Immigration policy

Written by  //  November 30, 2009  //  Americas, Canada, Immigration/migration, Politics, Public Policy  //  No comments

Canadian Council for RefugeesCitizenship and Immigration Canada ; Maytree Foundation ; Richard-Kurland ; More on Wednesday-Night.com

Assessing foreign credentials faster
New accord; Immigrants would get ruling within one year
(Gazette) Foreign-trained architects, nurses and engineers are among new immigrants who will get first crack at having their credentials recognized within one year under a new federal-provincial accord announced yesterday. The agreement will be implemented in two stages, and by the end of 2012 a total of 15 occupations will have access to a fast-track system of foreign-credential recognition.
12 November
Welcome to Canada: Here are the new rules
Today’s release of a new citizenship guide marks a shift in what it means to become Canadian, emphasizing more than ever the responsibilities bestowed upon the quarter-million newcomers who migrate to Canada each year.
The 62-page document is a significant departure from the version crafted by the Liberals in 1997, and explicitly asserts certain citizenshipobligations. According to a senior government official, responsibilities outlined in the guide include getting a job, obeying the law and serving on a jury when called. (CBC) Government unveils new citizenship guidebook
3 November
Auditor-General sounds alarm on immigration policy
(Globe & Mail) Government can’t explain why it’s allowing more foreign workers in, nor is it keeping them safe once they arrive, report says
In a report tabled Tuesday in Parliament, Ms. Fraser said decisions in the Canadian immigration system are increasingly shifted to provinces and Canadian employers without any follow-up to root out fraud and abuse.
She took direct aim at the foreign worker program, which brings in an increasing number of often low-skilled workers for jobs ranging from oil sands labourers to construction workers on Olympics facilities and live-in nannies. Ms. Fraser said little is being done to catch the abuse occurring on all sides of the program. Workers are particularly vulnerable, she said, given that they often don’t speak English, and owe their status in Canada to their employer.
24 October
Visa controls on Mexico ‘humiliating,’ senator says
A senior Mexican senator and former foreign affairs minister yesterday called Canada’s visa controls on Mexico a humiliation and questioned whether Canadian-Mexican relations will improve as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister.
In a blunt speech to a Toronto business and academic gathering, Senator Rosario Green Macias detailed the information she was required to provide to the Canadian government to enter Canada – proof of property ownership, her last six bank statements, a letter from the Mexican senate stating she is a senator and personal information about other members of her family.
9 August
Harper slightly softens stance on visas for Mexicans
(CTV.ca News) Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered some hope to Mexico, but no guarantees on Sunday, that its citizens would regain visa-free travel status to Canada some day. “The visas will stay as long as the problem exists,” Harper told a news conference for the so-called Three Amigos Summit after reporters asked if the measure was permanent.
7 August
PM likely to feel chill from Mexican amigo
Harper, set to meet Calderon, signals Canada won’t lift visa requirements for visitors Will Mexico summit resolve visa spat?
1 August
Jeffrey Simpson: How we might make up with our Mexican amigo
Canada’s decision to impose visas on all would-be visitors from Mexico has been greeted with outrage
The week after next, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is due in Guadalajara for a meeting with Mr. Calderon and U.S. President Barack Obama. There, Mr. Harper could announce, having discussed this privately beforehand with the Mexicans, significant Canadian help to Mexico in that drug war: RCMP personnel, training of Mexican police, equipment where needed, money for a fund the Americans have already established to help Mexico fight this plague. Such an approach might ease the sting of the visas, help Mexico a bit, and do ourselves a favour too. It would also show a little creativity in foreign policy.
23 July
The temporariness of the temporary
If the core purpose of immigration is to integrate and create new Canadians, then Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, ought to heed the main findings of new Report by the Maytree Foundation.
Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies
Canada needs a national vision for economic immigration. A strong, cohesive, long-term vision will help Canada to be competitive in attracting people with the human capital it needs for an innovative, productive and knowledge-based economy. This goal cannot be achieved without fixing Canada’s economic immigration policies. Recent federal policy changes have been reactive and have not given due regard to the root causes of the problems or the cumulative impact. Fixing these policies and enhancing labour market services will help Canada to become the residence of choice for future citizens from around the world and to benefit from their enormous potential.
