Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone: Jamie Liew

Jamie Liew, an immigration lawyer and law professor, responds to my article, providing the “what’s the problem” perspective, noting the relatively small number as percentage of total births (and immigrants) and the likely impact on all Canadians.

However, the only option she mentions is that of requiring all Canadians to apply for citizenship. Yet when the previous government pressed unsuccessfully to abolish birthright citizenship, the other option of having the provinces apply the policy through the birth registration process was favoured at it would not impose that burden on all Canadians (see What the previous government learned about birth tourism). The provinces refused given the smaller numbers at the time (estimated at 500) and the associated costs.

However, just as the provinces were able to issue enhanced drivers licences with citizenship status as a way to make it easier for Canadians to travel to the US without a passport following 911, the provinces could do the same with birth certificates, although this would also be costly given the operational implications.

Of course, any such change would require addressing statelessness, as the previous government did with respect to citizenship revocation in cases of terrorism or treason. The examples cited of the number of persons possibly being effected are, in my opinion, exaggerated.

I find it somewhat tiresome to hear arguments that such a policy is inherently divisive, discriminatory and arguably racist. Even if some opposed to birthright citizenship may be driven by xenophobia, advocating such a policy or other changes to reduced the practice is not inherently xenophobic. It simply aims at avoiding abuse of birthright citizenship of those who come simply to give birth, obtain citizenship for their child, and then return to their country of origin.

One can argue on whether or not such a fundamental change to birthright citizenship is warranted (I don’t favour this option at present) but largely dismissing the issue and overstating collateral impacts are less than helpful to informed public discussion.

It is encouraging that the government has acknowledged the issue, agreed to study the issue, and engage the same organization to conduct the study that I obtained the numbers cited in my article (Canadian Institutes of Health Information):

There has been a lot of talk about getting rid of birthright citizenship in Canada and the United States. President Trump recently announced he will issue an executive order that would do away with automatic citizenship for babies born in the US. Conservative Party of Canada members passed a motion last August that would end birthright citizenship unless one parent is a citizen or permanent resident, should the party form government. And Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido has sponsored a petition to eliminate birthright citizenship.

In the US, the president will have to contend with the fact that he cannot just unilaterally eliminate a right in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. In Canada, however, the story is different: birthright citizenship can be eliminated simply by amending or repealing parts of the Citizenship Act.

In both the US and Canada, the preoccupation with ending birthright citizenship is tied to the argument that migrants are engaging in “birth tourism” and challenging the integrity of citizenship. But the facts say otherwise.

Andrew Griffith, a former director general at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada recently analyzed hospital financial data for Policy Options, and noted that a sharp rise in birth tourism in some Canadian hospitals can no longer be considered “insignificant.” Still, Griffith found that only 1.2 percent of births can be attributed to mothers who reside outside of Canada. The figure might actually be lower if births to other temporary residents such as corporate transferees and international students and Canadian expatriates returning to give birth are factored in.

While there appears to be an increasing trend, the low overall levels suggest there is no business case for changing Canada’s citizenship policy. Eliminating or even creating a “graduated” birthright citizenship on this basis would be akin to an enormous hammer hitting a tiny nail.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would affect not just migrants, but all of us. A citizenship application will need to be made for every person born in Canada. More tax dollars would be needed to process the applications. Clerks would suddenly have the power to make substantive and legal determinations about the status of every person that applies for citizenship. Like any administrative system, mistakes would be made. Bad or wrong decisions would be challenged in the courts at great expense to both the state and the people affected. People would struggle with the fact that they are stateless in the interim.

Undoubtedly, doing away with birthright citizenship would increase the number of stateless persons in Canada. Being stateless has serious implications. Stateless persons have difficulty accessing education, employment, health care, social services and freedom of movement. Simple things like obtaining a bank account, cell phone account or registering birth, marriage or death are complicated if not impossible. Stateless persons would be subject to arrest, detention and potential removal to places they may never have been before.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable: the indigent, those with mental illness, and children who are in precarious family situations or are wards of the state. These are the people that may not have the appropriate paperwork or proof that they do qualify for citizenship or do not have support for obtaining citizenship. For example, parents (who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents) of persons seeking citizenship may have lost paperwork, may not want to cooperate, may not be in the country, or may find out they are not the biological parent of that child.

This one policy would create an expensive social problem for the state.

The elimination of birthright citizenship is not an act to preserve or protect the integrity of citizenship. The policy would be a dividing tool. Ending birthright citizenship would legitimize the argument that racialized persons are less deserving of citizenship, even though there is no evidence to show that children born of foreign mothers do not stay in Canada and do not contribute to society. The policy would also fuel discrimination against those of different socio-economic classes, because the most vulnerable and marginalized would have the most difficulty in accessing citizenship, or if they are citizens proving that they are. These administratively stateless people would be treated like foreigners and outsiders, even though they are eligible and qualify for citizenship. It is a tool to delegitimize people who have a genuine and effective link to Canada. It would create barriers to important rights that come with citizenship, including the right to vote.

