Adams, Khanji: Canada must continue modelling its refugee efforts on its response to the Syrian crisis

Indeed. Unfortunate that increased administrative requirements are making it more difficult for private sponsors (Federal changes could make it impossible for private groups to sponsor refugees, say faith leaders):

The arrival of Syrian refugees in Canada a few years ago is a well-known “feel-good” story. Images of Justin Trudeau greeting refugees at the airport and private citizens stepping up as sponsors are etched in the minds of many Canadians. The compelling stories of particular refugees and families who suffered hardship and became successful, such as Tareq Hadhad of Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish, N.S., and Abdulfatah Sabouni of Aleppo Savon in Calgary, have been showcased as wonderful examples highlighting the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of Syrian newcomers. But what about the other refugees who arrived with them, most of whom are living outside the media spotlight?

Canada acted quickly to take in 40,000 Syrian refugees in a short span of time between November, 2015, and December, 2016, and it is important to know how they are doing today (and not just through the success stories captured by the media). This is the question that the Environics Institute sought to answer in a national study with a representative sample of Syrian refugees on their lived experience since arriving in Canada.

The answer is that Syrian refugees who arrived in the first wave are doing remarkably well. Our study shows that most Syrian refugees who arrived in 2015 and 2016 have established new lives for themselves and their families in Canada, largely overcoming the initial hurdles that face all refugees (and especially those who come from societies with different languages and cultures). The research shows that most are supporting themselves financially and have achieved functional fluency in English or French. Their children are doing well in school, they feel accepted by other Canadians and identify strongly as Canadian, and are active members of their local communities. These refugees, having had only a few years to create new lives in a foreign place, are notably optimistic about the future for themselves and their children.

Not everyone is doing equally well and many continue to face challenges, most notably with employment and underemployment, along with other immigrants who find their native credentials of little value in the Canadian workplace. Achieving financial security and accessing affordable housing are issues for some refugees, as they are for many Canadians. And many of these refugees miss having family nearby and struggle to become comfortable with an unfamiliar culture.

But the big picture is positive. Canada rose to the occasion through an unprecedented effort by governments, civil society and citizens, to open the country and make it home for Syrians fleeing a horrendous humanitarian crisis. And these refugees are now contributing to their communities and the country in important ways. Only now are other countries taking our lead, with the U.S. announcing a similar program just last week.

It is important to remember the tragic story of Alan Kurdi, a two-year-old Syrian boy pictured lying face down on a Mediterranean beach in 2015, which helped spark the Canadian response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Alan’s story continues to serve as a powerful reminder of the dangers and hardships facing many refugees, and how a country and its people can respond in a meaningful way. We did so once before on a large scale, in the late 1970s, when Canada stepped up to accept more than 60,000 people fleeing war and persecution in Southeast Asia.

These examples demonstrate that Canadian society – not just our governments – has both the interest and the capacity to get directly involved in making this country a welcoming refuge. Canada was the first country to make it possible for private citizens and faith-based institutions to sponsor refugees. Our research highlights the essential role that private sponsors played in Syrian refugees’ successful resettlement. And we know from one of our other studies that many Canadians across the country – estimated to be around four million – are interested in getting directly involved in helping refugees in this way. Our governments can and should do whatever they can to enable and support this goodwill.

Doing so requires a more robust level of focus and effort. The scale of support provided to Syrians has not been sustained, with subsequent waves of refugees now arriving from Afghanistan and elsewhere. The effort put into Syrian resettlement, compounded by the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed government agencies, settlement support services and private sponsors to their limits.

There is much to be learned from our recent experience in welcoming Syrian refugees, and we now have the opportunity – and responsibility – to repeat this accomplishment on a sustainable basis. Canadian institutions and citizens stepped up in a big way to welcome Syrians. Let’s find a way to make this an enduring feature of our country’s future.

Michael Adams is the founder and president of the non-profit Environics Institute for Survey Research. Jobran Khanji is the community outreach co-ordinator for the Institute’s Syrian Refugee Lived Experience Project. Keith Neuman is a senior associate with the Environics Institute.

Source: Adams, Khanji: Canada must continue modelling its refugee efforts on its response to the Syrian crisis

Yazidis plead with Canada not to repatriate ISIS members

In contrast to the overly sympathetic article on efforts to rehabilitate ISIS returnees, a needed counterpoint from the experience of Yazidi women who were raped, tortured and otherwise abused by ISIS men and women. Not sure if Justice Brown and the court considered this context in his ruling:

The looming return of alleged ISIS members to Canada has brought trauma, worry and fear to people who were invited to Canada as a safe haven after the terrorist group all but destroyed their ancient community in northern Iraq.

“When I first heard the news, I felt the strength leave my body,” Huda Ilyas Alhamad told CBC News in her Winnipeg apartment. She is one of 1,200 survivors of the Yazidi genocide who were resettled in Canada; she spent years as a slave of ISIS members.

“I had to sit down right away. I was heartbroken and terrified at the same time because on one hand they had promised to protect us and bring us here and give us safety, and on the other hand they’re offering that same entryway for these very people who raped and tortured us on a daily basis.”

Source: Yazidis plead with Canada not to repatriate ISIS members

Canada has planned for years to handle returnees from the Islamic State. Now the plan has to work

It all strikes me as a bit too trusting and naive. Money quote:

“The women “all seem pleased to be back home,” the report noted, but there were “worrying reports that the majority of women refuse or are unable to take responsibility for their decision to travel to Syria, to have exposed their children to life in a war zone.””

