Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Creating Better Immigrants Through Tougher Citizenship Laws.

Anything obtained easily is taken for granted and is not as appreciated as something that is obtained through determination and hard work. Indeed, it is perceived as an entitlement, as something that no one can deny you. This is the current state of Canadian citizenship. It is too easily granted and too quickly given out like discount coupons are for a store's "one day only sale" to everyone who passes through its doors. Canada needs to toughen its citizenship laws. By doing so we would be making better citizens of immigrants.

Andrew Cohen writes about this in the Ottawa Citizen. While commenting on the new citizenship guide he has this to say:

There is much to be done. Generally speaking, we should make citizenship harder, not easier, to obtain. To this end, make the citizenship test mandatory for those under 65, not 55. Test aggressively on language, ensuring that applicants have a working knowledge of English or French. Many do not now.

Appoint citizenship judges who are serious about citizenship, not political hacks. Extend the residency requirement for new Canadians from three to six years.

Rewrite the citizenship oath to reflect obligation and duty. Draft a charter of responsibilities. Tax Canadians living abroad after they have been away a number of years. Reconsider dual citizenship.

None of this is easy. Some of the more contentious questions might go to a royal commission.

I don't know if I agree with him on all points but I do feel that three years residency is too short a time for citizenship. In fact I think this is the shortest residency time any country in the world expects of its immigrants before it grants them citizenship. And not by coincidence is it short enough to quickly produce voters for the next election, expectedly for the Liberal party. Similarly, it is absolutely ridiculous that Canada grants landed immigrant status to live in caregivers after a mere two years of baby sitting. That we grant landed immigrant status to live in caregivers is ridiculous in itself.

I don't think the refugee stream should be another avenue to citizenship. Technically refugees are not immigrants. They are supposed to be temporary residents with the intent of returning to their country once it is safe.

I also don't think citizenship should be granted to anyone who is born on Canadian soil. This should be a right of citizenship not to people just passing through. This would curtail the incidence of anchor babies or "passport babies". Earlier this year an 8 1/2 month pregnant Ugandan woman gave birth to a child in Canadian air space as she traveled to the U.S. from Denmark ostensibly driven by the motive to give her child U.S. citizenship by having it born in U.S. territory (why else would she be traveling so late in her pregnancy?). But the child was born in Canadian air space and the Canadian government, without precedent, gave the child citizenship. Canada or the U.S., to the Ugandan woman I doubt it made any difference. Many other temporary residents, be it on travel visas or work visas, intentionally get pregnant here if not pregnant already for the same reason. We shouldn't encourage or reward this behaviour.

Adding another point, any immigrants who have lived abroad for an extended amount of time should have their citizenship brought under review with the possibility of it being revoked. Leaving Canada for an indefinite amount of time after obtaining citizenship doesn't sound like someone who is committed to the country like the 50,000 "Canadians" in Lebanon or the some 250,000+ "Canadians" living in Hong Kong. If they are not going to be taxed on their foreign incomes then what good are they to the country? Why should the benefits of Canadian citizenship be readily available to them when their commitment to the country they chose to immigrate to is lacking? For native born Canadians citizenship is their birthright but to move to Canada, stick around long enough to get citizenship, then take off again is something other. Longer residency requirements would address this issue.

Immigrants today, irrespective of their complaints and whining, have never had it easier at becoming a citizen. Post WWII immigrants had to work for it like those who preceded them. They had to live in the country longer, they didn't have free language training, nor an army of social workers and social programs at their service. It was baptism by fire. They didn't have the internet or satellite T.V. to keep them in touch with the home country or cheap air travel to make frequent and extended trips to their native lands. They came to Canada with the intent of staying here for good. And they were better for it. They became Canadians wanting to become "more Canadian than Canadian". And they appreciated Canada more for it. Sadly, this is lost with recent cohorts of the past several years, perhaps decades, for whom Canadian citizenship is an insurance policy and a list of entitlements and benefits, nothing more.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

No More Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees Please (enough is enough).

I've said all I have to say about Sri Lanka's Tamil refugees but I write this post to reinforce my position that I think most Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to Canada were bogus and continue to be. They got into the country by capitalizing on Canadian ignorance and gullibility and abused the asylum system for the purposes of immigrating. Occam's razor best explains why Canada has the largest Sri Lankan Tamil population in the world outside Sri Lanka: once word got back to Sri Lanka about the ease and success a Tamil refugee had in Canada, rewarded by eventual citizenship, then the flood came.

Here is Martin Collacott writing in the National Post about Sri Lankan Tamil refugees particularly the 76 that landed in B.C. aboard a boat called the Ocean Lady. He is one to pay attention to regarding this issue because he was once Canada's high commissioner to Sri Lanka during the initial break out of Sri Lanka's civil war.

