The ups and downs of the economy don't affect immigrants as much,' says demographer William Frey, who wrote The Great American Migration Slowdown for the Brookings Institution, a non-profit think tank. People who move within the USA 'are much more susceptible to the pushes and pulls of the housing market and job market' than those coming from other nations.
This recession has marked a turning point in the nation's pattern of settlement by greatly reducing long-distance moves.
'We've been a nation on the move ever since people settled here from Europe, and we've been moving westward,' Frey says. 'All of a sudden, this stopped because of external forces. People stopped moving for housing reasons. People stopped moving for jobs reasons. The exurban growth stopped.'
What's not clear is whether the itch to move will return when the economy rebounds.
Scenarios abound, Frey says. Among them: Sun Belt areas that boomed because of cheap housing — from Las Vegas to Orlando — may never boom again. Suburbanization may slow as the environmentally conscious balk at living in big homes on cheap farmland. Others believe Americans may just stop moving so much.
'Migration overall is going to slow just for the simple reason that the population is getting older,' says Joel Kotkin, a fellow at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and author of the upcoming The Next 100 Million: America in 2050. 'People will be moving less for lots of reasons.'
Connections via the Internet and other media are available in the most isolated places and will allow more people to work from home, he says, offering less incentive to pull up roots.
Frey, however, believes Americans will return to their wanderlust to seek better opportunities.
'As soon as this recession clears, you're going to go back to people moving again,' Frey says.
His research found:
* Migration to exurban counties — far-flung places miles from central cities where growth was driven by cheap land and cheap housing — fell dramatically as the housing bubble burst.
* Metro areas that experienced the biggest declines since 2007 in people moving in had the biggest gains during the housing boom earlier in the decade.
'This really is an aberration of American history,' Frey says.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Brookings study is available online at: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2009/1209_migration_frey.aspx
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Report analyzes importance of highly skilled immigrants to U.S. economy
By Juliana Gruenwald
The National Journal, December 8, 2009
A new report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress highlights the importance of highly skilled immigrants to the U.S. economy, but argues that 'arbitrary restrictions' keep companies from fully utilizing this talent pool.
'Reforming our high-skilled immigration system will stimulate innovation, enhance competitiveness, and help cultivate a flexible, highly-skilled U.S. workforce while protecting U.S. workers from globalization's destabilizing effects,' the report said. Among the reforms the report recommends include establishing a market-based mechanism for setting the annual levels of H-1B visas available for skilled foreign workers, raising the green card cap and streamlining the process for obtaining a green card.
The current cap on H-1B visas is set at 65,000 annually with an additional 20,000 available for foreigners who graduate from U.S. schools with master's or doctoral degrees. Unlike past years, the 65,000 cap was not reached this year soon after the fresh batch of visas became available at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. As of early December, 61,100 of the 65,000 H-1B visas have been applied for, though the cap for the 20,000 supplemental visas has been met, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Industry officials who favor a market-based system for allocating H-1B visas say this year's figures indicate that such a system will work because with the economic downturn, companies have shown less of a need to hire foreign workers. 'This report accurately highlights the positive benefits of high skilled immigration to America's economy,' Information Technology Industry Council President Dean Garfield said in a statement.
The report, however, also addresses a key concern of those who oppose allowing more skilled foreign workers into the United States: bringing in foreign workers, no matter how skilled they are, depresses domestic wages and may hurt Americans' ability to obtain such jobs. 'Current enforcement mechanisms are too weak to adequately prevent fraud and gaming of the system,' according to the report, which calls for greater focus on targeting employer fraud and abuse, strengthening requirements for companies to seek out U.S. workers before hiring a foreigner and other protections.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The CAP report is available online at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/12/high_skilled_immigrants.html
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Panel pushes immigration overhaul
By Diana Washington Valdez
The El Paso Times (TX), December 9, 2009
El Paso, TX -- The time has come for the U.S. government to focus on other aspects of immigration besides enforcement, a panel of national security and law- enforcement experts said Tuesday.
'While we have made unprecedented investments in security at the border, more enforcement resources alone will not make us more secure,' said James W. Ziglar, ex-commissioner of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.
'We must find a pragmatic way to prevent future unlawful immigration and deal with the existing undocumented population already here by enacting comprehensive immigration reform.'
The experts said an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants are living in the United States.
El Paso police Chief Greg Allen was invited to join the experts for a national telephone conference on the topic.
'Comprehensive immigration reform will allow law enforcement to focus limited resources on criminals who continue to evade the law, and help re-establish trust between law enforcement and everyone living in our communities,' Allen said.
Stewart Verdery, a former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary, said Tuesday's conference was timely because Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is scheduled to address the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
She is expected to provide details about recent enforcement improvements, as well as the need for broader legislative reforms.
'While the vast majority of those who are here illegally are hard-working residents seeking to support their families, right now we don't have any way of differentiating those who come to work from those who are violent or repeat criminals,' Ver dery said.
Allen said El Paso attained its ranking as the second- safest city of its size in the United States by developing close ties with community residents.
'We don't want to seek out people only for their immigration status,' he said.
Ziglar said proposed immigration reform fell victim to partisan politics in 2006, mainly because of concerns over gaps in border security.
However, he said, the government has made important strides during the past six years. For example, the annual budget for Customs and Border Protection doubled from $6 billion to $12 billion, and the number of armed Border Patrol agents increased to 20,000, most of them deployed to the southern border.
The federal government also completed 700 miles of border fencing, which incorporated technologies, physical barriers and other structures that helped agents deter illegal immigration.
In recent years, the flow of undocumented immigrants has slowed because of increased enforcement and the recession. Further enforcement measures could see diminishing returns, Ziglar said.
Border Patrol statistics for the El Paso sector show that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants have dropped by nearly half in recent years.
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Court: Illegal immigrant entitled to benefits
By Nancy Hicks
The Lincoln Journal Star, December 9, 2009
An illegal immigrant injured on the job is entitled to state worker compensation benefits, according to a Nebraska Court of Appeals decision released Tuesday.
Odilon Visoso was injured May 9, 2006, at Cargill in Schuyler when a 100-pound slab of meat fell from a hook and hit the back of his head, neck and shoulder.
Visoso, who used the name Adam Rodriguez, continued to work at Cargill on light duty until surgery in early October 2008. The company fired him late that same month because he was an illegal worker.
The appellate court upheld a Worker Compensation Court decision that the worker compensation law covered all employees injured on the job - even those in the country illegally.
So Visoso was entitled to weekly benefits of $343.04 tied to his wages at Cargill, future medical expenses for treatment of his cervical spine injury and payment of mileage for travel related to his injury.
Attorneys for Cargill Meat Solutions argued that because Visoso was an illegal immigrant and couldn't work legally, he was disqualified from receiving worker compensation benefits.
But the court ruled the Legislature enacted worker compensation laws to 'relieve injured workers from the adverse economic effects caused by a work-related injury or occupational disease,' the court said.
And workers include every person in the service of an employers, 'including aliens.'
'We find that although Visoso cannot legally work in the United States because of his immigration status, he is nonetheless an 'employee' or 'worker' who, as a general proposition, is covered by the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act,' according to the decision written by Judge Richard Sievers.
The opposite decision - disqualifying illegal immigrants from worker comp benefits - would have encouraged companies to hire more undocumented workers, said Ryan Holsten, a Lincoln attorney for Visoso.
'If companies weren't responsible for workers' compensation, they could hire more illegals, then when they got hurt say, 'Oh, too bad. We are not going to pay your benefits,'' Holsten said in a phone interview.
The appeals court also said a decision on whether Visoso was entitled to use vocational rehabilitation services could not be made until he reached maximum medical recovery and his impairments and restrictions were known.
The Nebraska Supreme Court, in an earlier case, determined an illegal immigrant who intended to stay in the United States was not entitled to rehab services, where the goal is to return a person to suitable employment.
One of the unanswered questions is whether the state must provide vocational rehab if the person is returning to Mexico, Holsten said.
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Census to count minority groups, illegal immigrants
The Independent Mail (SC), December 8, 2009
Anderson, SC -- U.S. Census Bureau officials in South Carolina are stepping up efforts to count minority groups, including illegal immigrants, for the 2010 census.
The Anderson census office, on 1504 N. Fant St., will open today.
The people who are most difficult to count include rural residents, speakers of other languages, low-income people, immigrants and minorities.
Terry Plumb, a spokesman for the Regional Census Bureau Office in Charlotte, which covers the Carolinas, said South Carolina will execute its most ambitious outreach program for minority communities. He said at least 14 partnership specialists, including at least two Spanish speakers, will work throughout South Carolina to build bridges between businesses and census officials.
Plumb said many centers will be set up in Upstate South Carolina, including one at Westside Community Center in Anderson, to help people fill out questionnaires.
'The influx of Hispanics is new to the Carolinas,' Plumb said. 'It is certainly not new to other parts of the United States.'
Plumb said the census forms that will be mailed out to people in mid-March will be in English and Spanish. There will be a number of Spanish-speaking workers at the Anderson office, he said.
The Census Bureau will hire people to knock on the doors of people who do not return their census form to encourage them to fill the forms out, Plumb said. He would like the people who knock on the doors to be members of their communities so that they understand the people who live there.
Plumb said that the U.S. Census Bureau cannot provide any personal information to Immigration Customs Enforcement, so illegal immigrants who participate should not worry about being deported. Workers who share personal census information can face up to five years in prison, he said.
Plumb said the census workers in the South Carolina have been working with the state’s budget and control board to reach out to ethnic media. The census questionnaire does not ask people whether they are legal U.S. citizens, he said.
Wendy Sefsaf, a spokeswoman for the Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said it is important to count illegal immigrants because it is important to have enough funding for infrastructure of a city or town.
'Undocumented immigrants, like everybody else, are driving the highways,' Sefsaf said. 'They are consumers and working in communities. In order for local and state government to get adequate funding they are going to need an accurate county.'
She said illegal immigrants do not mistrust the U.S. Census Bureau, but they may be hesitant to participate in the census because of tough immigration tactics by President George W. Bush’s administration.
Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter immigration standards, said he was undecided on whether illegal immigrant should be counted in the census. He said that it does not seem right when people say illegal immigrants have a right to be counted.
'There are many parts of the country with few illegals,' Camarota said. 'If you count illegals it has to mean that you take representation away from areas comprised of entirely U.S. citizens.'
