Category Archives: Borders and Immigration

Marines become U.S. citizens at boot camp

Ten recruits make it through basic training, gain citizenship as reward. | Feb 5, 2013

by Gina Harkins

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — Ten young men became American citizens on the same day they were presented to their families as Marines, part of a new program that allows recruits to go through the naturalization process at the end of boot camp.

Members of Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, participated in the Thursday ceremony that preceded Friday’s boot camp graduation here.

Ten of the new Marines decided to join the Corps before they officially were considered Americans. But that changed as they stood in front of the rest of the battalion and their families, raised their right hands and took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens of the country they’ve sworn to protect.

The 10 Marines were born in different countries.

Pvt. Giuseppe Raccuglia, 18, was born in Italy and came to the United States as a toddler. His family moved here for better opportunities, said his mother, Maria DiBacco. They traveled from Hartford, Conn., to see Raccuglia graduate and watched him become a Marine and an American.

“I have been crying since Monday,” Raccuglia’s mom said. “It is all very emotional.”

Raccuglia, who picked up the crash, fire and rescue military occupational specialty during boot camp, said he wanted to become a Marine so he could give back to the country that took in his family.

“We were all part of something really special,” he said of himself and the other nine Marines who took the oath. “Not only did we become Marines today, but citizens of a great country.”

Pvt. Abraham Ostos Mendoza, 18, was born in Peru and moved to the U.S. about six years ago. He said he joined the Marine Corps to become part of the nation’s finest fighting force.

“I was nervous,” he said. “Standing out there becoming a Marine and a citizen at the same time, right after boot camp and the Crucible — it’s just a lot.” The Crucible is the final test in recruit training.

He said it was difficult at times to follow what his boot-camp drill instructors were saying because they speak so quickly and English is his second language. He now will move toward his military occupational specialty, working construction, and said becoming a Marine will change the way he acts every day.

The remaining eight Marines were from Bhutan, Bolivia, Cameroon, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

The battalion commanding officer, Lt. Col. Joseph Jones, welcomed them not only into the Marine Corps, but “into the most diverse and greatest nation on Earth.”

The naturalization program is an expansion of the law that President George W. Bush authorized following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, that allows noncitizens serving in the armed forces to immediately file for citizenship.

In 2009, the Army established a program giving immigrants the ability to become citizens when they graduate from basic training, and the Navy joined the initiative in 2010.

Immigrants serving in the Air Force, Coast Guard, certain parts of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve also are eligible for expedited citizenship, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Births in U.S. Drop to Record Low as Recession Hits Immigrants | Nov 30, 2012

The U.S. birth rate fell to a record low last year, driven by a decline in the number of babies born to immigrant women, who have led the growth in the nation’s population for at least two decades.

The country’s birth rate fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a Pew Research Center report. The rate dropped 6 percent for U.S.-born women and plummeted 14 percent for foreign-born females since 2007, the onset of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The decline continued last year to the lowest point since records began in 1920.

The study, released yesterday, underlines the vulnerability of Medicare and Social Security, the two largest social- insurance programs for the elderly. Both are funded by payroll taxes on working-age adults, and both are expected to fuel the U.S. budget deficit as baby boomers retire and fewer workers replace them.

“When families are small, people rely more heavily on these programs,” said Ted Fishman, author of “Shock of Gray,” a 2010 book about the world’s aging population. “A low birth rate could be a recipe for mass poverty and isolation.”

The Pew study, based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census, found that the 14 percent decline in the birthrate for foreign-born women was greater than in the entire period between 1990 and 2007. The birthrate among Mexican women in the U.S., the nation’s largest immigrant group, fell 23 percent. The birth rate is defined as the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15-44.

Economic Distress

The report doesn’t try to explain why births among Hispanic and other immigrant women fell so much, though the study’s author said it’s linked to economic distress.

“Immigrants were particularly hard hit” by the recession, Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher at Washington-based Pew who co-wrote the study, said in an interview. “Hispanics were hardest hit by a loss of wealth, loss of jobs and increase in poverty.”

The U.S. birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to preliminary numbers. That’s down by almost half from a peak of 122.7 in 1957 during the postwar baby boom. The rate steadily fell before stabilizing at 65-70 births per 1,000 since the 1970s.

White, non-Hispanic women made up two-thirds of U.S. births in 2010, a drop from 72 percent in 1990. Eleven percent of births among U.S.-born women were to teen mothers; about 5 percent of foreign-born mothers were teens.

Women older than 35 were responsible for 21 percent of births by immigrant mothers, and the older mothers made up 13 percent of births among U.S.-born women. Immigrants accounted for 33 percent of all births to women over 35, the study found.

