John Oliver on Trump immigration policies: ‘Truly disciplined about being truly evil’

One of Oliver’s best:

Over seven seasons, Last Week Tonight has covered numerous aspects of the byzantine US immigration system, from immigration courts, to border patrols, to the Trump administration’s disastrous “zero tolerance” family separation policy. And on Sunday, host John Oliver turned to a narrow slice of America’s legal immigration network: asylum, or the legal process by which people who flee persecution apply to stay in the United States.

Trump has repeatedly denigrated asylum seekers and discredited the process as a scam, although “as you’ve probably guessed”, Oliver said, “the asylum process isn’t a simple recitation of magic words by which all manner of fraudulent claims are let through, nor is it responsible for, as Trump’s official White House website calls it, the ‘biggest loophole to gain entry into our great country’”.

Asylum seekers are like Berta, a woman featured in the Netflix documentary Immigration Nation, who fled Honduras after MS-13 gang members threatened to light her on fire and force her 12-year-old granddaughter into marriage. Berta turned herself into US authorities at the border as she claimed asylum, only to be separated from her granddaughter and held indefinitely in a US detention center.

“That is ridiculous – if you asked the cops for help and responded by throwing you into detention, you’d be absolutely furious,” said Oliver of Berta’s case. “You’d probably also be black, but let’s try to take this one systemic social crisis at a time.”

Berta’s story is not a one-off, Oliver continued, because the Trump administration’s attack on asylum has been “focused, dedicated and deeply resourceful. And I know that those aren’t adjectives you’re used to associating with this administration, but in this one area, they’ve been truly disciplined about being truly evil.”

Typically, Oliver explained, asylum seekers turn themselves into authorities at the border for a “credible fear” screening, and are allowed to stay in the US pending a date in immigration courts. Even before Trump, less than half of those requests were granted; claimants often don’t have a lawyer, and the bar for asylum is high, as you have to prove persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion – criteria the Trump administration has applied narrowly.

Canada should stay the course on immigration

The immigration industry perspective. The overall demographic arguments for staying the course need to take into account that previous recessions and downturns have generally impacted short and longer term economic integration, the expected medium-term impact of COVID-19 on hospitality, travel and retail sectors, along with the longer-term impact of AI and automation on labour force needs.

Will see degree to which it is reflected in the forthcoming immigration plan:

Canada will soon make a major announcement that will shape its economic trajectory for years to come.

By Friday, immigration minister Marco Mendicino will unveil Canada’s new Immigration Levels Plan which will detail the number of newcomers the country seeks to welcome in 2021.

This announcement is usually standard fare.

Since the late-1980s, Liberal and Conservative governments alike have gradually increased Canada’s newcomer intake. The rationale is simple. Newcomers help offset the negative economic and fiscal impacts created by Canada’s aging population and low birth rate.

Nothing about 2020, however, has been standard fare.

The coronavirus pandemic will result in Canada falling well short of the 341,000 newcomer target it had set for 2020.

Intuitively, one may think it no longer makes sense to target a comparable level of immigration next year. Borders have been shut to contain the virus. Canada has a weaker economy and high unemployment.

But reducing the target due to COVID-19 would be a mistake for the following reasons.

The pandemic has not changed the need to welcome newcomers to replenish the over 9 million baby boomers who will be of retirement age by 2030. Our birth rate is too low to replenish the boomers and there is talk that economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic may induce a baby bust.

We will need to rely more on technological advances to meet our future workforce needs but we still need talented Canadians and immigrants to support advances in technology. In addition, Canada’s economy can only grow so much in the absence of the labour force growth that was being fueled by immigration prior to the pandemic.

A case can be made that higher immigration is now even more important.

Economic activity will weaken even further if we have a baby bust.

Government debt is rising to keep the economy afloat during the pandemic, but future generations will eventually need to service the debt.

Hence, welcoming more immigrants will be vital to supporting the growth we will need to turn our post-COVID economic and fiscal fortunes around.

One may legitimately argue that it is unwise to welcome more immigrants during a period of high unemployment.

The rebuttal for this argument is that immigration stimulates job creation in the short run as newcomers spend money to get themselves established in Canada.

Job creation will accelerate once the pandemic is over. We need to begin preparing for the post-COVID economic recovery now. Prior to the pandemic, Canada enjoyed some of its lowest unemployment rates ever in part due to its aging population and low birth rate. We will eventually return to relatively low unemployment and we will need immigrants to fill vacancies.

A new study by Mendicino’s immigration department shows that immigrants who have recently arrived to Canada as skilled workers are performing superbly in the labour market. Given we are attracting the best of the best, we should not be too concerned about the ability of these immigrants to eventually land on their feet in Canada.

Finally, protecting the health and safety of Canadians remains the top priority. We should rest assured this will remain so irrespective of the target that Mendicino announces by Friday. The target does not necessarily mean Canada will welcome this number of newcomers next year if the pandemic lingers. Rather, Canada can enumerate its immigration target but only enable the Canadians of tomorrow to physically enter the country when public health experts deem that this can be achieved safely.