We only need to look at how stripping citizenship and the denial of citizenship elsewhere in the world has encouraged discrimination, persecution and violence against stateless people. For example, the oppression of Rohingya and the genocide against them was precipitated by their being denied citizenship in Myanmar, a country they called home for generations.

Canadians should be cautious when considering the idea of getting rid of birthright citizenship. It would not stop migrants from coming. Instead of making it harder to get citizenship, we should trust our well-oiled immigration system to deal with the entry of people into our country. If there are issues with the authorization of persons entering our country, it is immigration law that should be tweaked, not citizenship law.

Canada has signed both the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which obligate Canada not to create situations of statelessness. My father was born stateless because the state he was born into did not confer birthright citizenship. It affected his opportunity for education and employment, as well as his mental health. Being a child of a previously stateless person, I am proof enough that welcoming stateless people to Canada with the conferral of citizenship is the best way to build a nation.

Source: Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone

Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says


The latest numbers from Statistics Canada, showing a substantial increase compared to previous years, most notably for religiously-motivated hate crimes:

The number of police-reported hate crimes reached an all-time high in 2017, largely driven by incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black people, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday.

The federal agency said hate crimes have been steadily climbing since 2014, but shot up by some 47 per cent 2017, the last year for which data was collected. In total, Canadian police forces reported 2,073 hate crimes – the most since 2009, when data became available.

The increases were largely driven by incidents in Ontario and Quebec, Statistics Canada says. The agency said the increase may have been driven by more people reporting hateful incidents to police, although it says that many likely go unreported.

In the worst incident in the country, six Muslim men were shot to death and others were seriously injured during an attack on a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. This spring, 28-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty, but said he was not Islamophobic and instead “carried away by fear and a horrible form of despair.”

Quebec reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of hate crimes in the month after the mass shooting, mainly driven by incidents with Muslims as the victims.

There was a record set in 2017 for the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada. (CBC)

Police are also dealing with an increase in smaller incidents like hate-related property crimes.

Toronto police’s hate crime unit said it investigated 186 incidents — largely vandalism and graffiti — in 2017. In nearby Hamilton, police reported an 18 per cent increase in the number of what the force calls hate and bias incidents.

Overall, Ontario saw a 207 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, an 84 per cent increase in crimes against black people and 41 per cent increase on incidents against Jewish people.

Alberta and British Columbia also reported increases in the number of incidents.

Community leaders call increase disturbing

Brittany Andrew-Amofah, of the Toronto-based Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said the increase in hate crimes is making communities feel less safe.

“It’s time for political leaders to unequivocally speak out against hate and intolerance and in support of a multicultural society where everyone feels safe to participate and contribute,” she said in a news release.

Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, issued a statement saying while the new statistics aren’t surprising, they are alarming.

“It’s disturbing to hear that hate crime continues to increase in Canada and that the Jewish community – a community that is integrated into the Canadian mosaic — is still victimized,” he said.

Black people major targets, StatsCan reports

Across Canada, black people remained the most common targets of hate crimes based on race or ethnicity. Some 16 per cent of all incidents involved black victims.

Two per cent of police-reported hate crimes involved Indigenous people, according to the report, but it suggests a large number of all victims — possibly as high as two in three — didn’t file reports with authorities.

Hate crimes account for 0.1 per cent of the more than 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by Canadian police services in 2017. The agency defines hate crimes as “criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group.”

Source: Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says

ICYMI: Invoke the Holocaust if you must: Teitel

A variant of Godwin’s law and Teitel makes a convincing case that it is appropriate in the current political climate:

Is it ever OK to invoke the Holocaust in a discussion about modern political events, and if so when? This question has a way of surfacing again and again and again in the era of U.S. President Donald Trump and its answer is almost always the same.

If you’re a person condemning the dehumanization of marginalized groups, the answer is a hard yes: Hate and violence do not manifest overnight. There are signs. Invoke the Holocaust if you must.

But if you’re someone on the other side of the debate, someone with a tendency to defend the dehumanizing tactics of the Trump administration, your answer to this question is a hard no: the Holocaust should never be invoked because this (the recent tear-gassing of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, children among them) is not that (the systemic mass murder of millions by the Nazis during WWII).

By now, you’ve probably seen the photo (captured by photojournalist Kim Kyung-Hoon) of Honduran migrant Maria Lila Meza Castro running away from tear gas at the border this month, holding onto her small daughters, both of whom are barefoot in diapers. However, it’s Castro’s state of dress that’s most striking. The 39-year-old mother is wearing a T-shirt bearing the faces of characters from the blockbuster Disney film Frozen; i.e. an American movie whose core lesson is learning to accept other people’s differences.