Swelling Ranks

The ranks of Social Security recipients are swelling as baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, begin to leave the workplace. About 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, according to a 2010 Pew study. Some 32.6 million U.S. households, or 28 percent, reported Social Security income in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The $773 billion program’s coffers have been depleted by a payroll tax cut in effect for the past two years. Social Security trustees estimated in their annual report released in April that the cut, which reduced the payroll tax to 4.2 percent from 6.2 percent, cost taxpayers about $112 billion this year. The tax break for 163 million workers is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

The trust funds used to pay retirement, disability and survivor benefits “will be exhausted” in 2033, the program administrators said in their report.

Ominous Trend

The demographic trends aren’t promising, trustees said. In 1965, 81 million workers paid for benefits to 20 million people, a 4-1 ratio. The ratio has fallen to 2.8 workers per retiree and is expected to drop to two workers for every beneficiary by 2035, with 186 million workers paying for 91 million retirees.

Medicare, the nation’s health-insurance program for about 50 million elderly and disabled people, is in worse shape. The trust fund for that program is slated to run dry in 2024, its trustees said in an April report.

The size of the two programs makes them potential targets for any deficit-reduction agreement designed to avert the fiscal cliff, the more than $600 billion in tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to start in January.

In its 2010 draft report, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, led by former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, urged Congress to reform Social Security by raising retirement ages and Medicare by capping costs to make them sustainable.

‘Temporary Blip’?

Fertility rates affect both Social Security and Medicare funding, Charles Blahous, one of two public trustees for Social Security and Medicare, said in an e-mail, though he added “it is fairly typical for birth rates to drop during a recession.”

“It affects our starting data for projections going forward, but it wouldn’t affect ultimate assumptions unless it is indicative of a permanent level shift in fertility,” said Blahous, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “And it’s far too soon to anticipate that.”

Even with a decline in the birth rate, Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said “a temporary blip wouldn’t be an enormous difficulty.

‘Big Deal’

“A more permanent decline in the birth rate, however, would be a very big deal for both Social Security and Medicare,” he said in an e-mail. “The beneficiary populations are rising; to the degree that populations of workers don’t keep pace, costs per workers will rise. We know that’s already taking place, but an even lower birth rate could cause serious problems.”

The increasing number of women who have become primary breadwinners for U.S. households has risen because of the recession, Fishman said, and has meant more women are deferring having children. Even so, he said, a healthy economy doesn’t guarantee high birth rates. In Japan, where one in four people will be 65 or older by 2015, birth rates began dropping when the economy began booming in the 1970s.

Livingston, the Pew study’s author, said the decline in fertility probably will slow as the economy rebounds, though rates won’t climb back to the historic highs of the middle 20th century.

“Are we going to return to those levels of fertility?” she said. “Um, no.”

Thousands tracking ‘cover-up’ of Fast and Furious scandal

Holder put on hot-seat before Congress as Americans watch

WND | Feb 4, 2012

Tens of thousands of Americans are tracking the allegations of a “cover-up” in the Department of Justice’s “Fast and Furious” scandal under Attorney General Eric Holder, according to members of Congress who have been holding hearings on the issue.

Members of the House committee that this week held a hearing for members to quiz Holder on the progress of the investigation say nearly 14,000 Americans logged online to watch the hearing live, nearly 18,000 followed up with visits to, and almost 8,500 viewed a diagram of what is suspected to have gone on.

Further, there were nearly 20,000 views of hearing-related videos.

The statements are getting testy, too.

“How many more Border Patrol agents would have had to die as part of Operation Fast and Furious for you to take responsibility,” U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle asked Holder during the hearing.


Her questioning noted that someone needed to be held responsible, and she alone had gotten 30 questions from her district just that morning from constituents who wanted to know what happened and why – and who would be held liable.

The program had federal authorities telling gun dealers to sell weapons to individuals who then took them to Mexico to be used in that nation’s internal drug cartel war. The idea was that the weapons would be tracked and arrests made at the top levels.

However, from information that’s available, the government essentially lost track of most of the 2,000 or so weapons that were involved in the program. Some of them later were found at the site when Agent Brian Terry was murdered.

Buerkle noted that the agent’s family, testifying previously before Congress, had wanted to know if the search for those responsible would track them down – and then would they be charged with facilitating the murder of a federal agent.

Holder said it was an issue that was being addressed.

“We are endeavoring to find out who made the determinations to allow guns to walk,” he said. “We will hold accountable people who were involved in this flawed investigation.”

Part of the hearing:

Holder’s testimony failed to convince fully members of the committee, as they alleged he was continuing the cover-up of the problems.

Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., pointed out that Holder and the Department of Justice were still withholding 93,000 documents. They suggested the committee may need to issue a subpoena to obtain the withheld records if the DOJ refuses to comply voluntarily.

In testimony, Holder admitted that no DOJ employee had been reprimanded or otherwise admonished for their participation in Fast and Furious some 13 months after Terry was killed in Arizona by Mexican drug-war operatives using guns that traced back to the gun operation.

Before the hearing, Issa released a majority report documenting that officials in DOJ headquarters in Washington “had much greater knowledge of, and involvement in, Fast and Furious than [DOJ] has previously acknowledged.”

In one particularly sharp exchange, Issa accused Holder of lying about when he and top officials in the DOJ in Washington first knew about the operation that evolved into Fast and Furious under Holder’s watch.

The majority report charged that for “months, the [DOJ] has stonewalled Committee document requests and refused to comply with committee subpoenas. The [DOJ] has produced scores of blacked-out pages containing no information and many duplicate documents in order to bolster its page count.”

The report asserted that the DOJ is still withholding 92 percent of the documents it has handed over to the Office of Inspector General. It objected as well to the DOJ decision not to hand over to the committee any documents created after Feb. 4, 2011.

Norway massacre: Immigrants gain popularity after Breivik

Norwegian border Photo: Hardo Müller/Flickr | Dec 5, 2011

by Ioana Dan

Norwegians have adopted a more positive attitude towards immigrants following Anders Behring Breivik’s attacks.

85 percent of Norwegians agreed with the statement that, “Most immigrants make an important contribution to Norwegian working life” as opposed to 73 percent before, according to Statistics Norway (SSB).

According to the poll, 82 percent also concurred that,”most immigrantsenrich the cultural life in Norway”, up 10 percent from before the 22 July attacks.

The largest change in opinions was regarding the assertion, “Most immigrants represent a source of insecurity in society”. Only 48 percent agreed before, but this increased to 70 percent after the mass murderer struck.


Breivik psychiatric report brings uncertainty, criticism

Moreover, more people thought that, “Mostimmigrants abuse the social welfare system” compared with the results from 2010. Figures who this was 31 and 35 percent, respectively.

SSB says there were no other significant changes in their poll, otherwise. Nine out of ten Norwegians believed immigrants should have the same job opportunities as any Norwegian, and 70 percent think that non-Nordic labour migration has a positive impact on Norway’s economy.  45 percent think that it obtaining a residence permit should not be more difficult.

The results of the survey also show that women tend to think more positively towards immigrants than men. Older people between 67 and 79 are more skeptical when it comes to immigrants than people aged 16-44.

Where people live also contributes to these opinions. Urban residents are more generous towards immigration and immigrants than those who live in the country.

Statistics Norway’s annual survey on attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, was carried out between 4 July and 13 August 2011.

Russians in largest exodus from the country since the Bolshevik Revolution

Russians line up for visas outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. (Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times)

Some chafe at life under Vladimir Putin’s rule, but for many others, economic limitations are the prime motivator. Experts say the numbers have reached demographically dangerous levels.

Russians are leaving the country in droves

Los Angeles Times | Nov 14, 2011

By Sergei L. Loiko

Moscow — Over a bottle of vodka and a traditional Russian salad of pickles, sausage and potatoes tossed in mayonnaise, a group of friends raised their glasses and wished Igor Irtenyev and his family a happy journey to Israel.

Irtenyev, his wife and daughter insist they will just be away for six months, but the sadness in their eyes on this recent night said otherwise.

A successful Russian poet, Irtenyev says he can no longer breathe freely in his homeland, because “with each passing year, and even with each passing day, there is less and less oxygen around.”

“I just can’t bear the idea of watching [Vladimir] Putin on television every day for the next 12 years,” the 64-year-old said of the Russian leader who has presided over a relatively stable country, though one awash in corruption and increasing limits on personal freedoms. “I may not live that long. I want out now.”

Irtenyev and his family have joined a new wave of Russian emigration that some here have called the “Putin decade exodus.”

Roughly 1.25 million Russians have left the country in the last 10 years, Sergei Stepashin, head of the national Audit Chamber, told the radio station Echo of Moscow. The chamber tracks migration through tax revenues.


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He said the exodus is so large, it’s comparable in numbers to the outrush in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution.

“About as many left the country after 1917,” he said.

They don’t leave like their predecessors of the Soviet 1970s and ’80s, with no intention to return. They don’t sell their apartments, dachas and cars. They simply lock the door, go to the airport and quietly leave.

The reasons are varied. Some, like Irtenyev, chafe at life under Putin’s rule, which seems all but certain to continue with the prime minister’s expected return to the presidency next year. But for many others, economic strictures are the prime motivation. With inflation on the rise, and the country’s GDP stuck at an annual 3% growth rate the last three years — compared with 7% to 8% before the global economic crisis — Russians are feeling pinched.