They started disappearing a decade ago.

Slowly and mysteriously, then in a growing wave, young Canadians left behind their homes and families to join fellow Muslims fighting in Syria and Iraq or to experience the radicalized utopia of an Islamic caliphate promised by the Islamic State terrorism group.

Five or so years ago, psychologists such as Michael King and Ghayda Hassan began preparing for their imminent return — one that is expected only now, with a judge’s ruling last week that the federal government must bring Canadian citizens home from overseas detention camps.

“When the caliphate kind of crumbled and lost all its territory,” said King, of Alberta’s Organization for the Prevention of Violence, “there was this massive fear that everyone was going to come back to their countries of origin and charges wouldn’t be laid because it was hard to collect evidence in foreign countries.”

Like surfers in a strange sea, psychologists, social workers, police and radicalization experts waited in vain for that wave of returning male ISIS fighters, female adherents and their children.

Now it is taking shape. Six women, between the ages of 27 and 40. Among them are 13 children between the ages of two and 14.

Separately, there are four Canadian men who range in age from late 20s to early 40s. They have been detained for years in makeshift Syrian prisons on suspicion they fought with or supported ISIS, but they have never been charged with a crime.

One of them — Jack Letts, the 28-year-old son of a British mother and Canadian father — was reportedly being held with up to 30 other men in a cell built for six. Claiming to have been tortured, he is seeking the protection of the Canadian government after the U.K. revoked his citizenship.

Source: Canada has planned for years to handle returnees from the Islamic …

IRCC’s reliance on McKinsey explains a ‘disconnect’ between money spent and value added, immigration lawyers say

More on McKinsey and IRCC. Hearing some concerns from within IRCC as well:

The decision by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to hire McKinsey and Company to mobilize its digital transformation explains what immigration lawyers are calling a ‘disconnect’ between the resources being put into IRCC and the results it’s produced.

Barbara Jo (BJ) Caruso, an immigration lawyer speaking on behalf of the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA), said when she heard about contracts IRCC had with McKinsey, “a light bulb went on.

“We were then able to sort of connect the dots and say, ‘Okay, now maybe this makes sense why everything’s been sort of haphazard, and pieced together,’ ” she said. 

At the beginning of January, a Radio-Canada report revealedthat the Canada branch of global consulting firm McKinsey and Company had seen a marked increase in the number of contracts it had been awarded by the federal government since 2015. In fact, the government later confirmed it had awarded McKinsey a total of 23 contracts at a cost of $101.4-million since 2015. By comparison, Stephen Harper’s government had spent $2.2-million on the firm throughout its nine year tenure. 

There’s been a disconnect, Caruso said, between the amount of money going into the department and the results it’s been able to produce, adding there’s been a lot of changes made, but “essentially no consultation from our vantage point.” 

“We’ve been perplexed by the amount of money that has been designated to the department and yet, we’re not really reaping the benefits of those financial contributions. We’ve got bigger backlogs than we’ve ever had, and probably the lowest client service standards, ever. And a diminishing trust from the public in the whole immigration system,” she said. 

The House Government Operations and Estimates Committee (OGGO), headed by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley, agreed over the break to undertake a study of the government’s contracts with McKinsey, particularly given this government’s relationship with Dominic Barton, who was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2019 to 2021, head of the Trudeau government’s advisory panel on economic growth, and prior to both those appointments, global managing director at McKinsey and Company between 2009 and 2018. It’s expected to call a total of seven ministers to testify before the committee, as well as top McKinsey executives, and Barton. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) said he welcomes the committee’s probe to determine whether there was “value for money” in the work McKinsey did. 

McKinsey spokesperson Alley Adams said the firm “welcomes the [committee] review of the services we deliver to the federal government.” 

“We look forward to working with the committee to resolve its questions and clarify relevant issues. We are proud of the contributions our firm has had across the public sector and are focused on working with the committee to discuss our impact in detail,” Adams said in an emailed statement. 

McKinsey and Company was a key player in the department’s “transformation agenda” since 2018, when it was awarded a $2.9-million contract to assess the department’s operations and “recommend a way forward for its transformation agenda,” according to IRCC.

Based on McKinsey’s assessment, “and IRCC’s own analysis of its operating context,” IRCC launched its transformation program in 2019, with the overarching goals of improving its operations. 

In 2019, McKinsey and Company was hired for a second contract to set “the service transformation agenda in motion.” According to IRCC, the contract focused on “reviewing, developing, and implementing digital tools, processes, and services.” It was initially valued at $16.37-million, but was later amended to add $8.47-million, bringing the total to $24.8-million. 

“Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC was faced with an immediate need to further accelerate the development and implementation of digital products and services. That is why the contract was amended in 2021 to help IRCC respond to these pandemic-driven pressures, manage increased volumes, and sustain core client services,” the department added. 

For its part, McKinsey has stressed that it was only involved in non-partisan, government operations, and did not influence policy.

“We work on independent research, economic and sector-based insights, in addition to core management topics such as the reduction of document processing backlogs, digitization of processes, technology strategy, operational improvements, and change management. This work does not include policy development and/or political advice. We support the service delivery objectives pursued by
the professional public servants who lead the departments and agencies we serve,” McKinsey said in a statement issued to media. 

