The EU Is Demanding A Critical Change To Malta’s Sale Of Citizenship Scheme

Overdue (and likely not enough):

The European Commission demanded Malta revamp its controversial sale-of-citizenship scheme to ensure new Maltese citizens live on the island for at least a year.

“Becoming a Maltese citizen means becoming an EU citizen and gaining the benefits of free movement,” EU Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová said during a visit to Malta this afternoon. “The European Commission must ensure that Malta only gives citizenship to people with a real link to the country and who reside in it for at least a year.”

Jourová’s warning will come as a blow to the Maltese government, which often rebuts criticism at the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) by insisting that the European Commission has no problem with it.

While acknowledging that member states have sovereignty over citizenship schemes, Jourová pledged to continue raising concerns about potential threats posed by the IIP.

“We must not enable suspicious people to acquire European citizenship through an easy way and use it to launder money or to pose some sort of security threats to the continent,” she said. “We have a legitimate right to require some basic parameters for citizenship scheme.”

She said the European Commission is currently analysing all EU citizenship schemes, including Malta’s IIP, ahead of a detailed report that will be published by the end of the year.

“If it turns out that this assessment isn’t favourable to the Maltese IIP, then I believe we will be able to work hand in hand with the Maltese authorities to improve the system.”

Jourová’s assessment came after she met key players in the industry today, including the IIP’s chief executive officer Jonathan Cardona.

The IIP requires applicants to pay €650,000 to the government as well as to invest in government bonds and to either buy a property worth at least €350,000 or to rent a property out for at least €16,000 over five years. However, it doesn’t require applicants to actually live on the island – a fact that was probed by the BBC alongside Daphne Caruana Galizia a few months before her assassination.

Source: The EU Is Demanding A Critical Change To Malta’s Sale Of Citizenship Scheme

Prison system failed to ensure security tests aren’t racially biased against Indigenous inmates


Canada’s prison service is using security tests that may discriminate against Indigenous offenders and keep them behind bars longer and in more restrictive environments, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

In a 7-2 decision, the court found that Correctional Service of Canada failed to take steps to ensure that risk assessment tests used for deciding such things as penitentiary placement and parole eligibility are valid and accurate for Indigenous offenders.

The case involves Jeffrey Ewert, a Métis inmate who was convicted of the murder and attempted murder of two young women. His lawyer argued the risk assessment tests were unreliable for Indigenous offenders, and that CSC had been aware of concerns about the tests since 2000 but had failed to confirm their validity.

The decision says that if CSC wants to continue to use the “impugned tools,” it must conduct research into “whether and to what extent they are subject to cross-cultural variance when applied to Indigenous offenders.”

“Any further action the standard requires will depend on the outcome of that research,” reads the majority decision, written by Chief Justice Richard Wagner. “Depending on the extent of any cross-cultural variance that is discovered, the CSC may have to cease using the impugned tools in respect of Indigenous inmates, as it has in fact done with other actuarial tools in the past.”

While the ruling found CSC breached its legal obligation, it did not find that Ewart’s constitutional rights were violated. There was no evidence that the assessment had no rational connection to the government objective of public safety, the decision states.

CSC has not said whether it will stop using the test as a result of the ruling.

“The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is reviewing the decision and will determine next steps. It is important to note that culturally appropriate interventions and reintegration support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders is a priority of CSC,” spokeswoman Stephanie Stevenson wrote in an email.

Record percentage of Indigenous inmates

The ruling noted the troubled history of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, saying numerous government commissions and reports have recognized that the discrimination faced by Indigenous people, “whether as a result of overtly racist attitudes or culturally inappropriate practices, extends to all parts of the criminal justice system, including the prison system.”

Data from correctional investigator Ivan Zinger’s office show that Indigenous offenders are less likely than non-Indigenous inmates to get parole, and spend longer portions of their sentences behind bars.

It also showed that Indigenous offenders’ share of the total inmate population reached a record high of 27.4 per cent as of August 2017.

Justice Malcolm Rowe, writing in dissent, said that in his view, CSC only needed to keep complete and accurate records of the results of the assessment tools. He said Ewert should have asked the courts to review the specific decisions that CSC made about him using the results of the tools.

Ewert’s case was filed against CSC and the wardens of Kent Institution and Mission Institution, both located in British Columbia.

Addressing high number of Indigenous inmates

A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government is taking steps to address the disproportionate number of Indigenous people in prison.

“We take the views of the Supreme Court very seriously and are examining the decision closely,” said Scott Bardsley in an email. “More broadly, the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in correctional institutions is an intolerable situation that we’re working very hard to address.”

The government invested $10 million last fall to help provide safe alternatives to incarceration and promote rehabilitation, part of $120 million set aside in last year’s budget to support the reintegration of Indigenous offenders and advance restorative justice.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs intervened in the Ewert case. They argued that a bad risk assessment rating can mean an Indigenous prisoner is less likely to get parole, access to programs, or early or temporary release, and is more likely to experience solitary confinement and a maximum security setting.