So much for that. Needless to say, the photo has shocked and enraged a lot of people, among them U.S. Congressmember-Elect, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In fact, it was Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star in Democratic politics, who brought the aforementioned invocation debate back into public discourse this week, when she tweeted the following, advocating on behalf of migrants trying to enter the United States and condemning an administration that routinely vilifies them: “Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime. It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America.”

Ocasio-Cortez may have invoked several atrocities to make her point but it was her allusion to the Holocaust in particular that offended Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He clapped back on Twitter: “I recommend she [Ocasio-Cortez] take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC. Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana.”

What happened next is the only proof you need that social media can be a source of great good in the world. Guess who entered the debate (albeit indirectly) after Graham? None other than the Auschwitz Memorial itself. The official account of the Polish concentration camp memorial tweeted the following only a few hours after Graham and other outspoken Republicans took Ocasio-Cortez to task for her remarks. “When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanization & escalating violence.”

It’s hard to believe this was a coincidence. Assuming it’s not — assuming the staff of the Auschwitz Memorial itself are of the belief that Ocasio-Cortez was in the right — Lindsey Graham and other like-minded Republicans should probably be alarmed that a memorial and museum dedicated to preserving the history of a horrific event does not appear to share their view. When a Holocaust memorial seems to suggest your opinions about the event in question are incorrect it may be time to step back and re-evaluate those opinions. But defenders of Trumpian policy are not known for their introspection nor for their interest in facts. Indeed, what’s so infuriating about this reoccurring Holocaust invocation debate is that it is precisely the keepers of facts who appear to not only condone but also encourage invocation and yet they are consistently ignored. As Orthodox Jewish writer and activist Elad Nehorai points out, again, on Twitter, “Holocaust scholars, Holocaust museums, Holocaust survivors … they all want us to be able to apply the Holocaust to modern-day situations, even if they don’t 100% align. And yet, somehow, there has been a widespread idea that *nothing* is comparable. So much for “Never Again.”

Nehorai is right. What’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border is vastly and profoundly different from any of the atrocities mentioned in Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet but the common thread through every one of these events — from Rwanda, to Germany, to the modern United States — is the dehumanization of certain people. Invoking the Holocaust is appropriate in this moment because the president of the United States regularly dehumanizes refugees with rhetoric that sounds at times like it was written by a Nazi propagandist. Will someone in the Trump administration be the architect of the next Auschwitz? I seriously doubt it. But wherever dehumanization begins, it’s not a bad idea to point out where it can end.

Source: Emma Teitel: Invoke the Holocaust if you mustInvoking the Holocaust is appropriate in this moment because the president of the United States regularly dehumanizes refugees with rhetoric that sounds at times like it was written by a Nazi propagandist, Emma Teitel writes.

USA: Citizenship Question May Be ‘Major Barrier’ To 2020 Census Participation


The controversial new citizenship question the Trump administration added to the 2020 census may turn out to be a “major barrier” to the country’s full participation in the upcoming national head count, according to a national study commissioned by the Census Bureau.

The Constitution requires every person living in the U.S. — both citizens and noncitizens — to be counted once a decade. Those population numbers are used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets.

For the upcoming 2020 census, the Trump administration is planning to include a question it says the Justice Department needs to better enforce Voting Rights Act protections against racial discrimination. The question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

In focus groups conducted in March and April to inform the government’s outreach efforts for the census, some participants identified that question as a significant reason why they would avoid taking part in the head count.

“They tended to both believe that the purpose of the question was to find undocumented immigrants and that the political discourse is targeting their ethnic group,” explained Sarah Evans, a lead researcher at PSB, a firm that is affiliated with census contractor Young & Rubicam. “This was an idea we heard across audiences,” she added.

The administration announced the addition of the question in late March, after the study had already begun. The 30 groups asked about the question represent populations the bureau consider to be among the hardest to count, including Spanish speakers, Vietnamese speakers and people of Middle Eastern or North African descent.

This preliminary finding of the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Studywas announced Thursday at a public meeting of the bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations. It comes as the Trump administration is fighting six lawsuits from dozens of states, cities and other groups around the country over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question to forms for the upcoming head count. A trial for the two lead lawsuits in New York City is set to start on Nov. 5.

Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from releasing any information it collects that identifies individuals until 72 years after it’s collected, although the agency can share information with the public about specific demographic groups at a level as detailed as a specific neighborhood. Census Bureau officials emphasize that individuals’ information cannot be shared with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Still, the study, which also included a nationwide survey distributed between February and April, found that many participants did not believe that the government will keep that promise of confidentiality. The fear is particularly high among Asian and black participants, as well as those who do not have a high school diploma and those with low proficiency in English or the internet.

