Daily news updates from CIS

April 6, 2010

Domestic News

Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate

[For CISNEWS subscribers --

1. Analysis: Amnesty legislation unlikely for 2010
2. DHS report criticizes 287(g) program (story, 2 links)
3. Labor Dept. revs up effort against wage theft
4. Border murder spurs calls for better security
5. Poll claims Californians in favor of 'pathway'
6. FL county delays action on enforcement measures
7. CA city hearing covers car-impound laws
8. UT hawk sworn onto city council
9. SC company enters pact with ICE to reduce illegal hires
10. Atlanta clergy call for amnesty
11. CO amnesty activists launch publicity campaign
12. Illegal students in NC lobby for amnesty policies
13. More Mexicans seeking asylum from violence
14. Attorneys work to open residence application for embattled teen (story, link)
15. Activists hold vigil for detainee in AL
16. Authorities apprehending Haitians on northern border (story, link)
17. ICE sweep targets gang members in NC city
18. Border Patrol opens new Arizona checkpoint
19. Illegal given 60 years for deaths of three in CO (link)
20. NY detective recounts confession of Long Island murder suspect (link)
21. Illegal accused of molestation in Nebraska (link)
22. Mexican woman fights to retain citizenship (link)
23. ICE involved in MD rape investigation (link)
24. Man facing expulsion after hiring prostitute (link)

Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html

-- Mark Krikorian]

Obama officials say migrant reform unlikely this year
By Dan Nowicki
The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), April 6, 2010

Washington, DC -- Passing the health-care bill could have given President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies a burst of momentum to tackle immigration reform, another top priority for the administration.

But despite continuing assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Obama administration officials that comprehensive reform will happen soon, the issue seems dead until at least next year.

In this election year, lawmakers already facing potentially tough re-election battles because of their health-care votes aren't eager to take on another hotly controversial topic such as immigration reform.

And although passing the health bill was considered a legislative triumph, Democrats passed it by using the controversial 'reconciliation' process, a procedural move that avoided a GOP filibuster against final changes. That move has alienated Republicans, making it less likely that those in favor of immigration reform will be able to rebuild a bipartisan coalition along the lines of the one that backed previous, though unsuccessful, bills in 2006 and 2007.

'It's certainly going to be a hard, uphill fight,' said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, an organization that supports reform from a center-right, pro-business perspective. 'Is there a chance? Never say never, but the fallout from health care is going to make it awfully difficult.'

In Arizona at least, the raw politics of immigration already are playing out in the state's Republican primary Senate race and other congressional contests.

The March 27 shooting death of Robert Krentz, a longtime Cochise County rancher, by a gunman who is believed to have escaped on foot to Mexico already has escalated the political rhetoric and prompted renewed calls from the state's congressional delegation for the deployment of National Guard troops along the border.

Reform advocates say Krentz's slaying makes a case for a sweeping rewrite of U.S. immigration policy that strengthens border security with a combination of enforcement measures and programs aimed at reducing illegal immigration. Hard-liners say the killing shows the border needs to be sealed by any means necessary, including the military.

'With this rancher being shot, we've got to launch a comprehensive effort to secure the border,' said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee. 'I just don't think this (homicide) is a political event. I think we need to really be serious about making it safe for the people who live on the border.'

But former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., who is challenging four-term incumbent Sen. John McCain in the Aug. 24 GOP primary, already is using the killing to attack McCain's record on immigration. Hayworth, who spent 12 years in the House but lost his seat in the 2006 election, has called for a standing military presence on the border.

'I am heartened to hear that, as of yesterday now, Senator McCain has decided that, gee, there could be a military presence on the border,' Hayworth said Wednesday on Channel 3 (KTVK-TV). 'The tragedy is, it's too late for the Krentz family, and the problems continue unabated.'

The McCain campaign quickly issued a statement documenting McCain's support for sending National Guard troops to the border since March 2009 and accused Hayworth of crassly exploiting the rancher's death for political purposes.

'In truth, he's lying about Senator McCain's record in order to accuse him of being responsible for this murder,' McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. 'It's despicable.'

A few days before the Krentz homicide, McCain specifically mentioned the deteriorating border-security situation as a major reason he believes a comprehensive immigration package is unlikely this year. McCain sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and has repeatedly warned about the threat of spillover violence from Mexico's bloody drug war.

'One of the main reasons (there will be no immigration overhaul) is because, instead of increasing border security, we're actually decreasing border security, and we've got to get our borders secure,' McCain, a former champion of comprehensive immigration reform, told The Arizona Republic in a March 24 interview in his Capitol Hill office.

'Three (people affiliated with the U.S. Consulate) were killed - murdered - in Juarez, and we now find out that the virtual fence has been a complete failure. So, we have a lot of work to do to get our borders secure, including, in my view, sending the Guard to the border before we would move forward with it.'

The idea of reform has drawn encouragement and support from top Democrats, including Obama; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

On March 18, Obama praised Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who have been working on an immigration bill, for coming up with 'a promising, bipartisan framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward.' The framework addresses border security and 'demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and employers who game the system,' Obama said.

In June, the president held an immigration summit at the White House to start the conversation and tapped Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, as his point person on the issue. Schumer initially announced that he anticipated unveiling a bill by Labor Day of 2009, but after several delays, only the outline of the legislation has been publicly released.

'We're going to keep pushing this (immigration reform) until we get it over the finish line,' Napolitano said during a March 25 appearance at Arizona State University. But Napolitano said she could not provide a timeline.

Immigration advocates don't doubt the sincerity of Obama or the other Democratic leaders but acknowledge that some post-health-care realities may nudge the issue into 2011. It may be tough for Pelosi to force potentially vulnerable centrist Democrats who just backed health-care reform to cast another politically risky vote for immigration reform.

Other Obama priorities, such as financial-sector reform, are less politically problematic. The president's cap-and-trade energy reform and climate-change proposal also are pending.

'Hopefully, it does come up,' Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., said when asked if the health-care bill's passage makes immigration reform more likely or less likely this year. 'I'm not so sure it will, but at least we can't blame health care as a reason for it not coming up.'

However, Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., said Democrats have little to lose by immediately marching forward on immigration. If Democrats succeed, they will have delivered on a major promise to the Latino voters whose support they will need at the ballot box in November. If Republicans don't cooperate and the effort fails, Democrats will have created 'a wedge issue that will cause Hispanics to come out and vote against Republicans,' he said.

'They are emboldened by their (health care) win,' Shadegg said of the Democrats.

'And if they went this far to get this victory, believing it would motivate their base and save their bacon on Election Day, then they've got to be saying to themselves, 'Now, we've got to deliver on some other things.' I don't think it slows down.'

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Report pans inmate screening program
By Stephen Wall
The San Bernardino Sun (CA), April 5, 2010

A nationwide program that allows local law enforcement agencies to perform some immigration duties has numerous shortcomings, according to a new report.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is one of about 70 communities participating in the 287(g) program, which allows local officials to screen jail inmates to see if they are in the country illegally.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General issued a report last week, stating the program is poorly managed and supervised, lacks strict guidelines for implementation and fails to adequately train local officials about immigration law.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which partners with local agencies on the program, is not focusing its efforts on identifying criminal immigrants who pose the greatest risk to the public, the report says.

'The report only confirms what we have been saying all along: Counties and cities have no business enforcing immigration law,' said Emilio Amaya, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, a nonprofit immigrant assistance organization.

'In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, most of the people we see going through the 287(g) process are not the hardcore criminals we should be investing our resources in,' Amaya said.

ICE officials say the agency has made significant progress in addressing the issues raised in the report.

Since the inspector general's review was conducted, the the agency said it has taken steps to fulfill many of the report's recommendations.

'The Office of Inspector General report does not reflect the current 287(g) program,' ICE said in a statement. 'Since the audit was conducted, ICE has fundamentally reformed the 287(g) program, strengthening public safety and ensuring consistency in immigration enforcement across the country by prioritizing the arrest and detention of criminal aliens.'

The San Bernardino County of Supervisors approved an agreement with ICE in 2005 and renewed it for another three years in November.

Under the program, nine sheriff's custody specialists trained by ICE screen inmates booked into county jails to determine their immigration status. The Sheriff's Department places a hold on inmates identified as illegal immigrants so they cannot be released from jail.

After serving their jail or prison sentence, the inmates are turned over to ICE for possible deportation.

Since 2006, the program has identified 9,461 foreign nationals in the county as potentially deportable, according to ICE.

Deputy Chief Bob Fonzi said he wasn't familiar with the details of the report. But he didn't believe many of the concerns apply to San Bernardino County.

'We don't do interior enforcement,' Fonzi said. 'We don't arrest or allow other police agencies in San Bernardino County to arrest someone on strictly an immigration violation. They must have committed some crime.'

Supervisor Neil Derry dismissed the criticism of the report. He said there is no such thing as a minor offense when an illegal immigrant breaks the law in this country.

'Once it comes to the federal government's attention that they are here illegally, they should be deported regardless of the crime they are accused of committing,' Derry said. 'Immigration laws need to be enforced routinely and fairly and they need to be enforced across the board.'

Local members of Congress had differing views on the report.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, said in a statement that the Department of Homeland Security should 'seriously consider scrapping the flawed 287(g) program.'

Many reports have connected the program to civil rights violations, including racial and ethnic profiling, Baca said.

The program also diverts scarce resources from the core public safety mission of local police, he added.

Fonzi said the Sheriff's Department works very hard not to engage in racial profiling.

'The bulk of our detainees are from Mexico, but it's because of our geographic relationship, not because we are identifying any racial or ethnic background or group,' Fonzi said. 'We're very sensitive to that and we're very careful.'

Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, said the program has resulted in the deportation of about 60,000 illegal immigrants since 2006.