Today, the BCCLA said meaningful changes to address over-representation of Indigenous people in prisons are long overdue.

“We are hopeful that the court’s emphasis on substantive equality in correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders will assist over time in reducing the numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated,” said lawyer Jay Aubrey in a statement.

Source: Prison system failed to ensure security tests aren’t racially biased against Indigenous inmates

Douglas Todd: Why the Greens don’t attract ‘ethnic’ voters

Interesting. There may be differences between first and subsequent generations:

Why do Green party candidates only win seats in ridings where the vast majority of voters are white?

Federal and B.C. Green candidates have won election in only one concentrated region of Canada, on Vancouver Island and the adjacent Southern Gulf Islands, in ridings that have scant visible minorities compared to most of the country’s cities.

In the Southern Gulf Islands — the heart of the region that has handed victories to the lone federal Green MP, leader Elizabeth May, and to B.C. MLA Adam Olsen — only two per cent of residents belong to a minority ethnic group. That compares to 51 per cent of people in Metro Vancouver, where the Greens struggle.

Political observers believe the Greens’ poor showing among immigrants, ethnic Chinese and South Asian voters, and others, is the result of a common perception the party puts environmental protection before economic prosperity. The Greens have also had fewer resources to woo ethnic voters.

“The first generation of immigrants often leave their homelands for economic reasons,” says Shinder Purewal, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist. “They’re willing to work in any sector that provides jobs. Early Sikh immigrants, for instance, worked in the lumber industry. Environmentalists calling for preservation of trees were often seen as a threat to their livelihood.”

Purewal routinely hears Indo-Canadians remark on how “the Greens would destroy the economy. Not only do they think this would mean lower living standards, it would lead to the state not being able to provide social programs. … Immigrants, who come from countries with almost no social programs, appreciate Canada’s health care and public education, along with workers’ compensation, employment insurance and old age pensions.”

Regardless of which factors are strongest, it’s clear that visible minorities in Canada, many of whom are immigrants, are far less inclined to vote Green than are whites. Along with Green candidates drastically under-performing in ridings in which ethnic groups predominate, polls have revealed the party’s demographic affliction.

A Mainstreet Research poll conducted last year found 21 per cent of Caucasian British Columbians were ready to vote for the Greens. But support for the Greens dropped to eight per cent among ethnic Chinese in B.C., seven per cent among South Asians, 10 per cent among Filipinos and five per cent among Koreans.

The so-called ethnic vote is a major factor in B.C. elections, since at least one in five provincial ridings contains fewer white people than the combined totals of ethnic Chinese, South Asians, Koreans, Filipinos, Koreans, Persians and Pakistanis.

Most people of Chinese origin in B.C. “are still under the impression that economic development and environmental protection are incompatible, or even mutually exclusive,” says Fenella Sung, former radio host of a Chinese-language current affairs program in B.C.

The more than 470,000 ethnic Chinese people in Metro Vancouver, who predominate in ridings in Richmond where the Greens performed badly in last year’s B.C. election, tend to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the Greens are a single-issue party, Sung said.

“Since prosperity is their main priority, they think the environment can take a back seat,” Sung said. Chinese-Canadians generally believe protecting nature is something to be addressed only “after economic growth is sustained and job creation is guaranteed.”

Sonia Furstenau, the B.C. Greens’ deputy leader, said, “We’re really committed to improving the diversity of our candidates. It’s a real priority.”

The party is stepping up its message to ethnic minorities and others that protecting the environment does not threaten personal livelihoods, but will help create “more stable, long-term jobs than we have now,” said Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, where nine of 10 report English as their mother tongue, the fourth highest proportion of B.C.’s 87 ridings. The Greens, she said, also want to strengthen public education and the high-tech sector.

Stefan Jonnson, communications director for the three-seat B.C. Greens, which is supporting the NDP government, said up until recently most candidates in the small party have lacked finances to publish Chinese- or Punjabi-language campaign material or to appear at ethnic events. But that, he said, has been rapidly changing.

Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the Greens “have to become a multicultural party if they’re going to break out of Vancouver Island. It’s not a party that speaks to immigrants.”

The tip of Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are Green strongholds in part, Telford said, because they’re home to many Caucasians who have moved there from others parts of the province and country “to retire and enjoy the beauty of the place, the peace and outdoors.”

After travelling to the Punjab in India, the homeland of hundreds of thousands of B.C. residents, Telford was strengthened in his perception that “Punjabis are a very political people.” While Sikh and Hindu nationalist parties are notable in the Punjab, he said, there are few signs of an environmental movement.

Since roughly a quarter of the students in Telford’s classrooms on the Abbotsford campus are South Asian, he has learned many are keen about economics, immigration, racism and social programs.