Close to half of the survey participants (47 percent), researchers noted, incorrectly answered a question about whether the census is used to find people living without documentation, including more than a third that responded with “don’t know.” Some U.S. citizens surveyed may feel “endangered” by the political discourse surrounding the citizenship question, the researchers’ presentation at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., also highlighted.

Making people “panic”

Latino “participants worried that their participation in the census could harm them personally or others in their communities/households they care about,” the researchers wrote in their presentation’s slide deck.

During a focus group of Spanish speakers, a participant described the current climate as a “hunt” for Latinos.

“Latinos are going to be afraid to be counted because of the retaliation that could happen,” the participant reported. “It’s like giving the government information, saying, ‘Oh, there are more here.’ ”

During another focus group of people of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry, one participant said: “ICE is working with different groups on deportation sweeps, and it would make me feel like I’m aiding in that. They’re doing a lot of illegal stuff, and so I wouldn’t fill out any of the questions.”

The citizenship question’s purpose, a Vietnamese-speaking focus group participant said, was “to make people panic,” especially those who are afraid of deportation.

Asked by NPR how the Census Bureau plans to incorporate these findings into the communications plan for the 2020 census, spokesperson Naomi Evangelista did not provide any details but instead pointed to a blog post written by the agency’s acting director, Ron Jarmin.

“The extensive research effort yielded rich insights that will inform the subsequent stages of the communications campaign,” Jarmin wrote, adding that the study’s findings will guide advertising, social media and other efforts to encourage people to respond to the census.

The latest findings underline previously released research from the bureau that suggested that asking about citizenship status will discourage noncitizens, including immigrants living in the country illegally, from participating in the census. As a result, that could undermine the accuracy of the information gathered for the head count. Before Ross announced his decision to add the citizenship question, Census Bureau researchers advocated for a different way of producing citizenship information for the Justice Department that would generate data more accurate and less expensive than self-reported responses to a question on the census.

Source: Citizenship Question May Be ‘Major Barrier’ To 2020 Census Participation

Asylum seekers entering Canada outside legal border points cost an average of $14K each: PBO

Interesting to have the cost data. Doesn’t surprise me terribly given the nature of the determination processes and related costs:

The federal government spends an average of about $14,000 for each asylum seeker crossing into Canada outside of legal border points — a cost that’s expected to rise as the case backlog grows, says Canada’s budget watchdog.

In a report released Thursday — Costing Irregular Migration Across Canada’s Southern Border — Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux said the total cost for the asylum claims process was about $340 million in 2017-2018 and is expected to rise to $396 million in 2019-2020.

He said some of the accounting is based on average costing for all refugee claimants, because the federal government does not track separate data for “irregular” asylum claimants. Aside from some added costs for RCMP interventions, the average costs for claimants crossing illegally would be same as those for all refugee claimants.

The federal government set aside an extra $173 million over two years in this year’s budget to cover the additional costs related to asylum seekers crossing into Canada outside of legal border points. Giroux said that sum “falls short significantly.”

“Our estimates suggest that they have not budgeted enough, which will result in increased backlog at the Immigration and Refugee Board,” he said.

The $173 million was based on an annual influx of 5,000 to 8,000 individuals, rather than the actual number of 23,000 per year, Giroux said.

The costs tallied in the report are for federal organizations such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board. They do not include expenses incurred by the provinces, territories or municipalities, which pick up costs related to social services.

Ontario, for example, has estimated its costs related to asylum seekers arriving outside official border points at about $200 million a year.

The report comes after the City of Toronto made a new request for an additional $64.5 million from the federal government to deal with the “unsustainable” operational and financial pressures associated with refugee and asylum claimants.

The city says that about 40 per cent of Toronto shelter users are refugees or asylum claimants — a jump from 11 per cent in early 2016 and 25 per cent in late 2017.

Toronto asks for $64.5M

Toronto is asking for $64.5 million to reimburse its costs and ongoing, stable funding of $43 million a year starting in 2019.

“The city can’t do this alone. The federal government has come forward with initial help but we need the continued assistance of our federal and provincial partners to ensure that Toronto remains a safe, welcoming and accessible place for all,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.

In June, the federal government pledged $50 million for Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. Ontario’s share of $11 million went directly to Toronto after the provincial government scoffed at the amount.

Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has asked Ottawa for $200 million to defray the costs of social assistance, housing and education associated with asylum seekers.

The cost per asylum seeker varies from about $10,000 for a simple case — where the claim is accepted — to about $34,000 for a more complex case ending in the claimant exhausting all appeals and being deported.

