August 2008


A federal judge issued a final judgment on Thursday permanently preventing a Dallas suburb from enforcing a rule banning apartment rentals to illegal immigrants. The decision by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay could conclude a nearly two-year court battle over a never-enforced ordinance that would have required landlords to verify tenants’ legal status.

The judgment also triggers a countdown to another immigration-related rule by Farmers Branch officials. City officials approved the new rule to take effect 15 days after a final judgment on the ordinance that was being litigated. It would require prospective tenants to get a rental license from the city. Farmers Branch would ask the federal government for the applicant’s legal status before approving the rental license.

Opponents of the previous ordinance – which included apartment complex operators, residents and advocates – plan to challenge the new rule. “It is similarly unconstitutional, it shares some problem and frankly creates others,” said attorney Bill Brewer, who represents a group of rental ban opponents. “We would have hoped that they recognize that this is just not an area that this municipality or any municipality is supposed to delve into.”

The ruling Friday also sets up a two-week deadline for opponents of the rental ban to ask for attorney fees, which Farmers Branch would have to pay. Although a figure wasn’t available, Brewer estimated attorney fees will run hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Both sides have 30 days to notify the court of plans to appeal. Farmers Branch officials were pleased to see a conclusion to the federal but have not yet decided if they will appeal, said attorney Michael Jung. “We’re glad to be moving forward,” said Jung, who represents Farmers Branch.

Even before issuing the final judgment Friday, Lindsay found the ordinance requiring landlords to verify legal status or citizenship was unconstitutional and could not be enforced. [Really? Exactly where does it mention anything like that in the Constitution?] The judge concluded that Farmers Branch officials didn’t defer to the federal government in immigration matters. Instead, the city tried to create its own classification to determine which non-citizens could rent there. Farmers Branch’s ordinance also didn’t comply with the due process clause of the 14th Amendment because it was vague [Only a Left-leaning judge would think it vague], the judge ruled. The rule failed to provide clear guidance that immigration documents were acceptable and didn’t explain what was meant by the ordinance phrase “eligible immigra tion status,” the judge wrote.

“In terms especially of housing, this particularly is aligned with other decisions around the country that tell cities that courts find that type of ordinance crosses over into an area that the federal government has expressly deemed theirs,” said Marisol Perez, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also challenged the ordinance.

Around the country, some 100 cities or counties have considered, passed or rejected laws focusing on illegal immigration, but Farmers Branch was the first in Texas, according to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Farmers Branch stepped into the nationwide political debate over immigration in 2006 at the urging of then first-term city councilman and personal injury lawyer Tim O’Hare. He has since become mayor of the city, which has about 28,000 residents.

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A bipartisan approach seems important for this so it is appropriate for the Labor party to have its input. The present test was largely written by one man: John Howard

AUSTRALIA’S citizenship test set-up by the Howard government is set for a major overhaul after a review found it to be flawed and discriminatory. Richard Woolcott is the head of a committee commissioned to review the test said the 2006-document needs reform, News Ltd reports. The committee is believed to have forwarded its opinion to Immigration Minister Chris Evans in a report. The standout recommendation would be that the present test is flawed and seen by some as intimidatory and needs substantial reform,” Mr Woolcott told News Ltd.

While Mr Howard continually defended the test, it faced much criticism for including questions which opponents claimed focussed too much on historical knowledge and the English language. “Many of the (review) submissions thought that the standard of English required was too high and discriminated against non-English speaking migrants, of which there are of course an increasing number,” Mr Woolcott said.

The committee received 170 submissions from members of the public and has forwarded 32 recommendations to the government. Mr Woolcott declined to comment on what those recommendations are. Senator Evans’ office confirmed receiving the report and a spokeswoman said it is being considered.

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What a crock! Enforcement as theater! A huge raid to grab a couple of hard-working, harmless Chinese kitchenhands — when Britain already has thousands of illegals who have been ordered out of the country but who just stay on — usually getting welfare as well! The Chinese were an easy grab for lazy bureaucrats, that’s all it was about. Totally useless camouflage for chaotic immigration control

Two people were led away by police and immigration officers following a raid on a Chinese restaurant in the city centre last night. Police officers were joined by about 12 immigration officials from across the south-east in the “intelligence-led” [Imbecility-led, more like it] operation at the Gourmet Plaza, in Cowgate. The raid was organised and carried out by the Border and Immigration Agency’s Enforcement Unit, based in St Ives.

