Saturday, February 10, 2007

How Will Illegal Immigration End?

We hear all sorts of solutions for ending illegal immigration. Build a wall! Beef up border security! Fine employers, and create a massive guest-worker program. Or America could insist on tamper-proof identification cards, or detention, deportation or even amnesty for some illegal aliens -- or all of these measures somehow combined.

But ultimately the solution lies in the hope that a Tijuana might become as prosperous as a San Diego -- now a few miles away but a world apart.

After all, Hong Kong used to be a magnet for illegal immigrants who streamed in from impoverished Red China. Not so much any longer. Shanghai, for example, in two decades has become almost as wealthy as the old British colony.

East Berliners used to risk their lives to cross the wall into the West. Now billions of dollars are being invested in restoring the eastern half of a united Germany's capital.

Since World War II, poor workers from largely agrarian, Catholic and authoritarian Spain flocked northward into industrialized, Protestant and more democratic Germany and France to find work. Today, Spain's employment and growth rates compare favorably with those of its northern neighbors.

In each of these cases, once poorer regions bordering far wealthier societies have -- either by emulation, absorption or coercion -- radically liberalized their economic systems. With jobs and capital almost as plentiful at home as abroad, few wish to leave.

When Mexico follows suit, its relationship with the United States will resemble our connection with Canada. That should be our goal. Our northern neighbor's economy and political system are comparable to America's -- and thus the number of Canadians arriving here is small and almost the same as the number of Americans leaving for Canada. And by any benchmark, the weather, arable land and coastline of Canada are not nearly as inviting as Mexico's.

Yet currently, Mexico's per capita gross domestic product is about a quarter of the United States'. Wages in Mexico are far lower than in America. No wonder Mexicans come here by the millions.

So how will Mexico ever achieve parity with the United States?

The Mexican government must begin selling off inefficient state enterprises, especially in gas and oil. It should offer greater protection of property rights and ensure title searches. Mexico must stop the old nationalist rhetoric and welcome foreign investment, create a transparent judicial system and allow land to be freely bought and sold.

Most importantly, the Mexican bureaucracy must end endemic corruption that so exasperates foreign investors who would otherwise bring to Mexico efficient job-producing businesses.

There is no chance of Mexico being absorbed by its neighbor as East Germany was by the West. America will not create a continental union as happened in Europe and which so benefits Spain. Nor can even we count on complacent Mexican elites to believe they can become richer by deregulating their economy and competing in the global marketplace as has happened in China. Apprehensive Chinese leaders, after all, changed their rules only because they thought they had no choice after seeing the Soviet Union fall.

So what can the United States do?

Offer both help and tough love.

Granting Mexico favorable trade incentives is cheaper in the long run than dealing with the social problems caused by illegal immigration and the economic consequences of billions of U.S. dollars being sent southward from Mexican workers. The North American Free Trade Agreement, however controversial, has probably helped decrease Mexico's general poverty rate and increase its gross domestic product.

By closing the borders, the U.S. would stop subsidizing Mexican failure. At present, workers come to America not only because of higher wages, but also on the assumption that their cash income will often be untaxed and augmented by subsidized state health care, housing and education.

Tax evasion and American entitlement help to free up workers' dollars to be sent back to Mexico. In economic terms, that translates to the United States economy subsidizing millions of the unemployed in Mexico through $20 billion annually in cash remittances. This money weakens the incentive of millions in Mexico to seek employment or to demand government reform.

Finally, we need honesty about the problem. Mexico masquerades as a revolutionary socialist state, replete with flashy radical slogans that date back to the old days of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.

In truth, Mexico City's creed is elitism and a fossilized cronyism. Its privileged few have hurt millions of their hardworking citizens who deserve far more humane treatment -- and sometimes find it only here in America.

thxs Victor Davis Hanson

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Thousands of Israelis seeking asylum in Canada: reports

At least 3,000 Israelis, most of them citing a fear of spousal abuse and Palestinian violence, have requested asylum in Canada since 2000, recent reports out of Israel said.

Two major newspapers in Israel said that Canada has already granted refugee status to hundreds of Israelis, but thousands of others have filed applications.

The reports, from the Yediot Ahronot and Maariv newspapers, both quoted figures from the Israeli Foreign Ministry that show at least 3,000 Israelis filed applications seeking asylum in Canada. Maariv said that upwards of 500 of the applications had been approved in the last six years.