Giroux said that as the number of asylum seekers rises, the cost increases because of the backlog in cases. Costs are driven up, in part, because the refugee claimants are entitled to the interim federal health benefit, which covers certain health-care costs for refugee claimants until they’re eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance.

“Increasing the backlog means individuals have to stay in limbo for a number of years, and we estimate that could rise to five or six years in some cases,” he said.

Figures ‘absolutely shocking’

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said some of the figures in the report are “absolutely shocking,” given that the total costs for a single asylum seeker could be in the range of a gross salary of a minimum wage worker in Canada.

“It just blows my mind that between 2017 through the next fiscal year this prime minister is choosing to spend $1.1 billion on essentially what amounts to the abuse of our asylum system,” she said.

Rempel said the Conservatives will make a formal request to the federal auditor general for a comprehensive audit of the broader costs of illegal border-crossers to government.

She blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for driving the trend by refusing to close a “loophole” in the Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S., which requires that asylum seekers make their claim in the first ‘safe’ country they arrive in. The Conservatives have been urging the government to end an exception that allows people to sidestep that rule if they cross outside official border points.

Rempel also referenced Trudeau’s Jan. 28, 2017 tweet in which he welcomed to Canada those fleeing persecution, terror and war in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

It was retweeted more than 400,000 times, and liked by more than 750,000 people.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair insisted the government is giving the refugee system the resources it needs while making improvements to reduce the number of people presenting outside official border points.

He said Canada is just one of many countries hit by the surge in global migration.

“Our obligation is to ensure that we manage that in a cost effective, efficient way according to Canadian law and our international obligations, and as well in accordance with Canadian values,” he said. “I think that’s what’s expected of us.”

Tens of thousands of people have crossed into Canada outside of official border points in the last year, mostly in Quebec and Manitoba.

The costs of housing them, and the question of who should pay, have become major political issues in cities such as Toronto and Montreal, which are under pressure to shelter and support the new arrivals.

The PBO agreed to a request from Conservative MP Larry Maguire last June for a global accounting exercise to add up the costs incurred to date from these migrants, and to indicate how much the stepped-up pace of irregular migration might cost Canada in the future.

Source: Asylum seekers entering Canada outside legal border points cost an average of $14K each: PBO

My updated deck: Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote fall 2018

Being presented today at Ryerson’s Centre for Immigration and Settlement Studies:

PDF available here: Multiculturalism in Canada: What Census 2016 and Other Data Tells Us

Ethnic media coverage of birth tourism: Cantonese, Chinese, Punjabi, Haitian

MIREMS, Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services, kindly shared what they are picking up on birth tourism in the ethnic media:

Study shows birth tourism much more prevalent in Canada than reported by StatsCan – Cantonese

Description: A new study shows that the number of births in Canada to non-residents, known as “birth tourism,” is much higher than previously reported by Statistics Canada. The study was done by Andrew Griffith for Policy Options, a policy think tank. It was found that the level of birth tourism nationally in Canada is at least five times greater than the 313 births recorded by Statistics Canada in 2016, sitting at 3,223. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said they will look into the number of people coming into Canada to give birth and will investigate “immoral birth consulting services.” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said at the time one of the goals would be to end the practice of women coming to Canada simply to give birth to a child who will automatically have Canadian citizenship.
TV – Fairchild TV Ontario (400000 – Daily7) – Toronto, 23/11/2018 – News, 1 – 2 min, 02/05, Cantonese

Federal government to investigate impact of “maternity tourism” on the country – Chinese

Description: Based on the figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), researcher Andrew Griffith found that in 2016, there were 3,200 babies born to “maternity tourism” mothers in Canada; that number is 9 times higher than the 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that his department has commissioned CIHI to conduct a study to fully understand the extent of the impact of maternity tourism on Canada.
WEB – Ming Pao Toronto (227000 – Daily7) – Toronto, 23/11/2018 – NEWS, 3/4 page web, 2nd, Chinese

Ottawa probes birth tourism as new data shows higher non-resident birth rates – Punjabi

Description: With new research showing that more babies are born in Canada to foreign residents than Statistics Canada realized, the federal government is studying the issue of “birth tourism” in the hope of better understanding how many women travel to Canada to have babies who are born Canadian citizens. Using numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researcher Andrew Griffith found over 3,200 babies were born here to women who weren’t Canadian residents in 2016. Ontario immigration lawyer Gordon Scott Campbell said he’s had several clients in recent years who have given birth while in Canada while in the middle of legitimate refugee or immigration processes. For example, he said some women with visitor status live with their spouses while applying for spousal sponsorship, and some refugees arrive pregnant or become pregnant while waiting for their claims to be processed. But it doesn’t mean that birth tourism is a widespread practice, Campbell added. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen responded by saying his department has commissioned research to get a better picture of the scope of the issue in Canada.
RADIO – Red FM 106.7 Good Morning Calgary (Daily5) – Calgary, 23/11/2018 – News, 1-2 mins, 12/14, Punjabi