'I'm sure you can find minor flaws with any government program,' said Miller, whose district includes Chino and Chino Hills. 'Is the overall benefit worthy of the program? From what I see, it absolutely is.'

EDITOR'S NOTE: The DHS report is available online at: http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_10-63_Mar10.pdf


Enforcement program blasted
By Karen Lee Ziner
The Providence Journal, April 5, 2010

Report Criticizes Illegal Immigrant Program
Sheriff: Report Not Reflective Of Davidson County Program
By Jeremy Finley
The WSMV News (Nashville), April 5, 2010

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Employees Urged to Seek Wage Rights
By Melanie Trottman
The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2010

The Labor Department is encouraging low-wage and immigrant workers to turn in employers who are shortchanging their pay, as part of an expanding effort to enforce wage and hour rules.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis launched a campaign last week called 'We Can Help,' asking workers in industries from construction to food services to notify the agency of suspected wage and hour violations.

The agency is also relying on tips from worker advocacy groups, widening efforts by the Obama administration to enlist activist groups to help with enforcement in a range of sectors from toy safety to distracted driving.

However, business groups are expressing concern that the Labor Department's effort will generate unfounded complaints.

Ms. Solis, a Hispanic-American, has signaled from early in her tenure that stepping up enforcement of wage and hour rules would be a high priority. The Labor Department's wage and hour division recently hired more than 250 additional investigators—an increase of one third—and is rolling out a publicity campaign that includes bilingual public-service announcements in Spanish and English.

The ads feature activists like Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, and actor Jimmy Smits, who has Puerto Rican roots and played a successful Hispanic presidential candidate in the TV drama 'The West Wing.'

The agency and independent groups, including labor federation AFL-CIO, will also distribute posters, fact sheets and booklets on pay and how to report complaints. The agency says its message isn't limited to low-wage and immigrant workers, but it is focusing on these groups because it says they tend to be most vulnerable.

'It's about making sure that people know we're here and they know how to reach us,' said a Labor Department spokesman, who noted protections cover pay for both legal and illegal immigrants who the agency says it won't punish because of their status.

The Obama administration has been pushing to step up enforcement of wage and hour laws—a top agenda item for unions that were key supporters of President Barack Obama's election campaign and his health-care bill.

Since the beginning of 2009, the wage and hour division has recovered more than $171 million in back wages for at least 214,000 workers. The Labor Department didn't provide any comparison figures for back wages collected under President George W. Bush.

Bill Lurye, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, said the group's affiliates would disseminate material to workers, arrange meetings between workers and wage and hour staff, and hold forums at union halls where workers can watch videos about minimum wage and how to track their hours worked. 'We think the campaign is a creative and reasonable way to inform workers of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act,' he said.

Business groups and management-side lawyers say they are concerned the campaign will result in more litigation toward employers, some of it frivolous.

'We would hope that the department would carefully review those [complaints] before bringing charges against employers because employers, particularly small ones, are going to have to use a considerable amount of resources to prove their innocence,' said Randel Johnson, senior vice president of labor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Johnson also questioned the appropriateness of the agency's partnerships. 'Deputizing people outside the government who may have their own agendas is troublesome,' he said.

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Border Fence Under Renewed Fire After Rancher Killing
By Joshua Rhett Miller
The Fox News, April 5, 2010

The killing of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz allegedly by an illegal immigrant has some critics pointing out that hundreds of miles of U.S.-Mexico border fencing isn't even high enough to stop a person on foot.

Of the 646 miles of barriers currently constructed along the 2,000-mile southern border of the United States, 300 miles are vehicle barriers, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That means they're meant to keep out cars and trucks, but aren't high enough to keep out people crossing the border illegally on foot.

Fencing in place just south of the Krentz family ranch in southeastern Arizona is exactly that kind of vehicle barrier, plus there's a sizable gap in the fence nearby.

Residents and officials say the security barrier is simply ineffective, and that the killing last month is shining a light on the problem.

Rancher Wendy Glenn, Krentz's longtime friend and neighbor who heard the man's last radio transmission to his brother, said she has roughly 4 miles of border fence along Malpai Ranch. The 'wildlife-friendly' barrier -- one that allows large animals and determined people to pass through freely -- ranges from large Normandy-style 'X' crosses to standard posts and rails, topping off at no more than six feet high, she said.

'It doesn't keep any people out,' Glenn told FoxNews.com on Monday. 'We don't want any more fence here. We want more people on the border. No matter what they put in, they're going to tunnel under, cut through, or use ladders. We don't need that.'

Glenn characterized the border fence as a 'big waste of money' and called for increased federal presence along the remote areas, as well increased communication among law enforcement agencies.

'We need more people on the border,' she said. 'And we need more horse patrols -- they are awesome.'

Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said 646 of approximately 670 miles of pedestrian and vehicle border fencing has been constructed as of March 26. Just six miles of fencing infrastructure remains to be completed along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, Burke said.

The roughly 1,350 miles that will not be protected by a border fence of any kind will be patrolled by border agents, other infrastructure or technology, Burke said, or a combination of all three.

Pedestrian fencing used along the border is determined by the geography and have several variations, including steel picket-style fences set in concrete, blockades similar to those found around federal buildings and concrete walls with steel mesh. Vehicle fences, meanwhile, are about 6 feet tall and are typically large Normandy-style crosses.

'And they're all welded together,' she said. 'So they're impossible to move.'

Burke said areas selected for physical fences are locations where illegal immigrants could easily blend in with local surroundings if those individuals successfully crossed the border.

During a tour of the border along Fort Hancock, Texas, last week, Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero said security in the area was improving despite rising fears in the community that drug cartel-related violence in El Porvenir, Mexico, could spill over into the U.S. town at any moment. Still, threats remain, he said.

'At no point am I going to indicate that we have full control of the border, or that we're 100 percent secure on the border,' Romero told FoxNews.com. 'It's still a struggle, there's still some work to be done. But we've made huge strides.'

Romero, one of about 2,600 U.S. Border Patrol agents scouring the 125,000-square mile El Paso sector, extending from Fort Hancock to the New Mexico-Arizona state line, said apprehensions in the area have fallen approximately tenfold in the last four years, from roughly 122,000 in fiscal year 2006 to about 15,000 last year.

The border fence in Fort Hancock roughly 50 miles southeast from Ciudad Juarez, the epicenter of Mexico's ongoing drug war, stands about 20 feet tall in some areas and is entirely absent in others. And along some stretches of land between Fort Hancock and Tornillo, Texas, the nearest town, all that separates the U.S. and Mexico is the ankle-deep Rio Grande River.

Despite its perception as a cure-all blockade, Romero said the border fence is meant to deter large groups of illegal immigrants from entering the country illegally. It's also meant to slow down any would-be border-crossers, giving crucial seconds to roving border patrols in trucks, all-terrain vehicles and on horseback.

Former Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, whose touchstone issue is illegal immigration, told FoxNews.com the federal government needs to ideally have a 'layered' fence along with National Guard patrol along the entire southern border. A layered fence is a barrier that includes a fence, a road and another fence.

But he said the hundreds of miles of fencing along the border now are not effective.

'That's what's so maddening,' Tancredo said.

'It doesn't stop people,' said Charles Heatherly, executive director of Tancredo’s Rocky Mountain Foundation. 'It's a lie.'

Heatherly said in an e-mail to FoxNews.com that the kind of fence by Krentz's home is incapable of stopping 'drug smugglers like the one who killed Rob Krentz.'

It's unclear who killed Krentz, but local authorities said they suspected an illegal immigrant since footprints near the scene of the crime led back to the Mexican border.

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New poll shows 'sea change' in Californians' attitudes toward illegal immigration
By Ken McLaughlin
The San Jose Mercury News (CA), April 5, 2010

In a dramatic turnaround from 16 years ago, Californians now overwhelmingly favor giving illegal immigrants a 'path to legalization' rather than punishing them by denying them a public education and social services, according to a poll unveiled Monday.

The survey of 1,515 registered voters showed that 67 percent of Californians support a two-pronged approach to solving the illegal immigration problem: implementing stronger enforcement at the border while setting up a legalization path for undocumented immigrants who admit they broke the law, perform community service, learn English and pay fines and back taxes.

Seventy percent favor stricter border controls and a temporary worker program that does not grant illegal immigrants citizenship and requires them to return to their homeland. But only 45 percent favor denying the undocumented an education and taxpayer-funded health and social services.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said the poll — sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and USC's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences — showed there was a 'sea change' in Californians' attitudes toward illegal immigration since 1994. That's when 59 percent of the state's voters cast a ballot in favor of Proposition 187, the white-hot measure aimed at denying services to illegal immigrants. The proposition was later ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.

'The conventional wisdom has suggested that the level of support for denial of services had remained fairly constant,' said Schnur, who once worked for Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, a champion of Proposition 187. But the new poll, Schnur said, suggests otherwise.

One big reason for the change: Younger voters are less likely to favor cutting off services to the undocumented, Schnur said. In addition, the number of Latino voters has substantially increased since 1994.

Richard Hobbs, associate director of the San Jose-based Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, said the poll results didn't surprise him because he believes most fair-minded Californians realize that the current immigration policy is breaking up families. 'There is widespread support to allow mixed-status families to be made whole,' he said.

But Yeh Ling-Ling, executive director of the Orinda-based Alliance for a Sustainable USA, a group that wants to see more restrictions on immigration, said the poll's results are deceptive and will turn around once Californians begin paying attention to the renewed debate in Congress, expected later this year.

'Nobody ever told the people surveyed that amnesty will lead to an explosion of both legal and illegal immigration as newly naturalized citizens bring in their extended families,' she said.

