Collacott: Birth citizenship makes no sense

Martin is silent on the previous government’s effort to abolish birthright citizenship, which failed due to provincial opposition as the numbers were too small to justify the cost of such a major change to vital statistics and other identity systems. See my earlier What happened to Kenney’s cracking down on birth tourism? Feds couldn’t do it alone |

Again, a more practical and realizable measure is to collect better and regular data, and regulate or ban birthright citizenship consulting services:

Acquisition of citizenship simply by virtue of having been born on the soil of a country, in fact, makes such little sense that all developed nations where it has been available except Canada and the United States have abolished it in recent years.

The U.S. had originally put it in place after the Civil War, when some southern states tried to deny former slaves the right to become American citizens. Today, the issue of whether to continue with birth citizenship revolves largely around the question of what to do with the millions of illegal migrants and their children who were born in the U.S. and therefore have an automatic right to citizenship. In general, the Democratic Party wants to keep birth citizenship in place since those who benefit from it can be expected to vote for that party when they are old enough to do so. In the circumstances, this has made it difficult to abolish despite the fact that it goes against the interests of Americans in general.

 On our side of the border, a petition has been launched by Richmond resident Kerry Starchuk to do away with birth citizenship and therefore birth tourism. The petition is on the Parliamentary website under the sponsorship of MP Alice Wong. While sponsorship does not necessarily mean that the MP agrees with the petition, it can be assumed that he or she considers it to be a legitimate subject for discussion. To date more than 6,700 people have signed it — more than 13 times the number required for it to be tabled before the House of Commons.

The federal government’s reaction to attempts to abolish birth citizenship has been puzzling to say the least.

Earlier this month, federal government spokespeople made it clear that their main concern with birth tourists was that they pay their hospital bills — which in some cases involve deposits that are three times what the hospital requires from local residents. Curiously, however, the spokespeople made no mention of the fact that when the newborns get older they will be able to use their citizenship to incur substantial costs on Canadian taxpayers because of the benefits they will be eligible to claim.

One of the issues raised in relation to doing away with birth citizenship is that it would be costly to do so. The extent of such costs, however, is open to debate and must be weighed against those incurred when the birth citizenship babies get older.

What is clear is that birth citizenship works against the interests of Canadians in general and that a good number are now aware of this and want it done away with.

Whether the federal government is prepared to act accordingly remains to be seen.

Source: Opinion: Birth citizenship makes no sense | Vancouver Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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