Tendance à la hausse au pays pour le tourisme de naissance – Haitian

Description: François Jean Denis – Une nouvelle étude démontre que plus de bébés sont nés au Canada d’une mère vivant à l’étranger que ne le croyait Statistique Canada. Les statistiques affichent une hausse croissante du nombre et du pourcentage de ce genre de naissances dans toutes les provinces, sauf au Québec. Le gouvernement fédéral étudie ce qu’il appelle le « tourisme de naissance » dans l’objectif d’avoir une idée plus précise du nombre de femmes qui voyagent au Canada pour avoir des bébés qui naissent citoyens canadiens. Le chercheur Andrew Griffith a utilisé des données de l’Institut canadien d’information sur la santé (ICIS) qui obtient des informations de facturation directement des hôpitaux. Elles ont révélé qu’en 2016, plus de 3200 bébés étaient nés ici de femmes qui n’étaient pas résidantes canadiennes, comparativement aux 313 bébés enregistrés par Statistique Canada. Ces femmes viennent au Canada pour donne la citoyenneté canadienne à leurs enfants. La découverte suggère non seulement que le nombre est 10 fois plus élevé que celui précédemment rapporté, mais que c’est une tendance à la hausse, selon M. Griffith. Le député libéral Joe Peschisolido a récemment déposé à la Chambre des communes une pétition appelant le Canada à prendre des mesures plus énergiques pour mettre fin au tourisme de naissance, affirmant qu’il porte atteinte au système de protection sociale du Canada. Est-ce que cela va remettre en question le droit du sol ? Désormais, plusieurs pays ont mis au point ou modifié leurs lois sur le droit de naissance, notamment le Royaume-Uni, l’Australie, l’Irlande, la Nouvelle-Zélande, l’Inde, la République dominicaine, la Thaïlande et le Portugal. Auparavant, des femmes venaient au Canada et partaient sans payer les frais d’hospitalisation. Aujourd’hui, les hôpitaux ont pris des dispositions pour empêcher ce problème. Aujourd’hui, c’est impossible pour des femmes étrangères d’accoucher sans payer parce qu’avant même de les admettre, on leur demande de payer. En tout cas, on ne va pas contester le droit du sol au Canada.
RADIO – CPAM 1410 AM – Immigration (Weekly) – Montreal, 24/11/2018 – NEWS, 3 mins, 02/04, French

Nearly two-thirds of Quebecers support public-sector ban on religious symbols, poll finds

Not much new here:
Most Quebecers are in favour of banning public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols, according to a CROP poll released ahead of the first legislative session under a Coalition Avenir Québec government.

But a separate survey by Vox Pop Labs, conducted following the Oct. 1 election, suggests Quebecers may be more divided when it comes to the details of how such proposals should be implemented.

Premier François Legault indicated after last month’s election that he will seek to bar civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols such as the kippa and hijab.

Not only would this apply to police officers, judges and Crown prosecutors, but also to school teachers, Legault said.

He justified his decision by saying it was the “position of a majority of Quebecers.”

The CROP poll, taken between Nov. 14 and 19, estimated that 72 per cent of Quebecers supported banning visible religious symbols for judges, 71 per cent supported banning them for prosecutors and police officers and 65 per cent backed extending the ban to public-school teachers.

CROP also found widespread support (55 per cent) for leaving the crucifix in the National Assembly, another of Legault’s promises. Twenty-eight per cent wanted to see it removed.

More divided on specifics

Alain Giguère, CROP’s president, said the results indicated unprecedentedly high levels of support for banning religious symbols.

“I think we can conclude that the average Quebecer really wants to remove religion from the public sphere, especially for people who hold positions of authority,” Giguère said.

“The numbers are high but they are the product of a public discussion that has lasted since Bouchard-Taylor,” he said, referring to the public commission into reasonable accommodation that wrapped up in 2008.

One of the commission’s key recommendations was that civil servants in positions of authority shouldn’t be allowed to wear visible religious symbols. That, however, did not include teachers.

CROP’s findings are based on an internet panel of 1,000 people. They were asked which government professions should be subject to a ban on religious symbols. The questionnaire did not specify which symbols would be at issue.

When data science firm Vox Pop Labs recently asked Quebecers more detailed questions by about the specific religious symbols they object to, and in which professions, the answers varied widely.

More divided on specifics

Vox Pop, which operates Vote Compass for CBC and Radio-Canada, surveyed 4,000 people about identity issues in the month after the election.

Respondents were shown images of various types of religious clothing and symbols and asked to choose different situations where they should be banned.