The wide-ranging survey — which because of its large sampling size has a relatively small margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points — is the second in a series of polls sponsored by the college and the newspaper. The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with American Viewpoint, a public-opinion research firm.

Other results included:

* Forty-six percent of voters are more likely to support a member of Congress or U.S. senator who supported the recently passed health care bill. Twenty-nine percent are less likely to support the lawmaker; it made no difference to 19 percent. The finding is not good news for statewide GOP candidates for governor and U.S. Senate who have vowed to repeal the law.

* GOP front-runner Meg Whitman is beating Democrat Jerry Brown 44 percent to 41 percent in the battle for governor. In the GOP primary, Whitman was beating Steve Poizner by a 3-1 ratio: 60 percent to 20 percent. Brown led Poizner by 53 percent to 22 percent.

* Whitman's wall-to-wall TV and radio advertising campaign has resulted in an increase in favorable ratings from 17 percent in November to 30 percent now. Poizner, the target of Whitman attack ads, has seen his unfavorable ratings increase from 7 percent in November to 23 now.

* Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer beats a 'generic Republican' opponent by 48 percent to 34 percent. Former Silicon Valley Congressman Tom Campbell is winning in the GOP primary with 29 percent, compared with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, with 25 percent. Conservative state Assemblyman Chuck Devore is trailing with 9 percent.

* Belying the 'common wisdom' that most Republican primary voters hunger for a red-meat conservative candidate, 44 percent of likely GOP voters said they preferred a 'centrist'; 45 percent preferred a 'strong conservative.' The difference is statistically insignificant.

'As a Republican pollster, I was struck by how reasonable the Republican primary voter is today,' said Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint.

She noted that only 20 percent of Republican voters surveyed said that it's 'extremely important' for a candidate to be conservative. That, she said, indicates California Republicans this year are more interested in winning than nominating someone who is a true believer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The USC poll is available online at: http://www.greenbergresearch.com/index.php?ID=2437

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Hernando County holds off on immigration programs
By Michael D. Bates
Hernando Today (FL), April 6, 2010

Brooksville, FL -- County commissioners Tuesday delayed taking any action on adopting tougher new hiring regulations to protect against illegal aliens.

Instead, the board agreed to bring the matter back to a regular meeting sometime in the future.

A representative from the U.S. Homeland Security gave a presentation showing the benefits of two federal programs, including E-Verify, an Internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of employees to work in the United States.

Another program is called Image, a joint initiative between government and the business community to develop education and training programs to develop a more secure workforce.

But commissioners are concerned about the expense of hiring a monitor to oversee these programs locally and make sure contractors who do business with Hernando County hire only legal workers.

County Commissioner Rose Rocco first proposed the introduction of tougher hiring practices to protect American jobs which she believes are now going to illegal aliens. That, in turn, has a domino effect on the local economy, schools and health care, she said.

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San Rafael council takes closer look at car impound policies
By Jennifer Upshaw Swartz
The Marin Independent Journal (CA), April 5, 2010

Sue Murphy knows far more than she's like to about Marin's unlicensed drivers.

'It's affected my life drastically,' said the San Rafael mother of three, whose husband and two sons were embarking on a Boy Scout camping trip March 20 when the van they were riding in was broadsided at Third and B streets by an unlicensed driver.

'My husband can't work for two months,' she told the San Rafael City Council in a special session Monday on impounding unlicensed drivers' vehicles. 'That driver ran a red light and mowed down that van with my kids in it.

'I think people think unlicensed drivers aren't dangerous,' she said. 'They are.'

The issue of impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers in accidents, traffic stops, during street-sweeping days and as part of drunken driving and driver's license checkpoints was the subject of a lengthy session Monday as the council received a comprehensive briefing on the hot-button topic with a long history in San Rafael.

City officials are looking to the council for guidance on whether to continue pursuing grants for checkpoints, and if a temporary program to halt impounding on street-sweeping days should become permanent.

The council made no decisions Monday, but asked many questions about local practices, legal precedents, state and federal law and whether it was truly necessary to impound the cars of unlicensed drivers for 30 days as part of checkpoints or following accidents, as is required by California state law, officials said.

Mayor Al Boro urged the council to set aside 'social justice' politics and focus on public safety. Enforcing federal immigration law is not the city's job, but obeying state law is, he said.

'Whether you be white or brown or yellow if you are stopped and you don't have a license there's something we have to do,' he said. 'I don't think we can look the other way and I don't care who the person is or where they come from.

'I think we have to look at the safety of the whole community,' Boro said. 'That's what we're really about.'

Lately, the conversation about impounding has intensified.

The topic was a centerpiece of city politics two years ago, when critics began making regular appearances before the council urging members to abandon the checkpoints, which they said unfairly targeted illegal immigrants who could not legally earn drivers licenses. Others turned out in support the program, saying the laws should apply to everyone equally.

In the past, the council has repeatedly thrown its support behind the checkpoints, which are funded through the state Office of Traffic Safety, and police say the checkpoints are legal, appropriate and a necessary tool to combat drunken driving in Marin.

The issue resurfaced again after a New York Times article in February listed San Rafael as among several Bay Area cities that aggressively impounded vehicles and then split the revenue with the towing companies.

San Rafael officials were quick to say Monday the practice is no money maker. The city's $165 towing fee and daily storage fees, rates that have not been adjusted since 2004, do nothing more than cover costs, city officials said.

Most recently, hundreds of people from congregations throughout Marin packed the gymnasium at Saint Raphael Church in San Rafael last month to tell stories about the economic and social cost of losing their cars because they cannot get a driver's license in California.

The event was hosted by the Marin Organizing Committee, a coalition of religious congregations and nonprofit groups in Marin that works on public-policy issues. The committee has formed a team to learn more about the policies and practices of impounding cars driven by unlicensed drivers, and plans more meetings to educate the community about civil rights and actions to help get the law changed.

In the city's Canal neighborhood, residents for years have complained about losing their cars on street-sweeping days, and last year youth volunteers began cleaning up the neighborhood hoping to prove to the city that towing parked cars was unnecessary.

Late last year, city officials and neighborhood leaders struck a deal. As part of a new pilot program, the city for six months has suspended towing for street-sweeping violations and just issues citations instead.

Tom Wilson, executive director of the Canal-based advocacy group Canal Alliance, said at Monday's session that he believed the city had the power to make permanent the pilot program - an act that had nothing to do with honoring state law.

'Whether or not the car should be taken and impounded, I think there's an area that there is some discretion,' he said.

'If there is discretion on that, I would support that,' Boro said.

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Small crowd turns out for councilman Nickle's swearing-in
By David Demille
The Spectrum (St. George, UT), April 5, 2010

St. George -- About 20 people showed up in support of new city council member Benjamin Nickle Monday, as he joined Mayor Daniel McArthur and Councilwoman Gail Bunker in the official swearing-in ceremony for the winners of November's election.

Nickle, 28, was elected in his third run for city council, sticking to his conservative take on the issues, and pushing his hard-line stance on immigration. A former president of the Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration, Nickle has promised to make the issue a priority, something that has resonated with a number of residents like Virginia McAloon and Oneta Pasterski.

'We believe in him, and he's going to do right,' McAloon said after the swearing-in, crediting Nickle with pushing St. George to enact a policy to only hire contractors for city work that check their employees' work status through E-Verify, a government-maintained identification database.

The two said they supported Nickle for all three of his campaigns and said his persistence shows his passion for the issues.

While that persistence has gained attention from both supporters and detractors, Nickle has stayed true to his convictions, said his mother, Susan Nickle.

'The trip has been exciting,' she said of the seven-year-long quest to gain a seat on the council. 'Grueling, at times, but I couldn't be more proud of him. He has stayed the course and persevered.'

McArthur, entering his fifth term as mayor, commented that there usually isn't much of a crowd at the swearing-in, which takes less than a minute, but said he appreciated the citizen involvement.

Others in attendance Monday included city staff and other council members.

Bunker, a concert manager at Dixie State College who has served on the council since 2004, is known as the council's foremost advocate for the arts, but she stressed the importance of economic development during the election.

The first council meeting of the year is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m., in the city council chambers, 175 E. 200 North.

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Longs company first in state to sign agreement with immigration department
By Dawn Bryant
The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), April 5, 2010

Coastal Steel and Acoustics of Longs is the first business in South Carolina to sign an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to increase efforts to not employ illegal aliens.

The company signed the agreement this morning, which gives the company education and training on proper hiring procedures and fraudulent document detection. It also urges the company to use the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify program, an Internet-based system that checks whether newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. The program is free to companies across the country.

The voluntary program is known as IMAGE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.

Jack Doyle and Jim Shealy, who formed Coastal Steel and Acoustics in 2004, signed the agreement with Kenneth A. Smith, the ICE special agent in charge of the Office of Investigations.

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Atlanta black clergy call for immigration reform
The Associated Press, April 5, 2010

Atlanta (AP) -- A group of black clergy members is calling on lawmakers and the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.

Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta held a rally and prayer vigil Monday in front of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Atlanta office.

About two dozen people attended the rally to call for a moratorium on deportations and the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform law.

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Welcoming program designed to calm immigration rhetoric
By Victoria A.F. Camron
The Longmont Times-Call (CO), April 6, 2010

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and other organizations want to reshape the public discussion of immigration.

Beginning this week, they are kicking off the Welcoming Colorado initiative with meetings and news conferences around the state, including on Wednesday in Longmont and on Thursday in Boulder.

Through public education programs such as book discussions and movies, the Welcoming Colorado program hopes to get all residents to reflect on their beliefs about immigration and their own families’ immigration stories, said Chandra Russo, spokeswoman for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

Bob Norris, the initiative’s Longmont coordinator, said he hopes the initiative will bring an end to the nasty discussions around the issue.