Russian nuclear physicist Vladimir Alimov, who now works at the University of Toyama in Japan, said he couldn’t survive on the $450 monthly salary of a senior researcher at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Yes, I miss Russia, but as a scientist I couldn’t work there with the ancient equipment which had not been replaced or upgraded since the Soviet times,” Alimov, 60, said in a phone interview. “Here in Japan, I have fantastic work conditions. I can do the work I enjoy and be appreciated and valued for it, everything I couldn’t even dream of back in Russia.”

The wave of emigration, which has included large numbers of educated Russians, has grave implications for a country of 142 million with a death rate significantly higher than its birthrate. A study published this year by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development called Russia a waning power and predicted its population would shrink by 15 million by 2030.

Experts believe that 100,000 to 150,000 people now leave the country annually and warn that the exodus reached dangerous dimensions in the last three years.

“People are going abroad for better college education, for better medical help, for better career opportunities, believing they will come back someday, but very few actually do,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst with the Institute of Geography. “The intellectual potential of the nation is being washed away, as the most mobile, intelligent and active are leaving.”

Lev Gudkov, head of Levada, also sees a political dimension. “The worst thing is that people who could have played a key role in the modernization campaign proclaimed by the Kremlin are all leaving,” Gudkov said. “But it appears that the Kremlin couldn’t care less if the most talented, the most active Russians are emigrating, because their exodus lifts the social and political tension in the country and weakens the opposition.”

But Valery Fyodorov, the head of VTsIOM, says the current emigration has very little to do with politics.

“A majority of those who want to leave the country are already quite successful in Russia,” Fyodorov said. “They simply want to live even better and try something new.”

“However, I must admit that life in Russia has not been really improving in the last three years, and that of course applies pressure and encourages talk of leaving,” he said. “But that is much more connected with economic crisis problems and consequences rather than politics.”

About 20% of Russians are thinking about leaving the country and trying their luck abroad, according to various Russian polling agencies, from the independent Levada Center to the Kremlin-friendly VTsIOM. Among 18- to 35-year-olds, close to 40% of respondents say they’d like to leave.

One of the few to have returned is computer engineer Alexey Petrov, who came back in 2003 after four years in Argentina. He opened an Internet cafe in Buenos Aires, only to face economic crises there.

Recalling his emigration experience, Petrov, 38, cited the Russian adage “It is good where we are not” and pointed out that the whole world is afflicted with the same economic problems people in Russia are now fleeing.

“Most of the time I was away I was consumed with nostalgia, and it is one thing to be a tourist abroad and quite another to be an alien resident,” Petrov said. “Now I know that if you ignore politics and stay away from it, you can lead a normal existence in Russia and be happy with little things life offers to you every day.”

But politics can still intrude, with an atmosphere that can sometimes feel threatening. Take a recent day, when thousands of young people wearing the old imperial white, yellow and black flag and carrying extremist and ultranationalist posters marched the streets of Moscow screaming obscenities. Police stood aside.

Even though poet Irtenyev’s wife, Alla Bossart, knows she will miss her cozy dacha near Moscow, as a former columnist of Novaya Gazeta she is well aware that in the last 10 years, five of her colleagues, including crusading reporter Anna Politkovskaya, have been killed.

On the morning she left Moscow with her husband and daughter, Bossart had to return from the taxi to her already locked apartment to pick up some things she had forgotten. And then she had to go back again to switch off the light.

As she walked down the steps again, she muttered an old Russian saying under her breath: “It is a bad sign to return.”

Census: Hispanics fuel US white population growth

Associated Press | Sep 29, 2011


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a twist to notions of race identity, new 2010 census figures show an unexpected reason behind a renewed growth in the U.S. white population: more Hispanics listing themselves as white in the once-a-decade government count.

The shift is due to recent census changes that emphasize “Hispanic” as an ethnicity, not a race. While the U.S. government first made this distinction in 1980, many Latinos continued to use the “some other race” box to establish a Hispanic identity. In a switch, the 2010 census forms specifically instructed Latinos that Hispanic origins are not races and to select a recognized category such as white or black.

The result: a 6 percent increase in white Americans as tallied by the census, even though there was little change among non-Hispanic whites. In all, the number of people in the “white alone” category jumped by 12.1 million over the last decade to 223.6 million. Based on that definition, whites now represent 72 percent of the U.S. population and account for nearly half of the total population increase since 2000.