However, Toronto-based immigration lawyer Maureen Silcoff—a former decision-maker at IRCC herself—said she doesn’t think the distinction between the two is so obvious. 

“I’m not sure that there’s really a bright line that can be drawn between the immigration policies and the immigration systems,” said Silcoff, who also sits on the executive of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. “In the immigration context, [systems] necessarily impact the way laws and policies are implemented, or operationalized.” 

“Efficiency is crucial, but whatever measures are put in place, and have been put in place, have to be alert to the sensitivities of the population affected, which we know involves, very often, racialized people and vulnerable people,” she added.

The move towards digitizing and automating processes at IRCC has already proven to be a sticky process. 

The department has already been the subject of systemic racism allegations, and as the House Citizenship and Immigration Committee heard last March, artificial intelligence, and immigration expert witnesses expressed concern that systemic racism and bias would be embedded in any automated processes the department employs. 

“There’s advantages to algorithms, to artificial intelligence, to web-based portals, but they do come with a cost, and if attention is not paid to the frailties, there could be serious human rights implications,” Silcoff said. 

“A digitized refugee portal, for example. Is that accessible to vulnerable people, people arriving in Canada who have been subjected to torture or remain traumatized, who are new to the country and the systems?” 

An element that further exacerbates this challenge is who can access the portals on behalf of the applicant. 

One complaint Caruso and CILA have with IRCC currently is that lawyers cannot access certain online portals on behalf of their clients. 

According to IRCC, as part of its work on the department’s “digital transformation,” McKinsey helped design, develop, and launch an online citizenship application, which “enabled clients to apply digitally and IRCC to continue business throughout the pandemic.” 

However, Caruso said lawyers have not been able to access this portal on behalf of their clients, which she said is an impediment not only to their work, but to the efficiency of the department as well. 

“In our dialogue with the department, they absolutely recognize the role that counsel plays, that we can add value to the process, eliminate applications that have missing documents, because typically with good counsel, it’s a more complete application. There’s less back and forth and it means they can get to a decision sooner,” she said. 

It struck her and CILA as strange, then, when the department decided to roll out a portal that didn’t allow lawyers to access it. 

“For us, there has been this disconnect with the rollout of the technology and our role in the process. And now it sort of makes sense that it wasn’t the department, but an external player that maybe doesn’t appreciate the role that legal counsel can have in simplifying and ensuring efficiency,” she said. 

NDP MP Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, B.C.), her party’s immigration critic, said she’s eager to hear more about exactly what work McKinsey was contracted to do for IRCC, but added that overall, departmental work should be done in-house. 

Kwan said the fact that IRCC, along with the Canada Border Services Agency, spent the most money on McKinsey contracts of any department tells her “there’s very little transparency within IRCC.” 

“It’s just so concerning that there’s this discovery of these contracts and the government is anything but transparent about it,” she said, after describing a lack of transparency at IRCC as a “black hole.” 

“It just really speaks to the black hole that exists within IRCC. And it is deeply concerning,” she said.

Source: IRCC’s reliance on McKinsey explains a ‘disconnect’ between money spent and value added, immigration lawyers say

Nadeau: Ouvrir le chemin Roxham

Of note, different from most Quebec commentary. And telling critique of those who adopt positions to increase reader and view ship (click bait):

Qu’est-ce qui rend nos idées acceptables ? Il est toujours plus facile d’adhérer à ce qui nous est familier. Aussi nos idées sont-elles souvent enracinées dans la pauvreté de simples réflexes. Nous reproduisons, dans le présent, des idées conventionnelles héritées du passé, sans songer à les actualiser. Nous portons, ce faisant, les oeillères de nos pères et de nos mères.

Rien d’étonnant à ce que les idées conventionnelles aient la cote. Dans les grands médias, cela se voit, cela s’entend. À la télévision en particulier, devant des animateurs qui se posent, pour la forme, en arbitre du temps de parole, des intervenants répètent sensiblement tous la même chose. Plongé dans ces lieux formatés et huilés pour être glissés entre deux publicités, l’auditeur peut-il en tirer quelque chose de neuf ?

Il y a bien des raisons pour expliquer cette uniformité chez ceux qui font métier de leur image en nous montrant avant tout leurs beaux habits et leurs habitudes. À commencer par le fait qu’il est toujours plus facile de faire passer une idée qui a mille fois été rabâchée que de se mettre à disserter de nouvelles dans un espace réduit. Quand il est répété en boucle, même sur le ton de l’indignation, le banal n’a guère besoin d’être expliqué. Le prédigéré — le préjugé, si vous voulez — est ainsi plus facilement assimilé que n’importe laquelle autre nourriture intellectuelle télévisée.

En matière d’idées, voilà pourquoi le conservatisme a toujours, du moins en apparence, une longueur d’avance. Pourtant, la postérité est cruelle avec de telles idées, à mesure que le présent fait irrésistiblement en sorte d’en miner les fondements. Jusqu’au jour où tout le monde admet que de tels jugements sont dépassés.

Il est encore difficile de parler d’immigration aujourd’hui sans que la discussion soit infléchie par des idées anciennes.