'People will understand better each other’s immigration history,' Norris said.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Longmont Area Democrats, Norris and Russo will discuss the initiative and how residents can get involved.

Jonathan Singer, president of the Longmont Area Democrats, said he invited Norris and Russo to the meeting because Longmont is one of the most diverse cities in Boulder County. He said residents need to understand each other.

'People need to be educated and engage in a dialogue that is respectful,' Singer said.

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Immigrant students: Deporting wastes talent
By Keith Upchurch
The Herald Sun (Durham, NC), April 5, 2010

Durham, NC -- Proudly waving an American flag, a group of undocumented immigrant-students and supporters marched along University Drive Monday afternoon as part of their 1,500-mile walk to bring attention to what they consider unfair immigration policies.

The four students from Florida were joined by about two dozen UNC students following a rally at the Chapel Hill campus earlier in the day.

'There is too much suffering and devastation that's been happening over the past couple of years as immigration policies have gotten worse since the Obama administration came in,' said Juan Rodriguez of Miami, a 20-year-old college student. Rodriguez said more students are being deported, which he views as a waste of talent at a time when the United States needs to compete globally.

'Among those deportations that they say are just criminal aliens, they are deporting people like us -- students who have been working hard our entire lives, who have never committed any type of crime,' he said.

'We never thought the United States would be a place that would start disappearing people, but that's what's happening -- people are disappearing from our neighborhoods every day.'

Rodriguez and three other students from Florida are trying to draw attention to the fear of deportation and the limits in educational opportunities that young undocumented immigrants face.

Their journey, called Trail of Dreams, began in Miami and is set to end May 1 in Washington, D.C., where they and marchers from other parts of the nation will come together. 'There's going to be a very large civil disobedience action taking place there,' he said. They also hope to meet with President Obama to discuss immigration law reform.

'All we know is that we can't go back home empty-handed,' he said. 'There's just too much pain and we need Obama to take action to stop the deportation of students.'

Felipe Matos, a 24-year-old college student from Florida who was also part of Monday's walk through Durham, said he was impressed by the diversity of supporters here.

'It's been amazing having the opportunity to walk with students in Chapel Hill,' he said. 'I think many times, we forget the coalition of people who are supporting access to education is very diverse -- made up of African-Americans, Caucasians and Latinos alike.'

Matos said he wants to tell Obama 'that to the poor people like us -- students who only study really hard and do really well in school -- deportation is a waste of money and resources, but also a waste of talent.'

He said his dream is to be a biology teacher and to live the rest of his life in the United States.

Matos said what he wants people to know is that the Trail of Dreams walk is about love.

'It's our way to say that we love this country, and we love our community and we love our families. And all we're asking for is a chance.'

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Border violence brings asylum policy into question
By Jazmine Ulloa
The Brownsville Herald (TX), April 3, 2010

Journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto fled Mexico in 2008, after receiving death threats believed to stem from military personnel, according to media reports. At a port of entry in western Texas, Soto voluntarily approached border agents seeking asylum, but for the next seven months, he was confined to immigration detention in El Paso.

Soto is among the estimated tens of thousands of Mexican nationals, including many journalists, officials and business leaders, who have relocated to the United States since Mexican President Felipe Calderón launched a sweeping offensive against drug organizations in 2006. But because the legal standards of asylum are so high — and some researchers say even outdated — many, like Soto, face devastating challenges when it comes to reaching a safe haven in the United States.

The recent Mexican migration spurred by the drug violence, some experts predict, will push the need for immigration reform and precipitate a reconsideration of U.S. standards for asylum overtime.

'Bringing the visa system into sync with the U.S. market demand (through immigration reform) will ease the pressure from illegal immigration,' said Susan Ginsburg, a nonresident fellow of the Migration Policy Institute. 'We will then have more latitude to adjust the asylum system to deal with 21st century asylum-seekers.'

Asylum petitioners must currently demonstrate they have a 'credible fear of persecution' in their country because of their race, ethnicity, religion, political views or social group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But few people seeking to flee the violence in Mexico win cases of asylum, even as many are becoming informants for U.S. officials, said Howard Campbell, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

'There are thousands of people who have the same story and whose story is legitimate,' he said.

When Calderón initiated the battle against drug cartels in 2006, for instance, the United States received 2,793 asylum petitions from Mexico and 3,042 the following year — only 49, or less than 2 percent, were granted status each year, according to data compiled from U.S. immigration courts by the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the U.S. Department of Justice.

The number of Mexican asylum applications granted has steadily increased but is a minimal percentage of the multitude. In 2008, 72, or about 2 percent, out of the 3,459 petitions received were approved, while in 2009, 62, or about 2.2 percent, of 2,816 applications were granted asylum status.

The reason so many petitions are rejected is that asylum standards were set in an older time period, Ginsburg said. Most people who have qualified for the status have fled communist regimes, dictatorships and civil wars — not criminal violence or genuine fear of violent death at the hands of drug gangs.

'We are used to seeing the need for protection from governments and states, and this (the migration we are seeing now) is a fear of persecution from nonstate actors, criminal gangs that have taken control of areas of the country.

'On the one hand, you do not want to provide a completely open door. On the other hand, the standards we have now reflect an older era.'

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Rifqa's immigration status raised
By Bruce Cadwallader and Meredith Heagney
The Columbus Dispatch, April 6, 2010

Attorneys for Fathima Rifqa Bary asked a judge yesterday to declare her unable to be reunited with her parents by her 18th birthday so she can apply for special immigration status and avoid deportation to her native Sri Lanka.

But an attorney for the teen's parents told Franklin County Domestic Relations Judge Elizabeth Gill that Mohamed and Aysha Bary already are pursuing immigration documentation for their entire family, including Rifqa.

No one indicated that Rifqa, who turns 18 on Aug.10, is the subject of deportation proceedings. But attorney Angela Lloyd expressed urgency to obtain a special status for her while she is a minor, saying reunification is not likely before Rifqa's birthday.

Lloyd said it would not be in the girl's best interest to return to Sri Lanka.

Gill said she will hold another hearing soon to discuss Rifqa's immigration status.

Rifqa ran away to Florida in July, saying she feared her father would kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity. The Barys denied the accusation and have been trying to have her returned to their custody. She was returned to Ohio in October.

Investigations by Ohio and Florida authorities found no credible threats to Rifqa's safety. Gill has maintained control of the teen's legal status and appointed temporary custody to Children Services.

Yesterday's hearing was intended as a check-in on the progress of the family's court-ordered counseling. Rifqa, who was not at the hearing, continues to live apart from her parents in foster care.

Children Services attorney Jim Zorn said Rifqa is blossoming with her foster family, is attending weekly counseling sessions, and is on track to graduate from high school in June.

Gill again warned attorneys for both sides to allow the counseling to continue and to stop their back-and-forth accusations of meddling.

'I want nothing filed but simple pleadings in this case from now on,' Gill said. She has refused to lift the gag order barring any of those involved from discussing the case.


Ohio Christian convert fights to stay in US
By Matt Leingang
The Associated Press, April 5, 2010

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Frazer Memorial United Methodist holds prayer vigil for member who may be deported
By Jill Nolin
The Montgomery Advertiser, April 6, 2010

Monday left members of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church still hoping that an immigration judge decides to allow a fellow church member and Montgomery mother to stay with her family instead of being deported to Kenya.

A prayer meeting was held at the church Monday afternoon while a hearing was being held for 38-year-old Caroline Todd in Louisiana.

The judge in the case will spend up to three weeks deciding whether Todd will stay with her husband and their two children.

'It has just broken our hearts -- all of us,' said Freda Hall, who is in the choir with Todd and who attended the prayer meeting.

Hall described the experience as a 'roller coaster' for the church and for Todd's family, since the hearing has been postponed multiple times. Also a mother, Hall said she empathized with the agony Todd must feel from the inability to be with and help her children.

The Todd family was able to visit Caroline Todd on Sunday, although a 'contact visit' -- where visitors are allowed to be in the same room with the detainee -- was denied. Caroline Todd visited with her family through a plate of glass.

'We just had a wonderful visit yesterday. It was just a joyous Easter. We're all feeling positive about things. We've very hopeful,' said family friend Charlotte Robertson, who traveled to Louisiana with the family.

Todd, who left Kenya in 1990, has two sons and has been married to an American man since 1996.

She was convicted of two counts of perjury for incorrectly answering two questions on federal forms -- one was an employment form and the other was part of her application for permanent residence. She was sentenced to three years of probation.

She is being held at the LaSalle Detention Facility, a central Louisiana facility for detained immigrants, until a judge decides whether she should be deported or released.

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Illegal Haitians caught at U.S. border
The CBC News (Canada), April 6, 2010

U.S. border officials say they've arrested a record number of Haitians trying to enter the country illegally from Canada since the January earthquake.

Observers say the arrests reflect the growing desperation among illegal Haitian immigrants in North America since the Jan. 12 devastation.

In the last two and a half months, border authorities said, they have caught 115 Haitians trying to cross the border by foot into Vermont and New York, including eight people over Easter weekend.

The Haitians had all been illegal aliens in the U.S. who were ordered deported before the earthquake, said Mark Henry, an operations officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Instead of complying, they fled to Canada 'to see if they could not develop some [refugee] status there,' said Henry, who is based in Swanton, Vt.

Haitians arrested at the border were attempting to cross at night by foot.Haitians arrested at the border were attempting to cross at night by foot. (Canadian Press)They probably tried re-entering the U.S. to take advantage of an 18-month ban on deportations to Haiti, enacted by the Obama administration after the earthquake. Many were heading to New York City and Miami, cities that both have large Haitian populations.

