March 2009

1. Depression or Not, Immigration Continues Unabated

Excerpt: This just in: 1.1 million people got green cards last year through the federal immigration program.


2. But Let’s Make Sure We Keep Those 97 Trucks Out

Excerpt: Hezbollah uses Mexican drug routes into U.S.


3. As Takoma Park Goes, So Goes Maine

Excerpt: The Maine legislature is considering a bill to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. Stanley Renshon, a CUNY political scientist and CIS Fellow, wrote last year on why this is a bad idea. (Takoma Park is the D.C. area’s own little Berkeley/Madison/Cambridge, and allows non-citizen voting, as Renshon discusses.)


4. The Shift in U.S. Leadership

CIS Video, March 26, 2009. Details: While there remains a `no comment’ on much of the Bush administration work on secure documents and IDs, one thing is clear: we cannot understand where the US needs to be in the area of secure documents without looking at where we have been. In order to gain a better perspective on where we should go, I recently interviewed Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker, and DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Kathy Kraninger.


5. Stimulus Jobs for Illegals 2.0

Excerpt: In February we estimated that 300,000 construction jobs could go to illegal immigrants as a result of the stimulus bill. We stand by this number as a reasonable estimate of how many stimulus-related jobs could go to illegal aliens.

Some have taken the view that it is impossible to know how many stimulus-funded jobs might go to illegal immigrants. This way of thinking misses the point of how an estimate can inform public policy. We would never argue that our estimate is precise, but instead, as our press release stated, this is an ‘estimate’ of jobs that ‘could’ go to illegal immigrants. In fact, the headline of our press release is followed by a question mark to emphasize that the number is an estimate of what could happen.


6. Paseo Del Norte, Part IV

Excerpt: Since sneaking over the physical border has become so difficult, those who seek illegitimate entry, whether motivated by crime or job opportunities, are more likely to try the official ports of entry. The main document Mexicans use to cross from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso is the border crossing card (BCC). The State Department has issued more than nine million BCCs in the last ten years. They account for nearly 100 million entries to the United States each year, easily dwarfing every other entry program. They supply customers for many El Paso merchants, but they also facilitate illegal employment and the smuggling of people and who knows what else across the border. Nothing in the Obama administration’s brand-new Southwest Border Security Initiative addresses this vulnerability.


7. Mexico Isn’t a Failed State-Yet: But we need to protect ourselves now

Excerpt: Mexico is in trouble. The drug wars there have claimed more than 7,000 lives since President Calder¢n took office in late 2007. Police are being beheaded, politicians are being assassinated, and pundits are talking of Mexico’s becoming a “failed state.”

The potential consequences for the United States are very serious, much more serious than anything likely to happen in Afghanistan or Iraq. The violence has already started to spill over the border, and it is only a matter of time before an American police officer or Border Patrol agent or judge is beheaded. The even greater danger is massive refugee flows, inundating the Southwest with unprecedented numbers of Mexicans fleeing violence, few of whom would likely return, regardless of changed conditions at home.


8. L.A. Times’ Sam Quinones on Immigration Coverage, Drug Cartels

EXCERPT: Sam Quinones, the Los Angeles Times reporter whose combination of compassion, clear-eyed realism, and graceful prose has made him a penetrating observer of immigration and border issues, spoke proudly today of his newspaper’s commitment to covering the issue even at a time of severe economic stress at the paper (and at nearly every other metro daily in the country). Appearing on C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal,’ Quinones also described how Mexican drug cartels have insinuated themselves into immigrant communities in the U.S.


9. Please Nominate This Woman!

EXCERPT: It seems that ‘Jihad Jeannie’ Butterfield will be leaving her longtime position as Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association at the end of June.


10. Senior Research Fellow on FOX News

Details: Jerry Kammer, Senior Research Fellow here at the Center, was interviewed on his Backgrounder, ‘The 2006 Swift Raids: Assessing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement Actions at Six Facilities.’