Five unmarked people carriers swooped on the restaurant just after 6pm yesterday as diners were preparing to enter the premises for an early meal.

The “closed” sign remained up at the Gourmet Plaza as prospective customers were turned away by police and asked to come back at a later time.

Seconded Cambridge police Inspector Trevor Tendall said: “We are acting on information received by a source. “This is a joint operation involving police and immigration officers from across the county.” As prospective diners and onlookers watched, officers led out two men of Chinese origin in handcuffs, just before 7pm. The pair were put into separate people carriers and driven away from the scene. [LOL! A people-carrier each!] After the raid, an immigration officer, who did not want to be named, said: “We have acted and carried out the plan, and we are satisfied with the results today.”

As the last of the officers left, five members of staff rushed out of the restaurant and across Cowgate to confront an officer in what was believed to be a dispute about a warrant. When another member of staff found the piece of paper they were seeking, the staff filed back into the eaterie.

Customers, who had been told to go and have a drink in the nearby Drapers Arms, waited patiently on the street to see if the popular restaurant, with its all-you-can-eat $13 supper deal, would open its doors. It re-opened at about 7.30pm.

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Some of the toughest legislation in the nation to fight illegal immigration. The legislation sets into law policies proposed to crack down on illegal immigration.

prohibiting illegals from obtaining driver licenses

prohibits the creation of sanctuary cities in the state

requires verification of legal employment status of every public employee

allows for cancellation of state contracts for contractors if they hire illegal immigrants

requires public agencies to verify the legal status of applicants before providing welfare benefits

criminalizes the transportation of illegal immigrants for exploitive purposes

enacts provisions to punish bad acting employers who hire illegal immigrants

requires verification of lawful presence for every individual presented for incarceration.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) has adopted a stringent workforce eligibility policy including sanctions of up to a lifetime ban of contractors and developers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants in violation of federal law.

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A San Francisco court set aside a drug-trafficking case Monday against a 14-year-old Honduran immigrant – a ruling that juvenile justice officials fear will undermine Mayor Gavin Newsom’s new policy requiring that such offenders be held for possible deportation.

Juvenile Court Commissioner Abby Abinanti concluded that the youth, identified only as Francisco G. because of his age, should be treated within the social welfare system, not as a criminal offender. If federal authorities don’t intervene, the ruling would almost certainly allow him to remain in this country. Abinanti issued her ruling after a social services official and a city attorney’s representative on an advisory panel reviewed the youth’s history and concluded that he should be considered a victim and thus be entitled to receive social welfare services.

Prosecutors and a third member of the panel, a Juvenile Probation Department representative, objected, citing the youth’s immigration status. In the end, Abinanti ordered that the youth be turned over immediately to social workers for possible placement in a group home, according to authorities who spoke on condition of anonymity because juvenile proceedings are closed to the public. Abinanti, through a court spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Federal officials assert that placing young felons in group homes amounts to a violation of U.S. law prohibiting the aiding and abetting of illegal immigrants. They suspect that declaring drug dealers to be innocent victims is an end run around the requirement that such immigrants be handed over for possible deportation. Monday’s ruling fueled such criticism. “I am concerned that there are people who are still attempting to find strategems to avoid compliance with federal law,” said Joseph Russoniello, the U.S. attorney for Northern California, who faulted San Francisco’s past practice of shielding juvenile offenders from deportation.

Advocates for youths in the juvenile courts maintain that many of the immigrant teenagers accused of drug dealing, rather than being hardened criminals, are victims of abuse, abandonment or human trafficking. They say the youths should be allowed to make a case for asylum rather than being turned over for deportation hearings. The issue is playing out in court after articles in The Chronicle revealed that the city, which has touted itself as a sanctuary for immigrants, was paying for flights and group-home placements for illegal immigrant youths caught dealing drugs rather than turning them over for deportation.

Being deported could result in the youths being legally prevented from ever returning to the United States. After the stories appeared, Newsom announced that he had switched course and ordered juvenile justice officials to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. A spokesman would not talk about the case heard Monday but emphasized the mayor’s policy change. “City officials have been directed by the mayor to refer all undocumented felons to immigration, regardless of age,” spokesman Nathan Ballard said. He said any contrary effort would be “inconsistent with city policy.”