Autrefois, à l’ère du protectionnisme et d’un nationalisme frileux, le refus de l’immigration pouvait se comprendre en partie. Mais au jour où presque tous nos biens de consommation sont fabriqués à l’étranger, au nom du libre marché, en vertu de quoi faudrait-il repousser l’entrée chez nous de cette part d’humanité vers laquelle nous avons délocalisé nos industries autant que nos ennuis ?

L’hémisphère Nord accapare de plus en plus les richesses de la planète, à une vitesse jamais vue. Mais nous ne voulons pas voir apparaître chez nous les conséquences de problèmes que nous avons contribué à ériger ailleurs. Peut-on sincèrement en vouloir à une partie de l’humanité de vouloir prendre ses jambes à son cou pour tenter de profiter d’une assiette au beurre que nous avons tirée de notre côté ?

Il est répété que les réfugiés doivent être rentables pour être acceptés. Qui plus est, ils devraient parler français. Au jour où mon ancêtre Nadeau est arrivé en Nouvelle-France, il parlait seulement, comme bien d’autres immigrants, un patois occitan. Du monde, il ne connaissait qu’une vieille voie romaine capable de le conduire jusque sur un rafiot voguant sur l’océan. Au Québec, moins de 3 % de la population — les Autochtones répartis en onze nations — ne sont pas le fruit de l’immigration.

Le français est important. Mais une langue, cela s’apprend. Encore faudrait-il commencer par se donner les moyens de la transmettre avec la culture qu’elle porte. Notre système scolaire apparaît aussi malade que notre système hospitalier. François Legault en est rendu à avaliser l’idée que des enseignants à peine formés peuvent tout de même enseigner. Les conséquences d’un manque de planification et de vision, nous en payons le gros prix devant l’avenir.

Le chemin Roxham, est-ce par là que nos idées prennent désormais la fuite quand il est question de repenser notre société ? Depuis des mois, tous les maux des Québécois — l’éducation, la santé, l’environnement, la pauvreté, l’inflation — semblent s’exorciser dès lors qu’est invoqué le chemin Roxham, comme si, d’ailleurs, il était le seul du genre. L’attention est sans cesse détournée de ce côté. Au point que le ministre Jean Boulet, collectionneur de grossièretés, a affirmé l’an passé que la fermeture de ce chemin éviterait le débordement d’un système de santé pourtant déjà surchargé depuis des années ! Le même avait laissé entendre qu’il existait un lien entre le chemin Roxham et la propagation du variant Omicron… Mieux valait compter sur des robots, disait-il aussi, que sur des immigrants pour résorber la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre !

Bien des commentateurs obsédés par l’immigration ont des allures d’agitateurs à force de chercher à tout prix à créer les conditions favorables à la croissance de leur nombre d’auditeurs et d’électeurs plutôt qu’à éclairer le débat public. Selon de vieux clichés, l’immigrant serait une menace et un danger, lorsqu’il n’est pas réduit à une simple marchandise. Au nom d’une vision étriquée de l’identité nationale, faut-il pourchasser et traquer ces gens comme des vaches, pour les enfermer, les terroriser, les maltraiter et les traire, au seul prétexte qu’ils viennent d’ailleurs ?

Le nombre de personnes qui migrent désormais au pays de façon temporaire, que ce soit pour labourer nos terres, assurer les récoltes ou soigner nos aînés, a été multiplié par trois. Pareilles portes tournantes, par lesquelles des personnes sont exploitées puis expulsées, est-ce là un meilleur gage d’humanité ?

Une immigration planifiée à gros prix par la firme McKinsey, au nom des puissances de la finance, puis avalisée par un béni-oui-oui d’une morale sans esprit à la Justin Trudeau, cela n’a évidemment pas de quoi rassurer qui que ce soit. Mais on ne peut pas jeter pour autant des gens comme des kleenex, sachant ce qu’est la faim, le froid, la misère, l’insécurité, la peur. Les problèmes majeurs qui pèsent sur notre monde ne tiennent pas à l’immigration, mais à ses causes. C’est à elles qu’il faut s’attaquer.

Il n’existe pas de meilleur des mondes. Mais un monde meilleur est possible. Encore faudrait-il, pour commencer à en envisager les termes, accepter de retirer nos oeillères des temps passés

Source: Ouvrir le chemin Roxham

Lederman: Florida’s book ban takes censorship to the next level

Of note (age of ignorance):

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder or more depressing on the U.S. book-ban front comes this plot twist from Manatee County, Fla. The school board near Sarasota recently issued an edict that prompted teachers to remove all books from classrooms in response to new rules from the Florida Department of Education.

That policy states that all books in schools must be approved by a librarian (called a “certified media specialist”), or staff risk third-degree felony charges. With some classroom libraries too large to dispose of quickly, teachers have had to physically cover them up, with construction paper in some cases – or risk possible jail time. Teachers are not allowed to choose books for their classrooms. And only vetted books are allowed, to ensure they are free of pornographic material, age-appropriate, and don’t contain “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.” It’s effectively leading to negative-option reading, and that’s led to the removal of such dangerous books as Sneezy the Snowman and Dragons Love Tacos.

Imagine a classroom without books. This is a scene cooked up by fools – who are somehow in charge of education – trying to create a nation of more fools. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed the bill into law, has presidential aspirations. Imagine edicts like this being issued nationally.

Is the Sunshine State also the most ignorant? There’s stiff competition for the title – led by Texas, according to a report released in November by PEN America.