Yediot quoted the Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, as saying many of the applications Canadian officials were seeing were in fact bogus and that they were "harming Israel's image and representing it as a country whose citizens are persecuted."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the department was aware of the number of Israelis seeking asylum in Canada, and said "we have taken the matter up with the Canadians," but he did not elaborate.

The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv said it did not have the data, and referred inquiries to the government in Ottawa.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Worry in Canada over caribou population

Canada is a country that is extremely aware of its wildlife and is a concern of its daily activities with organizations such as WildLife raising money and awareness. Here is an article that demonstrates:

The caribou population in Canada's vast Northwest Territories is falling rapidly and the increasingly warm climate could slow the animals' chances of recovery, a wildlife specialist said on Friday.

Herds of barren-ground caribou -- which for centuries have been a crucial source of food and furs for local aboriginals -- have dropped by between 40 and 86 percent over the last 10 years. The largest single herd fell from 472,000 animals in 1986 to 128,000 in 2006 and is still declining.

"The level of concern is very high in the Northwest Territories," said Ray Case of the territories' environment and natural resources ministry.

Case -- blaming natural factors such as varying climate, insect levels, the amount of food available, and the number of predators -- said the caribou population had traditionally risen and fallen over a 30-year cycle.

But he told Reuters that warmer winters and easier access for hunters to the ranges that the caribou cover make it harder to say what will happen to the herds in years to come.

"That doesn't suggest global warming is driving this but certainly there is concern that things are changing ... we do have some uncertainty about what the future holds as far as climate and as far as human activity," he said.

Case spoke by telephone from Inuvik, in the Mackenzie River Delta, where politicians, wildlife officials and aboriginals were attending a four-day summit on the caribou herds.

"If they experience a number of years with very low calf production and calf survival the herds can decline quite quickly. They can also increase quite quickly," he said.

Over the past few years hunters have been allowed to kill a an average of 11,000 animals annually, a number that Case said would have to be reduced.

He also expressed concern about modern forms of transport that allow hunters to reach once inaccessible areas where in the past the caribou would have taken refuge while herd levels gradually recovered.

"They can't hide from us any more. People can either go by ice road or snowmobile or aircraft and actually find the caribou and continue to harvest ... we need to be cautious about how we manage the future," Case said.

Animal rights activists say they are concerned about increased mining and oil extraction on calving grounds in Canada's mineral-rich northern region. Case said this did not seem to be a major factor in the territories.

"There has been some drilling, some seismic activity on some of the ranges but over the period that this decline occurred the activity has been very low," Case said.

"There hasn't been activity on all of the ranges yet all of the caribou herds have shown a similar decline."
thxs David Ljunggren

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Immigration Canada Must Allow Families to Enter Country

Immigration Canada tried to block two families that each has a child with an intellectual disability from immigrating to the country. It refused their permanent residency applications on the grounds that the children might cause “excessive demands” on social services.

Fortunately, the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada did not agree. On October 21, they rendered their decision in two cases, the Hilewitz and de Jong cases, which were on appeal from the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA). The families appealed the decisions of the FCA that a medical officer is not required to consider the family’s personal circumstances, including a family’s ability to provide disability supports, in making recommendations about their immigration to Canada.

The decision is a victory for persons with disabilities and their families. Justice Rosie Abella noted that Canadian immigration policy has applied “exclusionary euphemistic designations” that concealed prejudices about persons with disabilities. The Court directed that Immigration Canada should conduct individualized assessments of a family’s immigration application and immigration officials should consider the resources, time, personal and financial supports, as well as community supports, that families are able and willing to provide.

ARCH represented the Canadian Association of Community Living (CACL) and Ethno-Racial People With Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO) before the Supreme Court of Canada in both cases. The CACL and ERDCO intervened in order to draw the court’s attention to the fact that people with disabilities are denied admission to Canada based on negative stereotypes.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Migrants "harder working and more reliable"

A poll of 500 employers by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that migrants are viewed as outperforming indigenous employees "by a large margin" across a whole range of measures.

Underlining this belief, a lack of skills among the British workforce was by far the most common reason given for employing migrants, cited by some six out of 10 employers. In contrast, just 16 per cent said they employed migrants because they were cheaper.