Immigration was important to Canada’s economic prosperity prior to COVID-19 and is set to play an even larger role in our economic and fiscal health after the pandemic. The Canadian government would be wise to stay the course on immigration. The best decision would be to announce immigration targets for 2021 and beyond that are in line with the level of newcomer admissions Canada targeted before the pandemic.

Source: Canada should stay the course on immigration

More agricultural workers should become permanent residents

Naomi Alboim and Karen Cohl make the case. It would have been helpful to have the breakdown between those who are seasonal (growing and harvesting season) and those who are not (e.g., meat packing plants).

Will see if any moves in this direction in the forthcoming immigration plan:

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the essential nature of agricultural work in Canada and our reliance on migrant workers to get the job done. Despite restrictions on travel to Canada, work permits continue to be issued for agricultural workers because of the indispensable role they play in ensuring Canadian food security.

The pandemic has also highlighted the vulnerabilities and insecure status of these temporary workers. Inspections of their housing and working conditions have been inadequate in the face of COVID-19, exposing workers to the tragic spread of this deadly virus.

In 2019, temporary foreign workers accounted for 20 percent of employment in the agricultural sector. This amounts to approximately 55,000 jobs in farming, food and fish processing. The majority come to Canada from Mexico and Caribbean countries for up to eight months under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, a longstanding program created in 1966. Others come for up to two years under the Temporary Foreign Worker Agricultural Stream. People with other types of work permits may also choose to work in the agricultural sector, as do undocumented workers, who are the most vulnerable of all.

Shifting to more permanent residency

We propose a major policy shift in which more agricultural workers will be selected as permanent residents. This removes much of the vulnerability associated with temporary status. Workers would have full rights in Canada, with the exception of voting, and would not feel compelled to tolerate unsafe conditions in order to avoid deportation.

An agricultural workforce comprised mostly of permanent residents also makes sense because much of the work – such as animal production, food product processing and manufacturing, greenhouse, nursery, floriculture and mushroom production – takes place on a year-round basis. And it would help employers to maintain a stable workforce without the need for annual expenditures on recruitment, Labour Market Impact Assessments, transportation and training.

An important additional benefit is that families would come to Canada together, aiding integration into their new communities. This would avoid the social isolation and outsider status experienced by many temporary agricultural workers, mostly men, who have to leave their families behind. By selecting experienced and committed agricultural workers to work in welcoming, supportive, rural communities, immigrant families would be motivated to build their futures there, strengthening the vibrancy and viability of communities facing population decline.

Canada’s current economic immigration programs primarily allow only highly skilled people and their spouses and dependants to arrive as permanent residents, which has not included agricultural workers. Canada’s new Agri-Food Pilot and some provincial nominee programs offer a pathway to permanent residency for individuals with relevant work experience and a non-seasonal job offer from a Canadian employer, but the language and education standards are too high for many migrant agricultural workers to meet.

One promising option that we recommend is to build an agricultural stream into the Municipal Nominee Program. This is a new program under development by the Government of Canada where communities can sponsor permanent economic immigrants. Temporary agricultural workers already in Canada are a logical place to start for potential nominees because they have demonstrable skills and work experience, and many may welcome the opportunity to become permanent residents.

A wider search could be undertaken in countries with a significant agricultural base to identify clusters of additional nominees abroad. These workers would come as permanent residents from the start.

Refugees with agricultural experience are another potential source of municipal nominees. This has the added benefit of providing durable solutions for refugees identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency, over and above the levels selected through Canada’s humanitarian refugee resettlement stream. And it is consistent with Canada’s commitment as a signatory to the Global Compact on Refugees. In the compact, participating states agree to provide labour mobility opportunities for refugees with skills that they need.

In designing a mechanism to identify refugees under an agricultural stream of the Municipal Nominee Program, Canada can learn from the Economic Mobility Pathways Project. That project selects highly skilled refugees as permanent residents through provincial nominee and other economic immigration programs.

Ideally, clusters of refugee families with agricultural backgrounds will be selected for the new Municipal Nominee Program, preferably from the same world area. This would improve the integration and retention of families in rural areas, along with providing economies of scale for the provision of targeted settlement services. The selection process will need to involve three levels of government, employers, civil society organizations abroad and in Canada and the UN Refugee Agency.

A bottom-up, community-wide approach should be employed. Employers and the rural municipality identify needs for agricultural workers and population growth. Stakeholders develop and implement plans to welcome and support clusters of nominees and their families. Additional support will likely be necessary for people who come as refugees.

Fortunately, there is growing experience in offering specialized settlement support, for example through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Ideally, supports should also be available for temporary foreign agricultural workers who need to know their rights, including how to apply for permanent residency.

An agricultural stream under the municipal program would be meaningful, but it should not be viewed as the sole pathway to permanent residency. We recommend that other ways be explored by reviewing and modifying the criteria of existing programs and pilot projects under the economic and other immigration classes.

