Competing Priorities Under Canada’s Immigration Laws

By Author: Admin | June 28, 2018

Canada’s current immigration system is meant to  protect refugees, reunite families benefit Canada’s labour market.  These goals reflect contemporary political priorities, and as such, priorities have been revised from time to time.  More recently, Canada’s immigration system has focussed on economic migrants.  Migrants that are viewed as directly unsuccessful have had their programs curtailed.  But this can have unintended ancillary effects.

business woman working on computer at modern office

Pictured: Well-lit Productive Person.

For example, nanny program that provided a pathway to caregivers shall be paused.  That program provided a path to permanent resident status in Canada.  However, it has been criticized for producing less economically successful permanent residents in Canada.  It is also a program that exposes minority women of colour to precarious low-wage employment as well as unstable family circumstances,   to the benefit of Canadian women who can  participate in higher skilled jobs in Canada.

grandparent with grandson

Economically Unproductive?

Similarly, the quota for sponsoring parents (10000 per year) is a much smaller number than economic categories of immigration despite sponsored parents often providing care for their grandchildren (allowing the children to work).  Similarly, there may be benefits to the grandparents as well as the family as a whole.

There is reticence on the part of Canada’s current government in the wake of changing US refugee policy – the intake of refugee claimants in Canada has  slightly increased  during May 2018 as compared to April 2018: May had 4995 claims as while April 4820.   This may be due to a spike in the number of unaccompanied minor children who have made refugee claims. Between Jan. 1, 2017, and June 13, 2018, a total of 212 unaccompanied minors have made inland refugee claims.  I anticipate that there will be fewer unaccompanied minor claims in Canada owing to the reversal of US policy of separating families seeking asylum and detaining small children in cages.

There are calls to suspend the Safe Third Country agreement between the USA and Canada.  I think this will fall on deaf ears.  The agreement was a hard-won concession for Canadian negotiators 15 years ago.  Given the current negotiating climate between the United States and Canada, a replacement agreement (if matters improve) is unlikely in the near future.  Furthermore  if this agreement is suspended, there would be a significant increase of refugee claimants from the United States.  This is something that the Canadian government  is trying to avoid.  Though few Canadians can point to how their lives are materially affected, the idea of a mass of asylum seekers, legitimate or not, polls extremely poorly.

That having been said, there may be valid grounds to suspend this agreement, owing to the disparate treatment of refugee claimants in the USA and Canada .  The American system is (for now)  more politicized than the Canadian system, while both Canada and the United States rely on administrative tribunals to determine if a person is a refugee, the Canadian Minister of Refugees, Citizenship and Immigration cannot direct members of the Immigration Refugee Board to interpret the law in a certain way.

In contrast, the United States Attorney General is the final word on immigration law, much like a one-man Supreme Court (except serving at the pleasure of the President).  American refugee law can be rewritten on the fly to meet the desires of whomever occupies the White House. For example, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently ruled  that the United States will not grant protection to those fleeing persecution by domestic or gang violence .  This was meant to stem the tide of Central American asylum seekers fleeing astronomical crime rates, especially against women.  The Canadian refugee determination system, by contrast, recognizes gender-based violence as the basis for seeking refugee protection.

In fairness, Canada reduces the number of asylum seekers it deals with in other ways: geography (most need to get on a plane to reach Canada) and visas (Canada does not let most get on the plane if they are likely to claim asylum).

 

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