And if it’s sex these censorious anti-intellectuals are worried about, they may want to have a seat while we break the news to them: Kids don’t need to learn this stuff from banned-book queen Judy Blume, or from Robie Harris’s It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, another frequently censored volume. They can learn it from the internet, from sources far less trustworthy and much more graphic.

Canadian Margaret Atwood is another targeted author; The Handmaid’s Tale is among the most frequently banned books in the U.S. This month, it was among 21 titles banned by the school board in Madison County, Va. Four books by Toni Morrison also made the list, along with three by Stephen King.

Mr. King, a vocal opponent of censorship, tweeted this month: “Hey, kids! It’s your old buddy Steve King telling you that if they ban a book in your school, haul your ass to the nearest bookstore or library ASAP and find out what they don’t want you to read.”

In the new documentary Judy Blume Forever, which just had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret author calls the resurgence of book bans – which often target her novels – shocking. It’s “as if time stood still and we’re back in the eighties.

We’ve had a few book censorship controversies in Canada, too. Last year, the removal of three books from libraries in the Durham District School Board just east of Toronto, including David A. Robertson’s The Great Bear, was reversed after public outcry.

But book bans in the United States are becoming so rampant that they are now likelier to elicit heavy sighs rather than shock. Still, seeing the statistics in black and white is alarming. According to that PEN report, from July, 2021, to June, 2022, there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,648 individual titles. The two categories most frequently banned in schools were books with LGBTQ themes or prominent LGBTQ characters, and books with protagonists or prominent secondary characters of colour.

Students aren’t going to stop being gay – not that any right-thinking person would want them to – because a book that reflects their experience is no longer available in their classroom. Racialized children aren’t going to stop noticing they are racialized. While books are powerful, they are not so powerful that they can change a child’s identity. Their magic isn’t quite that literal. But they can help kids feel better, less alone.

This is not just about misguided parents. Book banning is a strategic political act, and well-connected advocacy organizations have been pushing it. PEN America has identified at least 50 such groups that are actively seeking these bans. And it is certainly a political choice to devote effort to protecting children from books, rather than guns.

Where does an anti-book culture lead? A recent essay in The Atlantic pointed to two prominent figures who have denounced books: Ye, the former Kanye West, who has called himself “a proud non-reader of books,” and Sam Bankman-Fried, who has said he would “never read a book.” A proud antisemite and a fallen tech bro facing multiple fraud charges, respectively.

I get asked a lot these days about misinformation, by people worried that youth are buying into lies about important issues and historical events. My answer always revolves around making sure young people have access to reliable information – the kind most easily found in books. The library over YouTube, always.

Kids, keep reading. Especially the books you’re being told not to read by villainous higher-ups. You’re the protagonist of your own story – and information is power.

Source: Lederman: Florida’s book ban takes censorship to the next level

Le Bloc québécois dénonce un «manque d’humanisme» chez Immigration Canada

More criticism from a less frequent source:

« Manque d’empathie et d’humanisme », « structure dysfonctionnelle » : le porte-parole en matière d’Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté du Bloc québécois, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, ne mâche pas ses mots en parlant d’Immigration Canada, en entrevue avec Le Devoir.

Le Bloc québécois tient samedi un point de presse à l’aéroport Pierre-Elliot Trudeau afin de souligner l’arrivée au pays de Rose Eva, une Camerounaise expulsée du territoire en 2020. La jeune femme avait obtenu un permis d’étude pour compléter une technique en informatique à l’Institut Teccart.

Elle avait obtenu son diplôme précocement grâce à ses bons résultats, et avait ensuite continué à travailler dans une boutique de vêtements, où elle avait été embauchée pendant ses études.

Le visa que détenait Mme Eva lui interdisait cependant de travailler une fois son diplôme obtenu, ce qu’elle ignorait. Le ministère de l’Immigration, des Réfugiés et de la Citoyenneté du Canada l’avait donc renvoyée au Cameroun, en janvier 2020.

« Aujourd’hui, elle revient avec une résidence permanente et on en est bien heureux », se réjouit Rhéal Éloi Fortin, député bloquiste de Rivière-du-Nord, la circonscription dans laquelle résidait la jeune femme. « Mais c’est une situation que je déplore pour l’ensemble de la société québécoise et canadienne : on avait une immigrante qualifiée et intégrée, et on l’a retournée chez elle. »

Dans un communiqué, le Bloc indique que le bureau de circonscription de M. Fortin a aidé Mme Eva dans ses démarches administratives « depuis son exclusion en janvier 2020 jusqu’à son retour. »

Mme Eva devait initialement arriver à Montréal vers 11 heures du matin, mais elle aurait été « retenue à Toronto » et aurait manqué son vol, indique le Bloc québécois. Elle est finalement arrivée vers 15 heures à Dorval.

Un ministère « dysfonctionnel »

Pour le député de Lac-Saint-Jean, Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, cette situation est symptomatique d’un « manque d’empathie et d’humanisme » chez Immigration Canada. « S’il y a bien un ministère qui se doit d’être humain et empathique, c’est celui-là, insiste-t-il. Les dossiers qu’on gère, c’est pas des statistiques, c’est des vraies personnes. »

Il invoque le cas de Rose Eva pour illustrer son propos. « Ils l’ont détenue, ont pris son téléphone, l’ont mise dans une pièce fermée. C’est bouleversant, […] c’est extrêmement humiliant. » Pour lui, le constat est clair : « Ce ministère est dysfonctionnel. »

Cet automne, le gouvernement a allégé certaines restrictions inhérentes au visa d’études. Certains étudiants peuvent désormais travailler plus de 20 heures par semaine, ce qui était auparavant interdit. Le Bloc québécois demande maintenant au gouvernement de lever le règlement qui a coûté son visa à Rose Eva, c’est-à-dire l’interdiction de travailler une fois le diplôme complété.