Protecting temporary workers

Even if permanent residency becomes more accessible, Canada will need some temporary foreign workers, especially for truly seasonal work and some may prefer a more temporary situation. Changes are urgently needed to better protect these workers as well.

As an example, the employer-specific permits received under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and the Temporary Foreign Worker Agricultural Stream make workers vulnerable. Their status in Canada is dependent on working for the employer who brought them here, leaving them open to potential exploitation, abuse and dangerous work environments with no real recourse. Complaints are rare because of their fear of being fired and deported. We recommend a move to sector-specific permits that allow people to work for any employer within the agricultural sector.

Additional problems arise due to the lack of sufficient accountability and coordination. Multiple federal, provincial and municipal government departments and agencies are involved in different aspects of these programs. And each jurisdiction establishes its own standards and enforcement policies, with little in the way of national standards, coordination or overall accountability.

We propose that the federal government lead a consultative process with provinces, municipal bodies, employers and workers. The purpose would be to develop national standards for health and safety, housing and employment, to establish clear roles and responsibilities and to improve coordination among government bodies for temporary agricultural workers.

Another issue relates to the Labour Market Impact Assessments employers must obtain from the federal government before being allowed to hire a temporary worker from abroad. These assessments include assurances by employers that there are no local residents available to do the job but include little to demonstrate safe conditions and fair compensation for foreign workers. We recommend that national standards be incorporated into these assessments.

Finally, as the recent pandemic has dramatically reminded us, rigorous inspections of worker conditions are essential to ensure safety and fair treatment. Unfortunately, inspections are rarely done proactively without advance notice to the employer. They are often conducted by telephone and may not occur at all in the absence of a formal complaint. Gaps can occur due to different parts and levels of government being responsible for different issues. We recommend the creation of a strategic, coordinated inspection process that would involve collaboration among all relevant departments. The focus would be on proactive monitoring and ensuring compliance with national standards and related requirements of all levels of government.

An opportune time for action

The federal speech from the throne of September 2020 recognizes the value of both migrant and Canadian workers’ contribution to Canada’s food security: “The Canadian and migrant workers who produce, harvest, and process our food – from people picking fruit to packing seafood – have done an outstanding job getting good food on people’s plates. They deserve the government’s full support and protection.”

This level of commitment, along with the government’s objectives for immigration, the economy and rural communities, sets the stage for moving to better protect temporary foreign agricultural workers and to offer more permanent residency options for the people who do this fundamentally important work.

Source: More agricultural workers should become permanent residents

Big gender gap in students attitudes and engagement in global and multicultural issues

New interesting element to the OECD’s PISA assessment. Detailed review on my to do list to see if interesting immigrant/non-immigrant comparisons:

Schools and education systems are failing to give boys and girls across the world the same opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge of global and multicultural issues, according to a new report on the first OECD PISA assessment of the knowledge, skills and attitudes of students to engage with other people and cultures.

Are Students Ready to Thrive in an Interconnected World? focused on students’ knowledge of issues of local and global significance, including public health, economic and environmental issues, as well as their intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes. Students from 27 countries and economies took the test. Students, teachers, parents and school principals from around 66 countries and economies completed a questionnaire*.

The results reveal a gender gap in access to opportunities to learn global competence as well as in students’ global and intercultural skills and attitudes. On average across OECD countries, boys were more likely than girls to report taking part in activities where they are expected to express and discuss their views, while girls were more likely than boys to report taking part in activities related to intercultural understanding and communication.

Boys, for example, were more likely to learn about the interconnectedness of countries’ economies, look for news on the Internet or watch the news together during class. They were also more likely to be asked by teachers to give their opinion about international news, take part in classroom discussions about world events and analyse global issues with their classmates.

In contrast, girls were more likely than boys to report that they learn how to solve conflicts with their peers in the classroom, learn about different cultures and learn how people from different cultures can have different perspectives on some issues. These gender differences could reflect personal interests and self-efficacy but could also reflect how girls and boys are socialised at home and at school, according to the report.

“Education is key to helping young people navigate today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills. “The schools and education systems that are most successful in fostering global knowledge, skills and attitudes among young people are those that offer a curriculum that values openness to the world, provide a positive and inclusive learning environment and offer opportunities to relate to people from other cultures.”

The findings reveal the key role teachers play in promoting and integrating intercultural understanding into their classroom practices and lessons. Most teachers reported that they are confident in their ability to teach in multicultural settings. But the lack of adequate professional development opportunities in this field is a major challenge. Few teachers reported having received training on teaching in multicultural or multilingual settings.

More than 90% of students attended schools where principals reported positive multicultural beliefs among their teachers. Yet students who perceive discrimination by their teachers towards immigrants and people from other cultural backgrounds, for example, exhibited similar negative attitudes. This highlights the key role of teachers and school principals in countering or perpetuating discrimination by acting as role models.