11. Enforcement Pays

EXCERPT: With the widespread murderous violence between warring Mexican drug cartels spilling over the U.S. border and the continuing threat from radical Islamic terrorists domestic and foreign, the government has to spend its law enforcement dollars where they can do the most good. Yet Democratic leaders in Congress and the Obama administration appear ready to scale back one of the most successful and cost-effective immigration law enforcement programs ever launched.


12. The Department of Man-Caused Disaster Risk Preparation?

EXCERPT: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a new word for terrorism: ‘man-caused disasters.’ Not only that, but in her March 16, 2009, interview with German press, she states that her job is to help prepare for risks from man-caused disasters.


13. Wages Will Go Even Lower

EXCERPT: The first thing to note about workers in low-wage jobs that require relatively little education is that the overwhelming majority are born in the United States. For example, the 2007 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau showed that 65 percent of meatpackers, 68 percent of construction laborers, 73 percent of dishwashers and 74 percent of janitors were U.S.-born. Of course, the immigrant share (legal and illegal) of any occupation varies enormously from city to city. But it’s clear from this data that Americans are willing to do this work.


14. Gutierrez Wants Focus on Families

EXCERPT: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat who is touring the country to drum up support for ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’ is pressuring President Obama to join the effort. Gutierrez said on the weekly Spanish-language Univision television program ‘Al Punto’ that he’s looking for Obama to signal his commitment to the effort by ordering a halt to worksite raids by immigration authorities.


15. Voters Open to Militarizing the Border

EXCERPT: The Obama Administration’s somewhat skittish approach to border security is unfounded. According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, 79 percent of U.S. voters now say the military should be used along the U.S.-Mexico border to protect American citizens if drug-related violence continues to escalate in that area.


16. The 2006 Swift Raids: Assessing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement Actions at Six Facilities

Excerpt: On December 12, 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel raided six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co. in the largest immigration enforcement action in U.S. history. The plants are located in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, and Utah. A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines the raids and their aftermath. It notes the historical context of an industry whose workers have seen a dramatic decline in wages over the past 30 years as well as the raids’ economic effects. The report also discusses both positive and negative reactions in these six communities.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. Support the Center for Immigration Studies by donating online here


Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said. A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute — increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.

“ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done,” said the official, discussing Napolitano’s views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity. “There will be a change in policy, but in the interim, you’ve got to scrutinize the cases coming up,” the senior DHS official said, noting Napolitano’s expectations as a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general.

Another DHS official said Napolitano plans to release protocols this week to ensure more consistent work-site investigations and less “haphazard” decision-making.

Napolitano’s moves have led some to question President Obama’s commitment to work-site raids, which were a signature of Bush administration efforts to combat illegal immigration. Napolitano has highlighted other priorities, such as combating Mexican drug cartels and catching dangerous criminals who are illegal immigrants.

Napolitano’s moves foreshadow the difficult political decisions the Obama administration faces as it decides whether to continue mass arrests of illegal immigrant workers in sweeps of meatpackers, construction firms, defense contractors and other employers. Critics say workplace and neighborhood sweeps are harsh and indiscriminate, and they accuse the government of racial profiling, violating due process rights and committing other humanitarian abuses. The raids have enraged Latino community and religious leaders, immigrant advocates and civil liberties groups important to the Democratic base, who have stepped up pressure on Obama to stop them.

At a rally last week in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, head of the archdiocese of Obama’s home city, called on the government “to end immigration raids and the separation of families” and support an overhaul of immigration law. “Reform would be a clear sign this administration is truly about change,” George said.