The arrival of 76 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard a vessel that some experts believe may be owned by the Tamil Tigers has raised a number of troubling questions. Unlike the 599 Chinese who appeared off the coast of British Columbia 10 years ago, there is every indication the latest arrivals intend to try to stay in Canada permanently.

The Chinese boat people had quite different objectives.
They were being smuggled into Canada in order to be smuggled in turn into the United States -- where they planned to work in menial jobs in order to pay off those who had brought them here illegally. It was not in their game plan to get caught by the Canadian authorities. They knew nothing about claiming refugee status when they arrived here and had to be coached by their Canadian lawyers on how to put together tales about how they had been persecuted in China in order to stand a chance of being accepted as refugees.

The 76 new arrivals will need no such instruction. They have almost certainly brought with them carefully prepared stories of how they have suffered, because they are Tamils, at the hands of the mainly Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka. While such claimants have been quite successful at gaining asylum in Canada until now, this group may find the task somewhat more daunting.

He points out that Sri Lankan Tamil refugee claims should be more difficult to make now because the fighting has stopped in Sri Lanka. Poverty and crime are not grounds for making refugee claims. Undoubtedly we are going to hear more tired tales of persecution irrespective of the reality that today Sri Lanka's Tamils are one of the more privileged minority groups in a country in the world. They were nowhere close to suffering the kind of persecution and genocide black Christians and Muslims were, and are, experiencing in Darfur at the hands of an armed Arab militia backed by the Sudanese government. To make any parallels between the two is an insult to those real refugees in Darfur.
The suggestion that Tamils are being persecuted as a people in Sri Lanka, however, is nonsense and is a myth propagated by Tamil extremists. The Tigers have, in fact, tried to systematically assassinate moderate leaders in their own community who do not agree with the goal of creating a completely independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka by violent means. The latest victim of their ruthless campaign was the foreign minister of Sri Lanka, Lakshman Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil, who was murdered in 2005.

So, a foreign minister of Sri Lanka was an ethnic Tamil (and assassinated by the LTTE no less). Indeed, I believe there are at most four active Tamil political parties operating in Sri Lankan politics under the banner of the Tamil National Alliance. With sitting MPs in Colombo it is like Canada's Bloc Quebecois Party. Persecution? Save it for an ignorant Immigration and Refugee Board member and there are plenty of those going around.

There can be no doubt that Canada has been more than generous to Sri Lankan Tamils seeking asylum. Between 1989 and 2004, for example, we gave refugee status to more than 37,000 such claimants -- far more than to the nationals of any other country. Our largesse is also impressive by international standards; in 2003 we accepted 50% more claims from this source than did all the other countries of the world combined.

Did they deserve it? No.

Here's one indication of Canadian generosity, and even laxity, in our treatment of refugee claimants. In order to be successful, the claimants have to be able to make the case that they fled their countries of origin because it was not safe to remain there. Yet, in one year alone, 8,600 Sri Lankans with refugee claims pending in Canada applied to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Ottawa for travel documents so they could go back to Sri Lanka for visits.

This is also mentioned in the recommended book Who Gets In? by Daniel Stoffman. If they are fleeing for their lives then why are they returning to the land of their alleged persecution with such frequency?
A further indication that Sri Lanka is not quite as dangerous a place for Tamil refugee claimants as their supporters try to make out is to be found in an internal Citizenship and Immigration Canada communication (obtained through an access to information request by Vancouver lawyer Richard Kurland) which noted that "returnees (to Sri Lanka) are dealt with professionally and, unless there are outstanding criminal warrants, deportees and other returnees are simply returned to the community on arrival after brief and professionally conducted interviews."

The report went on to state that "other countries have successfully returned large numbers of failed asylum seekers, and Sri Lanka is a safe destination for unsuccessful refugee applicants." In the same vein, at an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing in 2006, it was pointed out that more than 100 Sri Lankans (failed refugee claimants, and presumably all Tamil) had been sent back to their homeland and none had been mistreated as their lawyers had claimed they would be.

It's a farce and the joke is on Canada. Martin Collacott points out Canada's ridiculous refugee acceptance rate for Sri Lanka's Tamil refugee claims that characteristically hovers between 80% and 90%. Last year "Canada rejected 2.6% of their applications while other countries had an average rejection rate of 50%." Why has Canada shown Sri Lanka's Tamils such preferential treatment in the asylum system when no other country did or does? Are we missing something or just plain stupid? No. Everyone else is wrong. That's it. That's always it.