The report found a strong link between students learning activities at school and having more positive intercultural attitudes. Also, speaking two or more languages was positively associated with awareness of global issues, interest in learning about other cultures, respect for people from other cultures and positive attitudes towards immigrants.

On average across OECD countries, 50% of students reported learning two or more languages at school, 38% reported learning one foreign language and only 12% reported not learning any foreign language at school. The largest share of students (more than 20%) who reported not learning any foreign language at school were observed in Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Scotland. By contrast, in 42 countries, more than 90% of students reported that they learn at least one foreign language at school.

Source: Big gender gap in students attitudes and engagement in global and multicultural issues

Canada urged to offer safe haven to Hongkongers


Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole is calling on the Canadian government to urgently adopt special measures that provide a safe haven for Hong Kong residents facing persecution under a harsh national security law imposed by China on the former British colony.

Mr. O’Toole said Canada must also be prepared to support the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong. This would include evacuation assistance if it becomes necessary for Canadian citizens to flee the Asian financial hub as Chinese security forces continue their crackdown on civil rights.

Special immigration and refugee measures are also needed to provide a “lifeboat” for non-Canadian Hongkongers who are being harassed by Chinese security forces and Hong Kong police, he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

“We have to have special provisions,” Mr. O’Toole said. “There is a need for us to provide a refugee route for pro-democracy activists who are now living in a police state and cannot access the process of satisfying the requirements, when dealing with Canadian consular services, to use Express Entry or any other way they can visit Canada.”

It’s been more than three months since Beijing enacted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security, which criminalizes opposition and dissent in Hong Kong. Western countries including Canada have accused the Chinese government of breaking a treaty with Britain that pledged to leave human and civil rights in Hong Kong untouched for 50 years after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.

This new law spells trouble for the multitude of Hongkongers who have opposed Beijing’s efforts to erode rights in the Asian city, including the more than 7,000 charged in connection with past protests or those under surveillance by Hong Kong police.

Canada’s arm’s-length Immigration and Refugee Board recently granted asylum to two Hong Kong activists, as The Globe first reported, but their case was unusual in that they came to Canada in late 2019, and neither face charges back home for taking part in pro-democracy protests. More than 45 other activists who arrived before the coronavirus pandemic have also applied to be accepted as refugees.

Mr. O’Toole’s call for immediate action to help Hongkongers comes days after the House of Commons committee on citizenship and immigration voted unanimously to investigate measures to provide a haven for them.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who put forward the motion, said the Trudeau government is doing nothing, and Hongkongers are growing desperate.

“It’s been all talk and no action,” she said. “The Liberals always find the right words to say but they never follow up with action.”

There are several hundred thousand Canadians of Hong Kong origin living in Canada and 300,000 Canadian citizens living there now.

Mr. O’Toole said action is needed especially after China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, recently warned Ottawa against granting asylum to pro-democracy dissidents from Hong Kong. Mr. Cong said last week that such action could jeopardize the “health and safety” of 300,000 Canadians living there.

“I have actually met a few people in Canada who cannot return to Hong Kong because they fear for their lives, and knowing what we know about the situation there, I think we have to offer them safe haven,” Mr. O’Toole said.

One problem facing Hongkongers trying to flee now is pandemic travel restrictions that prevent them from boarding an aircraft bound for Canada. Before COVID-19, they could travel to Canada as a tourist and ask for asylum upon arrival – but not any more. They are fearful of declaring their intention to seek asylum while in Hong Kong, where they could be monitored, or are being watched by police, or already face charges for pro-democracy demonstrations.

Another option is for them to apply as economic immigrants through Ottawa’s Express Entry program, but that is a difficult route. Express Entry is for high-talent immigrants and it also requires a certificate from Hong Kong’s police, who are under the thumb of Beijing’s Ministry of Security.

The NDP’s Ms. Kwan hopes Ottawa could set up a system similar to that established by successive governments to help persecuted gay Iranians and Chechens reach Canada. Such a process would allow designate non-governmental organizations to play a role in helping arrange documents for Hongkongers’ passage out of the Asian city, perhaps via a third country.

She also recommends that Ottawa loosen family reunification rules so that a greater number of family relations in Canada could easily sponsor arrivals from Hong Kong. It’s harder for Canadians to sponsor relatives to immigrate to Canada if they are not a spouse, partner or children.

Canadian supporters of Hong Kong dissidents say the problem with using programs such as Express Entry is that applicants from Hong Kong do not generate sufficient points to merit acceptance.

Robert Falconer, a research associate at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy and an external adviser to Alliance Canada Hong Kong, said there could be a solution. If Canada is concerned about China seeing it grant asylum to many dissidents from Hong Kong, and would prefer to bring them in as economic migrants, he said, perhaps there could be a special code that applicants can add to their Express Entry applications. The code would artificially raise the point total so they can be accepted.

Mr. Falconer said groups such as Alliance Canada Hong Kong could be empowered to distribute these codes to dissidents in Hong Kong.