But hope for the Greens may lie in such students, he said. “The ones born and raised here tend to skew to the left and to have the same concerns as other young Canadians. Some are interested in the Greens. That’s not so much the case for the older generations.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why the Greens don’t attract ‘ethnic’ voters

Conservative Religious Leaders Are Denouncing Trump Immigration Policies – The New York Times

Significant. Unlikely that it will make any difference to the administration or congressional Republicans:

Conservative religious leaders who have long preached about the sanctity of the family are now issuing sharp rebukes of the Trump administration for immigration policies that tear families apart or leave them in danger.

The criticism came after recent moves by the administration to separate children from their parents at the border, and to deny asylum on a routine basis to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.

Some of the religious leaders are the same evangelicals and Roman Catholics who helped President Trump to build his base and who have otherwise applauded his moves to limit abortion and champion the rights of religious believers.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, a son of the famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham and an outspoken defender of President Trump, said in an interview on Tuesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network, “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit.”

He quickly made it clear that this had not dimmed his enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, adding, “I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to where it is today.”

Leaders of many faiths — including Jews, Mainline Protestants, Muslims and others — have spoken out consistently against the president’s immigration policies. What has changed is that now the objections are coming from faith groups that have been generally friendly to Mr. Trump.

A coalition of evangelical groups, including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, sent a letter to President Trump on June 1 pleading with him to protect the unity of families and not to close off all avenues to asylum for immigrants and refugees fleeing danger.

The Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative evangelical denomination that is the nation’s largest Protestant church, passed a resolution on Tuesday at its meeting in Dallas calling for immigration reform that maintains “the priority of family unity.” The measure called for both securing the nation’s borders, and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country. It passed on a near unanimous vote of the thousands of delegates in the room.

“We declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the resolution said.

The Rev. Alan Cross, a Southern Baptist minister from Montgomery, Ala., who works on immigration issues, and attended the meeting, said, “It was motivated by what is happening at the border with parents and children being separated, and messengers were affected by that and submitted resolutions.”

“It was a really strong statement,” he said. “We’re saying we love these people, they’re made in God’s image, we should care for them, we don’t want families to be separated.”

When Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Southern Baptists, his speech hailing the accomplishments of the administration received only a mixed reception.CreditAndy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News, via Associated Press
The resolution also called for elected officials, especially those who are Southern Baptists, “to do everything in their power to advocate for a just and equitable immigration system,” and for Southern Baptist churches to reach out and serve immigrant communities. This is not a new initiative for Southern Baptists, but it comes at a time when white evangelicals, according to polls, are strongly supportive of President Trump’s moves to limit immigration.

A White House representative did not respond to a request for a comment.

When Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Southern Baptists on Wednesday, his speech hailing the accomplishments of the administration received only a mixed reception.

On the same day, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, opened their meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a strong statement from the group’s president that cast asylum as a “right to life” issue — language usually applied only to issues like abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference and archbishop of Galveston-Houston, denounced a recent decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that women fleeing domestic violence and families fleeing gang violence are not eligible for asylum.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” said Cardinal DiNardo in a statement he read aloud to the bishops.

The Catholic church has long advocated for the rights of immigrants and refugees, and while the bishops have criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration policies before, this letter amounted to their strongest censure yet.

“Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together,” the Cardinal wrote. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, Ariz. suggested to the meeting that “canonical penalties” be imposed on Catholics “who are involved” in the policies of family separations, though he did not specify what he meant. Canonical penalties can involve denial of the eucharist or even excommunication. His suggestion was not adopted.

But they did take up a suggestion by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark that a delegation of bishops go to the border to inspect the detention centers where children are being held. The visit would be, he said, “a sign of our pastoral concern and protest against the hardening of the American heart.”

via Conservative Religious Leaders Are Denouncing Trump Immigration Policies – The New York Times

Trump Refuses to Release Data on Immigration Crackdown – Bloomberg

Never a good sign when governments use press releases rather than regular data releases but in keeping with the Trump administration’s overall approach:

Five days into his presidency, Donald Trump took aim at illegal immigration with executive orders signaling a new era of heavy enforcement. Not only did he threaten to go after undocumented immigrants, many of whom he labeled violent criminals, he also vowed to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that thwart the federal government’s attempts to round up people who are in the U.S. illegally. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security promised to put out weekly updates that would include information on localities that release immigration violators and the criminal records of those released.

The first reports were filled with inaccuracies and in several instances called out counties for not cooperating with detainer, or detention, requests that were actually sent to other places with similar names. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had to issue a list of corrections, and soon it simply stopped putting out the reports. For the past 18 months, ICE has also refused to release other key data about its enforcement activity that had been routinely available.