Also last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made similar calls as the caucus met formally with Obama for the first time. “Raids that break up families in that way, just kick in the door in the middle of the night, taking [a] father, a parent away, that’s just not the American way. It must stop,” Pelosi added at a Capitol Hill conference on border issues sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But Obama also faces pressure from conservative lawmakers and many centrist Democrats, who say that workplace enforcement is needed to reduce the supply of jobs that attract illegal immigrants, and that any retreat in defending American jobs in a recession could ignite a populist backlash. When the White House announced plans last week to move more than 450 federal agents and equipment to the border to counter Mexico’s drug cartels, lawmakers warned Napolitano against diverting money from workplace operations.

Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the administration “appears to be using border violence as an excuse” to undercut immigration enforcement in the nation’s interior. “It makes no sense to take funds from one priority (worksite enforcement) to address a new priority (the growth in border violence). This is just robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for homeland security, said in an e-mail.

Led by Byrd, Congress this year ordered ICE to spend $127 million on workplace operations, $34 million more than President George W. Bush had requested. Reducing those amounts, even in ICE’s overall $5 billion budget, would provoke a fight, senior aides in both parties said.

Napolitano has sought to chart a middle course by ordering a review of which immigrants are targeted for arrest. While a policy is still under development, Napolitano has said she intends to focus more on prosecuting criminal cases of wrongdoing by companies. Analysts say they also think ICE may conduct fewer raids, focusing routine enforcement on civil infractions of worker eligibility verification rules.

Former Bush administration officials said their raids were also targeted against supervisors, but that it took time to build complicated white-collar cases. In the meantime, they said, depriving companies of their workforces and in some cases filing criminal charges against illegal immigrant workers sent a clear message of deterrence to both management and labor.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to reduce immigration, said Obama aides are trying to manage the issue until an economic turnaround permits an attempt to overhaul immigration laws. “I think their calculus is, how do they keep Hispanic groups happy enough without angering the broader public so much that they sabotage health care and their other priorities?” Krikorian said.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group, said that to the contrary, groups such as his support Obama’s focus on going after bad employers and criminal illegal immigrants first — or as he put it, prioritizing “drug smugglers, not window washers.”

Within ICE, the front-office vetting of cases has led to some doubts. Last week, for example, ICE postponed plans to raid employers at a military-related facility in Chicago for which they had arranged to temporarily detain as many as 100 illegal immigrants, according to one official. A second official said Napolitano thought the investigative work was inadequate.

The raid would have been the second under the Obama administration. After the first, a Feb. 24 sweep of an engine-parts maker in Bellingham, Wash., that led to 28 arrests, Napolitano publicly expressed disappointment that ICE did not inform her beforehand and announced an investigation into agency communication practices. In response, Leigh H. Winchell, the ICE special agent in charge in Seattle, wrote an e-mail to his staff — subsequently leaked to conservative bloggers — saying they had acted correctly. He also copied a statement from House Republicans calling Napolitano’s review “beyond backwards.” “You did nothing wrong and you did everything right,” Winchell wrote. “I cannot control the politics that take place with these types of situations, but I can remind you that you are great servants of this country and this agency.”


Some call it intolerant, others like the Minister’s muscular multiculturalism

Caught in a rare moment inside his Parliament Hill office, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney is finished his interview with Fox News to talk about U. S. military deserters seeking refuge in Canada. And an interview with a B. C. television station to discuss the case of a Chinese grandmother needing a special permit to visit Canada to tend to an injured grandson. And a TV reporter wanting to talk about Croatian visa policy. At the same time, his communications staff was fielding calls from reporters about the government’s decision to ban British MP George Galloway from visiting Canada, as well as the latest turn in a public battle with the Canadian Arab Federation, and reports on abuses in Canada’s refugee system — after finally managing to put aside, for now, the media and political fallout from the Minister’s comments days earlier about strengthening language proficiency requirements for new citizens.

For the past few weeks, and despite pressing matters in portfolios related to the economy, Mr. Kenney has arguably been the most public face of the federal Conservative government, daily stickhandling everything from tricky, politically charged issues, with accusations of racism and unethical political interference, to local-interest immigration sagas. It is, Mr. Kenney admits, an “emotionally draining … tough position.” But, for Mr. Kenney, a full-fledged Cabinet minister for not quite six months, the most challenging and politically perilous work planned for his portfolio — reshaping Canada’s approach to immigration and multiculturalism– has scarcely begun.