Broken down by state, California and Texas were home to nearly half of Hispanics who identified as white, followed by Florida and New York. Together, these four states comprised nearly two-thirds of the “white alone” population who were Hispanic. Overall, Hialeah, Fla.; Fargo, N.D.; Arvada, Colo.; Billings, Mont., and Scottsdale, Ariz., posted the highest shares in the “white alone” category, at roughly 90 percent or more.

“The white population has become more diverse as evidenced by the growth of the Hispanic white population and the multiple-race white population,” including black-white and white-Asian people, according to the 2010 census analysis released Thursday.

Some demographers say the broadened white category in 2010 could lead to a notable semantic if not cultural shift in defining race and ethnicity. Due to the impact of Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing group, the Census Bureau has previously estimated that whites will become the minority in the U.S. by midcentury. That is based on a definition of whites as non-Hispanic, who are now at 196.8 million.

That could change, if the common conception of white were to shift.

“What’s white in America in 1910, 2010 or even 2011 simply isn’t the same,” said Robert Lang, sociology professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, citing the many different groups of European immigrants in the early 20th century who later became known collectively as white. He notes today that could mean a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant in upstate New York or Jews and Italians in the lowest East side of Manhattan.

Predicting a similar shift for Hispanics, Lang and others noted that mixed marriages are now more common between whites and Hispanics. U.S.-born Latino children of immigrants also are more likely than their parents to identify as white. “The definition of white has always been expansive,” he said. “I could see the census in 2030 or 2040 dropping the differentiation between Hispanics and whites.”

Roderick Harrison, a Howard University sociologist and former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, agreed that growing numbers of second- and third-generation Hispanics may lose some of their cultural identity as they become more assimilated in the U.S. “Some portion might indeed become, for most social purposes, ‘white,'” he said.

The latest census figures also show the number of Americans who identified themselves as partly black and partly white more than doubled to 1.8 million. For the first time, the black-white combination is the most prevalent group among multiracial Americans, making up 1 in 5 members of that subgroup. They exceed the number of multiracials who identified as being white and “some other race,” composed of mostly Hispanics, as well as white-Asians and white-American Indians.

States in the South including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama tripled their numbers of people identifying as a mix of black and white, mostly because their overall numbers are smaller. In those places, less than 3 percent of blacks identified that way — lower than the national average of 4.5 percent.

In raw numbers, states that had the biggest increases in the black-white category were California, Florida, Texas, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Some blacks who are partly white have been reluctant to openly embrace their white background, due to a strong black identity in their communities. Historically, several states previously had a “one drop” rule that classified whites with any African blood as black.

In the 2010 census, President Barack Obama was among those who identified himself only as African-American, even though his mother was white.

“There is no question that racial lines are blurring in the United States, especially among ‘new’ minorities — Hispanics, Asians and growing mixed race generations. Yet it’s particularly significant that we are seeing breakdowns in white-black separation,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “Strong gains in interracial marriages and higher mixed-race identification among youth suggest that past racial categories will need to be radically changed or even dispensed with in the next two or three decades.”

The share of Hispanics identifying themselves as white increased over the past decade from 48 percent to 53 percent, while the proportion of those who marked “some other race” dropped from 42 percent to 37 percent. Many Hispanics previously preferred to check the “some other race” category to express their nationalities — such as Mexican or Cuban.

The Census Bureau has been examining different ways to count the nation’s demographic groups. One experiment is a possible change to the questionnaire that would effectively treat Hispanics as a mutually exclusive group. It would allow people to check off just one of five race or ethnic categories — white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native — rather than asking people who identify themselves as Hispanic to also check what race they are.

Other findings:

—The multiple-race white population, including black-whites and white-Asians, increased by at least 8 percent in every state, with the biggest gains in the South.

—The non-Hispanic white population declined in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.

—The majority of blacks, both non-Hispanic blacks and those in combination with Hispanics or other races, lived in the South. About 60 percent of their total population lived in 10 states — New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia, California, North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio. The biggest gains in blacks over the past decade occurred in Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.

—Cities with the highest share of blacks, both non-Hispanic and in combination with others, include Detroit at 84 percent. It was followed by Jackson, Miss., Miami Gardens, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala.

British government: Unchecked immigration drove down wages and living standards

Long queue: Hundreds of Bulgarians waited outside the British Embassy in Sofia to apply for visas to work in the UK in 2007

Former government also hushed up potentially damaging reports

Migration boom DID drive down wages and living standards, admits Labour

Daily Mail | Sep 26, 2011

By James Slack

Labour’s open-door immigration policy drove down wages and living standards in Britain, party leader Ed Miliband has admitted.

He conceded that the last government ‘got it wrong’ on border controls and said  that British workers had  been ‘undercut’.