Skilled immigrants squeezed out for temporary workers.
Temporary suspensions of removals lifted for Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda
OTTAWA, July 23 /CNW Telbec/ – The Government of Canada announced today that due to improved conditions in Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda, the temporary suspensions of removals to these countries have been lifted, effective immediately. More
17 July
Mexico retaliates in visa feud
Canadian diplomats and officials hit with new travel requirements in wake of Ottawa’s decision to constrain Mexican visitors ;
Visa restrictions won’t solve refugee problem: Mexico to Canada … despite the Mexican government’s unhappiness with the move … it would not risk alienating tourists by issuing a reciprocal requirement for visas from all Canadians traveling to Mexico. With more than 1.3 Canadians visitors each year, … such a move would simply be too economically damaging to [the] country’s economy.
Getting our own house in order
(Globe & Mail editorial) By the time even overtly false claims are finally dealt with, years can have passed, and federal officials will have had to cross numerous hurdles in order to successfully remove many of them. This taxes a system designed to provide asylum to the world’s truly persecuted. The government is right not to allow it to be hijacked by economic migrants.
EU TO STUDY CANADIAN VISA REQUIREMENT
(RCI)  The EU will examine Canada’s action and decide whether to reciprocate. Member states may not impose visa requirements unilaterally, but the Czech Republic has taken symbolic action by withdrawing its ambassador to Canada and requiring visas for Canadian diplomats.
(RCI) The Conservative Party government is being blamed for the huge backlog of unprocessed refugee claims. The Canadian Council for Refugees says the government should blame itself for the delays instead of the system. The government imposed a visa requirement on visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic on the grounds that many of the refugee claims from those countries are fraudulent. A report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser found that 37 of the 164 appointed positions on the Immigration and Refugee Board were unfilled as of 2008, while the number of backlogged refugee claims tripled from fewer than 20,000 in 2005 to almost 61,000 at the end of June.
16 July
Martin Collacott: Canada has the most generous refugee system in the world
(National Post) When the legislation establishing the IRB came into effect, however, the refugee lobby was successful in pressuring the government into not declaring any other countries to be “safe.” The objective was to ensure that our door would be left as wide open as possible. As a result, our refugee-determination system has been constantly clogged, and at times overwhelmed, by thousands of claims from people whom no other country would permit to register an asylum application. In 2007, for example, Canada allowed into our system thousands of claimants from democratic countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Israel, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Guyana and the United States.
15 July
EU presidency backs retaliation against Canada in visa row
STOCKHOLM – The European Union presidency said Wednesday it favours visa requirements for Canadians travelling to EU member states after Canada ordered Czech nationals to get visas.
Jeffrey Simpson: Blame the refugee system
It’s a situation linked to a 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling (the Singh case) that led to amnesties, administrative chaos, bureaucracy, huge financial costs and, eventually, to the existing refugee-determination system. Under it, Canada has to process anybody and everybody who comes to this country and claims refugee status, bogus or otherwise. To try to stem the flow, we impose visa requirements. Visas are required for other reasons: health, national security, fake arranged marriages, bogus documentation, a reasonable assumption the traveller really intends to emigrate. But one reason is the refugee-determination system.
Canada should be able – although this would be hard and controversial, and draw the ire of all the refugee advocates in Canada – to post an annual list of countries where, based on extensive research, we do not consider individuals to be threatened with persecution or torture or discrimination, and are unable to seek redress from local courts and authorities.
Minister calls for overhaul of Canada’s refugee system
Ottawa must process asylum claims faster, Kenney says in defence of new visa rules
Canada needs a refugee-claims system that will quickly turn away those who falsely claim persecution to take advantage of the country’s generosity, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says. Imposing visa restrictions on Czechs and Mexicans was necessary to stem a rising flow of claimants, he said, but what is really needed is an asylum system that accepts or rejects refugees quickly…. For Mr. Kenney, it wouldn’t be necessary to impose visa restrictions to stem the flow of asylum-seekers if false claimants knew before coming that their cases would be decided swiftly and they would be returned home immediately after a decision was made.
17 June
UN ranks Canada fifth as global refugee host
Six times as many refugees per capita as U.S.
