Amended bill that would extend citizenship rights to some born abroad heads to House

CPC objections to process are valid. Practicality of implementing change is also in question as experience with previous retention provisions illustrates:

A committee of MPs approved Citizenship Act changes that allow some born abroad to adopt their Canadian parent’s citizenship Wednesday, despite objections from Conservatives about a lack of due process.

In 2009, the Conservative government changed the law to make it so that Canadian parents who were born abroad could not pass down their citizenship unless their child was born in Canada.

The NDP has proposed a change that would grant citizenship to the child if the Canadian parent can prove they spent at least three years in Canada.

The new rule, which is supported by the Liberals, was tacked onto a Conservative senator’s private member’s bill at the House of Commons immigration committee.

Conservative immigration critic Tom Kmiec called the amendments “vandalism” of the original spirit of the bill, because the changes were so drastic.

“That is a concern to me, that this might happen to any one of us with our bills in the future, where the content might be deleted and replaced with things we don’t agree with,” Kmiec said during debate earlier this week.

The Conservatives are now in the awkward position of sponsoring a bill in the Commons that they don’t support and won’t vote for.

The testimony and drawn-out debate over the bill and amendments at the committee went on for 12 meetings, sparking concerns the Conservatives would prevent the changes from reaching the House at all.

The committee had until June 14 to finish reviewing the amended bill, or else it would have been sent back to the House of Commons without the new changes.

In its original version, Conservative Sen. Yonah Martin’s bill would have granted citizenship to a small number of people who were stripped of their Canadian legal status between 1977 and 1981 because of a quirk in the law.

The NDP and Liberal amendments make much more sweeping changes, including tweaks to ensure that children adopted by Canadian parents from abroad would have the same citizenship rights as those who were born in or immigrated to Canada.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner says the bill will now face extra scrutiny and holdups because the proper process wasn’t followed.

She repeatedly expressed concerns about making major changes to the Citizenship Act without consulting experts or even having an idea of how many people could be affected.

Conservatives also pushed for tougher requirements for parents who wish to prove their connection to Canada, but their ideas were dismissed by other members on the committee.

“We came into this all in agreement on passing this bill expeditiously,” Rempel Garner said during the debate earlier this week. “My sense is that is not going to be the case.”

The revised legislation will need to make its way through another vote in the House before the changes are deliberated by the Senate.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said she’s hopeful the changes will be realized, and children born abroad will have a chance at inheriting Canadian citizenship.

“I remain optimistic that at the end of the day, people will put aside the partisan politics,” she said.

Source: Amended bill that would extend citizenship rights to some born …

New Quebec Investor Immigration Program Details Met With Hesitation

Written from an immigration legal perspective and the comparison with other jurisdictions is of interest.

This is simply buying residency and later citizenship without any material contribution to the economy given the small amounts and passive investment approach and essentially is an implicit subsidy to investment dealers and trust companies. The amounts are ridiculously low in any case.

We know from the previous Quebec program that many who entered the program eventually left Quebec, often to British Columbia. We will see if the French language commitments during the first two years are tracked and enforced.

The upcoming relaunch of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), known for its popularity as Canada’s leading business immigration program for the past two decades, is likely to raise some doubts among some foreign investors and others who are familiar with investor immigrant programs. Regulations for the program were just released. The revised program aims to attract investors by offering a passive investment immigration pathway without the requirement of establishing a business in Canada and actively managing it.

One notable change is the exclusive participation of regulated investment dealers and trust companies as financial intermediaries. This ensures investor confidence and provides a mechanism for agents to receive compensation. Additionally, the Quebec Government guarantees the investment, enabling financial intermediaries to arrange financing for applicants, further enhancing the appeal of the program.

The revised QIIP introduces several new requirements for the principal applicant. To be eligible, they must demonstrate a legally accumulated net worth of at least $ 1.5 million USD (C$ 2 million). Furthermore, the applicant must possess a high school (secondary) diploma and a minimum of two years of management experience within the five years preceding the application.

Once approved, the principal applicant will be required to make specific financial contributions. These include a $750,000 USD ($1 million CAD) five-year investment through an authorized financial intermediary, guaranteed by the Quebec Government. It is worth noting that financing options are available for this investment. In addition, a non-refundable contribution of $ 150,000 US ($200,000 CAD) to the Government of Quebec will be required.

Upon approval and completion of the financial contributions, the principal applicant and their family will be granted a temporary stay in Canada for three years. This temporary status allows the family members to work and study in Quebec, facilitating their integration into the local community. However, within the first two years of arriving in Quebec, the principal applicant must fulfill additional requirements. They must achieve a Level 7 out of 12 on the Echelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français, demonstrating their French language proficiency. Moreover, the applicant or their spouse must spend at least six months in Quebec, with an additional six months of residence required for either the applicant or the spouse.