The bombshell confession came amid revelations that, when in power, Labour suppressed a string of damaging reports about the impact of mass immigration on the UK.

At the time Labour denied claims that migration – in particular the large number of skilled Poles – was making life harder for some British workers.

Mr Miliband conceded: ‘We got it wrong in a number of respects including underestimating the level of immigration from Poland, which had a big effect on people in Britain.

‘What I think people were worried about, in relation to Polish immigration in particular, was that they were seeing their wages, their living standards driven down.

‘Part of the job of government is if you are going to have an open economy within Europe you have got to give that protection to employees so that they don’t see workers coming in and undercutting them.’

However, Labour is still refusing to match the Tory commitment to reduce net migration – the difference between the number leaving the UK and the number of arrivals – to the ‘tens of thousands’.


Mr Miliband told Sky News: ‘I’m not going to make  promises that I can’t keep. We need a tough immigration policy but I  think free movement of labour is right for Britain.’

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper admitted: ‘We did get things wrong on immigration.

‘We should have had transitional controls on migration from Eastern Europe.’

In a separate development, the Coalition published a string of reports, which cost £165,000 to produce, which ministers claimed had been suppressed by Labour.

The documents, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, revealed that immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria had low education levels and were more likely to claim unemployment-related benefits than non-immigrants or other migrant groups in Britain.

Migrants from the two countries were also more likely to have four or more children than those coming to Britain from elsewhere, placing a significant strain on the education system.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: ‘This is another disturbing cover-up by a Labour Party that failed on immigration and then tried to bury the truth.

‘This Government is bringing immigration under control to restore public confidence in the system left broken by Labour.’

Border scrutiny dissuades Mexico-Bound illegal immigrants from leaving the country

Analleli Rios Ramirez, center, and her brother-in-law, Eusebio Resendiz, try to obtain a permit to take their truck into Mexico. Joshua Lott for The New York Times | Aug 9, 2011


NOGALES, Ariz. — An American immigration agent bounded up the steps of a bus about to cross the United States-Mexico border recently and demanded to see the papers of all those aboard. “Papers!” he shouted, eyeing passengers warily as he walked up and down the aisle.

Such checks are not surprising given all the attention focused on illegal immigration these days. But this bus full of migrants was leaving the United States, not entering it.

A raft of immigration laws in Arizona and other states is designed to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they pack their bags and head home. But the reality on the border is that departing the country has become more complicated than ever — leading some people to worry that the outbound checks could not only dissuade illegal immigrants from leaving the country but also place them in a kind of no-win limbo, reviled if they stay and potentially arrested if they try to leave.

It used to be that entering Mexico, whether it was from San Diego or El Paso or here in Nogales, was a cakewalk, with no scrutiny on the United States side of the border and next to none on the Mexico side. But efforts by the Obama administration to reduce the flow of guns and drug money heading from the United States to Mexico have changed that in recent years.

Agents now regularly hop aboard southbound buses, a common way for migrants to return to their towns and villages. At permanent checkpoints set up at border crossings, they also stop southbound vehicles and confront pedestrians going south on foot.

In questioning people leaving the country about illegal contraband, agents frequently find migrants who are not engaged in smuggling but do not have permission to be in the United States. Some with clean records are let go. Others are fingerprinted and photographed for illegal entry and only then allowed to go on their way. Once they are in the government’s database, they face more stringent penalties if they are caught in the United States again.

Immigrants who are found to have criminal records face more aggressive treatment. They are likely to be arrested and then formally deported.

The intent, officials say, is not to discourage illegal immigrants from leaving. Rather, it is to stem the flow of contraband. In a recent weekly report from Arizona, Customs and Border Protection said it had seized $22,102 in cash being smuggled out of the state from July 18 to July 24. During the same period, six weapons and 5,943 rounds of ammunition were recovered. Agents detained 1,606 illegal immigrants, although that included those who were both coming and going.

In interviews, departing immigrants offered a variety of reasons for leaving Arizona. Tough laws and law enforcement sweeps made life less livable. The economic downturn made it tougher to make ends meet. Then there was also a host of personal concerns. For Analleli Rios Ramirez, 24, it was the death of her brother-in-law in Cuernavaca that prompted her and her husband to decide to live closer to relatives.

“We just decided we wanted to live in our own country,” said Ms. Rios, who was the assistant manager of a pretzel shop in a mall near Phoenix.

Some question the sense of checking the papers of migrants who are leaving anyway. The criticism comes from those who consider illegal immigrants to be outlaws and those who sympathize with their struggle to improve their lives.

