Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Hong Kong welcomed a record 3.4 million visitors in August, its highest-ever monthly figure, tourism officials said Thursday. The total was 21 per cent higher than the same month in 2009 and brought the total arrivals so far this year to 23.5 million, a year-on-year increase of 24 per cent.

Both the short and long-haul markets increased, according to figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board. However, mainland China still accounted for the largest proportion of the influx. Of the total arrivals, 61 per cent, or 2.4 million visitors, were from mainland China, a 28-per-cent increase on August 2009.

The Tourism Board said the growth was fueled by the peak summer travel season and the implementation of a scheme for residents in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen that made it easier for them to come to Hong Kong.

A Ukrainian citizen has approached the Bombay High Court against the Ministry of External Affairs, India, challenging a policy that mandates a minimum annual salary of $25,000 (over Rs. 11 lakh) as compulsory requirement for getting an employment visa. On June 3, she made an application to the Indian embassy in Kiev for an employment visa along with all supporting documents of her employer. “Petitioner submits that she was curtly told by the consul officer at the embassy that she would not be granted employment visa as the rule has been introduced from April 2010 mandating a salary in India equivalent to $25,000 per annum for issuance of an employment visa.”
It is now mandatory for any foreign worker to have an annual salary above Rs. 11 lakh to get an Indian employment visa. Many companies across the country hire foreigners legally at lower salaries though it’s not a publicized fact. Ms. Stelmakh Leonid Lulia, 25, was not granted visa by the Indian embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. She explains that her job at J P Morgan will lapse if she does not join in a week’s time. “This is a sensitive constitutional matter on foreigners’ right to employment and will have wide ramifications on foreign employees in the Indian services industry,” says Prashant Uchil, Stelmakh’s counsel.

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council, which runs the registration service, stated, “a report was made by us to the UK Border Agency about concerns regarding a potential sham marriage”. He continued, “Oxfordshire County Council registration service takes such matters extremely seriously and we have a statutory duty to report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.”
UK immigration officials have arrested a couple just minutes from getting married. The registrar at the Oxfordshire Register Office tipped off police that the wedding, between a 30-year-old Indian man and a 19 year-old Polish woman, was sham. Some 529 suspected sham marriages were reported by registrars last year, up by 54 per cent on the year before. This indicates that a growing number of people are looking to gain UK marriage visas through unscrupulous means.

UK immigration official, Terry Gibbs, from the UK Border Agency explained how registrars spot a sham wedding: People who plan on getting married have to have an interview beforehand to give notice of their wedding. Registrars do this day in and day out, so if they believe something is not quite right with the couple, they notify us.

Great poem by Leslie Holman, AILA Secretary, 5/7/10
They’ll take you out of the ball game
They’ll pick you out of the crowd.

They’ll hand you a warrant, your bags they will pack
They’ll make sure you never get back
‘Cause they root, root root
For their “home” team.

If you’re not white it’s a shame.

Don’t say uno, dos, or tres strikes
you’re out
At an AZ ball game.

Here is a creative idea to report from the the New York Times, four immigrant students set out on foot from downtown Miami on Friday, starting a four-month walk to Washington to protest what they called the Obama administration’s lack of action on legislation granting legal status to illegal immigrants.

Three of the four protesters, who are current or former students at Miami Dade College, do not have legal-resident status and risk detention by immigration authorities during the 1,500-mile walk.

The students’ trek showed the resolve and also some limitations of groups supporting an immigration overhaul that would include measures to legalize illegal immigrants. Those groups said this week that they would start a national campaign in January to pressure President Obama to push for the overhaul before midterm elections in November.

But as immigration enforcement has continued at a steady pace during the first year of the Obama administration, many illegal immigrants are clinging to jobs and families in this country and may be afraid to participate in public demonstrations. With unemployment holding at 10 percent, immigrant advocates acknowledge that their campaign could awaken passionate opposition in Congress and around the country.

This is a risky move, but 2010 will also be a defining year for Immigration reform. I expect more arrests and more Immigrants on the run before we have our much desire CIR passed. Will keep you posted. Click here for the NY Times article

Interesting update, the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) reported on a new study from the New York based, Fiscal Policy Institute. The findings: Immigration and economic growth go hand in hand.

For their report, Immigrants and the Economy: Contribution of Immigrant Workers to the Country’s 25 Largest Metropolitan Areas, the Fiscal Policy Institute examined the economic impact of all foreign-born workers, including undocumented immigrants, in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas.

The results of the study provides further evidence of why passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform is so critical for the economic recovery of the United States. In an interview with OCPP, Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA, adds that, “A path to citizenship for undocumented workers would allow them to contribute even more to Portland and Oregon’s economy,” Lopez said. “It would make undocumented immigrants less vulnerable to exploitation, lifting the bar for all workers, and provide the security needed to start a business. Everyone would win.”
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Have you been following the heated debate on Health Care reform? You think that is a Challenge, enter Immigration Reform 2010 debate. The Immigration system is broken, and in order to fix it….well who has the solution. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

From our vantage point, any immigration reform is dependent on making sure the border between the U.S. and Mexico is secure. It also requires tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who knowingly hire them.

In the face of rising unemployment, Napolitano said the enhanced enforcement will actually protect American workers from being displaced by lower-paid, easily exploited illegal immigrants and will help the economy “as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers.”
The issue of border security drew immediate criticism from some Republicans, who point to a significant gap in physical impediments to entering the country illegally.

“How can they claim that enforcement is done when there are more than 400 open miles of border with Mexico?” asked Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Napolitano argued that security has improved, with more than 600 miles of border fence now in place and the Border Patrol having been increased to 20,000 officers.

Immigration reform is as important a topic here in Central Washington as is health care reform, perhaps even greater. With Hispanics accounting for more than 40 percent of Yakima County’s population, much is at stake. Guest-worker details in any reform initiative will be especially critical for the Yakima Valley’s agriculture industry, which estimates that from 50 percent to 70 percent of its farm-worker labor pool is here illegally.

The failure of President George W. Bush and Congress to pass reform in 2007 underscores how difficult it will be for the Democrats under Obama to succeed in navigating the thicket of opposition that comes with any measure offering legalization provisions.

If the White House can’t satisfy that overriding concern, immigration reform will never be taken seriously. I couldn’t agree more.

Some surprising news from our border, according to the LA Times, arrests of illegal immigrants along the California-Mexico border declined 25% this year as a weak economy and bolstered enforcement efforts appear to be discouraging treks north.

The downward trend is evident across the Southwest border as apprehensions fell to levels not seen since the early 1970s. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested 556,000 people last year, 152,200 of them in California, according to statistics released for the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Apprehension levels, considered the best available indicator of illegal crossing activity, have fluctuated for decades, but have steadily declined since 2000, when there were 1.6 million arrests.

Federal officials say the declining numbers show that increased enforcement, including fencing, staffing and infrastructure, are affecting migrant flows. Showing progress in securing the border is crucial for the Obama administration’s efforts to garner support for immigration reform legislation. We know that without an enforcement plan, any reform is bound to fail.

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Yesterday was the deadline for several Vermont farms to turn over paperwork on their employees to Homeland Security. Last week, as part of a nationwide federal crackdown, authorities handed out subpoenas to five Vermont businesses, at least four of them were dairy farms. The goal is to catch workers who have provided illegal documents.

The crackdown surprised the Governor. He says the solution is not to target farms, but a new visa program, so farmers can legally hire the help they need year round since not enough Vermonters will do the work.

Read more here….