WASHINGTON: Millions of immigrants living illegally in the US will be allowed to apply for work permits under a major shake-up unveiled by President Barack Obama.
They include immigrants living in the US for five years who have children staying legally in the US.
Up to five million are expected to benefit from a reform package forced through using executive orders, which allow Mr Obama to bypass Congress.
Republicans have accused the president of an “illegal power-grab”.
There are estimated to be 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
Under Mr Obama’s plan, undocumented parents of children who are US citizens or legal residents will be able to apply for work permits lasting three years.
Only parents who have lived in the US for five years will qualify – an estimated four million people.
Hundreds of thousands more will benefit from other changes, including a decision to broaden a scheme giving temporary legal status to those who arrived in the US as children.
“Come out of the shadows and get right with the law,” Mr Obama said in a televised address.
He insisted that his proposals, which are the biggest immigration reforms since the mid-1980s, did not amount to an amnesty.
“What I’m describing is accountability – a common-sense, middle ground approach,” he said.
Although the plan will allow millions to work, it will not offer a path to citizenship or entitle them to the same benefits as Americans, he said.
“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the US illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up,” he said.
Republicans reacted with fury, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain calling it an “illegal power-grab” that “fails to address the root causes of the dysfunction in our immigration system”.
And Texas Governor Rick Perry argued the move would “lead to more illegal immigration, not less”.
An Obama aide rebuffed the criticism, saying the president had taken advice from the secretary of homeland security and the attorney general about the action.
“It’s entirely consistent with the way previous presidents have exercised their executive authority,” the aide said.
Mr Obama’s plan does not go as far as a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
The bill was passed by the Democrat-led Senate, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to debate the proposal.
On Thursday, Mr Obama said those who questioned his authority to use executive orders should simply pass the bill.
Campaigners for migrants’ rights broadly welcomed Mr Obama’s plans.
But some activists worried that the promise of a three-year work visa would not be enough for many people to come out into the open.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s going to fall far short of the mark,” veteran advocate Cheryl Little told Reuters news agency.
She said the reforms amounted to “simply a temporary reprieve from deportation.”__BBC
SRINAGAR: Police Thursday claimed to have killed three militants in Tral area of Pulwama district.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Abdul Ghani Mir said as police tried to stop the Sumo “in which the militants were travelling near AbiGharTral, they opened indiscriminate fire.”
“Two militants escaped during the gunfight which lasted for about 10 minutes,” he said, adding, “One SLR, one carbine, one pistol and other ammunition was recovered from their possession.”
IGP Mir identified one of the militants as “LeT militant Shiraz Ahmad Ganai of PinjuraPulwama.” “From the possession of another militant we have recovered the identity card by the name of Muhammad Asif of Kulgam. We are ascertaining it. The identity of the third militant is also being ascertained,” he said.
Reports said security forces have cordoned off vast area near the encounter site and started searches to nab the other gunmen.__GS News
NEW DELHI: Continuing with his anti-Pakistan rhetoric, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Friday said finding Osama bin Laden in Pakistan proved the war on terror was waged against ‘the wrong country’.
Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in India, Karzai said the death of al Qaeda founder in Pakistan shows that Nato and allied forces were wrong in entering Afghan soil.
Renowned Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, who was chairing Karzai’s talk, tweeted his statements:
According to an NDTV report, the former president – in an apparent dig that the war should have been waged in Pakistan instead – said US should have gone to the sanctuaries of terrorism, not Afghanistan. Karzai has been unrelenting in his criticism of Pakistan during his long rule and has continued to do so even after stepping down.
Following the September 11 attack, US-led troops intervened attacked Afghanistan to dismantle al Qaeda and remove Taliban from power in the country. The chief of the terror network, however, was killed as part of a highly secretive operation in Abbottabad in May 2011, ending the biggest manhunt in history.
“My stance against certain elements of US and Nato presence was principled,” Karzai, who has often said the war on terror should not be against Afghanistan, clarified.
“I stood up against the US because I wanted them to correct their behaviour with Afghanistan.”
Rejecting warnings by his one-time counterpart General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Karzai reiterated Afghanistan would not allow itself to become the battleground in a proxy war between India and Pakistan after the imminent departure of US-led troops.
“Afghanistan will not allow proxy war between India and Pakistan on its soil – and I’m sure India won’t do that,” Karzai said firmly, adding, “India will be there to educate our children, build dams, not to wage a proxy war against Pakistan – so I’ll give a reassurance to Musharraf that he did not worry.”
In an interview earlier this week, Musharraf warned that Pakistan would look to use ethnic Pashtuns to counter if India tries to achieve its goal of creating an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan”. India and Pakistan have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan but the former president rejected a possibility of this.