Camarota said that counting illegal immigrants could take political power away from South Carolina and give it to the suburban Charlotte area, which has a higher concentration of illegal immigrants.
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Latino community gets a new voice
By Esteban Parra
The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), December 9, 2009
New faces lead a Latino advocacy group in Wilmington, but the mission of giving voices to those who don't have them remains the same.
This is what Voices Without Borders leaders want people to remember, especially as the nation prepares to tackle immigration reform as early as next year.
'Even if this wasn't coming up as an argument, the community should be united with a voice,' said Maria Velasquez, the group's new community organizer. 'It's the main priority that our community unite its voice so that it has one voice and it is heard louder.
'One voice is much better heard than a bunch of voices, which just create an echo,' she said.
The nonprofit group has been working to build bridges between Hispanics and other communities for nearly 11 years, but as the Obama administration gets ready to tackle immigration reform, Velasquez said an organized local forum where people on all sides of the topic can come to an agreement is needed.
'There's going to be people who are for it and people who are going to be against it,' she said. 'The challenge will be trying to convince and trying to bring knowledge to those who are against it.'
Velasquez said she wants to make people understand that immigration is not just about money. In some cases, it is about families being torn apart.
Maria Cabrera, president of Hispanic Business Association of Delaware, was glad to hear Voices would be focusing on immigration.
'They need to be the voices of those people who are afraid to come forward,' Cabrera said.
Although young, Velasquez, 20, has some advocacy background. She was a project supervisor for American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, helping educate people about children with diabetes in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Velasquez, a University of Delaware junior studying human services with administration and public policy, can identify with some of the immigrants with whom she works.
Velasquez and her family had to leave her native Medellin, Colombia, when she was 11 after her family was unable to pay the 'taxes' that militia members charge to not be kidnapped. They received asylum in the United States, she said.
'It breaks you down as a person,' she said of arriving in a new country. 'You have to create yourself back up with a whole new identity.'
Brother Chris Posch, director of Hispanic ministries for the Diocese of Wilmington and a Voices board member, said he and the board are confident of Velasquez's abilities.
'Maria comes to Voices with great passion for the Hispanic community and magnificent initiative in serving and making a difference,' he said.
Velasquez joined Voices shortly after the group's former executive director, Guillermina Gonzalez, left.
Gonzalez, who was at the group's helm for two years, coordinated several major events, including the first Latino gubernatorial debate to raise awareness about issues involving Latinos in Delaware. The group also has coordinated a health fair and money fair and presented a documentary on immigrant workers in Georgetown.
Gonzalez said she accomplished all that she wanted to in the post, adding that Voices went from being a grass-roots community group to an advocacy group.
Although board members praised Gonzalez's work, they are not sure her position will be filled, opting instead to do some of that work themselves.
Who carries the title of executive director is not as important to Velasquez as getting to work for people who come to her for help, she said.
'The people just care about being a voice and having their voice heard,' she said. 'If that's what they care about, that's what we care about.'
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Sociologist urges better integration of foreign-trained nurses
By LJ Anderson
The San Jose Mercury News (CA), December 8, 2009
Sheba George was just 10 years old when she stood at an airport window in Bangalore, India, and tearfully watched her mother leave to work as a nurse in the United States. It would be two years before George and the rest of the family would be reunited with her. This experience would play out for thousands of other Indian families as nurses immigrated to the United States in greater numbers spurred by passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which encouraged entry of skilled professionals.
Today, Sheba George, Ph.D., is a sociologist who studies health care, and in particular, the immigration patterns of Indian nurses. She is an assistant professor at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. George holds a doctorate in sociology from UC-Berkeley, and is the author of 'When Women Come First: Gender and Class in Transnational Migration.'
Q: How did your childhood and family influence your career in nursing research?
A: While I am not a nurse, I have lived among nurses all of my life. As a person of Indian origin, I grew up in a community of Indian nurses in the United States. My mother, several of my aunts, the mothers of many friends and now a new generation of cousins and friends are nurses. As a sociologist, I have studied the experiences of Indian immigrant nurses to the United States specifically, Christian nurses from the state of Kerala and understand their experiences in a broader context.
Q: What has defined the immigration of Indian nurses to the United States?
A: The nurses I interviewed had tremendous challenges to overcome before they could work in their full professional capacities in the U.S. From language comprehension difficulties to prohibitively expensive costs for preparatory classes and the taking of licensing exams, they faced many hardships in passing their board exams.
Even after obtaining their licenses, they faced other barriers which were less expected by many of them. In U.S. hospitals and nursing homes, they confronted a racialized division of labor. Before passing the state boards, they were forced to work as nurses' aides with other mostly minority women. With registrations in hand, they were more likely to be recruited for inner-city hospitals, and to work in wards that were physically labor-intensive and had a high burnout rate for American-trained nurses. On the ward floor, immigrant nurses faced discrimination from patients, doctors and hospital administration, as well as from their peers. Many of the nurses spoke of their experiences of being rejected by patients who outrightly asked for 'white nurses.'
Q: Were there any positive aspects to the immigration experience?
A: Despite the limitations they encountered, the Indian immigrant nurses I interviewed brought up 'total patient care' as a nursing practice that was different from what they were accustomed to in India. As patient-care managers, teachers, students, or consultants, immigrant nurses talked about how they were able to practice their profession in new and varied ways. In spite of racism and the devaluation of their work, they were able to appreciate the positive and empowering aspects of work in the United States.
Q: What was the effect on the families of immigrating nurses?
A: The nurses in my study immigrated first and established themselves before bringing their families over. This was a huge challenge for nurses who came from a society where traditionally women do not tend to travel alone, particularly to faraway lands to establish themselves as breadwinners. When their families arrived, there were more complicating factors. Whereas their wives were able to find stable and better-paying jobs, the majority of the men were not able to transfer their skills or work experiences to the United States. Many of the men that I interviewed were reluctant to tell me exactly what they did for a living. But most of those who did, revealed that they worked in occupations that were of less status and lower pay than their wives, which was often a reversal of their situation in India. So in addition to getting settled in a new society, nurses and their husbands had to deal with unexpected tensions resulting from dramatic changes in gender relations in their homes and communities.
Q: How could U.S.-trained nurses, physicians and administrators better understand the experience of immigrant nurses?
A: The work force is getting more diverse racially, linguistically, culturally and nationally. And there are unspoken burdens that are often carried by this global work force. Emotionally and mentally, these burdens place further limits on these workers' ability to function effectively and enhance the quality of care in their workplaces.
To support the integration of foreign-born nurses into their U.S. work settings, I believe that standardized orientation programs (in all settings) are needed to introduce them to the U.S. health care system and its legal, technological and professional standards. They should also be provided with training in cultural competency and cross-cultural communication skills.
Secondly, with foreignness comes the questioning of qualifications and credentials and the implication that nurses from other countries may bring down the professional nursing standards of the host country. Yet recent U.S. census data shows that immigrant nurses have, on average, higher educational levels than their U.S.-born counterparts and the technical qualifications necessary to do the job. Health-care organizations who employ such workers should educate patients, administrators and co-providers about the qualifications and competence of foreign-trained nurses.
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Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero
By Ralph Blumenthal and Sharaf Mowjood
The New York Times, December 9, 2009
On that still-quiet Tuesday morning, the sales staff was in a basement room eating breakfast, waiting to open the doors to the first shoppers at 10 a.m.
There was no immediate sign of the fiery cataclysm that erupted overhead starting at 8:46. But out of a baby-blue sky suddenly stained with smoke, a plane’s landing-gear assembly the size of a World War II torpedo crashed through the roof and down through two empty selling floors of the Burlington Coat Factory.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attack killed 2,752 people downtown and doomed the five-story building at 45 Park Place, two blocks north of the World Trade Center, keeping it abandoned for eight years.
But for months now, out of the public eye, an iron gate rises every Friday afternoon, and with the outside rumblings of construction at ground zero as a backdrop, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer and listening to their imam read in Arabic from the Koran.
The building has no sign that hints at its use as a Muslim prayer space, but these modest beginnings point to a far grander vision: an Islamic center near the city’s most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero’s more unexpected and striking neighbors.
The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, 'where a piece of the wreckage fell,' said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, 'sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.'
'We want to push back against the extremists,' added Imam Feisal, 61.
Although organizers have sought to avoid publicizing their project because they say plans are too preliminary, it has drawn early encouragement from city officials and the surrounding neighborhood.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said through a spokesman that Imam Feisal told him of the project last September at a celebration to observe the end of Ramadan. As for whether Mr. Bloomberg supported it, the spokesman, Andrew Brent, said, 'If it’s legal, the building owners have a right to do what they want.'
The mayor’s director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Fatima Shama, went further. 'We as New York Muslims have as much of a commitment to rebuilding New York as anybody,' Ms. Shama said. Imam Feisal’s wife, Daisy Khan, serves on an advisory team for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the memorial, said, 'The idea of a cultural center that strengthens ties between Muslims and people of all faiths and backgrounds is positive.'
Those who have worked with him say if anyone could pull off what many regard to be a delicate project, it would be Imam Feisal, whom they described as having built a career preaching tolerance and interfaith understanding.
'He subscribes to my credo: ‘Live and let live,’ ' said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue on East 67th Street.
As a Sufi, Imam Feisal follows a path of Islam focused more on spiritual wisdom than on strict ritual, and as a bridge builder, he is sometimes focused more on cultivating relations with those outside his faith than within it.
But though the imam is adamant about what his intentions for the site are, there is anxiety among those involved or familiar with the project that it could very well become a target for anti-Muslim attacks.
Joan Brown Campbell, director of the department of religion at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York and former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ U.S.A., who is a supporter of Imam Feisal, acknowledged the possibility of a backlash from those opposed to a Muslim presence at ground zero.
But, she added: 'Building so close is owning the tragedy. It’s a way of saying: ‘This is something done by people who call themselves Muslims. We want to be here to repair the breach, as the Bible says.’ '
The F.B.I. said Imam Feisal had helped agents reach out to the Muslim population after Sept. 11. 'We’ve had positive interactions with him in the past,' said an agency spokesman, Richard Kolk. Alice Hoagland of Las Gatos, Calif., whose son, Mark Bingham, was killed in the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, said, 'It’s quite a bold step buying a piece of land adjacent to ground zero,' but she said she considered plans for the site 'a noble effort.'