Following the fulfillment of these requirements, the principal applicant and their dependents will receive Selection Certificates (CSQ), allowing them to apply for permanent residence from within Canada.

To summarize, the QIIP envisions an investment of roughly $ 750,000 U.S. refunded in five years interest-free. Details about financing such investments are not yet known but the speculation has been it will be about $375,000 U.S. as a one-time non-refundable payment consisting of the $ 150,000 US. to Quebec and the remainder being the cost of a loan to pay for the program. A big question related to the program will be the processing time for approval. Under the old program, it ran as long as five years although French speakers got through in about two years counting the provincial and federal processing that was required. The key impediments of the program for many investors are the French language requirement and the six months physical presence and one-year residence element to achieve unconditional permanent residence.

Comparison Programs:

Canadian Start-Up Visa Program

In contrast to the QIIP, the federal Canadian Start-Up Visa Program provides an alternative pathway to Canadian permanent residence. To be eligible, applicants must have a qualifying business and obtain a letter of support from a designated organization. They must also meet the language requirements, demonstrate proficiency in English or French, and have sufficient settlement funds. The program focuses on innovative businesses, allowing applicants to actively manage their ventures within Canada. Under that program investors normally pay somewhere between say $ 100,000 to $ 125,000 USD to make the necessary arrangements to be approved for permanent residence through a Canadian sponsoring organization that certifies the bona fides of the investor’s business plan. A key difference is that the Start-Up program requires the active involvement of the investor with an innovative new idea whereas the Quebec program is a passive program. However, judging by current processing times, the processing times for the Start-Up program and the Quebec program will likely be similar.

New Brunswick Program

Under the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program for investors you must be ready to invest under $95,000 USD (C$ 125,000) in a business for a period of not less than one year and the business has to have been established within two years of landing. To guarantee the investment is made a deposit of $ 57,000 USD (C$ 75,000) must be made with the provincial government which will be returned if the above conditions have been met. What is more, the investor must have a net worth of at least $ 225,000 USD (C$ 300,000).

Applicants are vetted by a point system used to assess them and must score 50 points to succeed. They must be between 22 and 55 years of age have sufficient English and or French language ability to actively manage a business in New Brunswick have, at a minimum, been awarded a high school diploma, and be willing to live and operate a business in New Brunswick. Applicants also must have management experience in three of the last five years. Applications must include a business plan that must be approved by an official of the Government of New Brunswick certifying the applicant has sufficient familiarity with the business climate in the province. Processing times will also be likely to be similar to the Quebec program.

The U.S. EB-5 Investor Immigration Program

The United States offers foreign investors its EB-5 investor immigration program which was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to attract investments and create jobs for American workers. In its most popular format, the EB-5 program enables foreign investors who invest $800,000 USD in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration approved regional center commercial project for approximately five years to get a green card. The program is a relatively passive way for investors to gain permanent residence for themselves and their families and has an attractive concurrent filing feature that enables many investors to gain work and travel status inside the U.S. while awaiting the adjudication of their internally filed adjustment of status applications. In most instances, full processing to green card status is taking about four years, although Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese applicants, are taking many years longer.


Ultimately, the choice of an investor immigration program depends on individual circumstances, including language proficiency, investment preferences, and long-term goals. However, the QIIP’s changes, particularly the French language requirement and temporary residency period, may deter some potential investors. As investors weigh their options, they will need to consider the various specific program requirements and their suitability for individual aspirations and objectives.

Source: New Quebec Investor Immigration Program Details Met With Hesitation

Conservative filibuster threatens potential citizenship for children born abroad

Given the backdoor way this broader amendment was introduced to the focused bill, support the Conservatives in their filibuster, particularly that there are much more significant issues in immigration and citizenship policy.

While comment sections are not representative, it is striking how many have little sympathy for the cases cited:

Andrea Fessler found out her third daughter didn’t qualify for Canadian citizenship – even though her two older daughters did – when she arrived at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong to register.

She’s one of many Canadians who were born abroad and whose children do not qualify for citizenship unless they are born in Canada because of a 2009 change to the law.

There is hope for a reversal of that change as members of Parliament debate amendments to the Citizenship Act. But an ongoing Conservative filibuster is threatening that hope.

Fessler was born in Israel while her father was completing a two-year post-doctoral degree in the country. Her family returned to Canada when she was two, where she grew up in Vancouver before moving to Ottawa to work as a page in the House of Commons.

