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Welcome to Bulgaria and Romania, the newest members of the European Union. 22 million Romanians and 8 million Bulgarians became European Union citizens on 01 January 2007. The EU now consists of 27 Member States, and represents nearly half a billion citizens. Croatia may be allowed to join in 2010. Further EU expansion is highly controversial.
Farmers Branch, Texas is the latest U.S. city to enact tough local immigration laws, and it is also the latest city to face litigation over these laws. The controversial city council ordinance would require local landlords to verify the residency status of tenants or face penalties. Residents have filed a petition that will either lead to a public vote or the City Council repealing the law. At the same time, local civil liberties groups have filed lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of the statute.
In the weeks just prior to Christmas, a prank website questioned Santa's immigration status for a town in the U.S. Hazelton, Pennsylvania passed a number of unusually harsh anti-immigration laws in the U.S. during 2006. The website parodied the measures with fake news and showed that the laws effectively banned Santa from obtaining a visa.
High-tech industry interests in the United States are lobbying Congress to change immigration policies to favor an increase in skilled immigrant quotas. Specifically targeted is the H-1B program, currently seen as too restrictive. Companies allege that they cannot currently fill needed job positions.
The U.S. Congress has begun working on a bipartisan draft for a new immigration reform bill. The New Democratic-controlled 110th Congress will attempt to vote on a Senate version in April or May of 2007, while a House version might be passed during the summer.
On 01 January 2007, Slovenia became Europe's first former communist country to adopt the euro as its official currency. Slovenia is the 13th member of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). All new EU nations are required to changeover to the euro eventually.
The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada are experiencing a shortage of nurses, doctors and health care professionals. This has led to temporary closures and reduced levels of service. The government and nursing unions are aggressively recruiting and training professionals from around the world and offering pay and benefit incentives to attract more people.
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