The higher-profile matters — the Galloway issue, the scuffle with Arab groups, the language abilities of immigrants — form the early marks of a pattern of what is to come. Rejecting the CAF’s support for Islamic terrorists and arguably anti-Semitic messages, Mr. Galloway for financially supporting Hamas, calling for newcomers to better integrate: These are of a piece with efforts to fortify what the Conservatives would call The Canadian Identity. It is, Mr. Kenney makes clear, a vision for a country that stands up for its pluralism, but also for its core liberal traditions of tolerance, democracy and secularism. “We can’t afford to be complacent about the challenge of integration,” he says. “We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we’ve been pretty successful at that, but I think it’s going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have an approach to pluralism and immigration that leads to social cohesion rather than fracturing.”

For a country with the highest average per capita immigration rate on the planet — roughly 250,000 new residents arrive yearly from nearly every region and creed– maintaining such philosophical hygiene will take great energy, audacity and support from within Canada’s ethnic communities, where immigration reform is personal. It will take, also, someone able to absorb repeated accusations of racism or xenophobia, which are already flying Mr. Kenney’s way. When he advocated to the Calgary Herald recently a limited federal role in promoting multiculturalism — “I think it’s really neat that a fifth-generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian — but pay for it yourself,” he said — Liberal MP Borys Wrze snewskyj complained the Minister was jettisoning sacred tenets. “He’s the minister in charge and he fundamentally disagrees with the intent of the [Multiculturalism Act] legislation that supports his portfolio,” Mr. Wrzesnewskyj says. Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis this week called Mr. Kenney “intolerant” for raising the issue of enhanced language requirements. The Arab Federation has painted him a Zionist lackey.

But there are those, many of them within Canada’s ethnic pockets, who support such a muscular approach. “What is different with him is, with previous [Conservative] immigration ministers, both have been pussycats; this guy is a tiger,” says Tarek Fatah, an author, prominent Liberal supporter and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “He’s standing up for Canadian values. I would like every politician to stand up for this country the way Jason Kenney has.”

Before being elevated to Cabinet last fall, Mr. Kenney spent two years shuttling between community halls, temples and church basements, building support networks in Sikh, Hindu, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish and Arab communities, as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. His mission: to break a near-lock his Liberal opponents have had on ethnic support since Trudeaumania.

Come last October’s election, the payoff arrived: The Tories upset numerous Liberal strongholds surrounding Vancouver and Toronto by converting Asian, East Asian and Middle Eastern voters from red to blue. Mr. Kenney’s predecessors, including Diane Finley and Monte Solberg, were ministers of immigration. When Mr. Kenney got the job in October, the Prime Minister added the “and multiculturalism.”

Multicultural maven is a curious role for a pale, Reform party pioneer raised in Saskatchewan, educated by Jesuits, deeply socially conservative, who came to politics primarily with an agenda for fiscal restraint (Before becoming a Reform MP in 1997, he headed the Canadian Taxpayers Federation). But political opponents looking to brand him as too redneck for the sensitive immigration file find it hard to land a punch. In his diverse Calgary Southeast riding, families speak fondly of Mr. Kenney’s efforts, long before he became the minister in charge, in helping them sort out immigration issues; his key staffers, including a Tibetan, a Muslim and an Armenian, resemble the dessert lineup at the UN cafeteria. He spearheaded the government’s efforts to recognize the Ukrainian Holdomor, its apology to the East Indian community for the Komagata Maru incident, he has defended Chinese Uyghur Muslims and paid his respects at the Mumbai Jewish centre attacked by terrorists. On his office wall hang portraits of abolitionist heroes William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln.