This disappearing data is at the heart of two lawsuits brought against ICE by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a small research group at Syracuse University. As of January 2017, ICE stopped handing over records it had provided under the Freedom of Information Act for years, including any details about how effective Trump’s crackdown has been. If ICE prevails in court, it could give other agencies a legal rationale to deny public access to the vast cache of government data now kept in electronic databases.

At a time when U.S. authorities are separating children from their parents at the border—and then losing track of them—and the president continues to assert that many immigrants are violent criminals, the lack of basic data on government enforcement has created a fog of uncertainty over an already charged issue. TRAC was founded in 1989 by co-directors Susan Long, a statistician, and David Burnham, an investigative journalist, specifically to cut through this sort of political rhetoric by amassing data on federal policy. It uses FOIA requests to pull in 250 million records from various agencies each month, and its website offers tools to help analyze the data. TRAC had long requested and received information on detainers, as well as deportations aimed at removing undocumented immigrants with criminal records. After ICE abruptly stopped providing the information last year, Long and Burnham sued it in federal court in New York to regain access to the detainer data, and then in the District of Columbia over the missing deportation records.

“We have this huge political debate going on in the country over secure communities and sanctuary cities and all the claims that the government is making about how essential this is, and the very data that would allow you to evaluate the program, they’re withholding,” Long says. ICE argues that many of the records TRAC has asked for don’t exist in the form requested and says producing responses would require searching its database, a process the agency claims amounts to creating new records, which isn’t required under FOIA. ICE didn’t reply to a list of questions and a request for comment.

“If they’re going to court to try to keep information hidden about the detainer policy, they’re probably hiding something,” says Peter Boogaard, a former DHS press secretary in the Obama administration. More broadly, transparency has become a function of political convenience, Boogaard says. “They’re happy to say that immigration is causing huge problems, but at the same point, they are not sharing information.”

It’s still possible to track the overall number of detainers ICE issues—about 14,000 a month on average through November 2017. That’s up from the last months under Obama, but much lower than the peak of close to 28,000 in 2011. Left out are details on whether ICE takes custody—or the criminal records of those targeted. Under Obama, TRAC found that even when local law enforcement held an individual under a detainer, more than half the time ICE agents didn’t show up to take custody—and that few ICE detainers targeted serious criminals. That sort of analysis is now impossible to do. “It’s really frustrating to not be able to get a holistic picture of what’s happening,” says Emily Ryo, an associate professor of law and sociology at the University of Southern California, who’s tried with TRAC to get data on detentions. “It really is an important moment for the public to understand what’s happening and for researchers to be able to document what is going on.”

In place of detailed reports, ICE issues press releases describing raids and arrests, citing criminal records of detainees, and complaining about the lack of cooperation from sanctuary cities. “I don’t want bullet-pointed press releases that say some large numbers of people were apprehended over the weekend and here are five examples of how dangerous these individuals were,” says César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, an associate professor of law at the University of Denver. “I want to know details about the large number of people. I want percentages. I want actual numbers about what kinds of crimes.”

The data García Hernández has been able to cobble together show a reality at least partly at odds with Trump’s rhetoric. In fiscal 2017, a period that covers the end of the Obama administration and the beginning of the current one, the average daily population held in immigration detention centers rose by 3,730 people, an 11 percent increase from fiscal 2016. The average length of stay has also risen, to 43.7 days, up from fewer than 35 the previous year.

The number of prosecutions for immigration crimes fell by more than 10,000, or 15 percent, over the same period. That’s striking given the emphasis the Trump administration has put on prosecuting undocumented immigrants. It’s an incredibly complex system that’s shifting all the time, making accurate data more important than ever. Data from this year that TRAC got using another FOIA request show a jump in prosecutions of border crossers. And the detention system may be nearing its limit: This month, authorities are transferring 1,600 detainees to federal prisons while they await civil court hearings.

The inaccuracies in ICE’s statements about enforcement actions have caused a furor within the agency in recent months. James Schwab, a spokesman for ICE in San Francisco, resigned in March over misleading statements from agency leaders about an ICE raid in Oakland. The bigger implication is how agencies are allowed to draw the line when it comes to producing electronic records, and the distinction between creating a record and just extracting one from a database, according to Sean Sherman, a lawyer at Public Citizen Litigation Group who’s representing TRAC in Washington. “ICE is saying that by basically searching for these electronic records, that constitutes creating new records,” he says. “That just can’t be right, because that’s basically true of all government records right now.” Meanwhile, ICE is withholding data in many more of TRAC’s FOIA requests. Says Long: “We could file a new suit every week, if we were going to aggressively litigate this.”

via Trump Refuses to Release Data on Immigration Crackdown – Bloomberg

Canadian Immigrants in the United States: Migration Policy Institute study

Good overview of Canadians abroad, with detailed numbers:

Canadian migration has generally been a small share of immigration to the United States, historically fluctuating according to economic factors in the two countries. In 1960, Canadian immigrants made up about 10 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population. Though the number of Canadians in the United States has decreased and levelled off since then, this population has grown more diverse, and today includes students, family migrants, skilled professionals, and retirees. As of 2016, about 783,000 Canadians lived in the United States, accounting for less than 2 percent of the roughly 44 million U.S. immigrants.