Le chemin Roxham, un sujet chaud

Questionné sur un sujet chaud de l’heure, le chemin Roxham, M. Brunelle-Duceppe n’a pas voulu se positionner en faveur ou non de sa fermeture. « Nous, on demande au gouvernement depuis 2019 de suspendre l’entente sur les tiers pays sûrs », a-t-il martelé.

Cette entente stipule qu’un migrant qui met d’abord le pied en territoire américain doit obligatoirement faire sa demande d’asile en sol américain, et vice-versa s’il est d’abord arrivé au Canada. Voilà pourquoi plusieurs migrants préfèrent arriver au Canada en empruntant le chemin Roxham, un passage non officiel où ils ne se feront pas contrôler par les agents frontaliers.

« Si on suspend cette entente, les migrants pourraient faire leur demande aux postes frontaliers de l’ensemble de la frontière canadienne, ce qui enlèverait la pression sur le Québec », croit M. Brunelle-Duceppe.

Il souligne que le gouvernement canadien aurait le pouvoir de suspendre l’entente sur les tiers pays sûrs pour une durée minimale de trois mois et ce, sans l’accord du gouvernement américain. « Un moment donné, il va falloir mettre ses culottes, assène-t-il. Mais le gouvernement canadien a peut-être peur de froisser les Américains. »

Rappelons que le 4 janvier dernier, le migrant haïtien Fritznel Richard avait été retrouvé mort à proximité du chemin Roxham, alors qu’il tentait de rejoindre les États-Unis.

Source: Le Bloc québécois dénonce un «manque d’humanisme» chez Immigration Canada

Lisée: Dire «basta!» à Roxham

More on Roxham. Current federal approach is looking rather lame:

Mettons les choses au clair. Si vous ou moi étions Haïtiens, Cubains, Guatémaltèques, entre plusieurs autres, nous remuerions ciel et terre, vendrions tous nos biens, nous endetterions jusqu’aux yeux pour arriver en territoire états-unien, prendre la route qui mène au chemin Roxham et tenter notre chance d’avoir, pour nous et nos enfants, une vie immensément meilleure au Canada.

Les informations circulent vite dans les milieux de l’immigration des pays du Sud. Il y a six ans ce mois-ci, Justin Trudeau a lancé son gazouillis annonçant « À ceux qui fuient la persécution, la terreur et la guerre, sachez que le Canada vous accueillera ». La version anglaise a récolté pas moins de 600 000 mentions « J’aime ».

Dans un premier temps, paniqué par l’afflux de demandes, Ottawa a annoncé que plus de 90 % de ces demandeurs finiraient par être renvoyés, car ne satisfaisant pas aux critères de l’asile. Plus récemment, un nouveau bilan faisait état de 50 % de refus. On sait cependant que des dizaines de milliers de personnes disparaissent dans la nature et préfèrent vivre sans papiers au Québec et au Canada plutôt que d’être reconduites dans leur pays d’origine. Vous et moi ferions pareil. D’autant qu’Ottawa prévoit régulariser sous peu la situation d’un demi-million d’entre elles.

Voyez, vos (nos) chances de succès sont passées de 10 % à 50 % à potentiellement 100 %. Venir au chemin Roxham, c’est le bon choix.

La société d’accueil doit poser ses conditions au point d’entrée. Elles doivent être précises, compréhensibles, prévisibles. Le contrat social entre nous et les futurs membres de notre société s’incarne là, dans la décision du migrant d’accepter ces conditions. Une fois ce pas franchi, notre attitude doit être d’une totale ouverture.

C’est pourquoi, ministre, j’ai appuyé les milliers de réfugiés du tremblement de terre haïtien qu’Ottawa menaçait d’expulser ; chef du PQ, j’ai dénoncé pendant la campagne de 2018 l’absurde projet de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) de faire reconduire à la frontière les immigrants qui, trois ans après leur arrivée, échoueraient à des tests de valeurs ou de français ; commentateur, j’ai réclamé que tous les réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile ayant soutenu la santé et l’économie québécoises pendant la pandémie, sans exception, se voient accorder un certificat de sélection du Québec, ce que la CAQ a honteusement refusé de faire.

J’ai aussi insisté pour qu’une connaissance du français au point d’entrée soit indispensable pour les immigrants en règle, mais que le niveau de français soit modulé en fonction de l’emploi visé. (Des exemples navrants de rigidité sont bien exposés dans le documentaire Essentiels, sur Télé-Québec.)

Le refus canadien d’agir

Que faire avec Roxham ? On sait exactement quoi, et depuis le début. Ottawa n’avait qu’à utiliser la clause qui suspend notre accord avec les États-Unis pour faire en sorte que tous les demandeurs d’asile se présentent à un poste-frontière régulier. S’il ne souhaitait pas froisser les Américains, il aurait suffi de modifier la loi fédérale sur l’immigration pour appliquer à Roxham les termes de l’entente. Par conséquent, immédiatement, les agents auraient pu y refuser sur-le-champ les demandes d’asile qu’ils jugeaient non fondées, donc la moitié.