“For all appearance, they would come in as economic-stream immigrants,” he said.


A Teacher, His Killer and the Failure of French Integration

Good in-depth background:

They could have easily shared the same classroom — the immigrant teenager and the veteran teacher known for his commitment to instilling the nation’s ideals, in a relationship that had turned waves of newcomers into French citizens.

But Abdoullakh Anzorov, 18, who grew up in France from age 6 and was the product of its public schools, rejected those principles in a horrific crime that shocked and enraged France. Offended by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad shown in a class on free speech given by the teacher, Samuel Paty, 47, the teenager beheaded him a week ago with a long knife before being gunned down by the police.

France has paid national homage to Mr. Paty because the killing was seen as an attack on the very foundation — the teacher, the public school — of French citizenship. In the anger sweeping the nation, French leaders have promised to redouble their defense of a public educational system that plays an essential role in shaping national identity.

The killing has underscored the increasing challenges to that system as France grows more racially and ethnically diverse. Two or three generations of newcomers have now struggled to integrate into French society, the political establishment agrees.

But the nation, broadly, has balked at the suggestion from critics, many in the Muslim community, that France’s model of integration, including its schools, needs an update or an overhaul.

President Emmanuel Macron’s emphatic defense of the caricatures has also led to ripples overseas. Several Muslim nations, including Kuwait and Qatar, have begun boycotting French goods in protest. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey questioned Mr. Macron’s mental health in a speech, prompting France to recall its ambassador to Turkey.

Mr. Anzorov was the latest product of France’s public schools to turn against their ideals: Two brothers who went to public schools in 2015 attacked Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine that published — and republished last month — caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Jean-Pierre Obin, a former senior national education official, said that public schools played a leading role in “the cultural assimilation and political integration” of immigrant children who “were turned into good little French” and no longer felt “Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Polish.” Other institutions that also played this role — the Catholic church, unions and political parties — have been weakened, leaving only the schools, he said.

“Today, public schools can’t fully do this,” Mr. Obin said. “But I don’t see another model — especially the Anglo-Saxon model of multiculturalism, which I don’t think is more successful.”

The French model ran into obstacles when the immigrants were no longer European, white or Roman Catholic. Today about 10 percent of France’s population is believed to be Muslim.

The push to assimilate risks engendering a form of xenophobia in the broader population, said Hakim El Karoui, a senior fellow at the Paris-based think tank Institut Montaigne.

“The message is: ‘We don’t want your otherness because we want you to be like us,’” he said.

The children who fail to assimilate — and often end up lost, feeling that they belong to neither France nor their ancestral countries — embody the doubt “that our model is not the right one,” Mr. El Karoui said, a possibility that the French “obviously find unbearable.”

It was in schools that immigrant children learned not only proper French, but also how to politely address teachers as “Madame” or “Monsieur.” They also absorbed notions like secularism in a country where, much like in the United States, ideals form the basis of nationhood.

At least on paper, Mr. Anzorov seemed a good candidate to fit into French society. A Russian of Chechen descent, he arrived in Paris when he was 6 and entered a public primary school. When he was about 10, his family moved to Évreux, a city in an economically depressed area about 55 miles west of Paris and home to about 50 Chechen families, according to Chechens living in the city.

The Chechens largely kept to themselves in Madeleine, a poor neighborhood with other immigrants, who are mostly from former French colonies and whose integration is often complicated by France’s colonial legacy. 

Mr. Anzorov attended a middle school called Collège Pablo Neruda that, hewing to the national curriculum, also offered civics lessons on secularism and freedom of expression. He lived in a rent-subsidized, five-story apartment building with his family, with a direct view of the local jail.

“He always passed in front of my place when going home,” said Ruslan Ibragimov, 49, a Chechen who arrived in Évreux 18 years ago. “He was always alone, with his backpack. Even when he would see me from afar, he’d come over to greet me. He never talked much.”

Never much interested in his studies, Mr. Anzorov was passionate about mixed-martial arts, said a 26-year-old Chechen who also practices the sport. When he was 16 in 2018, Mr. Anzorov lived for a while in Toulouse, where he had an uncle.

There, he joined a sports club that had a Chechen coach and a good reputation among athletes, the 26-year-old said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he said he feared reprisals against Chechens.

“His goal was to fight in the U.F.C.,” the 26-year-old said, referring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a top promoter of mixed martial arts.

Located in a public facility, the club was investigated by the local authorities because some members prayed in the locker room and asked women to cover their arms and legs, according to the French news media.

In a country guided by strict secularism, such actions are a violation of French law and regarded as signs of radicalization by the authorities — and they have led to many sports clubs being placed under surveillance.

But it was not known what, if any, influence the club exerted on Mr. Anzorov, who had not been on any terrorism watch list.

Unsuccessful in Toulouse, Mr. Anzorov came back to Évreux. His father, who specialized in setting up security for construction sites and other businesses, was encouraging his son to join him, Mr. Ibragimov said. The father had recently bought his son a car, he added.