Unsurprisingly, IoD members emerged as being very supportive of encouraging immigration into the UK, with almost six out of 10 (57 per cent) supporting a policy of total freedom of movement of labour within the EU.

Nevertheless, they also have serious doubts about the Government's performance over immigration policy. Only 13 per cent of IoD members think the Government has an effective immigration policy, whereas 73 per cent think it is ineffective.

Those surveyed also overwhelmingly disagree with the view that immigration should be completely unrestricted, with eight out of 10 disagreeing with the view that there should be 'no obvious upper limit' to immigration.

"As demonstrated by our survey, migrant workers provide a vital boost to the UK economy," said Miles Templeman, IoD Director General.

"It also, more than we expected, shows that migrant workers outperform across a whole range of measures including productivity, education and skills, work ethic, reliability and the amount of sick leave. Immigration however, should not be left unrestricted and should be controlled on a skills basis."

And he added: "in a global economy, the UK workforce has got to raise its game on skills and performance."

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Immigrants Back For Second Chance

Baby Francesca De Sousa remained contentedly oblivious to the tearful and joyous return to Canada of her parents and two older sisters yesterday, about 10 months after they were deported to Portugal.

Francesca's mother Maria De Sousa, 36, was seven months pregnant when she, husband Antonio, 37, and daughters Tanya, 13, and Anna, 11, left – after four years in Canada and a failed bid to stay here on a refugee asylum claim.

They were among hundreds of Portuguese families deported last year, mostly after overstaying work permits and visitor's visas.

"We don't know what the future is going to bring us," said Maria, as her sister-in-law translated the thoughts she expressed after landing at Pearson International Airport on an Air Transat flight from Lisbon.

"Everybody loves the country – the husband, the wife, the kids, even the little one, for sure she's going to love the country," said Maria.

"We're happy. It's a new life. There's hope for us for a better life, so it's good," she added.

Their arrival was the result of a one-year temporary resident permit signed by the minister of immigration after assurances of a guaranteed job for Antonio De Sousa as a roofer in the GTA's booming construction industry.

Returns like that of the De Sousas leave Peter Ferreira, president of the Portuguese Canadian National Congress – who fought last year's boost in deportations of Portuguese migrants, many of them construction workers – wondering why the government was so insistent on sending them packing in the first place.

"That's the million-dollar question," said Ferreira, saying last year's deportations were needless.

Ferreira said he knows of at least a dozen such families who have already returned, some just months after their removal. He estimates that about 80 per cent of the 400 or so removed last year are either back or in the process of coming back.

He said it's possible the immigration department wanted to send a hard-line message.

"Maybe the government reassessed the situation," he said. "It was a given that the country needed these people and continues to need these highly skilled individuals."

The deportations made headlines after it was revealed that Canada Border Services Agents entered schools to enforce deportation orders, in one case taking children into custody first to lure their parents out. Many of the Portuguese workers, who had entered Canada as visitors or on temporary work permits, had lodged refugee claims in an effort to stay, based on misleading information.

The rise in deportations sparked demonstrations urging then immigration minister Monte Solberg to let the hard-working families remain.

It's estimated that 200,000 people of various nationalities are living illegally in Canada, often in industries that face a labour shortage such as construction and hospitality. One estimate suggests that there are at least 15,000 undocumented immigrants in Toronto's Portuguese community.

Solberg denied at the time that a crackdown was underway but said it was important to uphold Canada's immigration laws while showing compassion toward families being uprooted, sometimes after years of getting themselves established here.

In many cases, the Portuguese who applied for refugee status would not have sufficient "points" to win admission to Canada under the normal immigration procedure, which strongly emphasizes education level, language skills and job experience.

Ferreira said those returning are doing so on written guarantees from employers to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada stating that a job is available to them that could not be filled by a legal resident of Canada. The request then requires the consent of the minister of immigration.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Diane Finley said he could not comment on the situation of the returning Portuguese deportees because of privacy considerations.

But another immigration department spokesperson said temporary residence and work permit holders could apply to have their stay extended.

She said the question of whether they could apply for permanent residency in Canada would "depend on the individual circumstances of the family."

thxs Phinjo Gombu
The Toronto Star

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