All three of her girls were born abroad, but because of the legal change in 2009, Fessler’s youngest daughter, Daria, is the only one without legal ties to Canada.

“Had I known about the change of the law in 2009, it’s very possible that I would have gone to Canada to give birth, but I had absolutely no idea,” she said in an interview from her home in Hong Kong.

The NDP proposed a change that would make people like Daria eligible for citizenship if their Canadian parent can prove they spent at least three years in Canada.

The new rule, which is supported by the Liberals, was tacked onto a private member’s bill at the House of Commons immigration committee.

The committee has until June 14 to finish reviewing the amended bill, or else it will be sent back to the House of Commons without the new changes.

“I have been informing the girls of the legislative process, and how there is a hope and how hopeful I am that at some point Daria will be able to have a Canadian passport,” Fessler said.

Daria, who is now 12, dreams of going to university in Vancouver, where her family takes an annual vacation. But as it stands now, she would need to apply for an international student visa to return.

“She’s very hopeful” that that could change, Fessler said.

The private member’s bill was initially put forward by Conservative Sen. Yonah Martin to address a particular quirk in citizenship law.

The NDP and Liberals seized on the opportunity to pass amendments to the bill that would have much more wide-ranging implications for the citizenship of children born outside of the country.

That irked Conservative members of the committee, who feel the Citizenship Act is being rewritten without the appropriate study or due diligence.

“These are substantive amendments, which materially affect the Citizenship Act. So they deserve scrutiny, and we are scrutinizing them,” said Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who serves on the committee.

Ottawa grandmother Carol Sutherland-Brown said the NDP’s amendment gave her hope that her grandchildren will one day qualify for Canadian citizenship.

But that hope has dwindled with every meeting of the committee she’s watched since.

“I felt elated when the amendment went through for the connection test, and then it’s just dashed,” Sutherland-Brown said.

Sutherland-Brown met her husband in Canada before she moved to Saudi Arabia to work at a hospital with him when she was 26 years old. She was still living there when she had her daughter Marisa.

The family moved back to Canada when Marisa was two years old, and she lived there until she moved to Paris after her post-secondary graduation. There, she met her husband, and the two moved to the United Kingdom after that to start a family.

The family realized Marisa’s son Findlay wouldn’t qualify for Canadian citizenship after she started filling out the paperwork.

“He would have been sixth-generation Canadian, and that’s all robbed now,” Sutherland-Brown said.

During the filibuster, Conservative members have also put forward other potential amendments far outside the scope of the original bill, including mandating in-person citizenship ceremonies, which have taken up hours of debate before being shot down by Liberal and NDP members.

The committee has extended meetings and scheduled extra time to debate the bill, but NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said it may not be enough to beat the filibuster.

“If this continues to carry on the way in which it has, (then) there is that real possibility that the bill would be reported back to the House without us completing the work,” Kwan said.

“I’m still somewhat hopeful – I don’t know why – that this will still manage to make it to the House with the necessary amendments. I’m holding on to that shred of hope.”

If the amendments make it through committee, the expanded bill would still need to clear the House of Commons and the Senate before families like Fessler’s and Sutherland-Brown’s would be able to make their case to pass on their citizenship.

Source: Conservative filibuster threatens potential citizenship for children …

Canucks deeply divided over one-click citizenship oath, feds told

Good summary of the comments received. Will be reviewing them in more detail to assess factors behind the degree of support/opposition such as citizen/applicant, individual/anonymous, English/French comment that I can derive from the comments.
One of the irritants that I encountered when looking at the comments is that one can only see 5 per page whereas other government sites allow more to allow for easier analysis (the search function is not helpful in overall assessment). Also interesting that Gazette allows anonymous comments which I inherently distrust and see little justification for except in exceptional circumstances (e.g., if the government would set up a foreign agency registry, one could reasonably expect that members of diaspora communities would need anonymity):
Allowing new Canadians to take the Oath of Citizenship by clicking a box online is a disgusting idea that will cheapen the process and open the door to fraud or a forward-thinking notion that will help decrease a backlog of citizenship applications, depending on who you ask.
That’s according to the hundreds of comments the government received about the idea over the last few months.

Others pointed out that longer wait times can delay delivery of new Canadian passports needed for travel.

“I loved my ceremony and the opportunity to mark the occasion, but it was tight getting my new passport to travel when I needed it, so the opportunity to reduce waiting times is great,” one person said.

“I have heard of many people who suffered because they had to wait for a long time to get their passports,” another said.

Critics said government backlogs and a lack of available in-person ceremonies were a poor reason to threaten the tradition.

“The objective should be trying to process the backlogs by providing more ceremony opportunities, instead of cheapening the experience by making it a self-administered click,” one wrote.