“But he couldn’t drive it yet because he still hadn’t gotten his driver’s license,” Mr. Ibragimov said.

It was only in recent months that the teenager had shown signs of radicalization, said the special antiterrorism prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard. Mr. Anzorov’s transformation appeared to have played out online, according to an analysis by the French news website Mediapart of a Twitter account that he created in June and that was deleted last week after his death.

His posts on Twitter attacked a wide range of targets — from Jews to Christians to the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Paty was teaching history and civics at a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a middle-class Paris suburb, at the time of the attack.

“He is the kind of teacher who leaves his mark, by his gentleness and open-mindedness,” said Maeva Latil, 21, who joined a tribute in front of the Jacques-Prévert middle school, in a small village south of Paris, where Mr. Paty taught between 2011 and 2018.

In history classes, he used contemporary examples — from Pink Floyd songs to a book on racism by a soccer player — to make his teaching resonate with his students, said Aurélie Davoust, 43, a former literature teacher at Jacques-Prévert.

“With him, there was really this aspect: You don’t study history to talk about dead things, you study history to become a citizen,” she said.

Mr. Paty was a strong believer in laïcité, the strict secularism that separates religion from the state in France. Ms. Davoust recalled Mr. Paty once asking a young girl wearing a cross around her neck in school to take it off.

“Our democracy was established against the Catholic Church and the monarchy, and laïcité is the way that democracy was organized in France,” said Dominique Schnapper, a sociologist and president of the Council of the Wise, a group created by the government in 2018 to reinforce laïcité in public schools.

In a class on freedom of expression — including the right to say blasphemous things about all religions — Mr. Paty used caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and rabbis to teach, former students said.

After his transfer a few years ago to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in a Paris suburb with a more diverse population, he appeared to adjust his approach. When showing caricatures, he began telling students who might be offended that they could leave the classroom or look away.

At the new school, students said he showed mostly caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published by Charlie Hebdo. One of the two shown this month was titled “A star is born” and depicted Muhammad fully nude. That upset many Muslim students and their parents, according to the local chapter of PEEP, a national parents association.

Mr. Paty said he was surprised by the backlash and apologized to students, said Talia, a 13-year-old student who was present at the lecture.

“He told us that he’s a teacher, that this class is part of his program, that France is a secular country and so is our school,” said Talia, who asked that she be identified by her first name only given the sensitivity of the situation.

One angry father complained about the teacher in videos he uploaded on social media. Enraged, Mr. Anzorov, the Chechen teenager, traveled all the way from Évreux to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, nearly 60 miles, to kill Mr. Paty.

“Did he never have committed teachers? Or did he have them and he didn’t hear them?” Ms. Schnapper, the president of the Council of the Wise, said of Mr. Anzorov’s years in France’s public schools. “We’ll never know. But it’s a sign of failure.”


Blanchet vows to press PM on prof’s use of slur, drawing sharp rebukes from Black MPs

While IMO, the professor in question, Verushka Lieutenant-Duval, used the word legitimately to demonstrate reappropriation, rather telling for Bloc and CAQ leaders to spring to her defence given their overall lack of sensitivity to racism and systemic racism:

A controversy over a suspended professor who used a notoriously derogatory word for Black people in class has stirred strong emotions on Parliament Hill, over whether, if ever, the term should be used.

The heated responses came amid a push by the Bloc Québécois to have the government say unequivocally whether the Liberals, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular, supported the professor at the heart of the controversy.

Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he was unimpressed with Trudeau’s response Wednesday to a question in the House of Commons, and planned to press Trudeau anew on Thursday.

Blanchet said those subjected to hateful words deserve compassion and support, but using the term in an educational context isn’t prejudicial.

Asked what he would say to those who believe otherwise, Blanchet said: “I have to say that you have very rightfully expressed your sensibility and opinion, which I respect absolutely, but which I do not share.”

The issue has been of particular interest in Quebec, where provincial politicians have come to the defence of University of Ottawa professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval. So have Bloc Québécois MPs on Parliament Hill.

New Democrat Matthew Green blasted the Bloc, saying that defending use of the offensive word under the banner of free speech opens a path for continued racist attacks on Canada’s Black communities.

“For somebody who has had that word hurled against them from the time I was nine years old … that is a dehumanizing word, it is a form of racial violence,” said Green, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter button on his mask.

“Those that would choose to defend it, what they’re really defending is the prerogative to uphold white supremacy.”

Green party Leader Annamie Paul tweeted that she, not Blanchet, has been targeted with use of the slur “and it stung each time.”

“Before making statements about an issue he clearly doesn’t understand, I invite Mr. Blanchet to contact me so I can explain why the N word remains painful for many,” she wrote on Twitter.

Lieutenant-Duval was suspended after using the term during a classroom discussion last month. She has since apologized.

On Wednesday, University of Ottawa president Jacques Frémont issued an appeal for campus calm, saying inflamed rhetoric wouldn’t lead to a resolution.