There is a urgency among Haitians who want to help their fellow nationals dealing with the earthquake fallout, said Marie Villefranche, a Montreal community activist. Many of them feel they can get more work in the U.S. in oder to send money home.

But they misunderstood the U.S. deportation edict, which only applies to people who were actually on U.S. soil the day of the earthquake, she said.

Haitians living in North American were remitting between $50 and $100 a month for family at home, but many are now trying to double those amounts, said Villefranche, who works at La Maison d'Haiti.

It's not clear what will happen to the Haitians arrested at the border.


Haitians illegally travelling to U.S. looking for asylum get jail time
More than 120 caught trying to cross into Vermont from Quebec − some abetted by traffickers
By Ingrid Peritz
The Globe and Mail (Canada), April 5, 2010

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ICE targets weekend dance party in Asheville
Agents say operation was aimed at gang members
By Josh Boatwright
The Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), April 6, 2010

Asheville, NC -- Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested several people at an Asheville dance party over the weekend during a citywide operation aimed at gang members.

ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said the operation, conducted with the help of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and other local and state agencies, targeted known criminals who were a danger to the community.

But patrons of the dance event held after hours at the Oriental Pavilion restaurant in the Westgate Shopping Center said federal agents detained people with no gang connections.

'ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes efforts first on those dangerous criminal aliens who pose the greatest risk to the security of our community, not sweeps or raids to target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately,' Gonzalez said.

Sherry Martin, whose Honduran fiancé was arrested during the operation, said the people targeted are not criminals and she believes law enforcement acted indiscriminately.

Martin said ICE agents and local law enforcement officers barged into building around 1:30 a.m. and flipped the lights on.

'They just randomly started grabbing people with no rhyme or reason,' she said.

Martin said agents inspected patron’s tattoos and made her fiancé take his clothes off in a bathroom to look for gang markings.

She said her fiancé, who entered the United States with his parents when he was two, is being held at the Henderson County Detention Center and she was told he will be deported to Honduras.

Martin says her fiancé and others arrested are not involved in gangs.

'He’s never gotten so much as a ticket and now here he is gone away from his kids and his family and everything,' Martin said.

Gonzalez said Monday night she didn’t know the number of people detained or where all the arrests took place, but she planned to release a public statement this morning with more details.

To date, the largest raid of illegal immigrants in Western North Carolina was in August 2008 when federal immigration agents arrested 57 people on charges related to immigration violations at Mills Manufacturing Corp. plant in Woodfin.

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New checkpoint ready on I-19
The Sierra Vista Herald (AZ), April 6, 2010

Tucson, AZ -- U.S. Border Patrol Agents are now conducting inspection operations at the Interstate 19 interim checkpoint at kilometer post 41, which opened at 11 p.m. Sunday.

'Checkpoints are critical to the U.S. Border Patrol’s ‘Defense-in-Depth Strategy’ for protecting our nation’s borders,' said Tucson Sector’s Chief Patrol Agent Victor M. Manjarrez, Jr. 'During construction, the Border Patrol worked closely with local communities and businesses to ensure the project would have minimum impact.'

The checkpoint brings direct benefits for the motoring public and the Border Patrol. Prior to the new interim site, agents conducted inspections by working two lanes of I-19 at an underpass and an off-ramp lane. The new checkpoint consolidates efforts by expanding the inspection area to three highway lanes and eliminating the need for agents to operate an off-ramp. This increase in efficiency is designed to improve the flow of traffic and decrease the waiting time for motorists. The new site also provides a larger area for secondary inspections, which is safer for the public and agents.

As motorists approach the site, they will probably first notice a large canopy encompassing the entire checkpoint. The frame-styled canopy is designed to withstand winds of up to 100 mph, and will provide shelter from the harsh desert sun and other elements.

The project was administered by the United States Army Corp of Engineers and built by MRM Construction Service Inc.

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Man gets 60 years for 3 deaths in Colorado crash
The Associated Press, April 6, 2010

Centennial, CO (AP) -- An illegal immigrant was sentenced Monday to 60 years in prison for a crash that killed three people, including a 3-year-old boy inside a Colorado ice cream shop.
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Detective Testifies Long Island Teenager Confessed to Fatal Stabbing of Latino Man in 2008
By Manny Fernandez
The New York Times, April 6, 2010

Riverhead, NY -- The Long Island teenager accused of killing a Hispanic immigrant in 2008 confessed to the police that he had stabbed the man after he and a group of friends agreed to go looking for a Mexican to beat up, the lead homicide detective in the case testified on Monday.

In a five-page written statement to the police that the detective read aloud in court, the teenager, Jeffrey Conroy, said that one of the two Hispanic men he and his friends had approached that night in Patchogue started swinging a belt to defend himself, and Mr. Conroy said that he was struck by it on the head.
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Man accused of sexually assaulting Nebraska girl
The Associated Press, April 6, 2010

North Platte, NE (AP) -- Police in North Platte have arrested a 22-year-old man suspected of sexually assaulting his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter.

Police say Jesus Carrillo was living with his girlfriend in North Platte when he molested the girl. Police say Carrillo is an illegal immigrant, so he's in the custody of federal immigration authorities.
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ICE keeps mom, but judge has ideas
Deportation fight: She can petition for release, get free legal assistance
By Mike Archbold
The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), April 6, 2010

An immigration judge in Tacoma ruled Monday that Tara Ammons Cohen must stay in the Northwest Detention Center while she battles to stop her deportation to Mexico.

Cohen, a 37-year-old Omak mother of three, was adopted in Mexico when she was 5 months old and thought she was a U.S. citizen. She was not and was ordered deported in October after she got in trouble with the law.

She has been in the detention center on the Tacoma Tideflats since July.

Cohen appealed the deportation order and was granted a hearing, which took place Monday.

At the hearing, Immigration Court Judge Tammy Fitting said that by law she had no authority to authorize a bond that might enable Cohen to leave the detention center or to overturn the initial decision against granting bond.
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Immigration Status of New Rape Suspects Unconfirmed; 3 Have Police Records
Southern Maryland Online, April 5, 2010

Callaway, MD -- Police in Charles County today announced they have developed four more suspects in the March 16 sexual assault of a woman abducted from an Alexandria, Virginia nightclub. One of the four was arrested on March 31 in Newark, New Jersey by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement. This brings the total number of arrests in the case to seven.

While the involvement of ICE in the case presents the appearance that one or more suspects are illegal immigrants, Corey Basset of ICE public affairs in Washington, D.C. was unable to confirm their immigration status, citing restrictions presented by the agency's privacy policy.
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Man convicted of hiring prostitute may face deportation
By Mike Rose
The Austin Daily Herald, April 6, 2010

An Austin man convicted last month of hiring a 17-year-old prostitute in May 2009 could now also possibly face deportation.
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Overseas News

Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating on line here: http://cis.org/donate

[For CISNEWS subscribers --

1. Canada: Advocates criticize restrictions on refugee system
2. D.R.: Sham lawyer who represented U.S. missionaries in Haiti facing extradition
3. Bahamas: Gov't to resume repatriation of Haitians
4. B.V.I.: Attorney calls for amendment of immigration law
5. U.K.: Minister calls for inclusion of Isle of Mann in passport zone
6. U.K.: Attorney General claims she was duped by illegal hire
7. U.K.: Figures reveal 1,400 arriving each day
8. U.K.: Focus group reveals over-55s concerned about issue (link)
9. Kazakhstan: Gov't threatens oil giant with deportation of workers
10. Thailand: As many as a million foreign workers now facing expulsion
11. Singapore: Gov't urges populace to welcome foreigners
12. Indonesia: Desperate asylum seekers risk all for refuge in Australia
13. Australia: Offshore detention center once again exceeds capacity (story, 2 links)
14. Australia: Opposition rallies against gov't on immigration restrictions (story, link)
15. Australia: Industrialists warn against curbing population (story, link)

Subscribe to CIS e-mail services here: http://cis.org/immigrationnews.html

-- Mark Krikorian]

Fast-track refugee reforms 'too fast'
Critics say 60-day limit flawed; Takes time to build trust, document cases of torture, rape and persecution
By Norma Greenway
The Canwest News Service (Canada), April 6, 2010

Lawyer Heather Neufeld says it can take weeks and even months for refugee clients to trust her enough to divulge the grisly details of how they were gang raped by guards in a foreign jail, or how they endured years of beatings and sexual abuse by gun-wielding husbands.

Neufeld says these are the people she worries about most when examining the federal government's new proposals to create a 'fair and faster' system for handling refugee claims in Canada.

Under the reforms, prospective refugees would get an oral hearing within 60 days of making their claim - down from the current average of 19 months.

Neufeld and other critics do not believe having to wait 19 months is acceptable. They just think there is such a thing as too fast.

'It's really the people who are the most genuine refugees, who really do deserve protection and who really have been through trauma, that are going to suffer from a 'quick in, quick out' sort of situation,' says Neufeld, who specializes in refugee claims at an Ottawa legal aid clinic.

Reliving the persecution, especially for women, is just too painful and shameful to talk about until they have had some counselling and time to build up some trust in their legal representatives, she says.

The government has received fairly good reviews so far for its proposed reforms, which include plans to create a new Refugee Appeal Division to review first-level decisions within four months, and to more quickly oust failed claimants from the country.

Peter Showler, a former chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board, says the 60-day timeline for the pivotal first hearing is a 'serious flaw' in a legislative package that otherwise strikes a 'reasonable balance.'

He wants Parliament to amend the legislation to extend the deadline to 120 days, or about four months.

'Refugees are scared. They don't do a very good job of communicating. It takes a lot of skill to draw them out,' says Showler, director of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa's law school.

The 60-day limit risks too many 'bad' decisions based on inadequate information or too many cases being adjourned to a later date so more information can be collected, he said.