The results suggested high levels of support — 87 per cent — for preventing police officers and judges from wearing the burka, a full body covering with only a mesh screen for the eyes.

But that number dropped to around 65 per cent for the turban and kippa.

The Vox Pop findings also suggested Quebecers are, in fact, divided about what religious symbols teachers should be allowed to wear in the classroom.

The kippa was opposed by 49 per cent, the turban by 51 per cent, the hijab by 52 per cent and a large cross by 53 per cent.

Vox Pop summarized its findings by noting a majority of survey participants — 55 per cent — backed the so-called Bouchard-Taylor consensus.

The research firm, though, also concluded that there is little support — only 41 per cent — for extending those limits to teachers, which the CAQ is proposing to do.

Moreover, the Vox Pop findings found higher levels of support for removing the crucifix from the National Assembly than CROP.

They recorded 50 per cent of respondents saying they opposed its presence in the legislature, compared to 45 per cent who were OK with it there.

A Mainstreet poll published two weeks ago, meanwhile, found 42 per cent support for removing the crucifix, compared to the 50 per cent who preferred that it remain.

The National Assembly will begin a two-week session on Tuesday that will be the first opportunity for the CAQ to advance its legislative agenda since it was elected in October with a decisive majority.

Legault said recently his government will likely wait until next year to table legislation on religious symbols.

CROP poll. Results published by CBC Nov. 26, 2018. (Roberto Rocha/CBC)

Source: Nearly two-thirds of Quebecers support public-sector ban on religious symbols, poll finds

Islamophobia is a form of racism – like antisemitism it’s time it got its own definition

From the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. The definition:“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” :

In recent years, British Muslim communities across the UK have experienced an increase in Islamophobia. To eradicate the deep-rooted nature of Islamophobia from our society, each of us has a responsibility to tackle prejudice wherever it occurs.

But the absence of a clear understanding of Islamophobia has allowed it to become normalised within our society and even socially acceptable, able to pass what Baroness Warsi described as the “dinner table test”. The consequences have been horrific.

The killing of grandfather Makram Ali outside Finsbury Park mosque in 2017, the murder of another elderly Muslim male, Muhsin Ahmed in Rotherham in 2015 and the brutal stabbing of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in 2013, serve as grave reminders of the perils of what can happen when Islamophobia goes unchecked.

The attacks on hijab wearing women in the street, the bombs threats made to places of worship, through to the coining of “Punish a Muslim Day”, has left vulnerable Britons feeling unsafe to go about their daily lives.

Islamophobic hate crime is a growing problem. Recent statistics highlight how attacks on Muslims have seen the highest increase. Nevertheless hate crime is the just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the underlying causes which remain hidden from sight. While we can tackle the overt manifestations of Islamophobia in the form of hate crimes, we are less conscious and less clued up about tackling that which lies beneath the waterline.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Runnymede Commission’s first report, which brought Islamophobia into the English lexicon. And 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the MacPherson Report. Between these two landmark events and in the backdrop to the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which we chair, initiated the inquiry into a working definition on Islamophobia as a catalyst for building a common understanding of the causes and consequences of Islamophobia. If we can define the problem, we stand a better chance of properly addressing it.

Our six month long inquiry heard from academics, lawyers, activists, victim groups and British Muslim organisations, as well as first-hand accounts from communities in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and London. Today we publish our report, Islamophobia Defined, which provides a working definition of Islamophobia:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” 

The definition is further exemplified by case study examples and real life incidents, presented within a framework resembling the IHRA definition of antisemitism, providing guidelines on how the definition can be applied.

This isn’t about protecting a religion from criticism, but about protecting people from discrimination. The APPG on British Muslims received countless submissions detailing the racialised manner in which the Muslimness of an individual was used to attack Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims. The racialisation of Muslims proceeds on the basis of their racial and religious identity, or perceived identity, from white converts receiving racialised sobriquets such as “p*ki”, Muslim women attacked due to their perceived dress, bearded men attacked for the personification of a Muslim identity or even turban wearing Sikhs attacked due to the perception of Muslimness.

The adoption of this definition provides an opportunity to help the nation turn the tide against this pernicious form of racism, enabling a better understanding to tackle both hate crimes and the underlying institutional prejudices preventing ordinary British Muslims from achieving their level best across different aspects of our society.

By and large British Muslims feel able to practice their religion freely in Britain, and most believe that Islam is compatible with the British way of life. In recent years, we have seen British Muslims make huge strides from the first Muslim home secretary and Mayor of London, to the first female Muslim British Bake Off champion, through to the ordinary doctors, teachers, business leaders, police officers and the service men and women of our nation. These few examples demonstrate the huge potential for Muslims to flourish in Britain, but these few examples can’t take away the huge barriers ordinary Muslims face to reach such positions.

