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January 2013 Archives

Bipartisan Immigration Reform Takes Shape

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Plans to overhaul the troubled U.S immigration system are gathering momentum at the Capitol, news organizations reported Monday.

According to Reuters, Eight U.S. Senators, including Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, unveiled a bipartisan plan to move ahead with comprehensive reforms.

The new Senate proposal would allow undocumented immigrants to register with the government, Reuters reported. After paying a fine, applicants would receive probationary legal status giving them the right to work and apply for citizenship.

Under this plan, undocumented immigrants would no longer face deportation or scrutiny from law enforcement officials. They would, however, "go to the end of the line" with their applications for full citizenship.

In the past, Republican lawmakers have blocked attempts to open a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. They have instead favored increased border security.

However, the party's setback in the 2012 election, partially attributed to the party's alienation of Latino voters, has prompted many Republicans to reexamine their stance on the issue. McCain said that future election prospects were a major incentive for the renewed push for reform, CNN reported.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a leading tea party-endorsed Republican, joined McCain in supporting efforts to create a "modern immigration system," according to CNN. The proposal, however, drew criticism from other corners of the party.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas condemned the idea of offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, Fox News reported. "By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration," Lamar said.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Schumer expressed optimism that a "major breakthrough" had been made. He hopes to have legislation passed on the issue by "late spring or summer."

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama greeted the Senate blueprint with enthusiasm, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "This is an important first step," Fox News reported Carney as saying.

French and Malian Forces Advance on Timbuktu

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After driving rebels out of many of their strongholds across Mali, French and Malian troops are preparing to advance on rebel-held Timbuktu, news sources report.

Al Jazeera reported that Malian troops had captured Timbuktu Airport late on Sunday. Jacky Rowland, reporting from the airport tarmac, said they would advance into the town in the coming hours, in order to drive out Islamist militants.

Earlier in the day, French-led troops had taken the northern town of Gao, according to Reuters. Reuters also reported that French and Malian forces were already clearing rebel fighters from Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its ancient mud-brick mosques and libraries of medieval manuscripts.

The fabled desert town has been in rebel hands for more than nine months, according to The Huffington Post.

France's military intervention in its former North African coloney began in early January, at the request of Mali's government, after militants advanced on the central Malian town of Konna. Since then, the French have been pounding the militants with airstrikes and leading the fight to bring all of Mali under government control.

The French and Malian forces had faced little resistance in their push into rebel-held northern Mali, said The Huffington Post. However, there are fears that the conflict will turn into a guerrilla war, as al-Qaida-backed militants regroup in the face of the overwhelming attack on their territory, Reuters reported.

Violent reprisals have also been reported by Reuters against Malians in the north suspected of being sympathetic towards rebel groups, raising fears that human rights abuses will be committed by western-backed forces.

"Yesterday, even, we found one hiding in a house. We cut his throat," a resident of Gao told Reuters, saying how one suspected rebel was dealt with. The man asked not to be named.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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