“Why do we want to spend resources apprehending people who are removing themselves anyway?” asked Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, a human rights group based in Tucson that aids immigrants in southern Arizona. “I’ve heard of people wanting to leave the country and wondering if they should risk it. It’s in the forefront of people’s minds when they’re deciding to leave.”

The possibility that a government policy might be discouraging illegal immigrants from leaving has led even some groups who favor tighter immigration controls to think twice about the southbound scrutiny.

“This is about the only situation we would ever advocate that our immigration laws be waived,” William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said last year in a statement calling for the Obama administration to ease its southbound immigration checks. “We want to encourage the illegals to leave America on their own, and thus we ask Obama to provide them safe passage out of America.”

Making it difficult to leave the country, Mr. Gheen said, might prompt some migrants instead to leave Arizona or other states with tough immigration laws for more hospitable parts of the United States.

Despite the second guessing, the administration said the policy made sense.

“We’re not trying to discourage anyone from leaving, but we do want to send the message that there are consequences for breaking immigration laws,” said an administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Although thousands of migrants have been detained heading south, officials said they could not break down how many were stopped because they were in the country illegally versus those stopped for smuggling violations.

Some immigrants said they were confused by the policy.

As she prepared to cross the border recently and join her husband who had crossed months before, Ms. Rios grew anxious, knowing that she did not have her papers in order and that she might be detained. She had entered the country illegally more than a decade ago, as an 11-year-old child clutching her mother’s hand. Now she was returning to a country she barely knew.

“I thought this is what Arizona wanted, for me to leave,” she said as she packed her things in Chandler, Ariz., before heading south. “And I have to worry about them catching me on the way out.”

It turns out that she and her overstuffed pickup truck crossed from Nogales, Ariz., into Nogales, Mexico, without a hitch.

Immigration officials say they cannot check everyone and use discretion as they survey the documents of departing migrants. Ms. Rios’s mother, Teodora Martinez, had left months earlier and did not have papers when an agent hopped aboard her bus. She presented an identification card issued by the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix, which did not prove legal residency. Her husband, Cesar Valle Martinez, had shown a fake ID.

The agent raised his eyebrows as he surveyed their papers and then huddled with a colleague who had also entered the bus. The couple was traveling with several young children, though, and they had American passports. “Go on,” the agent said finally, handing back the documents, exiting the bus and letting the family return to Mexico.

Islamic extremists set up Sharia law controlled zones in British cities | Jul 28, 2011

By Rebecca Camber

The posters warn passers-by that they are entering a zone where Islamic rules, such as 'no alcohol', are 'enforced'

Islamic extremists have launched a poster campaign across the UK proclaiming areas where Sharia law enforcement zones have been set up.

Communities have been bombarded with the posters, which read: ‘You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced.’

The bright yellow messages daubed on bus stops and street lamps have already been seen across certain boroughs in London and order that in the ‘zone’ there should be ‘no gambling’, ‘no music or concerts’, ‘no porn or prostitution’, ‘no drugs or smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’.

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed responsibility for the scheme, saying he plans to flood specific Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the UK and ‘put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term’.

In the past week, dozens of streets in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham have been targeted, raising fears that local residents may be intimidated or threatened for flouting ‘Islamic rules’.

Choudary, who runs the banned militant group Islam4UK, warned: ‘We now have hundreds if not thousands of people up and down the country willing to go out and patrol the streets for us and a print run of between 10,000 and 50,000 stickers ready for distribution.

‘There are 25 areas around the country which the Government has earmarked as areas where violent extremism is a problem.

‘We are going to go to all these same areas and implement our own Sharia-controlled zones.

Seizing control: Activist Jamaal Uddin puts up one of the Sharia stickers in Leyton, in the East London borough of Waltham Forest

‘This is the best way for dealing with drunkenness and loutishness, prostitution and the sort of thug life attitude you get in British cities.’

The former lawyer added: ‘This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes – the fruits if you like of Western civilisation.

‘We want to run the area as a Sharia-controlled zone and really to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term.’

Scotland Yard is now working with local councils to remove the posters and identify those responsible for putting them up.

Choudary said he was organising a protest against the Far Right in Waltham Forest this weekend following last Friday’s killing spree in Norway by anti-Islamic gunman Anders Breivik.

He said: ‘We are going to put the events in Oslo on the agenda. We are going to be marching and addressing this issue. It is a whole new scenario now. The Muslim community needs to be vigilant. There is an undercurrent against Islam.

‘I do believe a Norway-style attack could happen here.’

The campaign comes just months after stickers proclaiming a ‘gay-free zone’ and appearing to reference the religious Islamic text of the Koran appeared in Tower Hamlets.

Women in parts of East London including Tower Hamlets have been threatened with violence and even death by Islamic extremists if they did not wear headscarves.