The motives of Canadian migrants have changed over time. Beginning in 1867, migrants from Eastern Canada came to the United States to work in the burgeoning manufacturing sector. In 1900, the U.S. Census recorded 747,000 English-speaking and 440,000 French-speaking Canadian immigrants. The two groups settled in different regions: Most Anglophone Canadians took up residence near the border, in states such as Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Rhode Island, allowing them to easily move between the two countries, while Francophone Canadians largely moved to New England and California. French Canadian migration increased between 1900 and 1930, driven by discrimination as well as poor economic conditions in Quebec. After 1930, increased political autonomy for Quebec and the growth of the Canadian economy following World War II led to a steady decline in Canadian arrivals.

In the second half of the 20th century, Canadian migration shifted and diversified significantly, especially after enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. Canadian immigrants now include highly educated professionals, students, those seeking family reunification, and “snowbirds,” people in or near retirement attracted by warmer southern climates. Canadian students are the fifth-largest group of foreign students enrolled in U.S. higher education, and high-skilled Canadians receive the third-largest number of employer-sponsored H-1B temporary visas. Many Canadians also come to the United States on NAFTA Professional (TN) visas to work in a variety of professional occupations, although the exact number is unknown.

Click here to view an interactive chart showing trends in the size of U.S. immigrant populations by country of birth, from 1960 to the present.

The United States is by far the top destination for most Canadian emigrants, with others settling primarily in the United Kingdom (92,000), Australia (57,000), France (26,000), and Italy (26,000), according to mid-2017 estimates by the United Nations Population Division. Click here to view an interactive map showing where migrants from Canada and other countries have settled worldwide.

Most Canadians in the United States who obtain lawful permanent residence—also known as receiving a green card—do so either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or as employer-sponsored immigrants. Compared to the overall foreign-born population, Canadians have a higher median income, are less likely to live in poverty, and are more likely to have health insurance and to be college educated. They are significantly older, on average, than the overall immigrant and U.S.-born populations.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (the most recent 2016 American Community Survey [ACS] as well as pooled 2012–16 ACS data) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, this Spotlight provides information on the Canadian population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Note: Data from ACS and DHS represent persons born in Canada; they do not include immigrants born outside of Canada who then gained Canadian citizenship via naturalization and later moved to the United States.

via Canadian Immigrants in the United States |

Senate spares impaired immigrant drivers from ‘sledgehammer’ penalty

Will be interesting to see whether the Commons accepts this amendment and whether or not the opposition makes this a high profile issue:

The Senate has passed a critical amendment to the Impaired Driving Act that would spare permanent residents sentenced to less than six months from being deported.

Bill C-46 intends to raise the maximum penalty for impaired driving in Canada from five to 10 years. As originally proposed, it would have automatically classified all DUI offences as “serious criminality.” That designation, under immigration law, would have resulted in the loss of permanent residence status even for a first-time offender who caused no bodily harm.

The Senate decided that the “serious criminality” designation for impaired driving should not apply to permanent residents and foreign nationals sentenced to less than six months in jail.

Critics, including the Canadian Bar Association, had argued that the proposed legislation would have had a “disproportionate” impact on immigrant offenders who, unlike their Canadian peers, would be penalized by both the criminal and immigration systems. This would have affected foreign students, workers, visitors and permanent residents.

Under the current immigration law, a permanent resident found guilty of any crime resulting in a sentence of more than six months faces deportation. The bill, as originally proposed, would have made an immigrant offender deportable regardless of the length of sentence.

“If any of these permanent residents break the law in terms of drunk driving, then they should pay the price, like any other Canadian, because we cannot afford to jeopardize the lives of innocent people on the streets,” said Senator Ratna Omidvar, one of 47 senators who voted in majority for the amendment Tuesday evening.

“But I don’t believe that permanent residents should bear an added punishment — not just another punishment, not just another fine — but a sledgehammer of a punishment of inadmissibility and deportation. This is exactly what Bill C-46 will do if we allow it to leave this chamber without this amendment.”

Immigrants who commit a serious crime should be deported, said Senator Mobina Jaffer, who introduced the amendment. Bill C-46 would have created a system that would make all impaired driving offences not equal, she said.

“We are a country that gives people who make a mistake another chance, as long as it’s not a serious offence,” she added.

The amended bill will be sent back to Parliament for a final vote before it becomes law.