With the largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the world Canada should be weary about more refugees from Sri Lanka. The war is over and there is no excuse they should be making refugee claims abroad. If anything they are internally displaced. Their tales of systemic persecution are often over exaggerated if not outright fabrications to gain international sympathy for political advantage in Sri Lanka and to keep immigration avenues open via the asylum system. They have much to gain by lying.

Most importantly sovereignty movements don't die out. They go into exile and Canada is the most likely place where LTTE members and fighters will regroup to re-stage a war for independence in Sri Lanka while escaping prosecution. Babbar Khalsa is kept alive within diaspora Sikh communities particularly in the U.K. and Canada, the two countries with the largest Sikh populations outside of India. The result: the largest mass murder in Canadian history.

If Sri Lanka's Tamil population want to come to Canada they can apply to immigrate. But to use the refugee system to immigrate is downright shameful. And it is embarrassing for us as a nation. Our refugee system is a joke making Canada the choice target for bogus refugee claims around the world. Let's bring some credibility and integrity to the system.

New Citizenship Guidebook And Test For The Likes Of Suaad Hagi Mohamud.

I'm sure you've already heard or read about the new citizenship guidebook the Conservative government developed for immigrants to acquaint themselves with the country they chose to move to and the history of its people they chose to live, well, amongst (I was going to say with but we know better). If not you can read the guidebook for yourself here.

To my understanding the guide book is to replace the water-downed version the previous Liberal government put together. Of course it should be of no surprise the Liberal party would lower the expectations of being a Canadian citizen. Immigration to them has more to do with importing votes, not "new Canadians". It is by no coincidence that an immigrant can become a citizen in as little as three years, the lowest amount of time in the world I believe, and Canadian elections are typically held every four to five years when the government is not a minority.

It seems the guidebook is for immigrants like Suaad Hagi Mohamud. She was the Somali woman with Canadian citizenship accused of being an impostor when she tried to return to Canada from Kenya. The Canadian representative in Kenya didn't believe her claimed identity due in large part to her incredible ignorance of the country and city she lived in for ten years. Assuming the woman really was Ms. Mohamud I find her almost complete ignorance of Canada unsurprising. And she is not alone.

Many immigrants are shamefully ignorant of Canada even though they may call this country home and call themselves Canadians. This is not wholly their fault. Canada has lowered its expectations of its immigrants thanks in part to a multicultural domestic policy that emphasizes and celebrates their "otherness" while at the same time saying they are as Canadian as maple syrup. Our sensibilities tells us otherwise. Of course they should bear some of the blame. Being a Canadian is a choice and many of them are choosing not to be Canadian thinking that their occasional trip to the shopping mall is what being Canadian is all about (and what Canada truly means to them). Sadly some of their Canadian born children are doing the same.

Will this guidebook really make any impression on the minds of immigrants and compel them to assimilate? I doubt it. Knowing a few historical facts about a nation's history doesn't make one a national. Anyways, many immigrants are not interested in being Canadians. They just want what Canadians have and citizenship is their ticket to ride. Being Canadian is more than citizenship and a shared set of values.

Yet for some it is still troublesome that immigrants should bear greater responsibility when immigrating to Canada. Here is a complaint from someone in the immigration industry.

A move by the federal government to have newcomers know more about Canada’s military and political history if they want to become Canadian citizens could be unfair, says a supervisor who works with local refugees.

“It’s too much to know,’’ said Mira Malidzanovic, program director of the Reception Centre in Kitchener. The centre currently has 15 government-sponsored refugees in its David Street house. In a year, the centre serves about 280 refugees, she said.

Malidzanovic said it’s important to know Canadian history, including the significance of Remembrance Day, as well as Canada’s political history and that of First Nations.

“But is it important to know this right away,’’ she asked. “Do we want to make life more difficult? We need to think about what is the priority when it comes to settlement and integration.’’

Malidzanovic said many of the government-sponsored refugees apply for citizenship after being in Canada for three years.
I guess Canadian citizenship is a right and anything that stand in the way of obtaining it is tantamount to a human rights violation.

Here is Colby Cosh writing about the vindication of Hérouxville, Quebec.

I have probably already written more than one piece with a phrase like “Hérouxville wins” in it, but word of a newer, thicker citizenship guide has my fingers wandering toward the same old keys. Hérouxville wins again. In 2007, when the Quebec town of about 1,300 entered the “reasonable accommodation” debate by adopting a code of “norms de vie” for new immigrants (even though it hadn’t seen hide nor hair of one in living memory), it was criticized for being backward, intolerant, xenophobic. Yet there was little or nothing specific to object to in Hérouxville’s definition of Canadian values; its insistence on gender equality, and the right of women and girls to an independent social and economic identity, was the opposite of “backward.”