Others still worry about the possibility of fraud, though the government plans to use a secure web portal for the one-click oaths.

If approved, the changes to the citizenship regulations would come into effect as early as this month at a cost of about $5 million over 10 years.

Source: Canucks deeply divided over one-click citizenship oath, feds told

New Canadian babies born via birth tourism less than one per cent of all births

More on birth tourism based upon the Alberta study, Canadian doctors say birth tourism is on the rise. It could hurt the health care system, with data from Guelph (not a centre).

Reference to Richmond only refers to 2022, rather than pre-pandemic years when Richmond General was the epicentre of birth tourism in Canada, with almost one-quarter being birth tourism, supported by a cottage industry of birth tourism hostels:

“Birth tourists being specifically people who are coming in specifically to have a birth then go back to their original country,” said Colin Birch, a Calgary obstetrician gynecologist.

They probably come to give birth for the advantage of birthright citizenship for future gains whether it be for themselves or their family, said Birch. “There are still immense advantages of living in a place like Canada,” he said.

“Is it a big problem? Well if you look at the numbers, absolutely not. It’s small.”

“Is it big enough to be a problem? I actually think it is,” he said.

FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Birth Tourism: Rhetoric Ahead of Evidence [my opinion has changed since writing this in 2014]

Reason being Canada is in a healthcare crunch, “every bed is sacred,” said Birch.

As a healthcare system we are suffering from a capacity point of view and the expectation is to do more with less, he said.

“Canada is not really set up because of its socialized healthcare system for private pay patients and the demands that come with private pay patients,” said Birch.

The expectations from paying patients to patients covered by provincial health care are different.

“Not saying their care is different. Care is care,” he said. 

Health care is expensive and when it comes to neonatal care it is astronomical if a baby needs to be in the ICU, he said. 

The unpaid bills of the hospitals are massive, he said.

Calgary has taken a different approach to hospital bills associated with birth tourism. Birch confirmed the Calgary system requires a $15,000 deposit.

“It’s a very honest and upfront system,” said Birch. “It doesn’t pay the hospital fees no. It’s a deposit which pays basically physician fees.”

From the deposit what doesn’t get spent goes back to the patient, he said.

“We wanted to discourage the practice because it was becoming a bigger burden in Calgary,” said Birch. “The potential problem with that is the patients will then start moving to practitioners who are outside the city limits.”

It isn’t a perfect process but it’s an attempt to implement some sort of order, he said.

Prior to the deposit process birth tourism had impacts on the capacity of the hospital and ability at times to care for Canadian patients, he said.

Canada and the U.S. are the only countries in the G7 to offer birthright citizenship according to

“What we need to debunk is the idea that all people who are not insured are not necessarily birth tourists,” said Birch.

“There’s a large undocumented population in the country,” he said. They are contributing members of society but are not documented, Birch said.

He wanted to make it clear undocumented folks who are uninsured are not birth tourists.

Birth tourism is not just a medical issue but a social issue that should be addressed, he said.

In the fiscal year of 2021 to 2022 Guelph General Hospital had a total of 1,707 deliveries, 11 were people from out of country. This breaks down to 0.6 per cent of deliveries were out of country.

Between April 2022 to February 2023 there were 1,543 deliveries and 18 were people from out of country who gave birth at the GGH. This is 1.2 per cent of the deliveries were out of country. 

At the other end of Canada in Vancouver much of the same occurred at Richmond Hospital, in 2022 there were 22 nonresident deliveries. This number accounts for 1.5 per cent of the total deliveries at the hospital.

“All maternity patients coming to Richmond get the care they require to deliver their child safely. Care is always triaged according to the safety of the mother and baby – it is never delayed based on residency,” stated in an email from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

VCH also said it does not support marketing of maternity tourism. Births from nonresidents have not led to disruptions of maternity services, said in the email.

“VCH will never deny urgent and emergent care based on ability to pay or where a patient is from, but we do expect to be compensated as we are accountable to B.C. residents for hospital and health care services. We are committed to collecting compensation from non-residents who use our medical services,” said in the email.

Source: New Canadian babies born via birth tourism less than one per cent of all births

FIRST READING: Canada’s massive (and easily fixed) birth tourism problem

Second article in the National Post in a week. Hopper forgot to mention that the Conservative government did make a push to end birth tourism in 2012 (see my What the previous government learned about birth tourism):

Last week, Macleans’ published an interview with Simrit Brar, a Calgary OB-GYN who is one of Canada’s few medical researchers to actually look into the issue of birth tourism.