The decision to remove Lieutenant-Duval from the classroom was not taken arbitrarily, nor was her academic freedom threatened at any point, he wrote.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said healthy and open on-campus debate needed to carried out with respect for professors and students. There must be a similar context of respect if ever the offensive word is to be used under the umbrella of academic freedom, he said.

“The discussions about racism lately have been good in raising awareness of inequalities and unacceptable outcomes,” O’Toole said Thursday.

“So how do you find that balance? I think universities are trying to look at that and there should be respect as part of that process.”

Trudeau wasn’t in question period Thursday, but on Wednesday had told the House of Commons that “we all need to be conscious of the power of our words.”

On Thursday, Bloc MP Kristina Michaud asked Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland if the government would defend academic freedom at the University of Ottawa.

“Obviously, our government and I think every member in this House will defend academic freedom,” Freeland said in French.

“At the same time … and this is a difficult thing, we must be aware of the reality and that we have systemic racism in our country and we must also act on that.”

Source: Blanchet vows to press PM on prof’s use of slur, drawing sharp rebukes from Black MPs

Fact Checkers Say Trump Built A Wall Of False Claims On Immigration

Good summary:

Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly write in their book that Donald Trump has made more false or misleading statements about immigration than any other issue. According to the authors, that is saying something. The book, Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies, contains numerous examples of Donald Trump’s statements on immigration and represents a valuable resource.

Immigration Tops in Washington Post Database: “Immigration is the top category of false and misleading claims in our Trump database, accounting for 15% of the total 16,241 statements we fact checked in the first three years of Trump’s presidency,” according to the authors.

That comes to an incredible 2,400 or more false and misleading claims by Donald Trump on immigration, with more than 200 additional such statements since the book was published. Trump has repeated many of the false claims on immigration dozens of times, the authors conclude. Below is a sample of Trump’s statements.

Mexico Will (Not) Pay For the Wall: Kessler, Rizzo and Kelly list Trump’s claim that Mexico is paying for the border wall first in the book. During the 2016 presidential campaign and later, Trump asserted Mexico would pay for the wall. “Mexico’s paying for the wall. You know that. You’ll see that. It’s all worked out. Mexico’s paying,” Trump said at a rally on January 14, 2020.

Spoiler alert: Mexico has not paid for the wall. Nor is there any suggestion that it will,” the authors note. “The current barrier construction is being paid for with billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for the defense budget and raided by Trump over congressional opposition.” (Emphasis added.)

Family Separation: Trump blamed the separation of children from their parents at the border on the Democrats. “I hate children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law,” said Trump on June 15, 2018.

“Trump’s family separations in 2018 caused a national uproar,” according  to Kessler, Rizzo and Kelly. “U.S. immigration officials separated thousands of Central American migrant children from their parents, sending the kids off to shelters or relatives while their parents were prosecuted and put on track to be deported. The Trump administration’s messaging seemed at times Orwellian. Top government officials claimed there was no family-separation policy. The president falsely asserted that existing laws were forcing his hand. But the real reason for the separations was Trump’s own zero-tolerance policy.”

At the presidential debate on October 22, 2020, Donald Trump tried to blame the Obama administration for the family separation policies that Trump advocated for and encouraged. “Mr. Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy was a deliberate act of family separation, meant to deter migrants from trying to enter the United States,” reported Zolan Kanno-Youngs in the New York Times after the debate. “It directed prosecutors to file criminal charges against everyone who crossed the border without authorization, including parents, who were then separated from their children when they were taken into custody.”

Immigrants and Crime: “The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country. . . .They want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime,” said Trump on December 6, 2017.

In the book, Kessler, Rizzo and Kelly cite academic research that shows immigrants do not increase the crime rate: “‘Far from immigration increasing crime rates, studies demonstrate that immigrants and immigration are associated inversely with crime,’ the National Academy of Sciences study concluded. ‘Immigrants are less likely than the native-born to commit crimes, and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than comparable non-immigrant neighborhoods.’”

False Claims About Refugees: “Every Democrat running for president wants to open the floodgates to unlimited refugees from all around the world, overwhelming your communities and putting our national security at grave risk,” said Trump.

The authors labeled this claim by Trump as false. “Refugees do not overwhelm communities because U.S. officials usually place them in different parts of the country,” they note. “There is no evidence that refugees, many of them women and children, endanger national security. Trump often makes false claims associating immigrants with crime. No leading Democrat running for president voiced support for unlimited refugee admissions, though Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren favored raising the annual cap from 18,000, where Trump said it after a clampdown in 2019, to more than 100,000.”

Trump Fabrications About the Diversity Visa Lottery: “Trump consistently mischaracterizes the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, claiming absurdly that foreign countries raffle off green cards granting legal residence in the United States,” the authors write. “In fact, a computer program managed by a State Department office in Williamsburg, Ky., randomly selects up to 50,000 immigrant visa applications per year – out of nearly 15 million in 2017 from countries with low rates of immigration.”