A few years ago, Mr. Kenney boarded an entire family newly arrived from India in his Calgary home while they settled into Canadian life. “It gave me, for the first time, a real view of the immigration experience from the eyes of a family that’s landed without any previous connections in Canada,” he says. “I benefited from it as much or more than they did.” Today, the kids call him Uncle Jason.


The Obama Administration not only is curtailing federal enforcement of immigration laws but may also clamp down against state and local enforcement efforts. If the federal government turns a blind eye and stifles others from acting, then illegal aliens can take and keep the jobs that many Americans now would like to have. It’s done bureaucratically, so we move quietly toward amnesty, without the public outcry that comes with open debate.

Local and state governments have inherent constitutional power to help enforce federal laws, as well as the ability to participate in coordinated efforts with federal agencies. Yet the newly-revamped Department of Justice (DoJ) is accused of trying to chill that enforcement by intimidating local law enforcement. Exhibit A is Justice’s official investigation of Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for supposed civil rights violations in enforcing immigration laws.

The notice sent to Arpaio cites alleged discriminatory police practices, unconstitutional searches and seizures, national origin discrimination and failure to provide services to non-English speakers. The sheriff has been outspoken about his efforts to have his deputies root out people who are illegally in the country.

The DoJ investigation of Arpaio is chock-full of partisan overtones on both sides. An Arizona Republic column has already labeled the probe a witch hunt, noting that Arpaio’s deputies were trained to follow strict civil rights guidelines in enforcing immigration laws. As for their practice of locating illegals via legitimate traffic stops, it’s noted that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was apprehended on that very basis.

It’s undeniable that politics were involved in DoJ’s decision. Democrats, led by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D, MI), publicly called for the investigation in a February letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. They wrote, “Arpaio has evinced a blatant disregard for the rights of Hispanic residents of the Phoenix area,” and complained about efforts “to search out undocumented immigrants.” They protested that persons arrested for immigration violations were moved about “in shackles” and housed in a “tent city” — both common treatment for all persons doing time in Maricopa County. The Democrat letter concluded it was part of racial profiling.

The mayor of Phoenix, Democrat Phil Gordon, had previously asked for such a probe of Arpaio’s enforcement actions.

After the investigation was announced, Republicans countered with their own letter to A-G Holder. Led by Judiciary Ranking Member Rep. Lamar Smith (R, TX), the GOP letter warned that the Justice Department action “carries with it great potential to chill the actions” of state and local law enforcement across the country. They called on Holder to issue assurances that his actions are “not for the purposes of politicizing or chilling immigration enforcement.”

So far, Holder has not publicly done so.

The GOP letter also linked the Arpaio investigation with other efforts to limit worksite enforcement. It noted that Napolitano responded to a Feb. 25th federal worksite enforcement raid not with praise, but with an angry call to investigate her own people. As the letter noted, the two investigations create “legitimate concern that other law enforcement officials may well be intimidated into scaling back and otherwise deemphasizing their federal authorized and approved immigration-related law enforcement activities out of fear of being subjected to investigation by the Department.”

Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” has not backed down. “I am not going to be intimidated by the politics and by the Justice Department,” Arpaio said. “I want the people of Arizona to know this: I will continue to enforce all the immigration laws.”

According to University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, the Arpaio matter is the very first civil rights investigation stemming from immigration enforcement. The Arpaio matter is part of a pattern slowing down efforts to make sure that illegal aliens do not take jobs from Americans and do not impose extra burdens on U.S. taxpayers.

When Napolitano announced she is shifting more personnel to the border to deal with Mexico’s violent drug cartels, some questioned whether they would be transferred away from efforts to detect and deport illegal aliens. Both Rep. Lamar Smith and the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R, NY), raised that concern. As King said, “I support Secretary Napolitano’s decision to deploy additional personnel to the border. I would hope this will not in any way lessen interior enforcement. Should Secretary Napolitano need more border personnel, I would certainly support that request.”