14 June 2009
Deported Pakistani couple leave children in Montreal
Sabir Mohammed Sheikh and his wife, Seema, had lived with their family in Montreal for the past eight years but lost their refugee status for lying on their application when they first entered Canada. The couple came to Canada in 2001 claiming refugee status from Pakistan, but were deported because Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently found out they spent 20 years in Dubai before arriving in Canada.
19 June 2008
OTTAWA: IMMIGRATION CHANGES PASS PARLIAMENT
Federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley has welcomed the support of both the House of Commons and the Senate for proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Mrs. Finley says the government now has the “tools in place” to bring people to the country quickly who have skills which the country needs. The minister says the federal government will hold consultations with the provinces and territories as well as with immigration experts to determine which skills they are. She says the legislation will also stop the backlog of applications from growing. Bill C-50 also allows the minister to decide how many applications will be accepted each year.
June 10
Government outsources visas at some foreign embassies
OTTAWA – The federal government has quietly outsourced the processing of visa applications to lighten the load at some of its busiest embassies around the world.
Last week, VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai, India-based subsidiary of Kuoni Travel Holding Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland began accepting applications for temporary visitor permits on behalf of the Canadian Embassy in China. Immigration consultants in Canada say VFS Global was required to get a licence to operate from the Government of China.
Richard Kurland, a lawyer and immigration consultant in Vancouver, said the protection of privacy rights would be particularly important, for example, for a person from Tibet or a human-rights activist.
OTTAWA: IMMIGRATION CHANGES PASS COMMONS
(RCI) The House of Commons has voted to approve controversial changes to immigration law proposed by the Conservative government. The changes are contained in the budget implementation legislation and if the three opposition parties had joined to defeat the minority government on a measure of confidence, a summer election would have ensued. All three opposition parties are critical of the proposed changes but Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion said his party doesn’t want a summer election. The vote passed 121-90, with enough Liberal Members of Parliament absent from the House for the bill to pass. The legislation would allow the immigration minister to fast-track the applications of certain highly desirable categories of immigrants, such as doctors, correspondingly slowing down the processing of the others.
IMMIGRATION BILL FOUND IN SYNC WITH PUBLIC OPINION
A public opinion survey carried out by Nanos Research in Policy Options shows that while Canadians favour allowing skilled workers or family members into Canada, they are less enthusiastic when it comes to refugees. The pollster asked respondents which three factors are the most important in selecting newcomers. Sixty-eight-point-two per cent chose jobs skill, 58.8 per cent family reunification and only 40.1 per cent chose refugee status. The president of the polling firm, Nik Nanos, says the results show that Canadians’ self-image as being hospitable to those fleeing persecution isn’t entirely accurate. Respondents also were asked whether they favoured dual citizenship, a question to which 51.3 responded affirmatively.
Racism is bad for you — Directors needed
by Mohamed Elmasry
(Media Monitors Network) “The proposed play’s plot thesis is that racism is a moral crime for which all of society eventually pays. The author hopes that some directors will realize its potential on stage to be an effective educational presentation for schools or universities.”
The plot of this play is reality-based. The beginning of the play is now, the year 2008, but moves back to Canada in the 1910s and then forward into a we-all-hope-not Canada of 2030.
June 2
Tories survive 1st confidence vote since Bernier affair
Only a handful of Liberals show up to vote on immigration bill
Rows of Liberal benches remained vacant in a series of votes on controversial immigration reforms that are part of a larger budget implementation bill. All opposition parties have excoriated the Conservatives for the immigration changes, but the Liberals continued their months-long practice of abstaining on key votes. The Liberals have called the bill an affront to Canadian values and suggested they will overturn the legislation if they win the next election.
The Commons voted three times Monday night — once on the larger finance bill, and twice more on a bundle of NDP amendments that would essentially gut the legislation.
Committee calls on Tories to kill immigration bill
OTTAWA — The House of Commons immigration committee has recommended killing a controversial government bill that would give the immigration minister more power to decide who can become a permanent resident.
Meanwhile, the NDP says it will filibuster the bill to prevent it from being passed before Parliament breaks for the summer.