'The appeal (division) is supposed to catch mistakes. But don't set (the system) up for that first level of hearing to be a mistake.'

Neufeld said it's unrealistic to think busy refugee lawyers can put together a credible refugee claim in 60 days when they are often dealing with traumatized men and women - most of whom are unable to speak either of Canada's official languages - who may be fleeing countries torn by strife and where basic communications tools, such as emails and faxes, are rare.

Even if the gist of the refugee's story can be compiled and corroborated in a written report in time for the hearing, many will be in no shape to give a convincing oral report to the board, she said.

Showler says his thinking is influenced in part by his own experience on the Immigration and Refugee Board from 1994 to 2001.

Showler cited one particularly memorable case, when, he says, a refugee claimant became 'very upset' after being asked repeatedly to detail the persecution he says he endured before fleeing his native African country.

'He stood up and said, 'don't you understand,' and he pulled up his shirt and he had this horrible scar on his stomach, which was related to burn wounds,' Showler recalled.

'And guess what? That was a surprise to everybody in the room, including his lawyer.'

Janet Dench of the Montreal-based Canadian Council for Refugees says she is already hearing complaints from lawyers that the 60-day limit is unworkable, given the need to collect material to document specific cases of alleged persecution and also obtain credible research on the state of human rights in any given country.

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'Lawyer' for US missionaries faces US extradition
By Ezequiel Abiu Lopez
The Associated Press, April 5, 2010

Santo Domingo, D.R. (AP) -- A man who acted as a lawyer for U.S. missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 Haitian children after the devastating earthquake will face a hearing this month on a U.S. extradition request, an official said Monday.

It had been unclear whether Jorge Puello would be extradited to the U.S., where he is wanted on smuggling charges, or El Salvador, where authorities allege he led a prostitution ring.

Gisela Cueto, an assistant general prosecutor for the Dominican Republic, told The Associated Press on Monday that Puello will face extradition to the U.S. at an April 28 hearing even though the El Salvador charges are more serious. She said the Central American nation did not complete a formal extradition request.

Puello is wanted in El Salvador for alleged crimes against children; sexual exploitation of minors for pornography and prostitution; organized crime; and human trafficking. Interpol had issued an arrest warrant for Puello at El Salvador's request.

He is wanted in the U.S. state of Vermont and in Canada for allegedly smuggling illegal immigrants and in the U.S. city of Philadelphia for purported probation violations related to fraud charges, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The 32-year-old was detained last month at the United States' request as he left a McDonald's restaurant in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo.

Puello initially served as legal adviser and spokesman for the 10 U.S. Baptists who were detained in Haiti on child-kidnapping charges in February, but authorities later identified him as the man wanted in El Salvador.

He attracted international attention when he provided the missionaries with food, medicine and legal assistance. One of the Baptists' Haitian lawyers, Aviol Fleurant, told the AP that Puello absconded with $30,000 in legal fees the Americans had raised for Fleurant.

Puello, who was born in New York and holds dual U.S.-Dominican citizenship, says he is innocent of all accusations.

Nine of the missionaries, most of whom are from Idaho, have been released by Haiti jail and returned to the U.S. Group leader Laura Silsby remains in custody at the police station that is being used as Haiti's temporary government headquarters.

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Migrant policy shift confirmed
By Candia Dames
The Guardian (Bahamas), April 6, 2010

After initially declining to provide an explanation on the government's decision to resume repatriations to Haiti, Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette confirmed in a statement last night that the long-standing policy as it regards undocumented Haitian nationals is now back in effect.

The government had shifted the policy following the powerful earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12.

'The procedures that obtained before the earthquake have been resumed,' said Symonette, who is also deputy prime minister. 'That is, Haitian illegals will be held at the Detention Centre and repatriated as soon as arrangements can be made.'

His statement came several days after The Nassau Guardian revealed exclusively that a group of undocumented Haitian nationals was repatriated to Haiti after being picked up in Long Island.

Symonette also confirmed that the group of Haitians charged in late January with illegal landing has been repatriated.

The repatriation came two months after Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez ordered the illegal immigrants be held for six months at Her Majesty's Prison.

The decision to charge them in court was part of the government's stated policy on immigration following the earthquake.

On Thursday, Director of Immigration Jack Thompson confirmed that the Haitians were sent to Cap Haitien, about 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

Symonette advised last night, 'Any new illegal immigrants are being apprehended and repatriated as promptly as possible.'

He also said that while the policy of apprehension, regularization and repatriation remains constant, changing circumstances may dictate that the government respond to those circumstances in the country's broad national interests at home and abroad.

In his statement last night, Symonette also hit out at the Official Opposition, saying it continues to make irresponsible and incoherent comments pertaining to the repatriation of illegal immigrants from Haiti.

Symonette pointed to Opposition Leader Perry Christie's refusal to say what decision he would have made regarding undocumented Haitian nationals had he been in power when the earthquake struck Haiti.

The deputy prime minister also hit out at former PLP Minister of Immigration Vincent Peet over recent criticisms of the government after the recent repatriations took place without any announcements being made.

'As the government of the day, the FNM is obliged to make decisions in real-time, not late again,' Symonette said. 'The government is obliged to act, rather than posture.'

Following the earthquake, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced that the government was releasing 102 undocumented Haitian immigrants who were at the Detention Centre at the time of the earthquake.

In total, 15 women, three children, and 84 men were released from the holding facility.

Speaking at a news conference in January on his government's decision to release the Haitian immigrants, Ingraham pointed to a New York Times editorial that said, 'Burdening a collapsed country with destitute deportees would be a true crime.'

'No one knows how long it will be before Haiti is restored to some semblance of normalcy and when repatriation flights from The Bahamas and other places will again be able to land and be processed in Port-au-Prince,' the prime minister said at the time. 'So it makes sense and it is compassionate not to keep them incarcerated indefinitely.'

Thompson said that group released from the Detention Centre after the earthquake is still free on temporary status.

Following an emergency meeting in the Dominican Republic several days after the earthquake, Ingraham announced that as part of the temporary immigration policy, undocumented Haitian nationals apprehended in The Bahamas after the disaster would be charged in court so they could be detained for longer periods.

Symonette said conditions in Haiti now allow for the resumption of repatriation exercises.

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Lawyer Cites Conflict With Immigration Act; Calls For Amendment
By Melissa French
The Platinum News (British Virgin Islands), April 6, 2010

One of the Territory´s leading defense lawyers, Stephen Daniels has called for Section 40 of the Immigration and Passport Ordinance Cap 130 of the laws of the Virgin Islands to be amended.

In an interview with BVI Platinum News, Daniels of Vernon E. Malone & Co. explained that the said section provides for an intended deportee to file an appeal by way of a letter within seven days upon the intended deportee receiving the said deported order that was signed by the Governor.

Daniels said the same section does not guarantee the subject a hearing and whatever decision the Governor makes under his discretion cannot be questioned in a court of law.

However, the lawyer pointed out that Section 18 of the Constitution provides for the subject not to be deported unless the grounds are prescribed by law, he/she must have a hearing by a competent authority or person and is entitled to legal representation.

'This section of the Constitution guarantees the subject a hearing, but by who? The Governor has to hear the appeal according to the Immigration and Passport Ordinance and this is in direct conflict with Section 16 (9) of the Constitution which provides for the subject to have a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an impartial tribunal established by law,' Daniels told BVI Platinum News.

When asked about a solution to the issue, the lawyer said that in any democratic society like the BVI, one ought not to appeal to a person that has made an order. For example, if one is aggrieved by the decision of a Judge, one may appeal to the Court of Appeal to set aside that decision.

'The time is now ripe for the Immigration and Passport Ordinance to be amended so that the will and the spirit of the Constitution can prevail. So rather than the Governor making the order, that should be done by an Immigration Board and thereafter, the subject can appeal to an Immigration Appeal Board or perhaps the deportation order can be made by the minister responsible for immigration and thereafter, the subject can appeal to a single Judge sitting in chambers.'

Daniels stressed, 'in this way, the fundamental rights and freedom of the subject will be preserved as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Virgin Islands.'

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Isle of Man 'should be in UK e-border'
The BBC News (U.K.), April 6, 2010

The Isle of Man must be included in the UK's e-border security system to ensure current no-passport rules can continue, the chief minister Tony Brown has said.

Under the e-border system, people are monitored entering and leaving the UK to help agencies detect criminals.

Manx ministers fear that such advance information gathering could be extended to Manx passengers if the island remains outside the border.

They want the island inside the border to avoid the need for the checks.

If adopted, it would mean the routine gathering of such information would only be required on direct routes between the island and places outside the United Kingdom.

Tynwald approval

Mr Brown MHK said: 'Given that the British Government is continuing to strengthen its electronic border around the United Kingdom, the main question for the Isle of Man is whether we should be on the inside or the outside of the e-border.

'The Isle of Man Government's view is that to maintain current travel arrangements between the Island and the UK, we need to be on the inside of the e-border and should take the necessary steps to allow that to happen.'

The Council of Ministers are to seek Tynwald approval for the extension to laws governing the programme.

The government said it would strengthen requirements for carriers to provide information on passengers.

It would also require agencies to share information likely to be useful for immigration, police or customs purposes.

The Immigration (Isle of Man) (Amendment) Order 2010 is being published on the consultations section of the Isle of Man Government website.

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Attorney-General Baroness Scotland: I was duped by illegal cleaner
By Lucy Bannerman
The Times (London), April 6, 2010

The most senior law officer in the country took to the witness stand today, claiming that she was duped into employing an illegal immigrant from Tonga as her cleaner.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Attorney-General, said she bitterly regretted not making copies of the documents Loloahi Tapui presented to her before she took up her role as housekeeper and dog walker at Lady Scotland's West London home.