On a recent Friday, worshipers in the old Burlington Coat Factory heard Imam Feisal’s call for spiritual purity during the time of the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
'We like Imam Feisal, the way he presents the philosophy of the true Islam that I call it,' said one of the congregants, Mohammed Abdullah, an investment banker who traveled from Washington for the service.
The location is not designated a mosque, but rather an overflow prayer space for another mosque, Al Farah at 245 West Broadway in TriBeCa, where Imam Feisal is the spiritual leader.
Built in 1923, the building at 45 Park Place was bought by Sy Syms, the discount retailer, and a partner, Irving Pomerantz, in 1968, and became one of the early Syms stores. The store closed in 1990, the partners parted ways, and the Pomerantz family then leased the building to the Burlington Coat Factory.
On Sept. 11, the store, with 80 employees, was one of 250 Burlington outlets nationwide owned by the Milstein family. That morning, recalled Stephen Milstein, the company’s former general manager and vice president, the staff was in the basement when a piece of a plane plunged through the roof, either from American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the north tower at 8:46 a.m., or United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the south tower at 9:03.
Kukiko Mitani, whose husband, Stephen Pomerantz, owned the building at the time, tried to sell it for years, at one time asking $18 million. But when the recession hit, she sold it in July to a real estate investment firm, Soho Properties, for $4.85 million in cash, records show. One of the investors was the Cordoba Initiative, an interfaith group founded by Imam Feisal.
'It’s really to provide a place of peace, a place of services and solutions for the community which is always looking for interfaith dialogue,' said Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and chief executive of Soho Properties.
The patched-up roof was easily visible on a recent tour of the building, along with evidence of its sudden evacuation: food bags still in a fifth-floor staff refrigerator and, most eerily, a log sheet for the testing of the emergency alarm system that shows a sign-in signature for 9/11 but no sign-out.
Records kept by the city’s Department of Buildings show anonymous complaints for illegal construction and blocked exits at the site. Inspectors tried to check but were unable to gain access, so the complaints, though still open, were listed as 'resolved' under city procedures, according to an agency spokeswoman, Carly Sullivan.
But worshipers are legally occupying the building, where retail space is offered for lease, once a week under temporary permits of assembly through December, Ms. Sullivan said.
With 50,000 square feet of air rights, Imam Feisal said, the location, with enough financing, could support an ambitious project of $150 million, akin to the Chautauqua Institution, the 92 Street Y or the Jewish Community Center.
Joy Levitt, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, said the group would be proud to be a model for Imam Feisal at ground zero. 'For the J.C.C. to have partners in the Muslim community that share our vision of pluralism and tolerance would be great,' she said.
Mr. El-Gamal agreed. 'What happened that day,' he said, 'was not Islam.'
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Most uninsured In Lower Hudson are working U.S. citizens
By Candice Ferrette and Tim Henderson
The Journal News (White Plains, NY), December 8, 2009
They are waiters, dental assistants, preschool teachers, hairdressers, small-business owners and recent college graduates.
More than half of the uninsured people living in the Lower Hudson Valley are working U.S. citizens who stand to be affected by the national health-care reform debate.
As more people become unemployed, this group of people still has jobs but no health insurance.
Who are they?
'Trapped. That's what I am. I have worked my whole life, but I'll wait till I'm on death's door before I go to the doctor,' said Barbara Hunt, 57, of Croton-on-Hudson.
Hunt works for a small, privately owned preschool that provides health insurance at a cost of about $500 per month, about a quarter of her monthly income.
After meeting her other obligations like rent, food and transportation to her job, Hunt has very little money left over. She almost never goes out to dinner and can't remember the last time she went to the movie theater.
Her income, however, is too high and she is too young to qualify for government insurance plans like Medicaid for low-income people or Medicare for senior citizens.
A Journal News analysis of the uninsured finds Hunt far from alone.
About five out of six uninsured people in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties have jobs.
They don't have employers to find their coverage for them, nor are they part of a larger company where the premiums of healthy employees offset the cost to insure those with pre-existing conditions.
While their occupations vary, many of the local working uninsured tend to be in the personal service industry or in entry-level jobs.
They also are slightly younger and earn less money.
The average income for the uninsured in Westchester is $23,000, in Rockland it is $34,000, and in Putnam $23,000.
The average income of those with insurance is $84,000 in Westchester, $65,000 in Rockland and $63,000 in Putnam, according to U.S. Census data.
A substantial number of the uninsured in this area - about 15 percent - make $50,000 a year or more, the census data show.
Those tend to be older and work as construction managers, nonprofit executives or small family-business owners.
'We call them the working poor,' said Lindsay Farrell, executive director of Open Door Family Health Centers, which provides primary health care services on a sliding scale.
Farrell wasn't surprised to hear that most of the Lower Hudson Valley's uninsured were in the country legally, paying taxes and working independently or in jobs like data entry, carpentry and waiting tables, she said.
Though many of her clients are recent Hispanic immigrants, she is increasingly seeing more middle-class workers at the community health center sites throughout Westchester.
Among the fastest growing is Mount Kisco, where the patients tend to be young, mostly healthy and of child-bearing age.
Many have lost their health coverage with their jobs, but most have never had coverage and have seen their hourly wages drop. The centers offer primary medical care on a sliding scale and don't ask about immigration status, Farrell said.
When possible, the health centers try to qualify patients for government programs, Farrell said, which can be difficult.
Without being disabled, blind, pregnant or a senior citizen, working adults need to make very little money to qualify for a government program in New York.
A single person cannot make more than $8,462 annually to qualify for Medicaid; for two people it is $10,563, according to the state Health Department's 2009 online income guide.
And because Hunt, the preschool teacher from Croton-on-Hudson, doesn't have health insurance, neither does her son.
Jasen Hunt, 21, is eager to begin his career as a freelance makeup artist.
He credits his ambition to his single mother and hopes to 'make a lot of money one day,' he said.
But for now, his goal is to get nasal surgery to help him breathe better. He can only afford the procedure because the recession has dried up a lot of the jobs in his industry and he now qualifies for Medicaid.
'I'm kind of in limbo. I know that I should be working more. But I'm limiting what I make because I need to get the surgery. I'm sort of trapped in this low-income situation. This isn't what I want,' Jasen Hunt said.
Keely Nelson, 40, a self-employed massage therapist from Bedford Hills, is in a similar situation.
She is a self-described single-mother by choice. Her clients want appointments after work hours, when she needs to care for her young son.
Nelson pays about $2,200 per month for rent and child care.
The cost to insure herself would be about $700 on top of that. Her son is insured through a state program, but she can't afford insurance for herself.
'I'm in a bizarre position,' Nelson said.
She works hard to stay in good health and doesn't take risks. She gave away her mountain bike, she said.
If health insurance were more affordable, she would definitely buy it, she said.
Susan Foxman, 49, of Suffern works part-time at a small dental office where health insurance isn't offered.
Her sister, Joann, died of breast cancer last year at the age of 41.
Since her sister's diagnosis, Foxman has relied on the American Cancer Society for her own mammograms because she doesn't have health insurance.
Now she has the disease and is scheduled to have a double-mastectomy with reconstruction through emergency Medicaid, which she qualified for only because she has cancer.
'I felt humiliated,' Foxman said about applying for Medicaid. 'I've worked my whole life, and now I'm a charity case.'
The other half of the uninsured, however, are not U.S. citizens, the data show. Their immigration status makes them ineligible for government programs, and current health reform efforts would continue that.
Because all people are entitled to emergency care, local hospitals see noncitizens who are severely ill.
Jon Schandler, CEO of White Plains Hospital, said many of the uninsured at his hospital are in the country illegally and come through the emergency department.
The hospital spends about $10 million on uncompensated care, also known as 'charity care,' for the uninsured.
'To believe that you're taking care of the problem of the uninsured and not to deal with the immigration issue is naive,' Schandler said.
William Mooney, executive director of the Westchester County Association, a business group, said he believes the cost of health insurance reform needs to be on the backs of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries rather than on small-business owners and hospitals.
Health insurance premiums are rising even for employees at large companies. Mooney's group is lobbying state legislators to hold insurance companies accountable and make them justify their rate increases, like the auto insurance industry does.
'There's something radically wrong when people get up in the morning, work 13 to 14 hours per day, and can't afford health insurance,' he said.
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Jewish immigrant champions Christmas
By Joe Fitzgerald
The Boston Herald, December 9, 2009
She didn’t reach the shores of America until she was 44, but Irina Koltoniuc, now 65, has never forgotten the thrill of that first impression.
It was December 1989.
'It was like stepping into a fairy tale,' she said. 'There were ornaments, lights, trees everywhere we looked. It was so festive, and such a joy to see everyone free to celebrate what was important to them.'
Back home in Lithuania, where she lived in the capital city of Vilnius, religious freedom was nonexistent, which is why she soon became alarmed at what’s now become an all-out attack on all public displays or expressions of faith.
Though she’s an observant Jew, attending Shabbat every Friday at B’nai Moshe in Brighton, where she resides, Koltoniuc nevertheless delights in this season of Christmas.
When she first called here four years ago, it was to share her anxiety.
'I am afraid,' she said. 'For people like us, who have already been down this road, it scares us to see what is happening because we do not want to go down that road again. We see America turning into the kind of society we came from, where everyone was worried about offending someone else and where it was dangerous to draw attention to your beliefs.'
Many in this city can remember a time when the John Hancock company distributed thousands of Christmas carol booklets throughout the public school system. Today that’s unimaginable.
'I’m a Jew,' Koltoniuc said, 'but this conspiracy against Christianity frightens me.'
So, in a community of several hundred Russian-speaking Jews in Brighton, she heads a group called Chaveirim, meaning 'friends,' and their latest project sounds as if it came from the pages of an old civics book.
'We are living the lives we all dreamed of before we came to America,' she said. 'We feel as if we’re flourishing here.
'But now I want to introduce them to people whose beliefs are different from ours. We’ve met Mormons, and plan to visit the Christian Science Church; I want to take them to a Catholic service, too. I want them to comprehend how you can have all these different beliefs and still be together as one country.
'I am not worried about a country where there are too many religions; what I am worried about is America becoming a country where there is no religion at all.'
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Accused Terrorist Bridged Two Different Worlds
The Associated Press, December 8, 2009
Chicago (AP) -- Part American and part Pakistani, the Chicago man accused of conspiring in the bloody terrorist attacks in Mumbai has followed a twisted trail through two different worlds.