It’s something that’s long been an accepted fact within Canadian birthing hospitals: Hundreds of non-resident women each year are coming to Canada in the final weeks of pregnancy, having their baby in a Canadian hospital and then immediately returning home. The purpose of the excursion being to ensure that the child has Canadian citizenship by virtue of the country’s jus soli laws.

There are companies openly advertising their services as “birth hotels.” Online forums include questions as to the “cheapest” Canadian hospital for a non-resident to give birth. In the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, a single hospital in Richmond, B.C. had 502 non-resident births — nearly one quarter of total babies born.

Figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that Canada hosted a record 4,400 foreign births in 2019 — up from 1,354 just nine years prior.

Vancouver’s first baby of 2023, in fact, was born to a birth tourist: Mother Salma Gasser had only recently arrived from Cairo, Egypt, on her first-ever trip to Canada, and told local reporters she did it to secure a Canadian passport for her baby girl.

There’s nothing illegal about birth tourism and birth tourists are all paying handsomely for the service (it costs between $6,000 and $10,000 for an uninsured non-resident to give birth at a Canadian hospital). But for a Canadian health-care system that is constantly on the verge of crisis, the phenomenon is having an impact.

In a two-tier system like Australia, the U.K. or the U.S., an influx of non-residents seeking health-care beds could safely exist on the sidelines without affecting overall health-care access: The system could simply grow organically to accommodate the increased demand.

But Canada rations its supply of doctors and health-care workers, meaning that any extra patient is going to be adding to wait times.

“So even if a birth tourist does pay their bill, if we allow people who have the opportunity to pay to preferentially access beds … that displaces people here,” Brar told Maclean’s.

She added that birth tourism is a “social structure issue.” Ultimately, wealthy people from abroad are able to supplant scarce Canadian health-care resources, with negative results for “disadvantaged” Canadians.

“The system is too strained for us to ignore these questions,” she said.

Brar’s research examined 102 cases of birth tourists who had their babies in Calgary between July 2019 and November 2020. A plurality (24.5 per cent) were Nigerian and all told, the 102 paid $694,000 to Alberta Health Services in hospital fees.

Notably, most of Canada’s birth tourists are coming from countries that do not offer birthright citizenship. Almost all of North and South America grants automatic citizenship based on birthplace — a principle known as “jus soli,” or “right of the soil.”

In most of the rest of the world, citizenship is determined based on the nationality of one’s parents — known as “jus sanguinis,” or “right of the blood.” If a visiting tourist gave birth in Nigeria, for instance, that child would not be considered Nigerian unless they had a Nigerian parent or grandparent.

It would be remarkably easy for Canada to ban birth tourism, or at least make it less easy.

Provincial health-care systems could dramatically raise fees on “other country” birth services in order to discourage patients not insured under the Canadian system.

Some minor tweaks to the Citizenship Act could nullify instant citizenship if a baby is born to a parent temporarily visiting Canada on a tourist visa.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and other newcomers would still have guaranteed full, automatic citizenship for their Canadian-born children.

Or, Canada could simply begin denying visas to foreign nationals booking short trips to Canada at the tail end of a pregnancy. This is what the United States did in order to curb its own rising rates of birth tourism.

In early 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued an order to deny certain classes of recreational visas to foreign nationals if a consular official believed they were doing it just to give birth.

“The Department does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child, by giving birth in the United States — an activity commonly referred to as “birth tourism” — is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature,” reads a statement from the time.

U.S. officials have also prosecuted California-based “birthing houses” for counselling foreign nationals to misrepresent their intentions on visa forms in order to enter the U.S. for the purpose of giving birth. Similar charges are feasibly possible in Canada, given that it is illegal under Canadian law to misrepresent one’s intentions for visiting.

Although birth tourism is not addressed or even acknowledged at the federal level, it’s long been deeply controversial in the immigrant-heavy Vancouver communities where it’s most visible.

Jas Johal, MLA for Richmond, has repeatedly denounced birth tourism for turning local hospitals into “passport mills.” Longtime Richmond city councillor Chak Au has often gone on record saying that his constituency — the most Chinese-Canadian in Canada — supports a legislated end to birth tourism.

In 2018, Richmond’s Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido tabled a petition in the House of Commons calling birth tourism an “abuse of Canada’s immigration and citizenship system.”

“The government should say birth tourism is bad. Let’s quantify it and let’s fix it,” he said at the time.

As recently as 2016, Vancouver-area Conservative MPs Alice Wong and Kenny Chiu even led a drive to overturn Canada’s system of birthright citizenship altogether in order to combat birth tourism — although both had reversed course by 2019, when the Conservatives prepared for that year’s election with a platform that mostly side-stepped immigration policy.