More here

But the evasion did not work:

A San Francisco court’s ruling that a 14-year-old drug suspect from Honduras should be considered an abandoned youth – entitled to shelter rather than deportation – was thwarted Wednesday when the city turned him over to federal immigration authorities.

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SUPERMARKET aisles offer amateur ethnographers rich opportunities for fieldwork. American pockets in London can be identified by the Thanksgiving displays in November; sour cherry juice suggests that Turks are close at hand. Now great rows of tinned borscht announce a newer arrival. Recent immigration from eastern Europe has been on a truly grand scale: Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, now runs a groceries website in Polish.

Just over a million people have so far come to Britain from the eight central and east European countries that joined the European Union in 2004. John Salt, a geographer at University College London, reckons it is the biggest influx in British history, at least in gross terms (immigration by French Huguenots in the 17th century may have been bigger relative to the population at the time). Poles, who have made up about two-thirds of the newcomers, are now the largest group of foreign nationals in Britain, up from 13th place five years ago.

They might not be for much longer. The insatiable job market that sucked them in is beginning to tire. Work in hospitality and construction is becoming scarcer in Britain, while Poland’s economy is growing by over 5% a year. And earnings do not translate as well as they did: the pound, which bought seven zlotys at the beginning of 2004, now fetches four (see article).

Last quarter saw the lowest number of east Europeans registering for work since 2004 (see chart), even though summer months tend to be the busiest. And as arrivals fall, departures seem to be increasing. There is no reliable official count of the numbers leaving Britain, but in April a think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), carried out its own “poll of Poles” and found that about half of the newcomers had already gone home. It predicts that departures will start to outweigh arrivals within a year.

This is bad news for borscht lovers, as well as for the Catholic church, which reckons its numbers have been swelled by some 10% in the past two years, in large part by Poles. But east European migration will leave lasting marks, however brief an episode it turns out to be.

Most noticeably, it has gone some way to decoupling the issue of immigration from that of race. Since the 1950s large-scale immigration to Britain has mainly been from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia, meaning that arguments about immigration have been racially charged (indeed, plenty of politicians have deliberately conflated the issues). Now, with the arrival of a million white, mainly poor, foreigners, immigration is being analysed in more purely economic terms.

There is a sensible argument to be had about immigration and population (see article), and whether this wave of low-paid workers has put pressure on wages. David Cameron, the Tory leader, has shaken off his brief reluctance to discuss the subject and now casts it in terms of demography. Labour has toughened up too: last year Gordon Brown, the prime minister, called for more “British jobs for British workers,” a rallying cry that once only the far right used. Some critics still touch on the old ugly themes: this month the Daily Mail agreed to remove some negative articles from its website following a complaint from the Federation of Poles in Great Britain. But even when the east Europeans have departed, debating the merits of immigration will no longer be off-limits in polite society.

The brevity of the east Europeans’ spell in Britain-if such it proves to be-is the second distinctive thing about it. Past waves of immigrants have nearly always stayed put, or at least aimed to. Unencumbered by visas because their countries belong to the EU, east Europeans do not have to stick around once they are in. Cheap airlines enable some even to split their time between Britain and their home country. This flexibility should give Britain a softer landing if the economy slows further, since migrants can head home rather than swell the unemployment figures. But it has also changed the way that Britons think about immigrants. Once seen as a charge on the state (especially when asylum applications were high, at the start of the decade) they are now more likely to be considered a threat to jobs. Laura Chappell of IPPR has spotted that people tend to describe east Europeans as “migrants”, whereas non-European settlers are called “immigrants”.

Finally, east Europeans have fanned out across the country far more than earlier arrivals, manning Lake District retirement homes, East Anglian farms, Scottish fish-processing plants and Channel Island guest houses. In all, 21% live in London, compared with 41% of other foreign nationals resident in Britain. Their arrival in areas that had little prior experience of migration-Boston, Northampton, Peterborough and others-has exposed problems with how money is disbursed by the central government, and is prompting reform. Funding for public services such as health, police and fire services relies on population estimates, which undercount short-term visitors and those who live at business addresses, such as hotel staff. The government is setting up a (mainly symbolic) pot of about œ15m ($28m) a year, funded by a levy on visas, to bail out councils that fall short, and it has promised to improve its counting. More tweaks may follow.