Source: Senate spares impaired immigrant drivers from ‘sledgehammer’ penalty

Impact of Trump’s immigration vision comes into focus in Washington

Good overview. Most interesting point is possible role evangelicals may play in opposing some of the Trump administration measures (after having been silent on so many other issues) as well as how this will play in the mid-terms:

America is heading for a moment of reckoning as the results of more than a year’s worth of hardline Trump administration immigration measures pile up, raising questions fundamental to the character of the nation itself.

A shock-and-awe sequence of policy moves and legal gambits, many by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, may elevate immigration past the Russia investigation and the accelerating economy into an issue with the capacity to shape the midterm elections. It also is spurring congressional leaders from the President’s party — who did not want another immigration fight this year — to vote and go on the record on what is often a politically perilous subject.
The moves in many cases are the logical culmination of a presidential campaign rooted in Donald Trump’s willingness to demagogue immigration controversies in order to inflame his conservative voting base. They are the product of 17 months of work by Sessions, and White House immigration czar Stephen Miller, that is starting to fundamentally change the immigration system and America’s treatment of many people who come from abroad, with or without authorization.
To many Trump voters, the rapid pace of change will be seen as a validation of the vote they cast for the President back in 2016. Trump made a case that previous Republican and Democratic leaders had failed to enforce immigration laws and made an implicit argument that the nature of American culture and society were under threat from an influx of newcomers.
But news coverage of children being taken from parents who had crossed the border illegally and the increasing human and economic implications of the administration’s assault on legal immigration are beginning to merge into political arguments about tough Trump stances.
“I just go back to week one of the Trump administration — those first two-three executive orders that the President signed — they were the foundation on which everything that we are seeing being executed right now is built,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a nonprofit advocacy organization for immigrants and immigration. “All those things are coming to a head right now.”
Increasingly there is debate not just about the policy implications of the administration’s actions, but also whether they square with the humanitarian and moral standards that America has historically set for itself — even among some evangelicals who strongly back the President.


In recent days, the administration has acted aggressively to enact its tough immigration agenda and the human consequences of Trump’s earlier executive orders become increasingly clear.
Sessions has cracked down on rules on asylum, potentially reducing claims by the thousands by deciding that victims of domestic and gang violence are not eligible for protection.
The Justice Department said late last Friday that it would not defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in a Texas lawsuit, potentially opening an eventual path to a Supreme Court ruling on the fate of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as kids.
Sessions has also pressured judges to increase their workloads to accelerate the pace of deportations.
The Department of Health and Human Services has said that some military bases in Texas are being assessed as possible holding centers for unaccompanied migrant children.
At the southern border, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she said federal officials had taken her infant daughter as she breastfed her, highlighting the administration’s policy mandating the separation of families who cross the border illegally.
The Department of Homeland Security is vigorously cutting the numbers of people from 10 nations, including El Salvador and Haiti, who live and work in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status covering nations hit by famine, war or national disasters. In May, nearly 90,000 Hondurans lost their status, meaning they could be forced to go back home.
Then there are multiple, but less visible, ways that the Trump administration is trying to curb legal immigration: lowering refugee admissions, targeting H1-B visas for skilled foreign workers and introducing more restrictions and red tape for other classes of entry permits.
All in all, the flurry of activity adds up to another set of promises kept for Trump that he can lay before his most loyal voters as he pleads with them to go to the polls in November to stave off a Democratic wave that could crimp his room to maneuver as President.

Capitol Hill imbroglio

But there are growing signs that the emotive immigration debate and the questions it raises about American values do not automatically add up to a big win for the President.
An imbroglio in the House of Representatives over an attempt by moderate Republicans to force a vote on securing protections for DACA recipients shows how some GOP lawmakers fear the hardline administration positions could damage them as they fight for re-election.
A Republican leadership compromise could allow conservatives to vote on a tough immigration bill but also proposes a compromise measure that Trump could support if it honors his four policy pillars: a solution for DACA recipients, border security financing and changes to border protocol, and ending parts of family based migration and the visa lottery.
The President’s demands probably mean the bill still will not be able to pass the Senate and is most likely to end up underlining Congress’s failure to act meaningfully on immigration.
But the fact that the Republican leadership is willing to hold votes on such a toxic issue months before Election Day is a testament to how immigration is barging its way up the political agenda.
The one thing that could break the logjam is a concentrated intervention by the President. And Miller was on Capitol Hill Wednesday and told Republicans the White House is open to the compromise package. Still, the President has vowed to fix the DACA issue and to throw his weight behind legislation before only to fail to live up to his promise.
Democrats, meanwhile, are emboldened, viewing the increasingly visible humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s policies as an opening to broaden an assault on the President and enliven their own base voters.
Our moral compass has gone astray and I will continue to speak out against this injustice until the administration realizes this is not who we should be as Americans,” said Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, referring to the asylum rules and treatment of children crossing the border.
At a weekly Democratic leadership meeting, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of New York painted a picture of children being ripped from their mothers’ arms at the border.
“If that is not psychological torture, I don’t know what is,” Crowley said, branding the policy an “abomination” and an “indelible mark on the soul of our nation.”