David Coleman Headley grew up in two countries and ended up with two names. A troubled young man, he dropped out of school, was convicted of heroin smuggling and ended up broke and jobless.
But it was in a bleak apartment on Chicago's North Side where prosecutors say Headley emerged with a secret identity -- an international terrorist accused of helping plan the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, that left 166 dead.
''Call me old-fashioned, but I feel disposed towards violence for the offending parties,'' Headley allegedly wrote on a Web site, referring to people he believed had defiled the sacred name of Islam. He was angered by a Danish newspaper that featured a series of cartoons, one showing the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.
''They never started debates with folks who slandered our Prophet, they took violent action,'' Headley wrote, according to federal court documents. ''Even if God doesn't give us the opportunity to bring our intentions to fruition, we will claim ajr (a religious award) for it.''
Headley was charged Monday with conspiring in the planning of the November 2008 attacks. Prosecutors accused him of scouting out targets, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Cafe, a landmark called Nariman House and a large railroad station, all of which were struck by terrorists.
The 49-year-old Headley was scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday. He could get the death penalty if convicted. Authorities in Washington say he is cooperating with the government.
Headley also is charged with planning an armed attack on the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which published a dozen cartoons in 2005 that depicted the Prophet Muhammad and set off protests in the Muslim world.
According to the government, Headley dubbed the cartoon-related attack ''the Mickey Mouse project.'' His attorneys have declined to comment.
Headley grew up both in the United States and Pakistan, the son of an American mother and a Pakistani father. By his teen years, he already had developed strong feelings about Islam, according to Lorenzo Lacovara, who helped Headley's mother open a bar in Philadelphia in the 1970s.
''He was all full of himself and thought that Islam was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He was full of contempt,'' Lacovara says. ''He was fully convinced that it was the 14th century and that it was time for Islam to take over the world. It sounded a lot like teenage bravado, but I think he became a lot more serious.''
Headley's interest led him to terrorist training camps operated by Lashkar-e-Taiba -- Army of the Pure in Urdu -- a group focused on the decades-old friction between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Prosecutors say Headley repeatedly attended the camps to learn terrorist tradecraft.
Prosecutors say Headley got marching orders from Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2005 to do surveillance for the group in India.
Soon after he was given the assignment, he changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley to ''present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani,'' according to court documents.
Headley took photos and made videotapes of the targets that were attacked in Mumbai by 10 terrorists trained by Lashkar, prosecutors say.
After each surveillance trip between September 2006 and July 2008, the government says, he allegedly returned to Pakistan, met with co-conspirators to review the photos and other documents, and provided oral descriptions of the targets.
While traveling the world, Headley posed as an employee of a Chicago-based company, First World Immigration Services.
The owner of the company, 48-year-old Tahawwur Hussain Rana, is charged with providing material support to terrorists in the planned attack on the Danish newspaper. Prosecutors say he made travel arrangements for Headley and allowed him to use the company name.
Rana has pleaded not guilty and his attorney, Patrick Blegen, says he appears to be an honest businessman who may have been duped by Headley.
Headley was born in 1960 in Washington, where his Pakistani father, Syed Saleem Gilani, worked for Voice of America, according to Headley's half-brother, Danyal Gilani, a public relations officer for Pakistan's prime minister.
The family moved to Pakistan soon after Headley's birth. He and Rana met as teens at the Hasan Abdal Cadet College, a prestigious Pakistani military boarding school outside Islamabad. A highly disciplined, traditional atmosphere prevailed among the neat red brick buildings and manicured grounds.
The two men entered in 1974, but administrators say Headley left after three years to live with his mother, Serrill Headley, in the United States, after his parents divorced. Rana completed the five-year term.
In the 1970s, Headley worked at a bar his mother opened in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood called the Khyber Pass Pub.
Lacovara, the man who helped her open it, said that even though Headley's interest in Islam was plainly growing during his teenage years, he did not seem intent on violence. But he did seem troubled.
''He felt that (his mother) had abandoned him when she left Pakistan,'' Lacovara said.
Few if any traces of Headley remain in Philadelphia. At one point, he and his mother opened a video store, but it has long since closed. Serrill Headley closed the bar in 1988, but it has since reopened. She died last year.
According to Danyal Gilani, the family in Pakistan had little contact with Headley after he left for the United States.
In 1998, Headley -- using the name Gilani -- was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into the U.S. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
''In fact because of his involvement with issues related to drugs, my father wanted the rest of the family to stay away from his influence,'' Gilani said in a statement. ''His having another name or changing his name at some stage in life has come as a surprise to me.''
Gilani says his half-brother has a Pakistani wife and four children. A neighbor says they moved into a three-story apartment building about a year ago. He also says he last saw Headley when he visited Pakistan a few days after their father died last December.
Both Rana and Headley occasionally worshipped on Fridays at Jame Masjid of Chicago, sometimes heading around the corner to Zum Zum, a sweet shop where men in the neighborhood often gather to talk politics and cricket over samosas and chai.
Split life defined alleged Mumbai attack conspirator
By Mark Guarino
The Christian Science Monitor, December 9, 2009
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5 Americans detained in Pakistan; no reason given
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani police say they have detained five U.S. citizens in a raid on a house in the east of the country.
Police officer Tahir Gujjar declined to say why the men were arrested Wednesday in the town of Sargodha.
He says three of the men are Americans of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent and the other is of Yemeni heritage.
He says they are being interrogated by senior police officers.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said officials there were aware of the reported arrests, but had no more information.
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Target workers in Walnut Creek quit after questions about immigration status
By Matt O'Brien
The Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), December 8, 2009
Walnut Creek, CA -- More than 40 employees at the downtown Target store quit their jobs after an internal probe raised suspicions about their immigration status, according to lawyers who have met with the workers.
Managers summoned the overnight crew of the North Main Street department store to meetings last month and gave workers the chance to prove their eligibility to work in the United States by bringing in the proper documents, the lawyers and Target representatives say.
Most of the questioned workers voluntarily resigned, Target spokeswoman Kate Gillen said. The Minnesota-based retailer would not say how many workers left the Walnut Creek store, but advocates for the employees say it was dozens.
'Forty-five people are without a job,' said lawyer Rocio Avila of La Raza Centro Legal, a San Francisco legal group pressing Target for more information. 'Many of the workers there were long-term workers. There was one gentleman who had been (at Target) for 19 years, and the average was five to six years. These weren't temporary workers, seasonal workers for the holiday season. These were loyal workers who had been there for a long time.'
Avila met with many of the workers and said the group, all of them Spanish speakers, are confused about what happened Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, when supervisors, paychecks in hand, held staff meetings at the beginning of the graveyard shift.
It is unclear, she said, why the predominantly Latino overnight shift was targeted while other employees were not.
'None of the workers are able to articulate exactly what happened,' Avila said. 'None of these workers ever got anything in writing. None. That's a huge red flag.'
The store's probe of so many of its workers was unusual, especially for a brand-name retailer, but may become more common as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement heightens its enforcement of employers who hire illegal workers, whether knowingly or not. The agency this year has launched civil inspections of hundreds of California employers, though Gillen made clear that the Target store was not one of them.
The company, she said, launched its internal investigation on its own after fielding allegations she will not say from whom that some of its Walnut Creek employees were working at the store illegally. All American workers must fill out I-9 forms on the first three days of a job to verify their identity and authorization to work legally in the country, so the store began reviewing those forms.
The employees who were being investigated were 'given the opportunity to provide Target with further information and documents to reestablish their ability to work in our store,' Gillen said in a statement.
Although the retailer uses the program elsewhere in the country, Target said the Walnut Creek store is not registered for E-Verify, the federal database that helps companies confirm the legal status of their workers.
Most of the employees worked late at night and early in the morning, when the store is closed, but employees use forklifts, ladders and their hands to stock the store with newly arrived products. Others clean the store, which has been open since 1999.
The retailer gave no warning to county officials about firing a large group of workers. Companies are required to notify local government following a mass layoff but not if the employees were fired for a special reason or left voluntarily, said Stephen Baiter, executive director of the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County.
'We definitely have not formally received any information,' he said.
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US seeks fine from company in immigration case
By Ed White
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Detroit (AP) -- The government's immigration agency is seeking more than $40,000 from a Detroit-area company accused of failing to properly complete nearly 100 eligibility forms for workers.
. . .
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Plea change hearing set in immigration raid case
The Associated Press, December 8, 2009
Jackson, MS (AP) -- The only company official charged in the nation's largest workplace raid on illegal immigrants is scheduled to change his not guilty plea at a court hearing Wednesday.
. . .
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NJ Fugitive Worked for Homeland Security in Ga.
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Newark NJ (AP) -- Prosecutors don't understand how a fugitive wanted in New Jersey worked for the Homeland Security Department in Georgia despite a nationwide alert for her arrest.
Tahaya Buchanan was sought on a 2007 indictment on charges of staging the theft of her Range Rover.
. . .
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Feds: Man extorted Garden City citizenship applicants
By Robert E. Kessler
Newsday (NY), December 8, 2009
Federal agents Tuesday arrested an immigration officer on charges of shaking down applicants for citizenship at the federal immigration office in Garden City for up to $1,000 each, officials said.
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Longmont mother convicted of using false social security number
By Vanessa Miller
The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), December 8, 2009
A Longmont woman who came to Colorado from Mexico in 2000, graduated from Fairview High in 2001 and was working two jobs under a false social security number was found guilty Tuesday of two felonies.
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Nigerian faces trial in Kan. liquor license case
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Wichita, KS (AP) -- A Nigerian man faces trial in Kansas this week on allegations of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen on applications for liquor licenses.
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2 Va. men sentenced to prison in immigration case
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Norfolk, VA (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say two Virginia men have been sentenced to prison for immigration crimes.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Davis sentenced 48-year-old Suffolk resident Otis Martin to five months for fraud and misuse of visas Tuesday. Twenty-five-year-old Richmond resident Ryan Bulkley was placed on probation for three years for making a false statement related to citizenship.
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Driver accused of transporting immigrant children
By Roxana Hegeman
The Associated Press, December 9, 2009
Wichita, KS (AP) -- An unaccompanied 2-year-old in soiled clothes and an unchanged diaper who was fed only Gatorade was among a dozen illegal immigrants allegedly driven across the U.S. by a man facing federal charges in Kansas, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Santos Tomas Ochoa-Bello, a 29-year-old from Mexico, is accused of transporting 12 illegal immigrants from a 'stash house' in Phoenix, Ariz., bound for destinations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where they hoped to join relatives and find work, according to a two-count indictment.
