Thursday, April 26, 2012

Immigration is a privilege, not a right

Immigration
Immigration (Photo credit: lcars)
GURMUKH SINGH, GUEST COLUMNIST



Immigration, per se, is not a bad thing.
Many birth rate deficient western countries, including Canada, need newcomers each year.
But putting a fanatical emphasis on immigration quotas or numbers is a bad idea.
Delivering needed foreign skilled workers and professionals to industries and businesses is not a bad thing.
But making immigration policies hostage to politics is.
Canada’s immigration policies have become hostage to politics since the early 1980s, when immigrant numbers swelled and ethnic enclaves sprang up around major urban centres.
Wily politicians saw ready-made vote-banks in these ethnic enclaves and cleverly ramped up family-class immigration, as well as instituting various grants in the name of multiculturalism, to keep these vote-banks working.
Therein lies the rub. Once in place, vote-bank policies are very difficult to dismantle.
Today, any politician who tries to scale back family-class immigration, or any other category, faces a backlash from these vote-banks.
Worse, these flawed policies have engendered a deep sense of entitlement among some newcomers.
They won’t brook any tinkering with immigration categories that allow them to bring in their extended families and clans.
That’s nothing short of blackmailing the immigration system.
How absurd that the moment some people land here, they start complaining about disruption of their family life and demand they be reunited with their families quickly!
They think immigration to Canada is their birthright, not a privilege.
Now, will any politician turn around and honestly tell these people: Nobody forced you to come here, or promised a quick passage into Canada for the rest of your family?
But one can count upon the same politicians to play upon these perceived grievances during election times.
Remember how some candidates in immigrant-dominated ridings in the GTA raised the seniors’ issue for political gain during the last two general elections?
With everybody — from newcomers to lawyers’ groups — shoving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our faces at the slightest hint of changing the system, the task of dealing with immigration backlogs and plugging loopholes has become nothing short of a legal minefield for policy makers.
Even applicants with no connections to this country are feeling entitled to “rights and freedoms” under the Charter and are threatening Citizenship and Immigration Canada with legal action for delaying their cases or deleting their files!
Since stories of misuse of the immigration system by refugees, criminals, fraudsters, hijackers and murderers abound, the impression has gone around the world Canada is a doormat and one can force one’s way into this country.
Imagine an applicant (some time ago) threatening to take legal action against Canada for sleeping over his case for “too long”!
The outburst by another foreign applicant, as reported in the media recently, is in keeping with the way Canada is perceived as a “soft” destination by would-be immigrants.
Imagine this individual, a mere applicant with no connections with this country, postponing his family life, marriage and dreams because he was so sure of entry into Canada.
One wonders where in the world can any immigration applicant be one hundred percent sure of success?
Perhaps all those applying for Canadian immigration? At least up until now.
Recent steps by the government to tighten the system are to the good. This country is finally getting real about immigration.
— Singh is a former correspondent with the Times of India and is based in Toronto 

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