Thanking India for participating in ‘every step’ of rebuilding Afghanistan as it suffered from invasions, foreign interferences and extremism, Karzai said, “a generation of forward-looking young Afghans have emerged and thanks a great deal to India having helped us in this regard.”
Further, commenting on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, Karzai said, “we will engage with Pakistan as a sovereign, independent state conducting our own foreign policy and that will not be compromised.”
Karzai’s statement comes at a crucial time after the newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan and as Nato’s combat mission ends in December.
Pakistan was one of only three countries that recognised the Taliban regime that ruled in Kabul before being toppled in late 2001 after a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The Taliban’s downfall led to Karzai’s installation as Afghan leader and he remained in power until stepping down as president earlier this year.__Tribune.com
ISLAMABAD: The special court trying former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason has directed the federal government to resubmit its complaint in the treason case after including the names of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, federal minister Zahid Hamid who was law minister at the time and former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar to the charge-sheet.
The order comes as the court disposed of a request filed by the retired general calling for the trial of abettors during the November 3 actions.
The move is likely to implicate a number of high profile civilians and armed personnel in the treason trial.
One of the judges, Justice Yawar Ali of Lahore High Court, attached a dissenting note while disposing off the petition.
The court has directed the federal government to resubmit its complaint after including the names of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former law minister Zahid Hamid, former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and other office holders at the time.
The court’s decision can be challenged by the federal government if it chooses to.
The decision is based on the original complaint filed by the federal government which had said that the role of other facilitators could be examined.
Musharraf had also demanded that the civilian leadership and the military authorities that allegedly abetted in the imposition of the November 3, 2007 emergency should also be tried along with him.
According to the proclamation issued for the November 3 emergency, Musharraf imposed the emergency after consulting the then prime minister, the governors of all four provinces and the chairman of joint chiefs of staff committee, the chiefs of the armed forces, the vice-chief of army staff and the corps commanders of the Pakistan Army.__Dawn.com
KIEV: An average of 13 people have been killed daily in eastern Ukraine since a 5 September ceasefire came into place, the UN human rights office says.
In the eight weeks since the truce came into force, the UN says 957 people have been killed, amid continuing violations on both sides.
A new report by the office describes a total breakdown of law and order in rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk.
It also highlights credible allegations of abuses by government forces.
Russia has been widely accused of fanning the violence by covertly supplying the rebels with military aid – an accusation it denies.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused Russia on Thursday of seeking “deliberately to provoke a large-scale war”. The actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he told a news conference, were a “threat to everyone, the global order, global peace”.
Separately, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, a Nato state and EU member, described Russia as a “terrorist state” in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, President Putin told a meeting in Moscow that the “wave of so-called colour revolutions” (popular uprisings this century in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan) had yielded “tragic consequences”.
“For us this is a lesson and a warning,” he told the Russian Security Council. “We should do everything necessary so that nothing similar ever happens in Russia.”
Conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine last April, when the government in Kiev launched an operation to recapture areas seized by pro-Russian rebels, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Since the conflict began, nearly 900,000 people have fled their homes, of whom nearly 400,000 went to Russia, the UN said in its new report, which covers the period up to 31 October.
The new casualty figures, contained in a UN press release dated 18 November, record that a further 9,921 people have been wounded in the conflict areas.
Of the 957 people killed since the ceasefire 119 were women, the UN says. In all, at least 4,317 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in April, it estimates.
In its actual report, the UN refers to a “total breakdown in law and order, and a lack of any human rights protection for the population” under rebel control in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
It notes that “cases of serious human rights abuses by the armed groups continued to be reported, including torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, summary executions, forced labour, sexual violence, as well as the destruction and illegal seizure of property”.
Such abuses, it said, “may amount to crimes against humanity”.
The human rights situation is directly affected, the UN says, by the large amount of weapons and the foreign fighters “that include servicemen from the Russian Federation”.
Ukrainian government forces and volunteer militias fighting the rebels have been also been accused of human rights abuses such as illegal detention, torture and ill-treatment, the report says, noting official denials.
It also calls for a full investigation into the use of cluster bombs in the conflict. The Ukrainian government was accused by Human Rights Watch last month of using such weapons in residential areas, an allegation it denied.
As part of the truce signed in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, monitors from the European security body, OSCE, were to observe the eastern areas and the borders with Russia.
The monitors themselves complained they had come under fire on Wednesday, from uniformed soldiers operating near a government-held area.
Two shots were fired at the OSCE convoy near Mariinka, 15km (9 miles) west of Donetsk, from a distance of 80m, the OSCE said, but no-one was hurt.
An OSCE spokeswoman refused to speculate on whether Ukrainian government soldiers had been to blame.__BBC