The Tongan is accused of using a false document to earn money. Southwark Crown Court was told that she had paid a Russian friend £180 for a false visa stamp, to cover up the fact she was an 'illegal over-stayer' whose right to work in the UK had long since expired.

The case brings further embarrassment for Lady Scotland, whose failure to take copies confirming Ms Tapui’s immigration status led her to fall foul of the very measures – the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act – that she helped to put on the statute book as a Home Office Minister.

Giving evidence under her married name, Patricia Mawhinney, the Attorney-General said she had been deceived by Ms Tapui.

She said: 'I didn’t take copies and it is something I bitterly regret now. Frankly, I believed her.

'It was a tough couple of months. There had been a number of bereavements in my family and it came at a difficult time.'

She said that Ms Tapui had reassured her that there were no skeletons in the closet that would compromise her position as chief legal adviser to the Government.

'I had told her that it was very important that, because I was a lawyer, whoever works for me, should be entitled to work in the country. I had been quite careful about that,' she told the court.

Lady Scotland said she had not revealed her senior position until the day after Ms Tapui’s first interview, when the cleaner appeared to return with the relevant documents the minister had requested.

'She [Ms Tapui] said, ‘I know who you are.’ I was quite taken aback, as I had not used my title. She said she had been told by her husband, who recognised me.

'She said, 'Don’t worry. I understand your need for security and need to do everything correctly'.'

As she recalled the conversation, the minister shook her head.

Lady Scotland admitted that she had suspected that the Tongan’s marriage to a Serbian-born solicitor 13 years her senior might have been bogus, but was reassured when she saw confirmation the couple had been married by a clergyman she knew locally.

Ms Tapui, 27, came to the UK in February 2003 and was allowed to remain for three years legally.

After her legal right to remain in the UK expired, she worked for eight months, earning £6 an hour, at the Chiswick home that Lady Scotland shares with her husband, two teenage sons, and their dog.

Opening the prosecution, Duncan Penny said that the baroness later confronted Tapui, 27, about her immigration status, after being contacted by a tabloid newspaper. Ms Tapui confessed at that point to lying in her application to become a cleaner.

'The circumstances arose from the manner in which Tapui gained employment as a domestic cleaner for a woman called Patricia Mawhinney, who is also properly entitled Baroness Scotland, Her Majesty's Attorney-General for England and Wales.

'When she offered herself for employment in January last year she acted dishonestly in making a representation to the baroness that she was entitled to work in the UK.

'A revealing insight of her dishonesty lies in the fact that when her true status came to light and she was confronted about it by the baroness, she admitted she had lied during the application process about the whereabouts of her passport.'

Ms Tapui, of Sutton Court Road, Chiswick, West London, denies dishonestly making a false representation that she was entitled to work in the UK.

The Tongan, who is on bail, also denies possessing a false identity document with intent and fraud.

She also denies intending to use the false identity document 'for establishing, ascertaining or verifying registrable facts about herself', including her identity and residential status.

The hearing continues.

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Migrant invasion of Britain?
The Press Trust of India, April 6, 2010

London (PTI) -- Migrants seem to be invading Britain, with official statistics revealing more than 518,000 people moved to the country last year -- an average of more than 1,400 every day.

The annual number of people granted British citizenship also rose by almost 60 per cent between 2008 and 2009, according to the figures.

Prominent British politician Nigel Farage quoted the figures as he attacked the three main parties for their 'dishonest' attitudes towards immigration, the 'Daily Star' newspaper reported.

'It is not racist to talk about immigration from a non-racial and non-sectarian perspective.

'But the figures quoted refer to non-European Union immigration and the main parties are all signed up. We have a total open-door policy to an unlimited number of people coming to this country from eastern Europe,' he said.

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Over-55s more worried about NHS and immigration than care plans
By Rosemary Bennett
The Times (London), April 6, 2010

The future of the NHS, limits on immigration and an end to compulsory retirement at 65 were the issues that topped the political agenda during a focus group of older voters attended by The Times last week. Proposals for financing long-term care for the elderly did not rank among the main concerns.
. . .

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Kazakhs threatens to deport Karachaganak employees
Reuters, April 6, 2010

Astana (Reuters) -- Kazakhstan accused the giant Karachaganak oil consortium on Tuesday of violating immigration laws, stepping up pressure on the BG (BG.L) and ENI-led (ENI.MI) group as the country seeks a stake in the field.

The prosecutor general's office said it had charged seven and was checking some 270 foreign employees of the consortium, which also includes Russia's LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) and U.S. major Chevron (CVX.N).

'The court will take a final decision,' a representative of the office said when asked if the employees would be deported as required by the legislation.

The consortium was not immediately available for comment on the latest twist in the dispute, which investors say is similar to previous rows between foreign majors and the increasingly assertive governments of resource-rich Kazakhstan and neighbouring Russia.

Immigration legislation was a key element in a dispute between Russian authorities and oil major BP (BP.L), which was forced to surrender operational control in its venture to Russian partners two years ago after months of pressure.

Kazakhstan has repeatedly managed to win better terms in production sharing deals with foreign majors, including the giant ENI-led Kashagan oil field, after months of wrangling over ecology and development costs.

In March, Kazakhstan's financial police accused Karachaganak of illegally earning $708 million in 2008 by producing more oil and gas than originally agreed with the state [ID:nLDE62P0WS].

The group has denied any wrongdoing, saying its operations complied with Kazakh law, and has launched a legal case to recover over $1 billion in what it sees as illegally levied customs duties and other payments relating to 2008.

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Migrant Workers Face Deportation in Thailand
New Tang Dynasty Television (Thailand), April 5, 2010

Over a million illegal migrant workers in Thailand are facing deportation. According to new regulations, any migrant worker who failed to apply for an official work permit before the March 2nd deadline could be sent home at any time.

Migrant workers need to submit papers from their home country to become legal migrants and to get a work permit.

The government says the new regulations aim to improve the standard of the working environment for migrants and to provide them with health care.

But critics accuse the process of being too complicated and costly, as the migrants need to return home to get the national certification from their own governments.

Additionally, migrants have to pay $118 to apply for the work permit… but many of them have to pay double to brokers to get it faster and avoid any complications.

[Tuay, Migrant Worker from Burma]:

'I don't have money so I don't have the rights to say anything. If they are going to arrest us, there is nothing I can do.'

Thailand has more than two million migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

Many say the deportation will affect Thailand’s economy as the migrants make up about six percent of the workforce.

The nationality verification process doesn’t apply to those ethnic minorities from Burma who fled their home due to human rights violations.

Many agree with Thailand to formalize migrations but are against the deportations.

[Andy Hall, Human Rights and Development Foundation]:

'So we are against any kind of deportation and what we are fear for all of these, in fact even if the deportation doesn't take place, these migrant workers are now illegal. They are unregistered and we are worried that they gonna become the victims of the systematic exploitation by like the corrupt officials.'

In 2009, police sent back almost 350-thousand workers to their countries but many of them returned to Thailand when they got a chance.

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'Avoid fear of immigrants'
By Jennani Durai
The Straits Times (Singapore), April 5, 2010

Singaporeans' concern over immigration issues is understandable but they must avoid developing irrational fears toward new immigrants, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Hwee Hua said yesterday.

She said Singaporeans ought to prepare for, rather than resist, an increased willingness among people worldwide to travel and relocate.

That the people are concerned over the effect of immigration on employment or on the social fabric here should not be dismissed lightly, she said, because 'this shows that Singaporeans are concerned about how and where Singapore is heading'.

She was speaking at the first anniversary celebration of Crossroads, a weekly section of Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese language daily Lianhe Zaobao featuring new immigrants and citizens.

Immigration issues present the same challenges elsewhere, although to varying degrees, she noted, adding that this was to be expected as the world became more globalised.

Mrs Lim, who is also the Second Minister for Finance and Transport, pointed out that Singapore itself had grown out of a society of immigrants from different birth countries, who had contributed 'colour and vibrancy to our country'.

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Desperate journey to call Australia home
By Stephen Fitzpatrick
The Australian, April 7, 2010

Almost a decade after fleeing Taliban thugs in the western Afghanistan city of Herat, 18-year-old Maryam Mohammadi could not believe she was yet again facing death at an opportunist's hand.

Rather than the extremists who murdered her grandfather and uncle and worshippers who had filled a mosque in 2001, this time it was Indonesian people-smugglers who had Maryam and her family backed up and frightened in a jungle clearing in Sumatra, trying to extort money from them.

'They beat all of us,' Maryam said in the little boarding house quarters she now shares with her mother, Khadija Naeimi, father Nasser Mohammadi and 15-year-old brother Mohammad.

The family is, for the moment, biding its time in the mountain pass area of Puncak, south of Jakarta, under the protection of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The area usually houses hundreds of asylum-seekers and those formally classified as refugees by the US, but it is essentially little more than a waystation for anyone hoping to get to Christmas Island or Ashmore Reef.

No wonder, then, that, as numbers making the trip have risen lately, boarding house after boarding house is empty, their former residents either already on Christmas Island or secreted at locations along the southern Java coast and elsewhere, waiting to depart.

The Mohammadi family's first attempt at reaching Australia from Malaysia two months ago ended in disaster. The gang of six Indonesians who were supposed to get them there threatened to murder them, they say.

'There were 12 of us in the jungle: three women, including me, three children, my brother, three Iraqi boys, and my father and the other family head,' Maryam said.

'They beat us on the arms and legs, they had knives, they said, `if you don't pay us the money we will kill you'. He gave me his account number for the money, and my uncle paid it.'

Maryam produced a bank deposit receipt for 33.4 million rupiah (about $4000), dated February 23 this year.

