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Tamil Nadu immigrants face problems with migration expenses

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Chennai: Raghavendran Ganesan was relatively a well-placed emigrant with roots in Tamil Nadu. He was working in a world famous Indian firm and stationed in European Union’s headquarters Brussels in Belgium.

Of course, the entire Indian administrative arm based in Brussels was searching for him after he went missing last week following an IS-triggered bomb blast on a metro train.

That was, of course, a rare situation.

And that kind of attention to each of 35 lakh people from Tamil Nadu living in various parts of the world, who remit over Rs 61,800 crore back to country, not possible even in dreams. “We have seen cases where bodies of people who died in Gulf countries not reaching their homes in Tamil Nadu for months,” says Sr M. Valarmathi, state coordinator for Migrants Forum. Chennai.

Airport sources estimate that 12 to 15 dead bodies arrive every month in the international terminal and most will be from Gulf countries. “Similarly, bodies of Tamil emigrants will be arriving at Tiruchy, Coimbatore and also in Thiruvananthapuram” a police officer said. A government survey last year found there are 3.5 million people from Tamil Nadu working abroad,  with Chennai topping the list with 3.2 lakh people, followed by Coimbatore with 1.9 lakh and Ramanathapuram 1.4 lakh. It is estimated that 15 per cent of Tamil emigrants are women.

While 22 lakh people struggle in other countries, the rest – 13 lakh people – returned home because the contract for a majority of them was not renewed last year.  While 38 per cent of the returnees said their contracts were not renewed, 19 per cent said family issues had dragged them back, eight per cent noted they were getting poor wages – very less than promised – abroad and another eight per cent decided to come back because of bad health. “It does not mean that once returned, these workers will not go back. They will try to go to another place or another country hoping to land in a better job,” Valarmathi says.

Answering a query in Parliament recently, Gen V. K. Singh, minister of state for external affairs, said the number of Indian workers who emigrated through emigration clearance to 18 notified countries has come down from 8.16 lakh in 2013 to 7.81 lakh in 2015. Singh also said  that in the last financial year the remittance back home from Indians abroad was US $ 69 billions. (Rs 4.6 lakh crore )

The survey in Tamil Nadu also found that approximately 10 lakh women in the state are left behind at home because their husbands are working abroad.
The survey showed these women, with an average schooling of 11 years, are more qualified than males in general population.  In

In general population,  average schooling for males is around 8.5 years while for women it is 7.3 years. The survey showed that nine per cent of women left behind never visited the country where their husbands are working and 97 per cent of them keep in touch with their husbands using mobile phones.

On an average, migrants from Tamil Nadu pay around Rs 1.08 lakh and half of their money is gobbled up by recruitment agencies. The survey shows that 52 per cent of emigrants had met their migration expenses on their own by family support or by borrowed money.

(Source– deccanchronicle.com)

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U.S. Court Blocks Question On Citizenship For U.S. Census

The Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

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An envelope contains a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I., March 23, 2018. VOA

A federal judge has blocked the Commerce Department from including a question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census.

To plaintiffs in the case — a sizable coalition of states, cities and advocates — the question seemed aimed at turning the official population survey into a tool to advance Trump administration policies by discouraging immigrants from participating.

In Tuesday’s ruling, which came after a two-week trial in New York, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that the decision to add the citizenship question was made before data was collected to show that a change in policy was necessary.

In his 277-page ruling, Furman wrote that the decision was “pretextual” and thus violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

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Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

Furman said the APA requires federal agencies to study an issue before changing policies, and the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, “violated the public trust.”

Documented noncitizens

About 11 million people who live in the U.S. are undocumented, but there are also about 13 million documented noncitizens who might fear responding to the census questionnaire if citizenship is included.

“Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included,” Furman said.

The U.S. census is taken every 10 years and is next scheduled for 2020. It plays a critical role in U.S. politics since the apportionment of House of Representative seats is based on population figures derived from the census and also disbursement of millions in federal funds. In addition, decisions from the location of businesses to the makeup of state and local districts are based on the census.

Plaintiffs argued that noncitizens tend to live in places that disproportionately vote Democratic, so an undercount would likely shift political power and federal spending to Republican areas.

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Immigrants participate in a naturalization ceremony to become U.S. citizens in Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2018. VOA

Furman’s ruling is only the opening salvo on the citizenship question. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear an aspect of the case in February, hoping to rule before the Census Bureau has to print its questionnaire. In addition, the government is expected to quickly appeal Furman’s ruling.

Reasoned explanation

The U.S. government fought hard to keep the citizenship question out of court. When that failed, government lawyers argued that how Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross reached his decision on the citizenship question was “immaterial.”

“All the secretary is required to do is to provide a reasoned explanation,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett A. Shumate told the court. “He doesn’t have to choose the best option.”

Ross has said that he decided to add citizenship to the census in response to a request from the Justice Department, which said that census data on citizenship would help it better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Citizenship was on the questionnaire in censuses before 1960 and is still part of the American Community Survey, which samples about 2.6 percent of the population each year, in order to help local officials and businesses understand what is going on in their communities.

‘Forceful rebuke’

But last January, the Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

Also Read: International Immigrants May be Healthier Than Native: Study

“This victory in our case is a forceful rebuke of the administration’s attempts to weaponize the census to attack immigrants and communities of color,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement about the case.

Along with the ACLU, plaintiffs included 18 states, the District of Columbia, several cities and some immigrant rights groups. (VOA)