On nous annonce que la renégociation de l’entente avec les États-Unis ne sera pas finalisée lors de la venue de Joe Biden en mars et qu’il faudra attendre que le Congrès américain adopte un changement législatif, ce qui est ces jours-ci aussi facile que d’apprendre la nage synchronisée à un essaim de mouches noires.

La nouvelle ministre de l’Immigration du Québec, Christine Fréchette, a dit « basta ! » (un vocable emprunté à l’italien qui veut dire « ça suffit ! »). Oui, mais comment cette injonction se traduira-t-elle dans les faits, lorsque le flot, passé de 16 000 en 2017 à 39 000 l’an dernier, atteindra 50 000 cette année, 60 000 l’an prochain ?

Les options

Je ne connais que deux options aptes à forcer la main d’Ottawa. Certains proposent d’envoyer la Sûreté du Québec. Elle ne pourrait pas bloquer la frontière, qui relève du fédéral, mais la route, de compétence québécoise, derrière les installations fédérales d’accueil. Ce qui signifierait que les agents fédéraux continueraient de recevoir les migrants, mais ne pourraient les faire sortir de leur enclave, forçant Ottawa à renvoyer les candidats vers Lacolle. Je suis opposé à cette hypothèse, angoissante pour les migrants et politiquement intenable, car — visualisez une barricade de policiers québécois bloquant l’accès à des fonctionnaires fédéraux — d’un coût réputationnel énorme.

L’autre solution est de réclamer d’Ottawa qu’il laisse au Québec sa juste part de ces réfugiés, soit 20 %, notre poids démocratique, et qu’il se charge de répartir les autres dans le reste du pays. Sinon, le Québec le fera pour lui. En fait, Ottawa a commencé à opérer ce déplacement l’an dernier, pour environ 10 % des demandeurs. Mais il le fait de façon aléatoire et franchement indélicate, débarquant chez des migrants sans prévenir pour les conduire en Ontario. Je propose que cette démarche soit transparente et prévisible.

Le Québec prendrait en charge dès leur arrivée les francophones et les personnes qui ont de la famille immédiate au Québec, donc ceux pour qui le succès d’intégration est le plus élevé, mais reconduirait quotidiennement les autres à Ottawa ou à un lieu qui nous serait indiqué. Le second contingent en importance est formé de Nigérians, des anglophones, qui trouveront dans le ROC de meilleures conditions d’intégration. S’il existe d’autres options réalistes, je suis tout ouïe.

Une exigence de lucidité

Cette solution ne tarirait pas le flot. Seules les mesures légales fédérales précitées permettraient de le réduire de moitié. Le Québec aurait à vue de nez recueilli l’an dernier 10 000 de ces demandeurs irréguliers, donc quatre fois moins. Ce nombre pourrait doubler en quelques années, mais, au moins, ce serait gérable.

Finalement, il y a la question de savoir si, en cas de suspension de l’entente canado-américaine par Ottawa, les candidats sachant que la moitié d’entre eux seront interdits d’entrée ne franchiront pas la frontière ailleurs. Un certain nombre, oui. Le mal est fait, les passeurs sont installés, ils ont intérêt à ce que ça dure. Cependant, le nombre serait considérablement réduit, car le risque serait beaucoup plus grand.

Je sais que des lecteurs estimeront qu’il ne faut pas évoquer ces hypothèses. Ils ont raison d’estimer que chacun de ces migrants a une histoire, un espoir, une valeur humaine irréductible. Mais puisque les frontières existent, il faut les gérer. Ce qui signifie dire parfois oui, parfois non. Et ces réponses ont, sur chaque migrant, des conséquences pour toute une vie.

La lucidité exige que ces questions soient posées, puisque Justin Trudeau refuse d’agir depuis six ans. J’estime que le Québec doit dire « basta ! » à l’intenable statu quo canadien à Roxham et prendre les moyens pour opérer un vrai changement. J’estime tout aussi essentiel qu’une fois parmi nous, chacune des personnes que nous accueillons obtienne immédiatement ce premier passeport pour la dignité qu’est le droit de travailler — et pour les travailleurs agricoles, qu’ils puissent changer d’employeur à leur gré. Qu’on leur offre ensuite une passerelle rapide vers un statut de résident permanent sans leur faire subir la tartufferie d’examiner leur demande d’asile, d’en refuser la moitié, de les pousser à la clandestinité, puis de les régulariser dans une amnistie.

Bref, soyons fermes et rigoureux au point d’entrée, et mettons tout en oeuvre, ensuite, pour que ceux qui nous choisissent et qu’on a choisis obtiennent le droit, et développent l’envie, de devenir pleinement Québécois.

Source: Dire «basta!» à Roxham

JIVANI: Trudeau administration funding racial segregation

Apart from some of the over the top framing and language, Jivani raises valid concerns about the NAC, as a government institution, having such an exclusive approach. While in some circumstances, such as discussions concerning trauma of particular groups (e.g., residential schools), an exclusive approach is warranted, don’t see that being the case here:

Racial segregation is not a sign of progress.

I can’t believe this needs to be said in 2023. But, apparently, it does.