It was the idea of stating “Canadian values” and insisting on their primacy that bothered people. And it still bothers some of them, as federal citizenship minister Jason Kenney rolls out a new guide which goes into some Hérouxille-esque detail left out of the minimalist prior versions of the document — which had been reduced to a recitation of economic and political factoids, containing nothing scarily normative that could provoke controversy or protest.

[...]

The main reason for requiring immigrants to pass a citizenship test at all is that there are indispensable facts of basic civics and the constitution of which immigrants must be apprised before they vote and pay taxes. The new test appears to be predicated on the view that there are also historical truths and social expectations worth spelling out to people from dramatically different cultures, and that this is probably more important to their well-being and ours, on the whole, than knowing which provinces produce uranium and what the capital of New Brunswick is called. A tougher test will also, other things being equal, do more to filter out education-resistant immigration candidates and ones with poor language skills. I hope I may be pardoned for thinking of this as a feature, not a bug.

You can join the discussion about this topic at freedominion.ca by going here.

My prediction: too many immigrants for comfort will fail the test but they will be pardoned and get citizenship anyway leading to the tests eventual demise, replaced by one of lower expectations. This is Canada after all.

Monday, 2 November 2009

More Fraud From Punjab: Close Canada's Diplomatic Mission In Chandigarh Now!

The Toronto Star reports on a fake Canadian visa scam cracked by Indian police. The fraudsters operated out of New Delhi and (surprise, surprise) Chandigarh, the capital city of India's Punjab state. It should be noted that Punjab is home to the majority of India's Sikhs.
Indian police say they have cracked a ring of criminals who conspired to operate one of the biggest fake visa scams in years involving Canada.

The alleged crooks lurked on the leafy streets outside Canada's diplomatic mission in New Delhi, as well as in the office of a bogus travel and tourism company in Punjab, a state in northwestern India.

[...]

The fake visa service charged Indians as much as $21,000 to obtain bogus visas, police said, adding they believe the ring operated through a company called Kaavi Tour and Travels in Chandigarh, Punjab's capital city.

Documents and files seized by police indicate the ring, allegedly headed by a man named Anil Kumar - who has at least three aliases - may have cheated victims out of more than $650,000. That would make it one of the biggest visa fraud operations police here have exposed in years.

[...]

Canadian High Commission staff say privately that immigration consultants such as Kumar continue to be a vexing problem. Immigration agents are not regulated and the business has become huge, particularly in Chandigarh, where Canada is the only foreign country with a visa-granting office.

Canadian diplomatic missions around the world are subject to fraud so there is nothing new here. Besides, this is India. We should expect it.

What is of particular interest in this case is Canada's diplomatic mission in Chandigarh, Punjab, India. As stated in the article it is the only foreign mission operating in the state and, I should add, at a cost to taxpayers of $25 million a year. It was opened by the Liberal party of Canada to reward Indo-Canadian voters (meaning Sikhs) for their loyalty and continued support. This was done while ignoring warnings that the city is rife with fraud and opening a mission would expose Canada to it more so. Looks like the critics were right.

This isn't the first reported case of fraud from Punjab. Read here, here, and here for more.

Canada should close its mission in Chandigarh. It is a waste of money. It only functions to serve the needs of Canada's Sikh community and the need for the Liberal Party of Canada to import more supporters. It doesn't serve Canada's interests. In this post we learn that the refusal rate for temporary visas at the Chandigarh mission is 50%. That's what the government officially admits despite protests that the refusal rate is 90%. Martin Collacott writes in this National Post article that "our consulate in the Indian state of Punjab has had to reject up to 80% of applications".
High levels of fraud on the part of people attempting to come to Canada are by no means limited to people from Somalia and other countries in the region. Fraudulent application rates of more than 50% are common in some parts of China, while our consulate in the Indian state of Punjab has had to reject up to 80% of applications, in many cases for similar reasons (compared to a rejection rate of only 19% at our visa office in Delhi).

If the rejection rate is so high then why do we need a diplomatic mission there at all? It appears we don't need so many immigrants from the Punjab to warrant a mission there. If anything it is only facilitating the importation of relatives into Canada, and immigrants who enter Canada as a family class immigrant do not need any job skills or language skills. Canada does not need these people.

The Sikh community is a particularly pandered to community by Canada's political parties. According to this Wikipedia entry, citing StatsCan, Sikhs compose 50% of the Indo-Canadian community even though they are only 2% of India's population (there are more Christians in India than Sikhs). They are the Indo-Canadian community! They are politically active and can deliver decisive block votes in electoral ridings where you either vote with them or you don't vote at all. That's why I have little hope that the mission will be closed. Canada's immigration system has more to do with politics than serving the real needs of the nation.