As the Poles pack their bags, those who came to rely on them to paint their walls or fix their computers are feeling the loss. Reinforcements could be on the way: Romanians and Bulgarians will be able to work freely in Britain from 2013 and could come earlier if the economy picks up. But Ms Chappell points out that those countries have strong links with Italy and Spain, and other western European countries have more open labour markets than they did in 2004. Britain may not look as attractive a destination a second time around.

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Britain to be biggest country in EU by 2060. Population falls predicted in many other countries. Quantity is not quality, however. The British population includes a a large sub-group of African ultimate origin who have a high rate of crime, insanity and welfare dependancy — and they account for a disproportionate number of the births. Any assumption that that sub-group will be net economic contributors in the year 2060 would be incautious

Britain will overtake Germany and France to become the biggest country in the EU in 50 years’ time, according to population projections unveiled yesterday. A survey of demographic trends finds Britain’s positive birth rate contrasting strongly with most other large countries in Europe.

The impact of population shrinkage, coupled with the ageing of key European societies, spells big problems for pensions, health and welfare systems across much of the union, says the report, published by Eurostat, the statistical service of the European commission. But Britain, it says, is likely to suffer less because of its strong population growth and the younger average age of British society.

Immigration is singled out as the sole mitigating factor, seen as crucial to maintaining population growth. But the report says this probably will not be enough to reverse the trend of population decline in many countries. The survey predicts that Britain’s population by 2060 will increase by 25% from the current figure of just over 61 million to almost 77 million.

Germany is the biggest country in the EU, with more than 82 million people, but it is likely to shed almost 12 million by 2060, says the report. The widely praised family policies and support of working women in France means that the French population will rise to almost 72 million by 2060.

With the British birth rate now at its highest in a generation – 1.91 children per woman according to the Office for National Statistics last week – the UK has less to fear about any “generation wars” brought on by the “demographic timebomb” of ageing and shrinking populations where those in work cannot support the pension needs of retired citizens. “With climate change and globalisation the ageing of the population is one of the major challenges Europe must face,” said Amelia Torres, a commission spokeswoman.

Of the biggest six EU countries (Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland) Britain has by far the greatest birth rates. Only Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Ireland are growing faster than the UK.

The average age of Europeans is now just over 40; this will be 48 by 2060. The average age for Britons is 39 and will be 42 in 2060 – the lowest age in Europe with the exception of Luxembourg. The EU’s population now stands at 495 million and is projected to rise to more than 520 million by 2035, before falling to 505 million by 2060. “From 2015 onwards deaths would outnumber births, and population growth due to natural increase, would cease,” says the survey, assuming a net migration inflow to the EU of almost 60 million over the next 50 years. “Positive net migration would be the only population growth factor. However, from 2035 this positive net migration would no longer counterbalance the negative natural change.”

Across the EU’s 27 countries there are now four people of working age for every person over 65, but by 2060 that ratio will be 2:1, causing stress on welfare and pension systems. Torres said pension and health systems had to be reformed.

Fourteen of the 27 countries are projected to have smaller populations in 50 years’ time. The survey reveals striking contrasts, between eastern and western Europe and between the north and south, with Scandinavia and Britain comparing positively with Mediterranean Europe, while central and eastern Europe see chronic population depression.

The number of people aged 65 or more broadly doubles across the EU, with Britons of retirement age being almost 19 million. While the number of Germans of working age is predicted to decline from 54 million now to 39 million by 2060, in Britain the figure rises by more than 4 million.

Across the EU, the number of children under 14 will drop from 77 million to 71 million, but in the UK the number rises by 2 million. In Britain the proportion of over-80s will double to 9% while across the EU it will triple to 12%.

The UK population is increasing at a rate of around 1,000 people a day according to figures released by the National Statistics agency earlier this month. Children aged under 16 represent around one in five of the total population, around the same proportion as those of retirement age. UK fertility rates dropped steadily during the 1980s and 1990s but began to increase again from 2003.

The strongly Roman Catholic countries of Europe are having fewer babies. The Italian population will stay the same over the next 50 years, while Poland’s and Lithuania’s will shrink considerably. Spain’s population is forecast to increase by 6 million. Life expectancy is also rising. In Ireland, women will live to 89 and men to 85. Almost one in three Europeans will be of pensionable age if 65 remains the threshold

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