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[For CISNEWS subscribers --
1. Canada: Mounties used 'substandard policing' in death of Pole (story, 2 links)
2. Canada: Members of Tamil terror group likely among asylum seekers
3. U.K.: Gov't figures how foreign population hit record high
4. U.K.: Home Sec. says figures used to scare public (story, 2 links)
5. U.K.: Asian super-rich a boon for London bankers
6. Ireland: Social services losing track of five foreign kids per month
7. Ireland: Gov't eyes European funds for repatriations
8. Ireland: Employment agencies now exporting labor
9. France: President calls for more discreet practice of Islam (story, link)
10. France: Center to welcome U.K.-bound illegals
11. Sweden: Security service wants more latitude to hire foreigners
12. Sweden: Report offers reduced emphasis on integration
13. Sweden: Foreign grads at high risk of unemployment
14. Germany: Muslims worry prejudice is expanding
15. Libya: 325 Nigerians deported this week
16. U.A.E: Dubai financial crisis worries foreign laborers
Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html
-- Mark Krikorian]
RCMP chided for substandard policing in tasering
Officers' confrontation with Polish immigrant in Vancouver airport a defining moment in force's history, complaints commissioner says
By Ian Bailey
The Globe and Mail (Canada), December 9, 2009
Vancouver -- The four Mounties involved in the fatal 2007 confrontation with Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski used substandard policing in a defining moment in RCMP history, says the head of the commission for complaints against the national police force.
Paul Kennedy, chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, said yesterday the force's response to his long-awaited report on the incident and the conclusion of a provincial inquiry 'will have a profound impact on how the iconic institution is viewed by Canadians.'
One major reason the incident resonates so widely is that a bystanders' video footage of the Oct. 14, 2007, confrontation has 'gone viral' on the Web and been seen repeatedly in Canada and around the world, he said.
'The events of that night at the Vancouver International Airport not only represent a profound loss to the family and friends of Robert Dziekanski, they represent a defining moment in the history of the RCMP,' Mr. Kennedy said.
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said in a letter released yesterday that the RCMP have responded to a number of concerns about the Dziekanski incident with measures that include changes to policies and taser training, and restrictions on the use of conducted energy weapons.
Further changes are likely, Mr. Elliott wrote. He did not go into detail.
Mr. Elliott promised a detailed response to the Kennedy report once the provincial inquiry report by Thomas Braidwood is released.
'We expect the final report from the inquiry will further inform our actions and our response to you,' Mr. Elliott wrote to Mr. Kennedy.
Mr. Kennedy said the four officers acted within the law, but 'failed to adopt a measured, co-ordinated and appropriate response to Mr. Dziekanski's reported behaviour.'
The officers came to the international departures' terminal of Vancouver airport early on Oct. 14, 2007, responding to calls about erratic conduct by Mr. Dziekanski, who had arrived to be picked up by his mother to begin a new life with her in Kamloops.
When Mr. Dziekanski, exhausted after being lost in the terminal for hours, brandished a stapler, he was tasered. He died of cardiac arrest.
Mr. Kennedy said the stapler brandishing did not justify the police response.
'The threat posed by the holding of the stapler was not of such a nature as to justify the intervention and certainly the rapidity of the intervention,' he told reporters.
He said the senior RCMP officer on the scene - Corporal Benjamin Robinson - failed to take charge of the response, no meaningful attempt was made to de-escalate the situation, and no warning was given to the 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski before he was tasered several times.
Mr. Kennedy also had concerns about what happened afterward, noting the officers' accounts were not credible, and added that the officers' superiors should have pointed out that their version of events was different than the bystanders' video.
Mr. Kennedy made 16 recommendations, including that Mounties review their taser quality-assessment program and training in awareness of the 'potentially dangerous' nature of tasers, and teach officers techniques to communicate with people 'who cannot meaningfully communicate with them.'
The recommendations aren't binding on the RCMP or the federal government.
Mr. Kennedy said it was not his place to comment on a recent Crown decision not to lay charges against the four Mounties.
In an interview, Mr. Kennedy said the officers were a product of their training and a policing environment in which experienced, baby-boom-generation officers have moved on, leaving a shortage of mentors for young officers. Three of the officers had two years or less experience.
'[The four Mounties] didn't intend to kill the man, not at all. I don't think they intended to hurt the man,' he said. 'Unfortunately, in this case, they didn't have much experience and they're confronted by an event that, statistically, would not normally have had the outcome it had.'
The federal government has decided not to reappoint Mr. Kennedy as commissioner, meaning this is his last month on the job after four years.
But the veteran public servant, a former assistant deputy solicitor-general, said he accepted the decision.
Mounties too quick to deploy Taser on Robert Dziekanski: report
By Kelly Sinoski
The Vancouver Sun (Canada), December 8, 2009
Officers used Taser prematurely at Vancouver airport
By Petti Fong
The Toronto Star (Canada), December 8, 2009
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Migrant links to Tamil Tigers ruled 'probable'
Immigration and Refugee Board declares that terrorism guru's warnings are credible
By Jane Armstrong
The Globe and Mail, December 8, 2009
Vancouver -- A Singapore-based terrorism expert who warned that Tamil Tigers were among the 76 migrants who arrived in a boat nearly two months ago has been given a stamp of credibility by an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator.
Rohan Gunaratna, who was grilled for hours under cross-examination by lawyers for the migrants, is 'credible and trustworthy,' Lynda Mackie said in a nine-page ruling released yesterday.
Mr. Gunaratna heads a terrorism think tank at Nanyang Technological University and has advised the Canadian government on the thorny issue of how to proceed with the Tamil migrants.
The migrants' lawyers claim the men are refugees fleeing the aftermath of the two-decade civil war between separatist Tigers and the Sri Lankan government.
But Mr. Gunaratna alleges that some of the men are members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He told the Canadian government they planned to move to Canada to re-establish the separatist movement and raise funds.
He also claims their ship, the MV Princess Easwary (which was renamed MV Ocean Lady), was a gun-running vessel that transported weapons to Tamil Tigers during the war.
But Mr. Gunaratna's assertions were called into question by lawyers for the migrants, all of whom plan to make refugee claims. They claimed Mr. Gunaratna was biased in favour of the Sri Lankan government and demanded to cross-examine him. But after hearing the cross-examination, Ms. Mackie ruled the Mr. Gunaratna's conclusions aren't unreasonable.
'I am satisfied that some weight must be given to Dr. Gunaratna's assertions concerning the LTTE's connections to the MV Easwary and find that it is possible that it is still an LTTE-controlled ship,' Ms. Mackie said. 'It is possible, even probable, that some of the men on board have links to the LTTE,' she wrote.
The ruling means that the Tamil migrants likely won't be getting out of custody any time soon. The migrants' lawyers had hoped the cross-examination of Mr. Gunaratna would poke holes in his claim that the men are potential terrorists. The LTTE is listed by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization.
All but one of the 76 migrants remain in custody nearly two months after their boat sailed into Canadian waters off Vancouver Island.
While Ms. Mackie's decision isn't binding on the other IRB adjudicators presiding over the migrants' detention hearings, her ruling on Mr. Gunaratna's credibility will likely be considered by other members.
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Number of foreigners in UK hits record 6.7m
The BBC News (U.K.), December 8, 2009
The number of people from overseas living in the UK reached a record high of 6.7 million last year, the Office for National Statistics has said.
In its annual overview of population figures, the ONS said 11% of people had been born abroad.
Nearly 25% of all births in England and Wales in 2008 were to foreign-born women - another record.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the figures did not account for those immigrants who were returning home.
The births to foreign-born women made up 170,834 out of the total of 708,711.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe, for example, had 25,000 children.
The statistics agency also projected that the UK's population would increase by nearly 10 million in the next 25 years, a rate which is almost double that recorded in the last quarter of a century.
The ONS estimated there would be 71.6 million people living here by 2033, up from 61.4 million now.
It is difficult for anyone to accurately forecast the population now, let alone in 30 years, after Labour and the Tories abandoned exit checks.
Mr Woolas cautioned that previous attempts to estimate future populations had been wildly inaccurate.
'These population projections do not take into account the impact of future government policies or those Eastern Europeans who came here, contributed, and are now going home,' he said.
'Projections are uncertain. For instance in the 1960s they said our population would reach 76 million by the year 2000. This was off target by 16 million.
'And let's be clear, the category 'foreign-born mothers' includes British people born overseas, such as children whose parents are in the Armed Forces or those who come to Britain at a very early age.
'Overall, net-migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.'
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'It is difficult for anyone to accurately forecast the population now, let alone in 30 years, after Labour and the Tories abandoned exit checks.
'We cannot know how many people live here if we do not count people out as well as in.
'Some parts of the country, like Scotland, need and want more population while others, like the South East, are at the limit of environmental sustainability.'
EDITOR’S NOTE: The statistical report is available at:
Half a million came to UK after EU expansion
By Richard Ford
The Times (London), December 8, 2009
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Johnson attacks ‘spectre’ of mass immigration
By James Boxell
The Financial Times (London), December 9, 2009
Official forecasts predicting that the UK population will reach 70m within 20 years are being used to 'terrorise' the public over immigration, according to Alan Johnson, the home secretary.
Ahead of a three-way debate with his Conservative and Liberal Democrat counterparts on immigration on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said he did not think the Office for National Statistics forecasts were a 'sensible basis' for debate and that the population was unlikely to reach that number.
'People are just being terrorised by some spectre ... though the ONS make it very clear that they don’t make predictions, they make projections,' he said.
The population estimates are highlighted regularly by critics of the government’s immigration policy, such as Frank Field, the maverick Labour MP. Some economists believe Britain’s infrastructure and social services will be stretched to breaking point by such a rapid influx.
Some think-tanks, such as the left of centre Institute for Public Policy Research, argue that the ONS figures ignore the fact that many eastern Europeans are leaving the country because of the recession.
The issue is particularly sensitive for Mr Johnson, who said he did 'not lose any sleep' worrying about a 70m population when he took over the Home Office in the summer.
Subsequently, he has altered his position, arguing that the government has been 'maladroit' in not addressing the fears of the public on the issue of immigration.
On Wednesday he said: 'I think we’ll always cope whatever the population is, we are a civilised society. But I think there are lots of hurdles to cross and ifs and buts as to whether you’ll get to 70m just as previous projections did not happen, even projections from the ONS.'
