U.S. illegal immigrant population declines for second year

Wednesday, February 10, 2010; A03


U.S. illegal immigrant population falls again

The number of illegal immigrants living in the United States fell by 1 million, or 8 percent, between 2007 and 2009, the U.S. government reported Tuesday.

The decline, to 10.8 million people in January 2009 from 11.8 million in 2007 and 11.6 million in 2008, coincides with the national economic downturn. It marked the first back-to-back drops in the number of illegal immigrants since the federal government allowed many to obtain legal status after a 1986 amnesty.

The report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics feeds a technical but politically sensitive debate over whether a weaker U.S. economy or tougher immigration enforcement is more responsible for the change.

Advocates for reduced immigration said the findings show the country can shrink the population of illegal immigrants without simply legalizing them. Immigration advocates say enforcement alone is neither practical, affordable nor humane over the long run.

Independent analysts said that, while it appears that declines in the past two years are real and not due solely to changes in methodology in underlying U.S. Census data, the impact of enforcement will only be seen when the U.S. labor market recovers.

-- Spencer S. Hsu


Friend links Murtha's infection to error

Rep. John P. Murtha's large intestine was damaged when he underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder, triggering an infection that sent him to another hospital, a Pennsylvania congressman said Monday.

The comment from Rep. Robert A. Brady (D), a longtime friend of Murtha's, came hours after Murtha died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. The hospital said he died from "major complications from surgery."

Murtha, 77, was first hospitalized with gallbladder problems in mid-December at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, and eventually had his gallbladder removed there.

Gallbladder surgery is usually a very safe operation, but complications can include nicking the intestine, liver or bile duct as doctors struggle to squeeze an inflamed gallbladder through a tiny opening in the abdomen. If an intestine or bile duct is perforated, spotting it quickly can mean the difference between survival or death from massive infection.

-- Associated Press


BASIC countries weakening accord

A senior U.S. official criticized China and other leading developing countries Tuesday for trying to weaken an accord to fight global warming, and he raised the prospect that a fuller international pact may be not be struck by year's end.

A United Nations-sponsored climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December fell short of its intended goal of producing a binding treaty but did take some nonbinding steps toward further controlling greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

"The statements that we have seen from China and the other BASIC countries do evince a desire to limit the impact of the accord," said Todd Stern, President Obama's senior climate negotiator. BASIC countries are Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

Stern complained that BASIC countries were vague in how they would carry out pollution reduction under the Copenhagen deal and warned that countries should not "cherry-pick" parts of the accord that they like, while ignoring other provisions.

"This is not after all a casual agreement," he said.

-- Reuters


NLRB nomination fails in Senate

The nomination of Craig Becker, whom President Obama chose to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, died Tuesday after it failed a cloture vote in the Senate.

Senators voted 52 to 33 to end debate on Becker's nomination, but that was still short of the 60 needed to move to a vote. All of the chamber's Republicans in attendance and Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) voted against cloture.

Becker, a Chicago-based associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, was nominated by Obama last spring. But Republicans were concerned about the prospect of a top labor lawyer helping to mediate disputes between companies and employees.

-- Ed O'Keefe

Man who took over Clinton office a fugitive: The New Hampshire man who took hostages at a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign office in 2007 cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet Tuesday, then fled, authorities said. Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi cautioned the public not to approach or attempt to apprehend Leeland Eisenberg if he is spotted. Eisenberg spent about two years behind bars for the November 2007 siege at Clinton's Rochester, N.H., campaign office, in which he claimed to have a bomb. He was released on probation last November.

-- Associated Press

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