Monday, 16 December 2013

Nipping Asylum Shopping In The Bud.

This story appeared in today's Toronto Star. It concerns an asylum seeking family from North Korea whose claim was rejected by a refugee appeal tribunal.

In classic Toronto Star fashion the story sides with the family by pandering to the reader's emotions while under representing pertinent details that would lead one to conclude that Ottawa was in the right to overturn the family's asylum claim.

Some facts need presenting. Firstly, the family traveled to Canada via South Korea. This means that they landed in South Korea first prior to trying their luck with Canada's refugee system. South Korea grants automatic citizenship to any defecting North Korean. Therefore these people were automatically entitled to South Korean citizenship. South Korea is a democratic, industrialized, first world nation with a standard of living on par with if not better than Canada's.

Second, while the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR) places responsibilities on the signatory nations - Canada and South Korea being signatory nations - it also places responsibilities on those seeking asylum. One responsibility is to seek internal flight within one's homeland before seeking shelter in another country. If that is not possible then the asylum seeker is expected to ask for asylum in the first nation of safe passage. In this family's case that would be South Korea. If internal flight is possible but not chosen by the asylum seeker prior to looking for asylum elsewhere; or if internal flight is not an option and the asylum seeker arrives in a safe country but chooses not to ask for asylum there wishing to find asylum in a third country then the individual is guilty of what is called asylum shopping. Thus, the third nation is well within its right to refuse asylum to that person on the grounds that they had other avenues to find safety but opted not to follow them hoping to gain entry into another nation of choice. In other words they are trying to immigrate via a nation's asylum system. And those nation's with the most generous social benefits tend to be high on the list of the asylum shopper.

Third, granting asylum to these people is an insult to our ally and trading partner, South Korea. It implies South Korea is a nation of human rights abusers. The asylum seeking family claim they suffer from job discrimination and suspicions of being spies in South Korea because they are North Korean. But these aren't good enough grounds to grant anyone asylum in Canada. It's tantamount to French Canadians claiming refuge in the United States because Anglophone Canadians are mean to them.

Canada has been the target of waves of asylum shoppers before. There were Punjabi Sikhs in the late 1980s, Sri Lankans and Somalis all through the 1990s and into the 2000s, Mexicans in the early 2000s, and of late it has been Roma out of Europe. In all cases Canada was flooded with asylum claims from these and other countries. When word got back to the home country about the relative success of asylum claims suddenly, it seemed, everyone there was a refugee in need of Canada's protection. According to the article it appears this is what's happening with South Korea as claims from that nation have been steadily creeping up with news of acceptance rates of 50% and more. We need to put our foot down now and send a message before things get out of hand like it has several times before.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Maybe It's The Immigration System That's Failing Canada.

Ever give that a thought?

In a Toronto Star op-ed piece the familiar argument is made that Canada is failing to utilize it's immigrants to expand the nation's economic horizons beyond the U.S. and European markets. The authors believe that as Canada's population diversifies due to immigration then so too should it's economic interests into the countries from whence these immigrants came. The assumption goes that a large and diverse, foreign born population is of great benefit to the country because, purportedly, immigrants will create or maintain economic ties to the lands of their birth. In doing so they will open doors to foreign markets where Canada had little to no exposure thus promoting job growth in the country. Why this hasn't happened yet to the satisfaction of the authors is baffling to them. For them, not only is it a failure on Canada's part to use this "comparative advantage" to its benefit but also an example of how Canada is failing it's immigrant population by wasting their skills and talent.

The op-ed piece is problematic on it's own because it offers no evidence to support what the authors believe should be happening - that immigrants expand economic opportunities into foreign markets for the receiving nation - would be happening in the first place. That it fails to do so is because it's difficult to substantiate that position. Were it true then the U.S economic expansion into China wouldn't be possible without the participation of a large Chinese population in the U.S.; the Chinese economic expansion into Africa is because of the participation of the large African population in China; and the Japanese economic expansion into Canada is because of the large population of Canadians in Japan.

That's because no strong evidence exists beyond the anecdotal and if any exists then I have yet to see it. Besides, if any existed I'm sure the authors would have cited it. Instead of hard data linking economic expansion with immigration to substantiate the authors' position we get assumptions; and like most arguments favouring the maintenance of the dysfunctional immigration system this one is heavily dependent on assumptions.

If Canada's large foreign born population is indeed a cause of increase in trading activity between Canada and their respective native countries it's doubtful it's a trading relationship that favours the Dominion. The more plausible scenario is that they have opened Canada as a market to import the exported cultural and agricultural goods of their home nations leading to a negative trade imbalance for us. I don't think importing another million more Chinese is going to make a dent in the $13 billion negative trade imbalance we have with China nor will importing millions more Asians have a positive effect on the some $48 billion negative trade imbalance we have with the Asia Pacific region as a whole.

Perhaps it's not an issue of Canada failing it's immigrants but of immigrants failing Canada. Perhaps the issue is that we are importing the wrong people and too many of them at that. It's a plausible argument but of course can't ever be considered for doing so would shine a light on Canada's problematic immigration system.

Having a large foreign born population in your country does no open overseas markets nor will employing a diverse workforce based on ethnicity, gender, race, or religion help expand your firm abroad. Having a good product or service that is desirable for consumption or can help generate positive cash flow for interested overseas parties does. They don't care who you have working for them. All they care about is if they like what you offer or you can help them make money.

But the op-ed piece isn't really concerned with any of this. It's actually a veiled plea to hire an immigrant over a Canadian using the language of international trade. Actually, it's a plea to hire non-whites over whites since white immigrants will only give us more of the same which is continued trade with the U.S. and Europe and to the authors this is trade Canada should be less reliant on. Put another way the authors are saying that non-whites make better employees than whites because the inherent magical powers of their particular race will open doors and create opportunities for your business overseas so hire them first and foremost. It's specious and racist reasoning but if this is what is being promoted to policy makers and business leaders it begs white Canadians to consider what financial interest they have in supporting the immigration system at all if they are to be relegated to the second tier of the hiring process because employers have embraced the dubious claims that diversity in one's workforce creates opportunities abroad.