For years now, Canadian institutions have surrendered to the demands of critical race theorists and other so-called progressives who argue Canada is a “systemically racist” country.

A result of this capitulation is that the Trudeau-led federal government is now funding racial segregation.

It sounds ridiculous, circular, confusing and obviously wrong. Ten years ago the federal government wouldn’t dare endorse racial segregation.

Yet the National Arts Centre (NAC), a Crown corporation, is holding a black-only showing of a play at Babs Asper Theatre in Ottawa. They are excluding non-black people from attending the event in February, including non-black people who might be married to black men and women.

Imagine what this does to families. A growing number of married couples in Canada are interracial. And they’re having a growing number of kids with complex identities.

I’m a black man with a white mom. Am I supposed to accept that part of my family can attend a play in the nation’s capital while another part cannot, simply because of skin colour and ancestry?

According to the National Post’s Tristin Hopper, the NAC issued a statement confirming that the venue will be limited to an “all-Black identifying audience” and their goal is to “allow for conversation and participation to be felt throughout the theatre.”

The underlying assumption made by the NAC is that black people want to be in racially-segregated spaces. Where is the evidence for that? Who told the NAC this is true?

None of my black friends or family members asked our federal government to fund racial segregation. I haven’t seen a single survey or poll that suggests other black Canadians want segregation, either.

Black people across the political spectrum fight for inclusion in Canadian society, not segregation. Isn’t that the whole point of “diversity and inclusion” in the first place?

Progressive activists and academics will call a black man like me a sell out for refusing to keep my mouth shut while they misrepresent our community. I have been called every racial slur you can imagine by so-called progressives.

But this is precisely why I cannot be silent.

Black Canadians are being betrayed by institutions that claim to do our bidding but could care less what we actually believe or want. Black Canadian writer Samuel Sey recently made this point on his blog when he said, “Black Canadians are arguably the most culturally conservative group in the country.”

You wouldn’t know that from how we are represented in Canadian politics or media, would you?

If the voices of the majority of black Canadians mattered, then the federal government would be striving to understand what working and middle-class families need in our country today. Tax dollars should not be going to please a small fraction of activists and academics who want to feel like they’re “fighting the man” while watching plays with their friends.

Regressive political ideas are being sold to us as progress. Our country, and its diverse communities, deserve better.

Source: JIVANI: Trudeau administration funding racial segregation

NAC Language:

Black Out NAC

On February 17, the evening’s performance of Is God Is will introduce the first of two Black Out nights that will be at the NAC this year. A Black Out is an open invitation to Black-identifying audiences to come and experience performances with their community. The evenings will provide a dedicated space for Black theatregoers to witness a show that reflects the vivid kaleidoscope that is the Black experience.

Creating evenings dedicated to Black theatregoers will allow for conversation and participation to be felt throughout the theatre and open the doors for Black-identifying audiences to experience the energy of the NAC with a shared sense of belonging and passion.

New US race, ethnicity standards proposed; first since ’97

Long overdue (rejected under the Trump administration):

A Middle Eastern and North African category could be added to U.S. federal surveys and censuses, and changes could be made to how Hispanics are able to self-identify, under preliminary recommendations released Thursday by the Biden administration in what would be the first update to race and ethnicity standards in a quarter century.

The federal government’s standards haven’t been changed since 1997, two decades after they were created as part of an effort to collect consistent race and ethnicity data across federal agencies when handling censuses, federal surveys and application forms for government benefits.

Questions about race and Hispanic ethnicity are asked separately using the 1997 standards. They would be combined into a single question under the initial proposals, which were made by a working group of representatives from different federal agencies convened by the Office of Management and Budget.

Some advocates have been pushing for combining the race and Hispanic origin questions, saying the way race is categorized often confuses Hispanic respondents who are not sure how to answer. Tests by the Census Bureau in the 2010 census showed that combining the questions yielded higher response rates.

Using the 1997 standards, U.S. residents from Middle Eastern and North African countries were encouraged to identify as “white.” Under the new proposal, there would be a separate category for people often referred to by the “MENA” acronym. The Census Bureau recommended adding a MENA category to the 2020 census form, but the Trump administration dropped the idea.

“Research suggests that many MENA respondents view their identity as distinct from White, and stakeholders have, for over 30 years, advocated for collecting MENA information separate from White,” the Biden administration said in a Federal Register notice that will be published on Friday.

Among the countries of origin that would get a check for the MENA category would be Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Israel, the notice said.

The proposals encourage the collection of more detailed race and ethnicity information by allowing respondents on government forms to list their country of origin when answering a question about their race or ethnicity. They also recommend striking from federal government forms the words “Negro,” “Far East” — and the use of the terms “majority” and “minority,” saying they can be considered pejorative or outdated, and that the standards need to be “respectful of how people refer to themselves.”

The need to update the standards was driven by increasing racial and ethnic diversity, a growing number of people who identify as more than one race or ethnicity, and changing immigration and migration patterns, according to the Federal Register notice.

The working group said their proposals were preliminary and that they don’t yet reflect the official standards of the federal government since they will continue to be hashed out with input from the public. The goal is to ensure that that “the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people,” Karin Orvis, the U.S. chief statistician, said in a blog post.

“As we consider these recommendations, we want to hear directly from the American people,” Orvis said.

Source: New US race, ethnicity standards proposed; first since ’97