Another signal from Napolitano is her testimony to Congress that she will focus on employers who “exploit” illegal workers rather than those who “employ” them. In other words, she will make sure that illegal workers are well-paid, rather than helping free up those jobs for Americans or for legal residents.

How else might the Obama undercut the popular state and local levels to enforce federal immigration laws? State and local officials have inherent constitutional authority to do this. The Department of Justice agreed in an April 3, 2002, internal policy memo, which concluded: “(1) State have inherent power, subject to federal preemption, to make arrests for violation of federal law. (2) . . . federal statutes should be presumed not to preempt this arrest authority. . . . (3) Section 1252c [authorizing state and local arrests] does not preempt state authority to arrest for federal violations.”

The 2002 Justice policy reversed a contrary 1996 memo. Might the Obama Administration now try to reverse the 2002 policy, with another memo they would use it to undercut state and local enforcement efforts? If so, it would fit a pattern of quietly promoting amnesty-like results via lack of enforcement. That strategy tries to avoid provoking loud public outrage, as in 2007 when amnesty was publicly promoted by many in Congress and the Bush Administration.

Last year, as a Presidential candidate, Obama made his amnesty intentions clear. This year, as President, his approach so far has been stealthier. It didn’t help his approach when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called workplace enforcement raids un-American and vowed that they must end.

On top of the other trillions in new federal spending, this quiet amnesty could add extra new burdens. The 2007 amnesty proposal would have cost taxpayers an extra $2.6-trillion, according to The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector. What will Obama’s “quiet amnesty” cost us now? And, with his plans to impose a higher tax burden on an ever-shrinking pool of taxpayers, who can afford it?

Chances for a public debate — rather than behind-the-scenes bureaucratic changes — may depend on the irrepressible eagerness of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress. One proponent of aggressive action, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D, CA), says a “green light” has been given to those wanting to pass an amnesty bill in the next few months. A raid makes headlines; absence of raids doesn’t.


Amid the economic crisis, lots of Norwegians are so disturbed by what they see of Muslims and the way their Leftist government panders to Muslims that immigration is their no. 1 concern rather than the economy

Support for Norway’s Progress Party rose this month, with one pollster ranking it the country’s biggest political group, as voters backed its anti-immigration stance less than six months before parliamentary elections.

While governments in other parts of Europe lose support as voters condemn their handling of the financial crisis, Norway’s Labor government is struggling in polls after it tried to push through laws banning blasphemy [actually banning free speech about Muslims] and allowing police women to wear the hijab. The laws were withdrawn after a public outcry. Justice Minister Knut Storberget, whose ministry issued the proposals, has since gone on sick leave.

“People are losing their jobs, the economy seems to be going into recession but people are focusing on these issues instead,” said Torkel Brekke, professor of culture studies and oriental languages at the University of Oslo. “It tells you how important issues of identity are to small European countries and how people feel insecure about immigration.”

The Progress Party has support from 27.9 percent of voters in a Norstat poll published in the Vaart Land newspaper today, compared with 22.1 percent in the 2005 election. Backing for the ruling Labor Party fell to 31.7 percent from 32.8 percent in 2005. The poll, which had a margin of error of 2-3 points, was conducted March 17-22 and based on interviews with 1,000 people.

A survey by Opinion, published by news Web site Hegnar on March 18, gave the Progress Party a backing of 30.9 percent after gaining 6.4 percent in March, making it the country’s largest party.

‘Radical Islam’

The government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in February had to retract a proposal to restrict verbal and written attacks on individuals based on their religious or spiritual beliefs. The law would have “done the bidding of radical Islamic states” such as Iran, Progress Party Chairman Siv Jensen has said. Jensen has warned Norway is in danger of “sneak-Islamization.”

Muslims account for 1.8 percent of Norway’s population of 4.8 million, where citizens enjoy the world’s second-highest gross domestic product per capita, according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. That compares with 3.7 percent in Germany and as many as 10 percent in France, the CIA estimates.