Dissent from evangelicals

There was also rising criticism for the implications of the administration’s immigration push from unusual quarters.
Evangelist Franklin Graham, who is close to Trump, slammed the separation of parents and children who had crossed the border illegally.
“It’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit,” said Graham on CBN News on Wednesday, blaming politicians over 30 years for failing to act.
Hours earlier another key evangelical voice, the Southern Baptist Convention, passed a resolution calling on the government to implement a “just and compassionate path” to legal status for undocumented immigrants once borders had been secured.
It also declared that any form of “nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ” in a statement that could be seen as criticism of some of the sentiments that have helped Trump’s immigration policies prosper.
All this is a long way from a backlash against the administration’s approach, and it is not clear if it will open a seam of opposition in the evangelical bloc, which was a vital component of Trump’s winning coalition in 2016.
But Noorani argued that in the end, shifting sentiments of more moderate Trump voters and independents could be as important in molding the politics surrounding the administration’s immigration policies as the strong mobilization they whip up on the left.
“We surmised and we predicted that over time it would be the Trump voters at the end of the day who were going to start asking the most important questions,” he said.

Source: Impact of Trump’s immigration vision comes into focus in Washington

On Islam, Trump Takes a Different Approach at Home and Abroad – The New York Times

Striking, if not surprising. Notable understatement by the Republican Muslim Coalition president, likely a lonely position:

The White House’s guest list last week for President Trump’s first dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan included a who’s who of diplomats from the Middle East. But the event turned out to be more notable for who apparently was not there: representatives from Muslim American groups.

The night highlighted a paradox of Mr. Trump’s presidency. While he has sought to ally himself with Middle Eastern leaders, in part by at times softening his hostile tone on Islam, at home Mr. Trump has seemingly made little attempt to repair his fractured relationship with Muslim Americans — even those in his own party.

Saba Ahmed, the president of the Republican Muslim Coalition and a Trump supporter, said that at the outset of the presidency, there was a “complete shutdown of engagement” with Muslim Americans.

“It was quite a challenge” to work with Mr. Trump’s campaign staff, Ms. Ahmed said. “Even for the Republican Muslims who campaigned for him and helped him.”

The reinstatement of the dinner, which has been hosted by three previous presidents, and the departures of some staff members with hard-line views on Islam have left her optimistic that the White House will grant more access to its Muslim supporters.

“They have tarnished the image of Islam and Muslims, but I do think he is concerned about American Muslims,” Ms. Ahmed said. “The fact that he’s coming around, that he hosted the dinner, gives me a lot of hope.”

Activists outside the Republican Party do not share that hope.

“There is absolutely zero engagement with the Muslim American community,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Not good, not bad, not indifferent. Zero.” Everything he has said and done, Mr. Hooper said, “has had a tremendously negative impact on Muslim Americans.”

Mr. Trump has provided evangelicals with unprecedented access to the Oval Office, meeting regularly with a cadre of conservative Christians for issue-specific “listening sessions.” And although his meetings with faith leaders skew heavily toward Christians, they have been sprinkled with phone calls and holiday celebrations with members of the Hindu and Jewish American communities.

But according to his public schedule, the president has yet to meet with any Muslim American groups. Another hitch came last year when Mr. Trump upended a decades-old tradition by not hosting a gathering for iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan.

But the snub at this year’s iftar dinner was “a double-edged sword,” Mr. Hooper said.

“I don’t know a lot of Muslim American leaders who would have even wanted to attend,” he said. “But to have absolutely no Muslim American leaders invited? It’s a real slap in the face.”

The dinner tradition was started in 1996 by Hillary Clinton, the first lady at the time, and continued by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The attendees have historically included cabinet members and diplomats, but also members of advocacy groups and the public, according to a review of published guest lists.

Past presidents have also used the dinner to highlight noteworthy Muslim Americans. Mr. Bush made a point in 2006 of inviting Muslim military veterans and New York City police officers who were serving on Sept. 11, 2001, and Mr. Obama sought to emphasize women and young leaders by seating them at his table in 2015.

The White House has not made this year’s guest list public and did not respond to requests for comment. Among those in attendance were at least a dozen Middle Eastern ambassadors, including from countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to pool reports.

The relationship had begun to fray well before last week’s dinner. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump frequently lobbed vitriolic remarks about Muslims. “I think Islam hates us,” he declared in an interview with CNN, and more than once he made unfounded claims that “thousands and thousands” of Arab-Americans in New Jersey cheered as the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11.

Once Mr. Trump took office, one of his first acts was signing an executive order barring people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. And he has appointed officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, whose remarks about Islam and ties to anti-Islam groups have raised concern among Muslims.

Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, said her nonprofit used to “believe in engagement as a tool” and worked with the Obama administration on civil rights issues. When Mr. Trump was elected, Ms. Khera hoped to continue that tradition, and accepted a meeting with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, in the weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

Ms. Khera said she thought it was important to meet with Mr. Kushner “to have the opportunity to determine to what degree the hateful rhetoric used on the campaign trail was bluster.”

A couple of weeks later, she said, the travel ban was rolled out.

“It became abundantly clear that this was his agenda,” she said. “Our posture now has really moved; our form of engagement now is really filing lawsuits.”

Despite his track record at home, however, Mr. Trump has shifted in the eyes of some Middle Eastern royalty to ally from antagonist. And in March, he called the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia “probably the strongest it’s ever been.”

The president has also publicly praised Islam abroad. Last year in Saudi Arabia, at a summit meeting of dozens of Muslim leaders, he retreated from his incendiary language and called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.”

Speaking before Middle Eastern diplomats at last week’s iftar gathering, Mr. Trump reiterated that statement and focused on the summit meeting, calling it “one of the great two days of my life” and giving thanks for the “renewed bonds of friendship and cooperation.”

The remarks were less than convincing for American Muslims.

“What the president does is motivated in his self-interest,” Ms. Khera said. “He believes he motivates his base by demonizing Muslims, and when it comes to a foreign audience, especially in the gulf, he’s looking to curry favor with these power brokers. He’s a transactional person.”

Although the president has tried to rally Middle Eastern leaders to join him in combating terrorism and extreme ideology, according to experts, engaging Muslims in the United States is just as crucial as mounting an effective counterterrorism campaign.

Mr. Trump’s actions “negatively impact the view toward Muslims in the United States, and it creates a situation where future generations might feel alienated or targeted,” said Ali Soufan, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and a former F.B.I. agent. “In Europe, in some communities, Muslims feel they are second-class citizens, and it’s these young kids who are questioning their identity who can become radicals and join ISIS.”

Mr. Soufan said that while Mr. Trump’s inflammatory remarks cater to his base, more caution is needed “not to bring cancer into the United States.”

But for some activists, it is too little, too late. Maha Elgenaidi, the executive director of the Islamic Networks Group, a cultural literacy nonprofit, cast doubt on the likelihood that Mr. Trump could repair his relationship with Muslim Americans.

“It’s not going to be easy to shift because many of the policies they’ve acted on have been based on religious profiling and are supported by evangelicals, his base,” she said. “I don’t think that’s going to be easily changed.”

Mr. Hooper, the Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman, said that for the community to sit at the table with Mr. Trump, it would take a complete repudiation of anti-Muslim remarks, policies and staff members he had appointed.

“You’ll find that every Muslim American leader wants to have a good relationship with any sitting president,” Mr. Hooper said. “But how is that possible when all of these negative forces are out there?”

via On Islam, Trump Takes a Different Approach at Home and Abroad – The New York Times

Australia: Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge wants new English language test for migrants

Unclear exactly who this will apply to beyond economic immigrants who most likely largely meet this requirement already given their version of express entry (which Canada largely was inspired by). Dependents of economic immigrants? Refugees?

But a shift from international tests to testing for conversational English has merit. But as always, the devil is in the details:

MIGRANTS could face a primary school level conversational English test as a requirement to becoming permanent Australian residents and citizens.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said speaking English was the key to integrating in society and engaging with the economy and education.

“Everyone should recognise we all have a vested interest in being able to converse and engage in the national language,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Hobart on Thursday.

He said the initial goal of primary school-level English was reasonable, saying it was an obvious measure to help migrants achieve in Australia.

“It is plainly in everybody’s interest that everyone, ideally, should have English language skills,” Mr Turnbull said.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said Australia could move to a locally designed test focusing on conversational English, rather than using international exams.

“If you have a lot of people not speaking the language then you start to get social fragmentation and we don’t want to see that happen,” Mr Tudge told Sky News.

He said the government was considering extending the test to make it a requirement for permanent residency.

“We’re looking at whether or not we can have a reasonable, basic conversational English language requirement at that stage,” Mr Tudge said.

“We want people to be able to interact with one another, work together, play together and continue to contribute to Australian society.”

Australia is approaching a million non-English speakers and the increase is concerning, Mr Tudge said.

He wants to avoid “parallel communities” developing, which he said were an issue in some European countries.

“The secret to our success is we’ve largely had integrated communities where people have blended together regardless of where they’ve come from,” he said.

It’s not the first time Mr Tudge has flagged the importance of English for migrants.

In March he suggested migrants must demonstrate they’ve made an effort to integrate before becoming citizens, steps which could include joining a Rotary Club or a soccer team.

Any changes would need to pass parliament, but that is by no means guaranteed.

Previous changes to citizenship laws were blocked in the Senate last year and fresh talks with cross bench senators would be needed.

Source: Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge wants new English language test for migrants