Source: FIRST READING: Canada’s massive (and easily fixed) birth tourism problem

Appeal court overturns ruling directing Ottawa to repatriate 4 men detained in Syria

Of note and, IMO, correct decision:

The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned a high-profile ruling ordering Canada to bring home four Canadian men detained in northeastern Syrian prisons for suspected ISIS members.

In January, Federal Court Justice Henry Brown ruled the four men were entitled to have the federal government make a formal request for their release “as soon as reasonably possible.”

But three appeal court judges disagreed with Brown’s decision and overturned it on Wednesday.

In their ruling, the judges wrote that Brown’s decision interpreted the right to enter Canada too broadly.

“[The previous ruling] took the right of Canadian citizens ‘to enter … Canada’ and transformed it into a right of Canadian citizens, wherever they might be, regardless of their conduct abroad, to return to Canada or to have their government take steps to rescue them and return them to Canada,” Wednesday’s ruling says.

“The right to enter, remain in and leave Canada, is not a golden ticket for Canadian citizens abroad to force their government to take steps — even risky, dangerous steps — so they can escape the consequences of their actions,” the ruling says.

The men travelled to northeastern Syria against the travel advice of the Canadian government and have been held in prisons for those suspected of ISIS affiliations. The camps in northeastern Syria are run by the Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist group.

Canada not responsible for men’s detention: judges

In his January decision, Brown cited the conditions of the prison and the fact that the men haven’t been charged and brought to trial.

“The conditions of the … men are even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate,” Brown’s decision reads.

“There is no evidence any of them have been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognized or sanctioned by international law.”

But Wednesday’s appeal court ruling said the Canadian government is not responsible for the men’s detention in Syria.

“Canadian state conduct did not lead to the respondents being in northeastern Syria, did not prevent them from entering Canada, and did not cause or continue their plight. The respondents’ own conduct and persons abroad who have control over them alone are responsible,” the ruling reads.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government will take time to “absorb” the court’s ruling.

“Our priority first and foremost is that we safeguard the country and our borders from any potential terrorist activity,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Jack Letts, who has been imprisoned in Syria for more than four years after allegedly joining ISIS, is among the four men.

Sally Lane, Letts’ mother, said the appeal court decided to “to perpetuate the arbitrary detention and torture” of her son.

“The decision is nothing but victim-blaming and narrow legalese that stands in utter contempt of human rights law and fails to rise to the challenge of the moment,” Lane said in a statement provided by the family’s lawyer, Barbara Jackman.

Letts admitted in a 2019 interview to joining ISIS in Syria. His family says he made that admission under duress and there is no evidence that he ever fought for the group.

Jackman told CBC that they are considering taking the case to the Supreme Court, but a final decision hasn’t been made yet.

Lawrence Greenspon, a lawyer for the other applicants, also told CBC that his clients are considering an appeal.

In the past, Greenspon has argued that if there is any evidence the Canadians took part in terrorist activities, Canada should put them on trial here.

But former CSIS analyst Phil Gurski said he fears that any trial likely would end in an acquittal because the witnesses and evidence are located in Syria.

“I’m just not confident that the Canadian court system would have the resources to locate the witnesses … and the evidence to bring forward a successful trial,” he said.

Family members of Canadians detained in Syria — including the four men — have been asking the federal government to arrange for their return to Canada.

Prior to the January ruling, the government agreed to repatriate six women and 13 children from northeastern Syria.

At least three of those women have returned and were taken into police custody upon arrival. They have all been released pending terrorism peace bond applications.

A terrorism peace bond allows a judge to order a defendant to maintain good behaviour — sometimes with conditions such as a curfew — or face a prison sentence.

Source: Appeal court overturns ruling directing Ottawa to repatriate 4 men detained in Syria

German citizenship: Record number of naturalizations

Of note, along with the planned policy changes:

A record 168,545 applicants with 171 different nationalities received German citizenship in 2022. That was 28% more than in the previous year, the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden reported this week.

Twenty-nine percent of people who adopted German nationality in 2022 were from Syria, their average age was 24.8 years, and two-thirds of them are male. Many of them had fled their homeland when the civil war broke out in 2014 and have since found a new home in Germany. Before naturalization, they had been in Germany for an average of 6.4 years.

Syrians topped the list, followed by Ukrainian, Iraqi and Turkish nationals.

“Almost half of all Syrians who received their German passports did so after only six years. That’s because they were able to demonstrate exceptional integration achievements,” Jan Schneider, of the independent Expert Council on Integration and Migration, told DW.

“In fact, we can expect the number to rise further this year,” Schneider said, as the ruling center-left coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) has comprehensive plans for changing and simplifying the citizenship law.