Norway’s Red Cross said there had been a 26 percent increase last year to 581 phone calls received from men and women subjected to forced marriages, broadcaster NRK reported on Feb. 4.

No Such Threat

The ruling Labor Party’s response has been mixed. Party Secretary Martin Kolberg this month vowed to combat the threat of radical Islam in Norway. That drew criticism from fellow party member and president of parliament Thorbjoern Jagland, who said no such threat existed. The Progress Party’s popularity rose because it’s “had the clearest stance on these policies and has credibility in this regard,” Jensen said in an interview. “The government has been marked by so much mess and chaos recently. Kolberg’s comments have revealed the disagreements within the Labor Party.”

A poll conducted by InFact for Verdens Gang this month showed that 51 percent of Norwegians believed radical Islam to be a problem in Norway, with 26 percent saying it constituted a significant terror threat.

‘Completely Off Track’

“I vote for the Progress Party because of their policies on transport, elderly care and not least immigration, as the current policy has veered completely off track,” said Anita Marie Dahl Solheim, a port document controller from Sandefjord southern Norway. Immigrants “generally do whatever they want and nobody ever puts their foot down.”

Norway’s Muslims warn the debates on the hijab and radical Islamists may lead to a long-term rift between local and Islamic communities. “The debates have had an unfortunate effect and many Muslims feel shut out from the Norwegian community,” said Shoaib Sultan, general secretary of Norway’s Islamic Council. “This is regrettable for any society in the long-run.”

While the party’s surge forward in the polls is mainly due to its stance on immigration, Jensen says the financial crisis has also helped them gain popularity. The economy of the world’s fifth-biggest oil exporter will contract 1.7 percent this year sending unemployment up to 4.7 percent by 2010, compared with a jobless rate of 1.5 percent in the middle of last year, according to the government statistics agency. “I certainly do believe discontent is spreading,” she said. Norway is scheduled to hold general elections on Sept. 14.


Only someone living in a Leftist cocoon would think that this would overcome the objections that derailed the last attempt at immigration law reform

With their prospects in Congress sinking along with the economy, liberal advocates of giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship are launching a risky strategy to push lawmakers and the White House to take up their cause. They are devising a proposal in which millions of undocumented workers would be legalized now, while the number of foreign workers allowed to enter the country would be examined by a new independent commission, and probably reduced. [What a laugh!]

It is a calculation designed to win a new and powerful ally, organized labor, which favors a limit on foreign worker visas. [It also favors keeping illegals out — so how does the new plan address that?] But it risks alienating businesses that rely on temporary workers and could turn off key Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who in the past has crafted his own compromise plan for legalization.

With unemployment on the rise, the immigration debate has moved to the back burner as lawmakers fear enacting a law that could be portrayed as beneficial for immigrants at the expense of struggling American workers.

Advocates believe that winning support from the AFL-CIO, which opposed previous legalization plans, will help get the issue back on track. “Last time the coalition was not quite as solid as we would have hoped,” said Ali Noorani, director of the National Immigration Forum, one of the advocacy groups negotiating with labor leaders over the new strategy.

Ana Avendano, the AFL-CIO’s point person on the issue, said the labor federation believes the Democrats’ enhanced power in Washington represents a “sea change” in which liberal groups can forge ahead without working with Republican-leaning business lobbyists. “The reality is that we no longer have corporations controlling public policy in the White House and on the Hill,” she said.

President Obama reiterated his support for legalization last week during a stop in Southern California, and he told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he would deliver a public statement of support this spring. But advocates are growing anxious that he might prefer to delay what would no doubt be a politically charged fight. Immigration advocates have already raised concerns that the administration has not called off workplace raids that are splitting immigrant families.