The home secretary pointed to previous dire warnings that the UK would have 76m citizens by 2001.
Attempts by Mr Johnson and Gordon Brown, prime minister, to engage with white working class voters reflect the fact that Labour is anxious to shore up its core support in the industrial heartlands of the North. The far-right British National party won two seats in the European parliament, largely as a result of traditional Labour supporters not turning out to vote.
Wednesday’s debate, hosted by the IPPR, will be the first time the three parties have addressed immigration in a joint public forum. 'We said ‘Let’s have this out in the open’,' Mr Johnson said. 'There may be some truth in the allegation that all three main parties are frightened of this and letting extremists dominate the argument.'
The home secretary also defended the government’s decision to allow immigration to reach historic highs after the accession of eastern European countries to the European Union in 2004, countering allegations that Labour pursued a deliberate 'open door' policy. 'We had almost 75 per cent employment, 60,000 vacancies and a very strong economy,' he said.
Britain is 'terrorised' by population projections, says Home Secretary
By Tom Whitehead
The Telegraph (U.K.), December 9, 2009
Population boom is a 'spectre', says Alan Johnson
By Richard Ford
The Times (London), December 9, 2009
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Influx of rich Chinese solace for London's wealth banks
By Chris Vellacott
Reuters, December 8, 2009
London (Reuters) -- The fear that established clients will flee rising British taxes might be giving London's private bankers sleepless nights, but a Chinese remedy is at hand, in the shape of a growing colony of super-rich clients from Asia.
Signs from high-end jewellers, real estate brokers and law firms are signalling the arrival of the Chinese ultra-wealthy in London, following in the footsteps of older billionaire enclaves from Russia, India and the Middle East.
'The Chinese haven't arrived in London en masse yet, but they're going to be the next big act in town,' said James Fleming, a private banker at Coutts, the wealth management arm of Royal Bank of Scotland.
China's population of wealthy, defined as having more than $1-million (U.S.) in investible assets, surpassed that of Britain in 2008, according to a survey by Merrill Lynch, and it now ranks fourth in the world.
In Asia, the number of ultra rich, with at least $30-million, stands at 14,300, compared with 18,000 in Europe.
Signs that London retains its allure to the world's super wealthy will come as a relief to a British private banking industry made increasingly nervous by the threats from high earners to leave in large numbers.
A recent poll, conducted by law firm Withers of 151 high net worth individuals and their advisers, found 64 per cent of rich British residents are considering leaving, with Switzerland, Hong Kong and Monaco cited as likely destinations.
But traders on London's Bond Street, a shopping strip of exclusive jewellers, art dealers and fashion retailers that bisects the elite Mayfair district, report Chinese shoppers now outspend their Russian and Arab counterparts.
Chinese shoppers spent more than £3-million ($4.93 million U.S.) on Bond Street during the six months to September, more than double the previous period, according to figures from the Bond Street Association of traders on the street.
London's upmarket estate agents also report a surge in interest from Asian, particularly Chinese, buyers of properties in the prime districts of Mayfair and Belgravia, where little sells for less than £1-million.
'Besides the Middle East, we are still seeing interest from Russia, and more and more from China,' said Jonathan Hewlett, who works at upmarket property consultant Savills.
Immigration lawyers servicing rich visa applicants also report growing demand, with no noticeable drop in inquiries since the government revealed plans to hike tax rates.
Samar Shams, an associate specializing in immigration at Lewis Silkin, said inquiries into the expensive Tier 1 Investor category visa were accelerating.
To qualify, a prospective migrant must have funds of at least £1-million, and once accepted must invest at least £750,000 in government debt, shares in British companies or British corporate bonds.
'The volume of applications has gone up pretty significantly in the last couple of years,' she said.
Despite reports that planned tax increases would lead to an exodus among Britain's wealthy, people working in the wealth industry say London remains an attractive tax haven, and enough of its non-domiciled residents may stay.
Global income and capital gains of a non-domiciled resident are not currently taxable in Britain unless remitted, and plans to levy a yearly £30,000 charge on overseas income after seven years will for many of them cause no serious pain.
'For the super wealthy, for whom such a charge remains proportionately low, the U.K. still provides tax haven status for those with major income and gains overseas,' said David Poole, head of Citigroup's private bank in Britain.
According to Scott Duncan, a private client tax specialist at wealth manager Kleinwort Benson, a non-domiciled individual's exposure to inheritance tax can also be minimized through the use of an overseas trust.
Moreover, London has more to offer than just low taxes.
'London ... is an iconic place to buy property, but this demand is also strongly related to education. My perception is as countries make money, they put their children in London schools,' said Naomi Heaton at London Central Portfolio, which represents rich clients wanting to buy London property.
Reflecting the more upbeat mood among the larger private banks in London, Gerard Aquilina, vice-chairman at Barclays Wealth dismisses concerns about an exodus.
'I believe that those people who do choose to leave will be replaced, and perhaps outnumbered, by those from other parts of the world, who see London as an attractive base for their families or who wish to further their careers at the centre of a major financial hub,' he said.
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The Irish Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Number of missing migrant children up
By Marie O'Halloran
The Irish Times (Dublin), December 9, 2009
Five migrant children have gone missing each month this year, twice as many as for all of last year, the Dáil has heard.
Fine Gael spokesman on migration Denis Naughten sharply criticised Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews who he said had told the Dáil in February that 24-hour care was being provided to unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the State. But the report of the Children’s Ombudsman had shown that 'security guards provide care after 6pm'.
Mr Andrews said it was of serious concern the figure had increased in 2009 after a 'very low figure' of 22 in 2008. Figures for missing migrant children who enter the State unaccompanied, showed that 32 went missing in 2007, from the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE), 22 disappeared in 2008 and up to October this year 45 had gone missing.
To prevent this happening, 'we need to bring children seeking asylum into a position of equality with children in residential or foster care so that they are provided with the same services and the accommodation is properly registered and inspected. This has not been the case until now,' said the Minister.
He hoped to 'phase out the four hostels that remain providing services to children' by December 2010 and the move to foster care 'should help to ensure that fewer children go missing'.
He said that children 'go missing very soon after coming to the attention of State agencies'. He said that if they were in inappropriate accommodation it was certain that 'inappropriate service will be provided'.
Mr Naughten claimed that the Minister 'clapped himself on the back' because the number of missing children was reduced last year, a claim Mr Andrews sharply rejected. Mr Naughten said, however, that the Minister 'took credit in the House for the fact that only 22 children had gone missing last year. Two in every five children placed in care this year have disappeared from accommodation. Will you take responsibility for that?' he asked Mr Andrews.
Mr Naughten also objected to HSE proposals to 'put new accommodation alongside existing asylum centres' which were a focal point for traffickers.
Rejecting the assertion that he had clapped himself 'on the back', the Minister pointed out that he had only been Minister of State for half of last year. 'I fail to see how I could be credited with positive development that occurred in the previous year.' He added that a process was in place to ensure the closure of hostels by the end of 2010 'is done with the best interests of children at heart'.
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State to tap immigrant return fund
By Michael Brennan
The Irish Independent, December 7, 2009
The Government is seeking EU funds to get illegal immigrants from Nigeria, China and Brazil to leave the country.
It wants to tap into the European Return Fund (2008-2013), which is worth almost €700m, to pay for the return of illegal immigrants.
In its tendering documents, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) said: 'There will be a strong emphasis on programmes focused on Nigeria, China and Brazil.'
INIS said it wanted to collaborate with non-governmental organisations 'to increase the range of voluntary return programmes available and promote the voluntary return option as an alternative to forced removal'.
The top five source countries for asylum applications in the first 10 months of this year were Nigeria (499 people), Pakistan (216), China (169), the Democratic Republic of Congo (91) and Moldova (79). But the overall number of applications (2,354) is the lowest since the mid 1990s and far below the peak of 11,634 refugee applications in 2002.
The European Return Fund also provides for the creation of joint charter flights to deport illegal immigrants. These flights would be managed by Frontex, the European agency (based in Warsaw, Poland) which is in charge of the EU's external borders.
INIS said in its tender documents that one of its priorities was 'increased participation by Ireland in charter operations organised through Frontex'. But it said the available EU funding for deportation flights had dropped to around €254,000, which meant that just one or 'possibly two' flights could be provided.
'Nigeria, China and Brazil have been identified as priority countries of return and, therefore, available resources will, in the main, be directed at returns to these three countries. Projects which focus on returns to other countries may also be considered,' the documents said.
Unlike the voluntary returns programme, all of the charter flights for deportations will be managed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.
According to the Department of Justice, there were deportation orders signed for 939 people up until the end of October this year and 240 people were subsequently deported. This is significantly up on last year.
The overall cost of the voluntary return and deportation programme is expected to be €1.1m, with the EU providing half of the funding and the state providing the other half.
The NGOs and international organisations that are awarded contracts under the EU scheme are likely to be asked to run advertising campaigns directed at illegal immigrants.
'The promotion of voluntary return through publicity and information campaigns will be an important aspect of selected projects,' the INIS tender documents said.
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Recruitment agencies export thousands of skilled builders
By Breda Heffernan
The Irish Independent, December 7, 2009
Recruitment agencies are now exporting thousands of construction workers they brought to Ireland in the good times.
At the height of the property boom recruitment firms were crying out for builders.
But since the collapse in the market, recruitment companies have changed tack. One specialist recruitment firm said that in the first six months of the year alone it had 'repatriated' more than 20pc of all workers it had brought to Ireland.
Most of these have returned to their native South Africa to plug the skills gap in that country's construction boom ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
Paul O'Donnell, manager of the Construction and Property division at Hays, said 68,000 jobs had been shed in the industry and that a 'significant percentage' of these had now emigrated.
He said this meant that when the economic recovery took place, Ireland could find itself with a 'glaring skills shortage' yet again. This is compounded by the fact that well-qualified Irish engineers have also decided to leave.
'It's completely done a loop around and we have got to the stage where we are trying to repatriate people we had placed here,' he explained.
Among them is South African Paul Quinn (53) who is now working as a civil engineer outside Johannesburg. He, his wife and two children moved to Cork three years ago where he worked on a number of high-profile road and rail projects. However, he saw 'the writing on the wall' earlier this year and decided to return home.