High hurdles so far

Currently, the requirements for naturalization include language skills (B1) and a secure income, and candidates must have lived in Germany for a minimum of eight years.

People who want to become German citizenship have not only had to pay the fee of €255 ($272) but also need to be able to document their identity and pass a written test in German, which consists of 33 questions on German customs and society and the law. Applicants must also declare their support for democracy and the German constitution, the Basic Law.

Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offense does not stand a chance. Neither do applicants who have no income or savings and rely solely on state support.

But, now, Germany sees a labor shortage across its economy, ranging from IT specialists to medical staff to food servers. Labor market experts have estimated that Germany needs 400,000 immigrants per year to close the widening gap. Currently, only 60,000 are attracted each year by the government’s skilled immigration program.

A fundamental change in the citizenship law, the government argues, could be an incentive for people to come and for those already living here to integrate better.

Plans to simplify the citizenship law

Legislation proposed by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser will make dual citizenship easier, as well as naturalization for non-EU citizens. It boils down to three main changes.

Immigrants legally living in Germany will be allowed to apply for citizenship after five rather than eight years. This shall go down to only three years if the applicant can show special integration achievements.

Children born in Germany of at least one parent who has been living legally in the country for five or more years will automatically get German citizenship.

Multiple citizenships will be allowed.

So far, only EU and Swiss nationals, and those whose country of origin does not allow people to renounce citizenship such as Iran, Afghanistan and Morocco, for example; refugees who are threatened with persecution in their home countries; and Israelis are generally permitted to hold on to their original passports when they get a German one.

Schneider believes that, for some of the approximately 1.3 million Turks who are living in Germany, “the dual passport may well be an incentive for naturalization.”

Opposition to reform

The new record figures for naturalizations have triggered another storm of protest among critics, especially from the largest opposition group, the center-right Christian Democrat Union and the regional Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU). Their parliamentary group’s spokesman, Thorsten Frei, told the daily newspaper Die Welt: “The plans of Interior Minister Nancy Faeser increase the risk that more people will be naturalized who are not sufficiently integrated.” He said there were no convincing reasons to lower the requirements for a German passport.

Currently, about 6 million foreign citizens have been living in Germany for over eight years. If the minimum period of residence for naturalization is set at five years, migration expert Schneider pointed out, most of them will meet the criteria for naturalization.

Although it is not possible to predict today whether parliament will approve the government’s bill, “a massive increase in naturalization applications” is to be expected, Schneider said. “Applications for naturalization are already piling up in many Citizens’ Offices,” he added.

Source: German citizenship: Record number of naturalizations

Trump vows to end birthright citizenship for children of unauthorized immigrants if he wins in 2024

Usual floating to get media attention. Will be interesting to see if CPC picks up on change to Canadian birthright citizenship (former Minister Kenney tried in 2012):

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday pledged to challenge a long-standing interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in an attempt to end birthright citizenship for children of unauthorized immigrants if he defeats President Biden in the 2024 election.

If he secures a second presidential term, Trump said he would issue an executive order during his first day back at the White House in January 2025 instructing the federal government to deny citizenship to children with parents who are not American citizens or legal permanent residents.

Under a decades-long interpretation of the Constitution, children born on U.S. soil are automatically bestowed American citizenship, even if their parents are not themselves citizens or legally present in the country. Some immigration hardliners have long criticized the policy, saying it encourages parents to come to the U.S. illegally. While he was in the White House, Trump repeatedly floated the idea of challenging the interpretation, but never took action.

In his announcement Tuesday, Trump portrayed the move as part of a broader crackdown on unauthorized immigrants and asylum-seekers that he has promised if he returns to the White House. He has also vowed to launch the largest immigration roundup and deportation operation in U.S. history.

“My policy will choke off a major incentive for continued illegal immigration, deter more migrants from coming and encourage many of the aliens Joe Biden has unlawfully let into our country to go back to their home countries. They must go back,” Trump said in a video message on Tuesday.

If Trump wins the 2024 presidential election and follows through on his promise, the move to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission is all but certain to face significant legal challenges.

Is birthright citizenship in the Constitution?

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution, adopted following the Civil War, declares that all “persons born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

“Any executive action that a president might try to end birthright citizenship would be challenged in court and would be likely struck down as unconstitutional,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell University.

While the move would likely not pass legal muster, Yale-Loehr added, it could be a beneficial campaign tactic for Trump, especially during the Republican primary.

“I think it’s pretty clear that, for political purposes, he thinks that this kind of announcement will appeal to his base. It shows that he has anti-immigration credentials. And most of his voters don’t know or don’t care about whether such an executive order would be legal,” Yale-Loehr said.