The proposed bill, which would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, removes the Immigration Department’s obligation to process all permanent-residence applications, and allows the minister to instruct officers to fast track certain kinds of applications.
The finance committee is expected to begin clause-by-clause study of the bill next week, before sending it back to the Commons for a third and final vote.
May 21
Immigration Bill Under Dual Microscopes
Polarization Over IRPA Changes
(Embassy) A week of hearings by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration included an appearance by Immigration Minister Diane Finley, who explained how provinces will benefit from proposed immigration system changes.
The minister also revealed that $1.1 million in taxpayer dollars has been spent on advertising bill C-50 in ethnic media outlets, despite the fact the bill has not passed in Parliament.
Ms. Finley also said that the government will be coding new immigration applications, as well as those already in the backlog, to show applicants’ occupation and destination province.
“The provinces can then access these files,” she said. “It’s called data mining. I guess that’s the technical term. They can go in and identify people that they need and get them here sooner.”
When asked what kind of resources the department will target to addressing the existing backlog if the proposed changes are approved, Mr. Fadden said “something like 70 per cent” of resources will go to that purpose. In addition, the department will write to applicants whose files have been in the system for a while to see if they still want to continue.
April 21
(RCI) TORONTO: PM DEFENDS IMMIGRATION CHANGES
The Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, has defended his government’s proposed changes to immigration law. The prime minister acknowledges “political risks” in undertaking them but says his Conservative Party government is determined to push them through. Proposed legislation would fast-track the applications of desirable and needed categories of immigrants, such as doctors and skilled workers, while others would have to take their places in line. The government would also have the power to set limits on the numbers of applications processed. The stated purpose of the changes is both to hasten the arrival of applications who can alleviate critical labour shortages and to catch up a huge backlog. Mr. Harper says the changes are aimed at fixing a labour crisis that will affect the economy if no fixed soon. Critics of the changes have called them discriminatory. Mr. Harper spoke at an East Indian event in Toronto, which was also attended by Michael Ignatieff, the deputy Liberal Party leader. He expressed doubt the changes would have any effect on the applications backlog because the changes would affect only applications after March 1, leaving the 900,000 other unaffected.
April 17 2008
NDP introduces motion to split controversial immigration bill
OTTAWA – The NDP is determined to take all necessary steps to stop the Conservatives’ irreversibly damaging immigration reforms.
NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic Olivia Chow (Trinity Spadina) gave notice of her motion last week to give the Finance committee the ability to split Bill C-50, the Budget Implementation Act. This would allow the committee to give the section of the bill pertaining to immigration reforms to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee for comprehensive study, amendments, or rejection.
This is the NDP’s second attempt to stop the damaging reforms from passing in Parliament. On April 9th Dion’s Liberals refused to support an NDP motion to refuse to give second reading to the bill. On April 10th, Dion’s Liberals allowed the bill to pass second reading.
TORONTO: IMMIGRANT ADVOCATES WARN LIBERALS OVER IMMIGRATION BILL
(RCI) The Status Now immigrant lobby has warned the federal Liberal Party that it could lose immigrant votes if it doesn’t vote against the changes to immigration law proposed by the governing Conservatives. The stated purposes of the legislation is to bring to Canada the types of workers most economically needed and to reduce an application backlog which will reach 1.5 million by 2012. Critics consider the proposed changes discriminatory. The government has wrapped the immigration measures in the general budget bill. The bill is a question of confidence, meaning that a defeat for the minority would provoke a national election, something the Liberals have refused to do so far.
March 14
Tory bill proposes new powers on immigration applications
(CBC) The federal government has proposed sweeping changes to Canada’s immigration policies that would give it greater selection powers to limit the number of new applicants.
The proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which the government says are aimed at reducing backlogs of immigration applications, are embedded in a 136-page budget-implementation bill tabled Friday in the House of Commons. The budget-implementation bill is a confidence motion.
More than 800,000 prospective immigrants are on waiting lists.
The changes would:

  • Give the immigration minister the authority to instruct immigration officers to set limits on what types of immigrants — “by category or otherwise” — can have their applications processed each year.
  • Require an otherwise ineligible person who wants to immigrate on humanitarian grounds to already be in Canada for their application to be processed.

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