Mr O'Donnell said that while the housing sector started to decline in mid-2007, the big turning point came around 12 months later when infrastructure projects dried up. This has been followed by an 'exodus' of foreign skilled workers as well as their Irish colleagues.
'The majority of focus is on the Middle East, South Africa and Australia,' Mr O'Donnell said.
He added that the 'negative aura' around the construction industry had led to a major fall-off in the number of enrollments in engineering and other construction-related courses at third level.
However, Mr O'Donnell said next year could be a turning point in the sector's fortunes.
'From talking to a lot of people in the construction industry, they believe it's at rock-bottom now and whoever is left standing is going to be standing in a few years' time.'
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Sarkozy delivers a mixed message to France's Muslim immigrants
Call for tolerance comes with a caution on displays of religion
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, December 9, 2009
Paris -- Faced with swelling unease over the place of Muslim immigrants in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy called Tuesday for tolerance among native French people but warned that arriving Muslims must embrace Europe's historical values and avoid 'ostentation or provocation' in the practice of their religion.
Sarkozy's appeal, in a statement published by Le Monde newspaper, reflected concern that a government-sponsored debate on France's 'national identity,' sharpened by a recent referendum banning minarets in neighboring Switzerland, seemed to be contributing to expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment and generating resentment among Muslim citizens and immigrants.
'I address my Muslim countrymen to say I will do everything to make them feel they are citizens like any other, enjoying the same rights as all the others to live their faith and practice their religion with the same liberty and dignity,' he said. 'I will combat any form of discrimination.
'But I also want to tell them,' he continued, 'that in our country, where Christian civilization has left such a deep trace, where republican values are an integral part of our national identity, everything that could be taken as a challenge to this heritage and its values would condemn to failure the necessary inauguration of a French Islam.'
Sarkozy said he understood the fears of many native French at the growing visibility of Muslims. France has Europe's largest Muslim population, estimated at well over 5 million. That, he said, is what led him to propose the national-identity debate managed by Eric Besson, the minister of immigration, integration and national identity.
'This muffled threat felt by so many people in our old European nations, rightly or wrongly, weighs on their identity,' Sarkozy added. 'We must all speak about this together, out of fear that, if it is kept hidden, this sentiment could end up nourishing a terrible rancor.'
Dismissing criticisms from leftist figures and some members of his own government, Sarkozy said the Swiss decision Nov. 29 to ban construction of minarets arose from a democratic vote and, instead of outrage, should inspire reflection on the resentment felt by Swiss people and many other Europeans, 'including the French people.'
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had said he was 'a little scandalized' by the Swiss vote and suggested it 'means a religion is being oppressed.' Intellectuals in the Paris chattering class took their criticism further, suggesting the Swiss vote betrayed bigotry and isolationism.
But Xavier Bertrand, head of Sarkozy's political coalition, the Union for a Popular Movement, seemed to indicate that a referendum like the one in Switzerland would be a good idea for France. In an appearance before reporters, he questioned whether French Muslims 'necessarily need' minarets for their mosques.
Bertrand's stand, and Sarkozy's entry into the controversy Tuesday, were seen against the background of regional assembly elections in March, in which the governing coalition is seeking to make inroads into provincial Socialist Party strongholds. The extreme-right National Front, which could drain votes from Sarkozy's party, openly applauded the Swiss decision and said minarets -- towers beside mosques from which the faithful are called to prayer -- should also be banned here.
Along the same lines, members of parliament from Sarkozy's coalition introduced a bill this month giving mayors the authority to ban foreign flags at city hall marriages, aiming at Algerian, Moroccan or Tunisian flags that often accompany the weddings of immigrants' children. Similarly, a mayor from the government majority complained recently that, in his city hall, weddings more often are accompanied by Arab-style ululating than polite applause.
While urging Muslims to avoid ostentation and provocation, Sarkozy avoided specific comment on another test soon to be posed for his government, this one over whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils that cover their entire faces. Although only a small number do so, a parliamentary commission has held three months of hearings and is expected to issue a report next month proposing legal restrictions.
The president has said publicly that 'the burqa has no place in France,' placing his opposition in the context of women's rights. But since then, a number of political leaders have suggested that the French constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, would make legislating on the question difficult no matter what the angle of attack.
Attempts to resolve French identity crisis backfire badly
By Peggy Hollinger
The Financial Times (London), December 9, 2009
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France 'to open another Sangatte’
A new welcome centre for UK bound illegal migrants is to open in Calais before the end of this year, it has emerged.
By Peter Allen in Paris
The Telegraph (U.K.), December 8, 2009
Closely guarded plans have been approved by French administrative judges for a new structure close to the town’s ferry port.
It is already being dubbed 'Sangatte II' after the former Red Cross centre which attracted thousands of illegal foreigners before it was razed to the ground in 2002.
Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister said: 'This is another gesture of contempt from France to Britain. The only result of this will be to encourage more potential illegal immigrants to try to break our laws.
'The most humane reaction would be for the French authorities to deal with the asylum applications themselves.'
News of the latest building comes just seven months after France’s immigration minister, Eric Besson, said he would make the town 'watertight' to those trying to get to Britain.
But officials say the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that both the French government and Calais council feel they have no option to build the new centre on waste ground next to the Marcel-Doret industrial estate.
French officials insisted that it would only be a 'day centre' for foreigners who are in a particularly bad way including the sick, pregnant women and minors under the age of 18.
But the plans agreed by the Administrative Court of Lille include central heating, hot showers, and a kitchen.
The facilities will be made available to those trying to board ferries and trains to England. Officials defended the plan as a humanitarian response.
One said: 'There are more than 1000 migrants sleeping rough in the town, and with temperatures dropping their living conditions are getting worse.'
'He said that September’s destruction of The Jungle, an illegal shanty town full of mainly Afghan young men, had not had the desired effect.
'It did not persuade them to leave, so we have to offer them a basic level of support,' the official added.
Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP Party, said the council had been forced to accept the new building as part of a compromise deal with refugee charity Secours Catholique (Catholic Help).
The charity, which will run the new centre, had wanted to build an even bigger one in another part of town, but agreed to remove their planning application in return for the smaller structure.
Mrs Bouchard, who blames Britain’s lax asylum policies for the influx of migrants, confirmed that the new structure would be open 'by the end of the year'.
She said that negotiations had been 'incredibly tense' and that the government in Paris would be contributing financially to the centre.
Since the closure of the notorious Jungle in Calais in September this year, further migrant camps have sprung up in nearby Steenvoorde, Bailleul and St Omer, with all providing beds, food, clothing shops, medical care and advice on how to claim asylum.
But the Calais centre is likely to cause particular outrage, as Mr Besson has insisted time and time again that there would no official welcome centre in the town.
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'Hire non-Swedes for sensitive posts': Säpo
The Local (Sweden), December 7, 2009
Swedish security service Säpo wants to make it easier for foreign nationals to fill sensitive positions within the Swedish state as part of a 'necessary modernization'.
The government is set to review the laws governing Säpo’s role in determining who can be hired for government positions requiring a security clearance, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reports.
Currently, the law gives Säpo the power to stop foreign nationals and others deemed to be inappropriate for sensitive positions.
But as the Swedish labour market becomes woven ever more tightly within the larger EU labour market, Säpo believes its policies of automatically shutting foreign citizens from sensitive jobs with the Swedish state are outdated.
'This type of modernization is necessary. We do after all have free movement in Europe,' Säpo director general Anders Danielsson told the newspaper.
Previously, a cabinet decision was required before hiring a non-Swede for positions requiring a security clearance.
Säpo hopes the change will allow it to hire competent foreign staff.
Danielsson also believes that the agency will have to perform checks on an increasing number of people employed at private companies contracted to carry out vital functions within society, such as operating nuclear power plants.
Currently, Säpo isn’t allowed to investigate the backgrounds of people employed at privately owned nuclear plants.
'There’s pressure from public opinion here. People think that Säpo should be checking on the people who run our nuclear reactors,' he told Sydsvenskan.
Danielsson also wants Sweden’s state agencies to adapt to NATO standards and bolster protections of digital information.
He also added that it’s becoming more difficult for Säpo to define what exactly constitutes 'national security' and to protect 'Swedish interests' in a globalized age.
In Danielsson’s eyes, an electronic attack is currently the biggest threat facing Sweden, as such an attack could not only compromise the country internally, but also make Sweden more vulnerable to military and other external threats.
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'Segregation can be a good thing': study
The Local (Sweden), December 9, 2009
Segregation isn't necessarily a bad thing, according to a new report critical of policies which try to control where immigrants and refugees settle in Sweden.
'Closeness to fellow countrymen can actually be positive, especially if the group has a relatively strong socioeconomic position,' write economists Oskar Nordström Skans and Olof Åslund in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
In their presentation of the 2009 report on welfare by the Swedish Centre for Business and Policy Studies (SNS), the authors point out that there is no research to suggest that the ethnic makeup of people in one’s surroundings has a decisive role in how well an individual integrates into the labour market or in school.
While Sweden's current placement system, based on a strategy of spreading refugees to various locations around the country and providing incentives to move to regions with fewer immigrants, does reduce housing market discrimination, it also makes it harder for immigrants to enter the labour market, according to Skans and Åslund.
'Our conclusion from this review is that a policy which aims to control immigrants’ residency patterns is wrong,' they write.
The authors suggest instead that politicians should focus on the underlying problems such as long-term unemployment and poverty in large immigrant communities.
Skans and Åslund add that it is 'self-evident' that immigrants who come to Sweden should live by the same obligations and responsibilities as others when it comes to abiding by Swedish law.
'But with that it follows as well, in our opinion, that society ought to treat those who immigrate as equal members of society with the same rights as others,' they write.
'Even if society neither can nor ought to even out all disparities, such an outlook can hardly allow for the huge socioeconomic differences we now see.'
In the eyes of Skans and Åslund, society ought to accept the choices that immigrants make about their schools, careers, partners, and where they choose to live 'just as one obviously accepts the choices of other members of society'.
'We have a hard time seeing how segregation which can occur through voluntary choices can be a bigger problem than the fact that residents of Småland often get married to other people from Småland,' they conclude.
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Foreign grads run threefold jobless risk
The Local (Sweden), December 8, 2009
Having a university degree is no guarantee for immigrants hoping to succeed in the Swedish labour market, a new study shows.
According to figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB), seven out of ten foreign-born people with university degrees living in Sweden are active on the labour market compared to nine out of ten for people born in Sweden. In the foreign-born group, around half of those not working were engaged in further education.
