Who doesn’t get into Canada
Emphasis on applicants from Asia, as opposed to, say, the Caribbean, has drawn fire. Are we engaged in country profiling?
by Charlie GillisMidway through last summer, when much of official Ottawa was away at the cottage, a revealing document landed on the desk of Canada’s top immigration bureaucrat, deputy minister Neil Yeates. Prosaically titled “Social and Economic Outcomes of Second Generation Youth,” the four-page memo showed little regard for the political correctness typical of government correspondence. “Chinese and South Asians are the most likely to have university degrees or higher, and to be employed in high-skilled occupations,” observed the summary, which was prepared by departmental bureaucrats and released recently through access to information. Second-generation youth of Caribbean and Latin American origin don’t fare so well, the memo went on; they tend to obtain lower levels of education than native-born Canadian kids and wind up in less skilled jobs.
To Richard Kurland, the Vancouver-based immigration lawyer who dug it up, the document confirmed “what everybody in the business has known for a long time.” For years, the government has been gathering data on the performance of newcomers and their children based on ethnicity, he notes, and while immigration officials deny they use information to identify the best countries from which to recruit, the numbers tell a different story. Since 1999, China and India have been the top two source countries for immigrants to Canada, averaging about 60,000 landings per year, while the number coming from the Caribbean has fallen sharply. Immigration from the West Indies had fallen 45 per cent below levels seen in the early 1990s, according to figures compiled by Statistics Canada, when more than 16,000 from that region were entering the country annually.
And these days, equipped with new legislative powers, the government is able to pick and choose more aggressively than ever. Bill C-50, passed in late 2008, allows the minister to delay the processing of applications from specific missions abroad in order to speed those from others, and so far the results have been stark. The average wait time for someone wishing to bring a spouse into the country through Kingston, Jamaica has ballooned to 15 months, fully three times the processing time in 2006. A similar application lodged in New Delhi takes just six months.
It would be simplistic to call this profiling. China and India are better represented in Canada’s intake statistics, a senior government official told Maclean’s, because they are rich in skilled, educated people willing to emigrate—not because of ethnic traits, real or imagined: “It’s a matter of basic supply and demand.” As for the memo, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada would say only that it reflects the department’s ongoing concern for groups “experiencing less positive outcomes from an immigration, settlement and a multiculturalism perspective.”
Still, both the memo and numbers reflect a preoccupation that has come to define the Harper government’s approach to immigration: which applicants offer the greatest long-term value—now or a generation or two down the line?
In America, thinking about "which applicants offer the greatest long-term value—now or a generation or two down the line?" is just not done.
Lots more of interest in the article on the politics of immigration: immigrants are particularly attractive to politicians because they vote as blocs. In contrast, native-born citizens are likely to evaluate whom to vote for in a less herd-like manner, which makes them revolting to politicians.
It's also amusing that the author is concerned about the Harper government's lack of enthusiasm for letting immigrants' parents and grandparents immigrate. Immigration is publicly justified in Canada as providing the young workers who will pay for the pensions and free government health care of old Canadians. But, the immigrants themselves keep demanding that their aged parents and grandparents (!) be let in to provide them with uncompensated (and thus untaxed) child care.
As usual with articles about immigrations, the comments are especially acute and informative.
By the way, here's my 2001 article "Canada Doesn't Want Me" in which I see whether I'm good enough to be allowed to emigrate to Canada.