James Brandon, of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, which has dubbed the intimidation the work of ‘Talibanesque thugs’, said: ‘This is a small group which is not representative of these communities.
‘It’s great news that the police have decided to investigate this. This has the potential to divide communities and upset people.’

Yesterday the leader of Waltham Forest Council, Chris Robbins, said: ‘As soon as we heard about these posters we worked over the weekend to take them all down.

‘Since then we have been going through our CCTV images and working with the police to try to identify the culprits. Our policy is to use the full extent of our powers to prosecute any offenders.

‘People should not get the wrong idea about our borough because a handful of small-minded idiots, who do not live here, decide to deface our streets with ridiculous posters.’

Norway terror attack exposes deeper anger over immigration

A graffiti is seen at the closed Skytterkollen shooting range on Thursday, where Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik used to train. Breivik, a far-right zealot whose bomb attack and shooting spree killed 76 people last Friday, has been charged under the terrorism act, which carries a maximum penalty of 21 years in jail, but the authorities are considering whether to charge him with crimes against humanity. Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

The admitted attacker behind last week’s bombing and shooting spree derided immigration and multiculturalism. Experts say his beliefs are surprisingly common in Norway. | Jul 28, 2011

By Frank Radosevich

Oslo, Norway – Last week’s Oslo terrorist attacks are raising delicate questions of immigration and integration here after the admitted attacker cited anti-Muslim views as motivating the assaults.

A country of less than 5 million people, Norway has seen its once homogeneous population change in recent years with new arrivals from Africa and the Middle East. This transformation, in part, drove Anders Behring Breivik, charged with Friday’s car bombing and shooting spree that killed at least 76 people in the span of a few hours.

Now, even as this country still grieves for its victims, many say how Norway responds to the attacks could define immigration policy in the future.

While Mr. Breivik’s views, revealed in his 1,500-page tirade against Muslims and multiculturalism, are extreme and his attack reviled by Norwegians of all political leanings, Breivik fed on an undercurrent of prejudice and hatred that exists in some areas of Norwegian society, where being Norwegian is still very much determined by one’s fair skin and light hair.

“We have to find out what kind of country Norway is. That’s where the struggle is going to be in the coming years,” says Thomas Eriksen, a professor of anthropology at the University of Oslo. “And we are going to have to deal with that.”

He says many immigrants still face an uphill battle in terms of integration and acceptance from their fellow Norwegians. “They can acquire our civilization but never our culture,” he says, offering up a common opinion. “In other words, they won’t be ‘us’ they’ll always be the ‘other’.”

Indeed, experts on immigration and integration point to a growing skepticism across Norway that now surrounds most Muslim immigrants. Though Breivik’s thinking is condemned, many of his views aren’t new.

“Some of his ideas are more commonplace than we’d like them to be,” says Rune Berglund Steen, communication manager for the Norwegian Center Against Racism. “This skepticism of Muslims has become a fairly central topic in Norwegian politics.”

Norway’s second-largest political party in parliament, the Progress Party, has been accused of backing xenophobic positions and Breivik was on the party’s member registry until 2006. The party quickly denounced the attacks and Breivik’s beliefs.

Mr. Steen says most Norwegians have a positive view toward immigrants. For example, he said a recent poll found that about 8 out of 10 Norwegians found it favorable if a child attends a school with mixed ethnicities.

But for Breivik and his ilk, Muslim newcomers here represent a “takeover.”

“The problem can only be solved if we completely remove those who follow Islam. In order to do this all Muslims must ‘submit’ and convert to Christianity,” he wrote in his manifesto. “If they refuse to do this voluntarily prior to Jan. 1, 2020, they will be removed from European soil and deported back to the Islamic world.”

Most Norwegians, however, reject Breivik’s anti-Islamic views, preferring to see themselves as a tolerant, peaceful people and Breivik as a backwards extremist.

“It’s the fact that he attacked our multiculturalism,” says Alexander Roine, waiting outside the courthouse where Breivik appeared Monday.

Mr. Roine, an Oslo native whose father came from Tunisia, says Norway is rightly famous for its peaceful, tolerant attitude but conceded older generations are still adjusting to the country’s brisk demographic shift.

“We would think a guy with these views would be like 50 or 60 years old,” he says of Breivik. “This guy was born in a Norway that was already multicultural. He attacked everything this country stands for to the last detail.”

Norway has experienced a steady rise in immigration, like many European countries, with the number of its immigrants doubling since 1995.
Most came for the robust economy, political stability and generous welfare state, settling in dense pockets in Norway’s largest cities. It’s estimated that 11 percent of Norwegians are immigrants or the children of immigrants and about 2 percent of the population practices Islam.