The study also found that employment prospects for immigrants vary depending on where they attend university.
While 78 percent of foreign-born workers with degrees earned in Sweden were working at the time the study was carried out in April of this year, only 69 percent of immigrants with degrees from foreign universities were gainfully employed.
In addition, only two thirds of employed foreign-born people with degrees from abroad had a job that wholly or in part suited their education, a substantially lower figure than the 9 out of 10 reported for both foreign-born and Swedish-born people with Swedish university degrees.
According to Olof Åslund, an associate economics professor with the Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU) at Uppsala University, the results aren't necessarily a sign of overt discrimination in the Swedish job market.
'It’s not that employers think Swedish universities are better, but rather that they are less certain about how to judge credentials from overseas,' he told The Local.
'This can lead to them unintentionally favouring candidates with degrees from universities in Sweden.'
Åslund added that time out of the workforce associated with the transition to Sweden may also result in an immigrant's university degree being undervalued.
'Even if you have a great education, if you haven’t worked for a number of years in your area of expertise, employers may see your education as having lost some of its value,' he said.
The study also found that 46 percent of foreign-born workers with university degrees found it hard to find work which matched their education, compared with only 16 percent Swedish born degree holders.
According to the study, immigrants cited a dearth of professional contacts as the most common problem they faced in finding a job in Sweden, with 73 percent listing the lack of a network as the biggest obstacle to finding work.
Respondents also regarded having a non-Swedish name and a foreign background as complicating factors in their job search, something which Åslund said has been shown to result in qualified candidates being passed over in favour of native Swedes.
'We know there is discrimination in the labour market,' he said.
The study's respondents also listed difficulties with the language as another reason they felt they had been unable to find work.
Nevertheless, nearly 80 percent of unemployed immigrants with advanced degrees reported having the ability to speak Swedish very well or well enough, according to the SCB study.
Nearly 7 out of 10 also said they could argue, persuade, and give oral presentations in Swedish, and around two-thirds felt they could write written reports in Swedish very well or well enough.
Åslund emphasized, however, that it’s hard to say how the report might provide guidance to policymakers working to help foreign-born workers enter the Swedish labour market
'There’s no simple explanation' for why so many highly educated non-Swedes are out of work, he said.
'But it’s a big problem and a waste of resources,' he added.
'It’s not that politicians aren’t aware of the issue, it’s just that it’s a complex problem to solve.'
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German Muslims feel growing Islamophobia
By Stefan Nicola
United Press International, December 8, 2009
Berlin (UPI) -- Muslims living in Germany don't believe a Swiss-like minaret ban is possible here, but they say they feel threatened by growing Islamophobia.
'I was made a Turk,' says Burhan Kesici, the vice president of the Islamic Federation Berlin, a group that represents 12 Muslim congregations in this city.
Born and raised in Germany, Kesici for the first 35 years of his life told everyone that he was 'German, a Berliner.' Yet all those years, people replied that he wasn't really German. Sadly, Kesici has given up telling those people otherwise. 'Today I'm saying that I'm a Turk.' He even moved to Turkey a few years ago, but soon came back to Germany because he realized that this was his home -- although people here don't always make him feel that way.
'Latent Islamophobia is growing here in Germany,' Kesici told a group of journalists during a tour of some of Berlin's mosques last week.
Especially since Sept. 11, 2001, Muslims in Europe feel they are put under general suspicion and marginalized by society. An estimated 4 million Muslims are living in Germany, some 120,000 of those in Berlin.
Kesici said migrant organizations have in the past years tried to establish ties with non-Muslim clubs and organizations, but with limited success.
'There is this non-graspable fear of fundamentalism,' he said. 'There is a lot of fear and resentment.'
As a result, some Muslim congregations have been retreating from the majority society, relying on the company of their peers instead.
Some Germans fear that Islamic parallel societies are established in the country's big cities that they see as breeding grounds for crime, extremism and human-rights abuses. Berlin is an example often cited, with schools in the Neukoelln district made up of students solely from a migrant background. This also reduces the chances for a good job: Some 40 percent of migrants have no job, Kesici said.
The tour came on the heels of a Swiss referendum to ban minarets, a vote that has sparked criticism across Europe.
Kesici said he didn't believe a similar decision would be possible in Germany. 'When it comes to the building of mosques, we have always has sensible discussions with authorities,' he said.
Berlin is home to some 80 mosques, but only five of them are recognizable as such because they have minarets; the remaining 75 are so-called backyard mosques, prayer rooms located in community halls and buildings in industrial districts. Critics often accuse Muslim congregations here of receiving financing from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and of preaching fundamental views.
But Muslim leaders say that's an unfair accusation, adding that their communities offer more than just prayers.
'We are taking on social responsibility in our communities,' said Selcuk Saydam, the spokesman of the Haci Bayram Mosque, a congregation founded by Turkish guest workers in the 1970s. Because many of the young Muslims from the Haci Bayram community have poor grades, Muslim leaders visit families to 'explain them how important education is.'
The Haci Bayram congregation, which counts between 300 and 1,000 active members, relies on private donations and the work of dedicated Muslims like Saydam to do community work.
While some mosques get financing or personnel from foreign countries, they do that mainly because they lack the money to pay for their own imam.
If they did, they would choose one who grew up and was educated in Germany, said Pinar Cetin, a senior member of the Sehitlik Mosque in Berlin's Neukoelln district, near the closed-down Tempelhof Airport.
'The imams from Turkey don't speak German â€¦ and it's very difficult for them to relate to the problems of the migrants here,' she said, sitting in the beautifully adorned main prayer room of the mosque. 'We need imams that have grown up here, who speak German â€¦ but no one knows how to finance them.'
The Sehitlik Mosque is a beautiful building, complete with a traditional dome construction and two lavishly adorned minarets that stretch some 100 feet into the air.
If you see the building, you would wonder why anyone has something against minarets.
'I don't like it if we have had to hide our faith,' Cetin said.
She added that integration is about feeling welcome, and about getting to know each other.
'The Muslims have been living here for 50 years and all of a sudden they are perceived as a threat,' she said. 'Why? Because we have not really gotten to know each other.'
Cetin aims to change that. In her spare time she gives guided tours of the mosque to explain its architectural and religious peculiarities and to introduce her congregation.
'Once the people have been in here, a lot of fears are gone,' she said.
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Libya deports 325 Nigerians: police
Agence France Presse, December 9, 2009
Lagos (AFP) -- Libya has deported 325 Nigerians back to their home country accusing them of breaching immigration rules, police said Wednesday.
'On Monday, 164 Nigerians were in from Libya in a chartered flight while another 161 arrived on Tuesday,' a senior police officer at Lagos international airport told AFP.
He said the deportees were accused of living in Libya without valid residence and work permits. Hundreds of Nigerians use north Africa as a transit route to Europe and America.
Libya deported 140 Nigerians in April.
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Dubai crisis sparks job fears for migrant workers
By Magdi Abdelhadi
The BBC News (U.K.), December 8, 2009
Dubai -- The large numbers of migrant workers in Dubai from Asia and the Middle East are likely to bear the brunt of the emirate's severe credit problems. For them Dubai had offered an escape from poverty in their home countries.
Mohammed is from Bangladesh. He has heard about the financial crisis from newspapers, he tells me. Two of his friends have already lost their jobs.
Dubai's construction sector still bears the scars left by the recent global financial crisis. It had been enjoying a boom, financed by borrowed money.
Mohammed, Bangladeshi immigrant worker. By Magdi Abdelhadi
Mohammed, a cleaner, supports family in Bangladesh
But Mohammed says he has heard of thousands of workers made redundant in one big company alone.
And now that one of Dubai's biggest government owned companies, Dubai World, is having trouble paying back its debt, there is renewed fear that more migrant workers could be sent home.
Mohammed is concerned. His brothers and sisters back home depend on the money he makes in Dubai for their survival.
His story echoes that of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Asia and the Middle East.
They built Dubai - they continue to clean its streets and keep most of its institutions running - and in return, remittances earned there have helped them survive or climb out of the grinding poverty in their home countries.
Find me someone who is not worried about what will come next
Rollercoaster ride: 38 years of UAE
What is Dubai and who runs it?
But in Dubai, residency depends on having a job or having a big bank account. If you don't have either, you can be sent home.
There are many people like Mohammed, but they are often afraid to talk to the media. Those who are caught can be accused of tarnishing Dubai's image and be thrown out of the country.
'Find me someone who is not worried about what will come next,' whispers a waiter from Egypt working in a Lebanese restaurant, when I ask him whether he is worried.
That feeling seems to be pervasive.
While everyone was scratching their heads trying to find out the likely impact if Dubai World defaults on debt repayment due on 14 December, Dubai itself was putting on an extravagant show to mark the United Arab Emirates National Day.
The flags were being flown everywhere. Even women in traditional black dresses had the colours embroidered on their headscarves.
With the party in the background, I came across a group of Pakistani workers repairing the facade of a building, even though it was Friday and a public holiday.
UAE day celebrations
UAE National Day celebrations went ahead as the Dubai World crisis broke
One of them began to talk about unpaid salaries and colleagues who had lost their jobs.
But as soon as he suspected a security guard was approaching he changed his tune. 'Dubai very happy, Dubai no problem, no problem,' he said in pidgin English.
At the other end of the social scale, Farah Agha, a Pakistani property investor who lives in Dubai, is angry. But for completely different reasons.
She lives in a spacious and luxurious apartment in the heart of Dubai's financial district.
From her window on the ninth floor you can see the palace of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, and the man widely credited with transforming it into a brand name, a financial centre and a tourist resort in record time.
Ms Agha has seen the value of her investment plummet because of the global financial troubles and then the Dubai World crisis.
She accuses the authorities in Dubai of making the rules up as they go along.
'We have seen over this space of time, even the rules and regulations are changing. And sadly it has always been at the detriment of the investor,' she argues.
'If they feel that new investors will come even though the old ones are not satisfied, it's not going to happen, because they need to have a stable set of laws and regulations that govern the UAE, especially Dubai.'
The Dubai government has made it clear that it will not bail out its debt-stricken companies, insisting that although Dubai World is owned by the government, legally it is a separate business entity.
The next few days will see febrile negotiations between creditors and the Dubai government over how to settle this dispute.
One thing is certain though, says one analyst. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, affected companies in Dubai will have to downsize - a euphemism, in this case, for laying off more foreign workers.
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