We strongly encourage the government, political parties, statutory bodies, public and private institutions to adopt this definition in helping to achieve a fairer society for all, as we believe the conclusion to the inquiry will become the benchmark for defining and tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.

The mistakes of this past summer and the denial of political parties to accept a definition of antisemitism must now not be repeated with another minority community. We need to get to the point where it is as socially unacceptable to be Islamophobic as it is to be homophobic or sexist. The adoption of this definition does just that.

Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting are Conservative and Labour MPs respectively, and co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims

Source: Islamophobia is a form of racism – like antisemitism it’s time it got its own definition

Islam – Tunisia Sharia put aside: women will inherit like men


A wind of freedom is sweeping across North Africa, in Tunisia to be exact. This small, Muslim majority country (over 98 per cent) is on the road to legally recognise equality for both sexes in matters of inheritance. This is a brave step and the first time in the history of the Muslim world since the early Caliphate era.

In general, women are placed in inferior conditions in Muslim countries. Under the Sharia, women (sisters, daughters, etc.) inherit half of what men get (sons, brothers, etc.) in terms of inheritance.

Last Friday, Tunisian President Caid Essebsi announced with clarity and courage that Tunisia will be a democratic and secular state, not a theocratic one. For this reason, he noted that “the Personal Status Code must be changed. This has no link to religion or the Quran.” Citing Article 2 of the Constitution, he said “We are a civil state and we must respect the Constitution”.

Caid Essebsi proposed that gender equality in inheritance be recognised in law, modifying the Personal Status Code. In his opinion, this step should have taken place in 1956, but the Constitution of that time did not provide for it, unlike the current one.

Thus, two days ago, the cabinet agreed to legalise equality between the two sexes in matters of inheritance. This makes Tunisia the first Muslim country to break from Sharia, Islamic (Sunni) law.

I am very happy for this because it is a good start to ending the unjust and misogynistic Islamic Sharia that has ruled the Islamic world since the Middle Ages. The new law does not contradict the Quran. Contemporary Qur’anic interpretations by the exegete Mohamed Shahrour, like those of current Quranist thought, explain with great clarity that women must have the same proportion of inheritance as men.

This kind of law and interpretations will certainly unleash waves of outrage on the grounds that they offend the precepts of Islam and deviate from the words of God. In other words: Islamists will see themselves as defenders of God himself. But is God so powerless that he needs to be defended?

As a Muslim and because I am interested in all the issues that touch the Islamic world, I think that the adoption of this type of law will play a fundamental role in the emancipation of Muslim women, held for centuries under male rule. This is justified in the name of God and his prophet.

I find we must break the taboo with courage and in depth, to allow women, religious minorities and peaceful and modern Muslims to free themselves from the yoke of the Sunni dictatorship.

Based on Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia), adopted centuries ago, Tunisia applied these medieval and rigid religious laws. Now, this country, which little by little has set itself on the path of modernisation, is gently but securely breaking away from the theological foundations laid down by ancient Sunni scholars and has chosen a modern and contemporary vision. And if we want to meet the objections of Sunni Muslims, by referring solely to the Quranic text, we realise that by establishing the equality of the two sexes, Tunisia has respected the religious text.

Tunisia today deserves to be celebrated and encouraged for this courageous achievement and for its challenge to everything concerning the Sunni religious dictatorship. It is another step that follows the adoption last year of the law that allows Tunisians to marry non-Muslims.

On my behalf and that of all the Muslims of the 21st century who want to modernise, update and free our religion from irrational readings, I would like to congratulate the Tunisian people for this result and thank them infinitely for this glimmer of hope sown in our hearts – even if the path will certainly be hard and full of obstacles – to be able to be completely free one day from the Sunni dictatorship. Things will be possible where there is the political will.

Other Muslim peoples must take Tunisia as an example and wake up before it is too late.

Source: ISLAM – TUNISIA Sharia put aside: women will inherit like men

And the counter reaction begins with Egypt’s grand mufti:

Mufti of Egypt Shawki Allam stressed on Monday that granting women and men equal inheritance rights violates Islamic Sharia.

In a statement, the Mufti said the concept of gender equality in inheritance is against Islam’s teachings.

Islamic Sharia allows men to inherit double what a woman would receive.

In Islam, Ijtihad is not employed where authentic texts (Qur’an and Hadith) are considered unambiguous with regard to the matter in question, he said.

All inheritance laws are detailed in Quran in a clear way, he added.

The remarks came after Tunisia’s president on Monday proposed giving women equal inheritance rights in a clear challenge to Islamic law.

Source: Granting women, men equal inheritance rights violates Islamic Sharia: Egypt’s mufti