The man described below was clearly not a refugee. Even if he was endangered in Afghanistan, he was clearly safe once he arrived in Pakistan. He ceased to be somebody in need of asylum at that point. There are millions of Afghans in Pakistan. But because he arrived in Australia illegally, apparently that made him a real asylum seeker. The fact that he is a Communist no doubt also helped to endear him to Australia’s Leftist government. Clearly, he is an economic migrant only and many more like him can now be expected

FOUR asylum seekers who were rescued by the Tampa in 2001, but sent back to Afghanistan during one of the most controversial chapters in Australia’s political history, have been found to be genuine refugees.

One of the men, Asmatullah Mohammadi, told The Age he was so desperate to escape the Taliban he risked his life in a second boat journey with people smugglers, despite fearing he would again be rejected by Australia.

He said 11 other Tampa survivors — who had failed to win refugee status after months on Nauru — were killed by the Taliban when they returned to Afghanistan.

The revelations have prompted calls for an inquiry into the Howard government’s “Pacific Solution”, introduced after the Tampa crisis, under which asylum seekers intercepted before they reached Australia were processed on Nauru or Manus Island.

Immigration lawyer David Manne said an inquiry should seek to remedy injustice and harm that flowed from the Pacific Solution, which excluded asylum seekers from access to Australian law, rights and protection. “People were placed under enormous pressure that amounted to constructive coercion to return to situations that were extremely unsafe,” he said.

Migration agent Marion Le, who at the time raised doubts about the quality of the Immigration Department assessments of those who had been rejected, said it was reprehensible that people had been told Afghanistan was safe and sent back.

The four Afghans are the first asylum seekers on board the Tampa who were told by the former government they were not owed protection. They were re-assessed after a second attempt to reach Australian shores. Immigration Minister Chris Evans said: “These people arrived unlawfully and were taken to Christmas Island, where they were assessed as being owed our protection and therefore had the bar lifted to allow them to apply for a protection visa.”

They were among 73 Middle Eastern boat people who were quietly resettled in Australia this month after the Immigration Department found they had genuine fears for their safety if returned to their homeland.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the decision was made taking into account current information.

Mr Mohammadi, who was a member of a communist party, said he fled Afghanistan because he was threatened by the extremist Muslim mujahideen. But on August 24, 2001, he found himself caught up in a political storm when the distressed wooden fishing vessel carrying 433 asylum seekers was rescued by the Tampa, on the eve of a federal election.

Mr Mohammadi said that after 17 months on Nauru he was sent back to Afghanistan with about $1000. “When they sent me back to Afghanistan, I was upset and very stressed,” he said through a Dari interpreter.

He said he obtained work as a builder for a foreign company in Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan, but fled to Iran after two of his colleagues were killed by the Taliban because they were perceived to be working for “foreign criminals”.

He was expelled to Pakistan after Iranian authorities discovered he had no documents, and from there travelled to Australia via Malaysia. “I knew it was a big danger to come by boat to Australia — it wasn’t my first time — but I was that desperate.”

Mr Mohammadi said he wanted to thank all Australians and the Government for “letting me in”. “I am relieved and I feel now I am alive, I am not dead,” he said. He wanted to find work as a builder and hoped that his wife and six children could eventually join him from Iran.

Ms Le said she had reviewed more than 200 rejected Nauru files and discovered errors, including merged cases and untested “dob-in” material, such as unsubstantiated allegations that a person did not come from Afghanistan.

“Departmental people who were on Nauru were told these people were not refugees,” she said. “This came about because of the reprehensible policy of the Howard government. Everyone can stick the knife into the Immigration Department but … public servants were just doing what they were told.”

Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said the refugee determination process had been deeply political. “We need to have a royal commission to open our eyes to what was done in our name so it can never be repeated.”

Of the 433 asylum seekers rescued by the Tampa, 131 were immediately resettled in New Zealand. The remaining 302 were processed on Nauru. Of these, 101 were found to be refugees, 14 were resettled as non-refugees, one died and 186 returned home after failing to win refugee status.


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