Trump stopped all Diversity Visa applicants from entering the United States in FY 2020 by including them in an April 2020 proclamation.

Trump Attacks on Family Immigration: “The president also invents faux facts,” according to Kessler, Rizzo and Kelly. “Over and over, Trump claimed that the Uzbekistan-born man who in 2017 was accused of killing 8 people with a pickup truck in New York had brought two dozen relatives to the United States through so-called chain migration. The actual number is zero.”

The book raises an important question: If Donald Trump’s immigration policies were actually popular and good for the country, why have journalists found he has lied or misstated facts about immigration and his policies thousands of times?

‘Dramatic’ decline in Canadians who say discrimination against Black and Chinese communities is not a problem here

Yet another interesting survey from Environics with this encouraging trend:

There has been a “dramatic” decline in the proportion of Canadians who say that discrimination against Black and Chinese communities is no longer a problem in Canada, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by the Environics Institute alongside Vancity, Century Initiative and the University of Ottawa, is based on research conducted over the course of two public opinion surveys, which were completed in August and September. The first survey was conducted online, and gauged the opinions of 3,008 Canadians. The second survey was based on telephone interviews with 2,000 Canadians, and is accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

The surveys have found that there is little divide on the issue of racism in Canada: the views of those that identify as white and those who are racialized have both shifted in the same direction.

The proportion of Canadians who said that discrimination against Chinese-Canadians is no longer an issue has fallen by just over half. In 2019, 63 per cent of Canadians said it was no longer a problem. In 2020, only 31 per cent agreed that discrimination against Chinese-Canadians was no longer a problem.

Similar trends emerged for how Canadians perceive racism against Black communities: Fewer than half as many — 20 per cent — say it is no longer an issue in Canada than in 2019, when 47 per cent said racism against Black Canadians was no longer an issue.

While many Canadians disagreed discrimination against Indigenous communities was no longer a problem last year, the proportion of people that strongly disagreed grew from 29 per cent in 2019 to 43 per cent this year.

The proportion of Canadians that “agree that it is more difficult for non-white people to be successful in Canadian society” has also grown from 2019, the study found.

There has been a decline over the last decade in confidence in local police and the RCMP, the study survey showed, with 73 per cent of Canadians saying they have a lot or some confidence in police. Meanwhile, 64 say the same about the RCMP. In 2010, 88 per cent expressed confidence in local police, and 84 per cent expressed confidence in the RCMP.

Andrew Parkin, executive director of the Environics Institute, told the Star that typically, opinions change gradually. This year, though, there are clear, sharp changes in the way Canadians view race and policing.

“In the report, we call (the shift) dramatic — and I don’t think we’re exaggerating,” Parkin said. “That’s a dramatic change in a short period of time.”

The major changes in public perception suggest “that something grabbed the public’s attention and led them to think about these issues in a different way from which they’ve been thinking about them before,” he said.

The report cites the wide public discussion around police brutality, anti-Black racism protests and the publicity of racist behaviour towards Chinese-Canadians in the wake of COVID-19 as the likely trigger for the shift.

The report “certainly shows a more openness to the idea of systemic racism,” Parkin said.

The shift in thinking shows “we’re moving forward,” said Marva Wisdom, a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “I think that is a good thing. So I am very, very hopeful.”

The survey matches up with what those on the ground doing anti-racism work are experiencing and hearing, she said. However, Wisdom said she’s feeling cautious about the results.

There is “vigilance that has to go along with this,” she said. “It’s critical, and it’s important and while I’m hopeful, I also recognize that we have to build in sustainability in the work that we’re doing.”

Public perception “has never been like this before, the response has never been this consistently positive,” Wisdom said.

“People are working to read books and finding out how they can learn about systemic racism. And, I cannot understate how important that is for our country, our communities, and for especially Black and Indigenous populations going forward.”

Source: ‘Dramatic’ decline in Canadians who say discrimination against Black and Chinese communities is not a problem here

For the survey:  Final Report,  Detailed Data Tables

@DouglasTodd Nine million people have scooped up Canada’s 10-year visas. Some abuse them

More anecdotal than evidence-based regarding the extent of the abuse. It would be relatively straightforward to request a dataset from IRCC that would provide the basis for answering the issues raised in the article:

  • people relinquishing permanent residency by country and immigration category;
  • those being sponsored for permanent residency; and,
  • those requesting asylum status.

Canada has given out more than nine million 10-year visitor visas since the program began, with by far the largest bulk of recipients coming from China and India, followed by people from Brazil and Mexico.

The super-popular multiple-entry visas are generally a benefit to Canada’s economy, say immigration lawyers. But they caution the 10-year, multiple-entry visas can be abused by “shadow investors” to avoid paying property and income taxes in Canada — and as a dubious means by which to claim asylum.

Source: Douglas Todd: Nine million people have scooped up Canada’s 10-year visas. Some abuse them