Hnn | HNN Articles

Canada's Immigration Dilemma

 

COLUMN By DOUG THOMAS

For Humanist.Network.News
July 29, 2009

Canada has always encouraged immigration. A large part of our motivation has been our vast open space-fabulous to live in, but not self-supporting economically. We would like to fill the place up with the right people who want to be here. The problem, of course, is deciding who are the "right" people.

Visitors are always welcome because they spend money. Students are welcome because they spend money, and they make us Canadians proud of our educational facilities. Immigrants are welcome because Canada is still under populated-Southwestern Ontario aside. Refugees are welcome because they need refuge and because they appeal to the Canadian need to do the right thing.

Visitors, up to now, generally have not required any documents except passports (U.S. citizens require those only to get back home), and students get student visas quickly enough once they have been accepted into a school. Refugees get in quickly too-if they are, in fact, legitimate refugees and therein lies the dilemma. Who is a legitimate refugee?

We are as concerned about unsuitable people coming to Canada as you are about them coming to the U.S. Yes, there have been some notable lapses. The Khadr family, led astray by its El Quaeda father, is not particularly popular here even though we find Omar Khadr's imprisonment in Gitmo unjust. At least one Somalian warlord kept his family in Canada while he wrought havoc in his homeland.

However, we have some notable refugees as well. Our last two Governors General came to Canada as refugees: Adrianne Clarkson from Japanese-occupied Hong Kong and Michaëlle Jean from Duvalier-dominated Haiti. They represent the majority of refugees to this country-those who have made real contributions to our society.

To qualify under our refugee rules one's life has to be in immediate danger from an unsupportable regime. However, every year thousands of people come to Canada as visitors and students only to apply for refugee status when they get here. They may consider themselves legitimate refugees from bad economic systems or climates, but they don't qualify under the rules and their trying to cheat the system doesn't indicate that they are the "right" people. Desperation we understand,  designer desperation we don't.

Recently, Canada has imposed visa requirements on people visiting from Mexico and the Czech Republic. The number of people from these two countries entering as "visitors" and then claiming refugee status or staying here illegally has skyrocketed recently. Visas are not as draconian as the press claims. For example, New Zealand has required visitor visas from Canadians for a long time.

The Czech Republic's objection to the new system rings hollow since the claimants from that country are often Roma, a group that government discriminates against and encourages to leave.

These new regulations may or may not solve the problem completely, but they are a legitimate attempt to close some loopholes and save taxpayers considerable amounts of money spent on the appeals processes that inevitably result when visiting "refugees" refuse to leave gracefully.

Our door is open, but like any luxury institution, we require that you enter through that door.

 

 

Doug Thomas is an English teacher and novelist, an agnostic member of SOFREE (Society of Ontario Freethinkers), and an active member of the Humanist Association of Canada. He is also Managing Editor of Canadian Freethinker.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Washington Post illustration by Herblock from 1963. Still an unsettled issue......

16 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Our lawsuit challenging 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is trending on F...

17 hours ago

American Humanist Association

A major newspaper in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger, published an editorial in supp...

19 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Did you catch Roy Speckhardt's interview on Fox and Friends this morning? Watch...

21 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss it! AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt will be on Fox and Friends...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Pledge of Allegiance without the use of "Under God" did not cause harm to t...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Great News! Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island just issued a proclamation r...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

A great video for Earth Day! Isaac Asimov discusses saving the planet for future...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Responding to reporters this morning as the AHA's latest case gets national atte...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Lots of press coverage this morning on our New Jersey lawsuit challenging 'under...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Earth Day Everyone! Be kind to your Earth. It's where you live!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to Ventura County, California for now officially recognizing May...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Taken from a 1940's Justice Society Of America comic before "Under God" was adde...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association has filed lawsuit against “Under God” in the P...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The 2014 American Atheists Conference was awesome! Check out pictures of the Ame...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Poll! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertainment/culture/your-humanist-...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Announcing our 2014 AHA Annual Conference Keynote Speaker, Professor Max Tegmark...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you had this problem? The Ethical Dilemma: My Son Sends Me E-Mails Signed...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hurry! Going to the AHA annual conference in Philly? May 5th is the last day to...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: Darwin Award Nominee by Luis Granados. http://thehumani...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Cartoon History of Humanism Episode Three: The Archpoet, 12th-Century Gang...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! The January/February, 1989 issue of the Humanist magazine...

7 days ago