The Australian was able to verify with Maryam's uncle Mahdi Naeimi that he had made the payment to Albe Saragi, through an Indonesian bank account held in the people-smuggler's name.

Maryam's brother Mohammad also produced a photograph of a man he said was Mr Saragi, taken on the teenager's mobile phone during the jungle encounter.

They said that, after they escaped, they gave all this information to Indonesian police, who laughed and said there was nothing they could do.

There is no evidence yet of just how big a fish Mr Saragi might be in the human trade across Indonesia, although he is clearly taking a hefty cut from the premium refugees are paying to flee to safety.

The midnight arrests just over a month ago of 93 asylum-seekers being transported to the southern Java coast on three Indonesian military buses -- driven by non-uniformed Defence Department staff and accompanied by men in battle fatigues -- suggest a deep level of official corruption in the immigration story.

Indonesian military brass denied in that instance that anyone in the Defence Department was taking a cut of the money being paid by asylum-seekers to reach Australia.

But Maryam and others have told The Australian how, during various spells in Indonesian immigration detention, they were made very clear offers that for about $US2500, they could walk straight out of jail.

Her bank slip is the first documentary evidence of the sums changing hands to transport asylum-seekers through the Indonesian archipelago to Australia. Her story illustrates how lucrative and dangerous it has become.

Maryam said it was common knowledge, among the thousands of people considering making the trip at any given time, that 'it has not been this easy to reach Australia since 2001'.

'People say that Australia would be a very fast trip, and that Australia accepts refugees,' she explained.

'At first, when people were coming in 2001, it was something like this also. But after that it stopped, and nobody says that going to Australia is easy. But after nine years, it is that way again.'

The family decided at the end of last year to leave Malaysia, where they were designated refugees more than five years ago but had yet to be made any offer of resettlement. They paid their Malaysian smuggling agent $US22,000 and travelled across the Malacca Strait to Sumatra.

Despite the near-death experience in the jungle that followed, they are back in touch with the broker in Malaysia who has said he was 'sorry' for betraying them to the Indonesian thieves.

He has convinced the Mohammadi family that they might have a better chance of reaching Australia if they set off from one of the eastern Indonesian asylum-seeker departure points, such as Rote Island near West Timor, that would have them pitching up on Ashmore Reef.

'But he's also told us he will leave us once we're in international waters to drive the boat the rest of the way ourselves,' Maryam said.

She is considering buying a hand-held GPS device but wondered out loud: 'Do you think it's very difficult to drive a boat?'

All in the family of four are well-educated and articulate; none has any illusion about the risk travelling south involves.

But these are people who have spent a great part of their lives fleeing oppression: planning a dangerous escape is mostly about calculation and strategy.

'I think we're still going to Australia,' Maryam said, her voice breaking. 'We don't want to stay here. We will go illegally. If we stay here, we haven't got anything. Every day, I just have to sleep, eat and sit.

'There's nothing else I can do. I hate this. For the first time in my life I hate myself.

'If I had a country why would I come here?'

Her mother, Khadija, speaks only halting English but asked Maryam, in passionate tones, to explain that she was closely following the immigration debate in Australia.

She asked that a message be conveyed to Tony Abbott.

'She says to him, imagine the situation if one day you were a refugee, and your own country didn't accept you, what are you going to do?' Maryam said.

'She (Khadija) says she knows about his plan to return refugees (if the Coalition wins government). And she says he is very cruel. He has no mercy.

'My mother says someone should go and tell to this person, if you don't accept these people, who should accept them? You don't want to accept them, other countries around the world don't want to accept them. So do you want us to go and give ourselves back to the Taliban to kill us? That's what will happen.'

Maryam said she had always wanted to be a doctor, but had now realised the most useful thing she could study was law.

'I want to be able to protect families like ours,' she said.

Mr Naeimi has his own story of frustration and of almost obstinate determination.

Two years after fleeing Iran he found himself face to face last year with immigration police in the southeastern Papua town of Merauke, where he, his wife and their five children, along with his other sister and her son and daughter, had thought they would be making the quick hop across the Torres Strait to Australia.

Speaking through his nephew, Maryam's brother Mohammad, Mr Naeimi estimated he had spent about $US100,000 in those two years, much of it handed over to people smugglers and corrupt Indonesian immigration officials.

'My uncle says, in Iran, he has $US50,000 ($54,000) left,' Mohammad said. 'If that money is finished, then the family will die. That is their last chance. They have nothing else. If we die on the boat, then we die all together.

'But here, we are going to die one by one, little by little.'

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Christmas Island again beyond capacity
By Simon Cullen
The ABC News (Australia), April 6, 2010

The immigration detention centre on Christmas Island is again operating beyond official capacity after the arrival of more asylum seekers.

Sixty-three asylum seekers arrived at the island late Tuesday, several days after their boat was intercepted.

It pushes the number of people in the island's detention centre to 2,060, which is 20 more than the official capacity.

The Opposition says that will put pressure on the Government to transfer asylum seekers to the mainland to have their claims processed.

'Christmas Island, I suspect, will remain at capacity and ... people will be able to move to the Australian mainland on mass everytime there's a new boat,' said border protection spokesman Michael Keenan.

'That represents basically the end of any sort of orderly immigration system.'

The Opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, is also concerned the assessment for whether someone is a genuine refugee may be too easy.

Most asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat have their refugee claims approved.

Mr Morrison says one area that needs to be looked at is how to deal with asylum seekers who arrive without identity documents.

'Those who are coming - in the vast majority of cases - are coming through other countries and they're flying into these countries,' he said.

'You need documentation to get into these countries, and somehow between there and Australia, that documentation goes missing.

'That raises concerns from our perspective. We're looking at policy remedies as to how you would deal with that if we were in Government.'

The Immigration Department is preparing to fly more people off the island this week.


Pastor slams overcrowding on Christmas Island
By Paige Taylor
The Australian, April 6, 2010

Christmas Islanders face rapid change to way of life
The Sydney Morning Herald, April 5, 2010‎

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Coalition wants Aussie babies, but fewer migrants
By Yuko Narushima
The Sydney Morning Herald, April 7, 2010

A coalition government would encourage Australians to have more babies and look for cuts in migration to reduce the rate of population growth.

As business lobbies rallied against migration cuts, a Labor backbencher sided yesterday with the opposition to limit ''runaway'' population growth.

The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, denied its six-month paid maternity scheme was at odds with demands to curb population growth by differentiating between natural growth and immigration.

''The Coalition has always been a keen promoter of natural population increase. We remain that. The big contributor to population growth is not natural increase, it's net overseas migration,'' he said.

Using ABS data for net overseas migration that counts people who stay more than a year, he said the current annual figure of about 300,000 was unsustainable.

''We need to do something to get that figure under control,'' he said.

The Population Minister, Tony Burke, said the opposition wished to pare back streams of migration that were beneficial to Australia.

''They have included overseas students and temporary workers. These are two categories that only make money for Australia,'' he said. ''There are a number of major projects in Australia that would fall over if it weren't for temporary workers.''

Mr Burke said he would look at the dispersion of people across the country, considering regions of chronic labour shortage against areas of urban strain.

The AiGroup chief executive, Heather Ridout, said the argument that migration was out of control was ''ridiculous''. Temporary migrants acted as a shock absorber for a strong economy when skill shortages emerged.

''If we don't persevere with an immigration intake, we're going to have to pay more tax,'' she said. ''Immigration is very important in dealing with skill shortages and has, surprisingly, shown to be quite important in dealing with the ageing issue.''

The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, said skilled migrants increased the working age population.

The head of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils, Pino Migliorino, said the opposition's use of numbers played to an emotional debate about race. The permanent migration program stood at 168,700, plus a humanitarian quota of 13,750.

A Labor backbencher, Kelvin Thomson, called for net overseas migration to be reduced to 70,000 a year.


Coalition in a migration minefield
By Katharine Murphy and Yuko Narushima
The Age (Melbourne), April 7, 2010

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'We need more migrants, not fewer'
By Kate Lahey
The Sydney Morning Herald, April 7, 2010

Industry groups have urged against curbing population growth, some arguing that Australia needs more migrants to sustain a healthy economy.

Business groups weighed into the population debate yesterday, at odds with the federal opposition, which is arguing that migration should be reduced because the population growth rate of 2.1 per cent is unsustainable.

The head of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, said it was ridiculous to suggest Australia's population growth was out of control.

''If we are going to make that choice to restrict migrants, over the years we are going to have to pay higher taxes to support an ageing population,'' she told ABC TV.

The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry said curbing population growth would lead to a stagnant economy and could spark a rise in crime.

A spokesman for the chamber, Chris James, said: ''What happens when you don't have strong population growth is a situation like Japan where stagnation is the order of the day, or Detroit where depopulation causes urban degeneration and crime.

''When areas depopulate, the level of demand in the economy drops. That effects business, business stops investing, employment falls and people begin to leave, so it effectively feeds on itself.''

The housing construction and retail sectors would suffer most without a healthy level of growth, Mr James said. On the other hand, governments must plan properly for growth and provide adequate infrastructure. Most chamber members supported the current population settings. ''We're not quite sure what to make of the Coalition's comments.''

His sentiments were supported by the NSW Business Chamber, whose spokesman, Paul Ritchie, said: ''Given the ageing of the population, just through demographic forces, there's going to be a need for an uptake in skilled migration. That will be essential to broaden the tax base and keep a strong workforce in place.''

The federal opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said annual net overseas migration rates of 300,000 were unsustainable and should be retuned to levels under the previous government, of between 125,600 and about 200,000 a year.

Treasury forecasts suggest the population will rise from 22 million to almost 36 million by 2050.


Business rejects migrant cut
By Patricia Karvelas
The Australian, April 7, 2010

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Center for Immigration Studies
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