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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tories propose draconian immigration legislation

Leave it to the Tories to present immigration legislation that makes it more difficult for refugees to get a fair shake. In response to the two boatloads of Tamil refugee claimants that arrived in B.C. earlier in the year, the Tories are proposing "get tough" legislation that would:

- Expose people who innocently assist refugees to prosecution for human smuggling if they were “reckless” when they provided help.
-Apply to any group of two or more claimants who arrive together, be it by land, sea or air. Any such group can be designated by the minister as an “irregular arrival.” If the government chooses, the vast majority of refugees who come to Canada can be designated and subject to all of the sanctions of the law.
- Deem claimants who are designated as part of an irregular arrival are subject to immediate and mandatory detention without any possibility of review for 12 months. No exceptions are made for women or children, although the minister has the discretion to allow release in “exceptional circumstances.”
- Cause designated claimants to lose many of the rights available to them under the UN refugee convention.
- Eliminate the right of designated refugees to get travel documents for five years.
- Prevent designated claimants from applying for permanent residence for five years.
- Deny designated claimants the right to apply to be reunited with their families during the five-year period and for years after.
- Greatly expands the power of the government to detain non-citizens.
- Require that a person be detained while the minister investigates a suspicion that they might have committed a criminal offence outside of Canada.
- Eliminate the right of appeal against some adverse decisions made by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The Tory proposal is nothing short of draconian. It is designed to close the door to Canadian immigration, especially to the most needy of the world's peoples. In my opinion, it is not only anti-immigrant: it's anti-Canadian.

Please contact your Member of Parliament and protest this devastating proposal.

Read the Star editorial article by Lorne Waldman which details the proposed legislation

Friday, October 22, 2010

I love the Maple Leafs

New Canadians sworn in at Leafs dressing room -

I don't care if they haven't won a cup since 1968. This sort of connection with the community is wonderful. Read the story of 30 new Canadian citizens who had a special day with the team (well...their sweaters actually!).

The Star - Immigration waiting times cause frustration

I guess I'm not the only person frustrated by long wait times. The people in the article by Nicholas Keung of the Toronto Star, are seeking to bring parents and grandparents into the country. For some overseas applications, the process can take 15-33 months as reported.

But wait - that's AFTER the standard prescreeneing period. And how long does that period last? According to the CIC,there is a 38-month standard prescreening of the sponsors at immigration’s Mississauga processing centre. So now we are talking about wait times ranging from 53 to 71 months.

For those of you without immigration math skills, that's 4-years and 3-months to 5-years 11-months.

It also means at least two medical exams will need to be submitted (they are only good for a year) and other reports, like police clearances, may need to be submitted at least twice.

The Star article is just another tale of a poorly run ministry. What does Jason Kenney have to say about it? “Canadian visa offices from one country to another can vary significantly in regard to the size and nature of their respective workloads and it is impossible to provide the exact same level of service at every visa office,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office wrote in an email to Zhang’s group, according to The Star article.

Nonsense - Kenney could work to insure that the levels of service were comparable at Canadian visa offices. He chooses not to use his budget that way, however. Instead, he uses it for more important things - high profile globetrotting to preach the Tory line on illegal immigration.

The more you know about the current state of the CIC, the less you want to know.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Globe and Mail - Immigrants drive innovation, study finds

Great article in The Globe and Mail clearly illustrates the value of immigrants to the Canadian economy. Look at the simple math:

"Immigrants boost trade. The study’s models show every one-percentage-point increase in the number of immigrants to Canada can increase the value of imports into Canada by 0.21 per cent, and raise the value of exports by 0.11 per cent.

In practical terms, that means that an additional 217 immigrants from Japan could boost annual exports to Japan by more than $11-million. That holds true even with smaller trading partners – if one more Cape Verdean immigrates to Canada, that would increase exports to Cape Verde by about $300."

Read the entire article by Tavia Grant here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A broken system exposes more cracks

Gerhard Wiebe is separated from his wife thanks to Canadian border agents

Canadian immigration is broken. How can you tell? One way is when a ministry's own personnel doesn't know its policies well enough to offer accurate advice. Another is when the ministry allows front-line workers (like border agents) to usurp authority at the cost of citizens and applicants.

This is just what happened in the case of Maria Eugenia Vazquez Cortes and Gerhard Wiebe, who traveled to Mexico for a family funeral over the summer. They had an open application in process with CIC, and Maria was legally in the country on an extended visitor's visa while the application was being processed. Before they left for the funeral, they checked with CIC to be sure there were no issues associated with leaving the country and coming back. They were told that there were none.

But upon return, Maria was stopped at the border by an agent who would not allow her back in. He didn't "believe" she would leave the country if the couple's application was denied.

What is the impact? It could mean that they will need to completely re-apply again, because Maria is now out of the country and being denied entry. It could mean they will have to fill out new forms again, get new police records checks and new medicals - all the time and expense all over again...not to mention that applications processed through Canada's Mexican visa office can take years - even if they are simple. And until then? They are separated. Their life together is disrupted; their future together is in doubt.

All because a broken system gave them bad advice, and a border agent had the power to derail a perfectly legal and above-board application that was in process.

And that is the tale of a broken system.

Read the whole sad story here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Centre for Immigration Policy Reform wants Canada for Canadians

A new immigration lobbying group wouldn't normally draw a lot of attention. Like all lobbyists, they represent a position on a particular issue, in this case immigration, and they work to see policy implemented that supports their point of view. But the year-old Centre for Immigration Policy Reform is different for a couple reasons. First off, they are populated by Martin Collacott, a former Canadian ambassador and James Bissett, a former Immigration Department director-general. These are individuals that have played a direct role in determining past immigration policy. Reason two: they are blatantly anti-immigrant.

The Centre wants to scrap current immigration policy, decrying it in a news conference yesterday as one that makes it too easy for individuals to come to Canada through the Family and Refugee class.

An excellent article "New immigration lobby group lacks praxis" by Jim Creskey in Embassy Magazine online lays out the details.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Two sides of the immigrant experience

Great article discussing one Indian family's experience as immigrants to Canada, and how their traditions, along with a dose of high technology, have helped to make their transition smoother.

This story is a great example of how immigrants embrace Canada, while not forgetting their home countries.

Read the article here.

On the other hand: In an editorial published a couple days ago, Star columnist Heather Mallick writes about a kind of immigrant who would rather not be reminded of home... "...some immigrants chose Canada to get the hell away from their homescape and after arrival never gave the old country a second thought. My idea of a perfect evening is walking into a party full of strangers. Some immigrants are like that nationally."

Read Heather's article here.