Ron DeSantis’ immigration policies

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the 2024 Republican presidential candidate currently Trump’s closest challenger in the polls, has also sought to make immigration a top issue of his campaign.

A measure championed by DeSantis that was recently passed by the Florida legislature will be among the strictest state immigration laws in American history. Among other things, it will invalidate driver’s licenses other states provide to unauthorized immigrants, require hospitals to document whether patients are in the country legally, fund efforts to relocate migrants to “sanctuary jurisdictions” and impose fines for employers who don’t verify the immigration status of workers.

In addition to sharply criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of the record number of migrant crossings reported along the southern border in recent years, Trump and DeSantis have feuded over which candidate has the toughest immigration platform.

DeSantis recently accused Trump of supporting “amnesty” by endorsing a bipartisan proposal that would have traded border barrier and security funds in exchange for the legalization of some unauthorized immigrants, including those brought to the U.S. as children.

Source: Trump vows to end birthright citizenship for children of unauthorized immigrants if he wins in 2024

A No-Nonsense View of Birth Tourism

National Post picks up on this useful Alberta study:

Last week, Maclean’s magazine published an interesting little one-interview piece featuring Simrit Brar, an OB-GYN physician at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital. Author Liza Agrba had caught wind of an interesting and overlooked study, published in January 2022, on the contentious topic of “birth tourism” — i.e., pregnant foreigners who visit Canada for the purpose of having their babies be born with Canadian citizenship. Past attempts to count birth tourists required some statistical inference, but Dr. Brar led a groundbreaking local effort to enumerate them directly and learn whatever could be discovered about their health outcomes and their effects on Calgary hospital capacity. 

This opportunity was provided through what the economists might call a “natural experiment.” In July 2019, the Calgary health region, which was not quite sure how much birth tourism the region was actually seeing, created a “Central Triage” office designed to capture all prenatal referrals for uninsured maternity patients. 

As Brar et al. describe it, this administrative creature was instituted with a number of goals. It allowed hospitals to distinguish situationally uninsured patients — refugees, persons with expired visas and undocumented residents — from intentional tourists. It established a process for getting full consent from the uninsured, who might have had a nebulous legal status otherwise, and it allowed Alberta Health Services to impose some order on chaotic physician-service pricing. And patients placed in the “birth tourist” category were given pamphlets explaining, basically, “We don’t want you here, although we can’t chase you away,” and were required to hand over a refundable deposit of $15,000. 

The study describes the traffic experienced by this unique Central Triage (CT) system. Of 227 pregnant patients sent to CT without Canadian health insurance over a period of 15½ months, 102 were labelled tourists and 125 were uninsured residents. A few of the birth tourists were lost to follow-up for various reasons (a few went home or gave birth outside Calgary, perhaps as a way of evading the cash deposit), but 83 were treated in Calgary hospitals. About a quarter of the tourists were from Nigeria, 18 per cent were from the Middle East and 11 per cent were from China. 

Calgary has about 15,000 childbirths in a typical year, so those 83 patients represent an added burden on maternity services of about half a percentage point — all other things being equal. But the first thing to note is that the study period ran up to Nov. 1, 2020. About two-thirds of it thus coincided with the COVID pandemic, and doctors did observe a decline in tourism visits when world air travel basically shut down. 

Moreover, Calgary was the only place in Canada where birth tourists were, and are, being discouraged by means of a deposit. (Dr. Brar told Maclean’sshe is concerned that the Central Triage system may be diverting tourism patients to suburban and rural hospitals that are even more overmatched than the city’s.) 

Most of the birth tourists ended up using less than the $15,000 deposit and received refunds, but the study reveals that even in a city determined to address birth tourism consciously, it might create external problems. Birth tourists often arrive in Canada late in pregnancy, when air travel is risky, and some arrive with health problems from the Third World. One tourist was diagnosed with HIV in Calgary and three needed to have cervical cerclagesremoved. Since uninsured patients are on the meter while in an Alberta hospital, they may leave against medical advice. Nine birth-tourist babies required time in the neonatal intensive care unit, including a pair of twins who were in the NICU for 50 and 63 days at the worst conceivable time. 

The kicker is that collecting hospital fees from birth tourists can be tricky if the cost of their care goes over the deposit. During the 15½ months of the study, the tourists ran up about $700,000 in Alberta health bills that are still unpaid. Brar takes a surprisingly unsentimental view of the birth-tourism phenomenon in her Maclean’s interview, emphasizing the “finite” nature of Canadian health care and the affluent nature of the tourists. Her team’s paper suggests making the Central Triage setup province-wide, and perhaps it ought to be imitated even more widely.

Source: A No-Nonsense View of Birth Tourism