Ethnic media on birth tourism (2): Spanish, Chinese (4 articles), Korean

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

Federal government wants to better understand ‘birth tourism’ – Spanish

Description: A study shows that in 2016, many more babies were born to non-resident mothers in Canada than what official statistics indicate, which has led the federal government to analyze the phenomenon in order to better understand why women are coming to give birth here and make their babies Canadian citizens. Using data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI ), researcher Andrew Griffith found that in 2016, 3,200 babies were born in Canada whose mothers were not residents of this country. Statistics Canada’s data shows that there were only 313. The CIHI records invoicing and payment information directly from the hospitals and this is how the statistics were obtained. According to the findings, the numbers are not only higher than what was believed, but there is an increasing trend.
WEB – Noticias Montreal (30000 – Daily6) – Montreal, 26/11/2018 – NEWS, 1/2 page web, 1st Top, Spanish

Ottawa is finally paying attention to maternity tourism – Chinese

Description: Ottawa is now studying so-called “birth tourism” in the hope of better understanding how many women travel to Canada to have babies so that the babies can be born as Canadian citizens. New research shows that more babies are born in Canada to foreign residents than Statistics Canada realized. Using numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researcher Andrew Griffith found that over 3,200 babies were born here to women who were not Canadian residents in 2016 — compared with 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada. The finding suggests not only that the numbers are higher than previously reported but that it is a growing trend, Griffith said.
PRINT – Epoch Times (54000 – Daily5) – Toronto, 26/11/2018 – News, 1/4 page, p. A4, Chinese

The birth rate of anchor babies in Canada is being significantly underestimated – Chinese

Description: RCI Ya Ming – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen promised to study the issue of birth tourism. Researcher Andrew Griffith used numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which captures billing information directly from hospitals, and found that more than 3,200 babies were born here to women who aren’t Canadian residents in 2016, compared with only 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada. Griffithsaid that this finding not only suggests that the numbers are higher than previously reported, but that it’s a growing trend. This trend exists in all Canadian provinces, with the exception of Quebec.
WEB – iask (Daily7) – Markham, 23/11/2018 – NEWS, 1 page web, 1st Top, Chinese

Birth tourism seeking citizenship is hiking up – Korean

Description: A new study shows that the number of births in Canada by nonresidents, known as “birth tourism,” is much higher than previously reported. The level of birth tourism nationally in Canada is at least five times greater than recorded by Statistics Canada while the number of babies in the case has been increased to 3,628 in 2017 from 1,354 in 2010. The majority of birth tourists are from Asia, including China, and prefers B.C. as the destination.
PRINT – Canadian Korean Times Weekly (Weekly) – Toronto, 26/11/2018 – NEWS, 1/4 page, 1st Top, Korean

Two thousand anchor babies are born every year; Metro Vancouver residents want to ban them from getting Canadian citizenship – Chinese

Description: Amy – Birth tourism figures in Canada are around 1,500 to 2,000, five times higher than Statistics Canada had estimated. Richmond resident Kerry Starchuk twice launched petitions to call on Parliament to ban anchor babies from automatically acquiring Canadian citizenship. One of the petitions she launched was supported by Alice Wong. Starchuk emphasized that the purpose of launching the petition was not to target babies born in the country. She is concerned that the large number of anchor babies will become a heavy burden on public spending in future. This August, the federal Conservative Party passed a motion that seeks to amend the law and ban anchor babies from automatically acquiring citizenship.
WEB – Vansky (Daily7) – Vancouver, 22/11/2018 – NEWS, 1 page web, 1st Top, Chinese

2,000 anchor babies are born in Canada every year – Chinese

Description: Sing Tao – A recent report pointed out that about 1,500 to 2,000 anchor babies are born in Canada (every year). Of the 25 hospitals where most such births occur, six are in Ontario, while two are in B.C. Among them, the Richmond Hospital recorded the largest number of anchor babies. The report made three recommendations, including requiring foreign female visitors to disclose the purpose of their visit to Canada, and considering a baby’s citizenship to be obtained through fraud if the mother came for birth tourism.
WEB – CFC NEWS (Daily4) – Ottawa, 22/11/2018 – NEWS, 1 page web, 1st Top, Chinese

BC MLA aims to address birth tourism as new data shows high non-resident birth rates

Given that most actions to curb the practice require at a minimum provincial cooperation if not collaboration, something to watch:

A new study came out last week suggesting the number of “anchor babies” in Canada, especially in Richmond, is much higher than previously expected, and MLA Jas Johal [Liberal, from Richmond] said he will introduce a petition to the B.C. government to “address the problem.”

An anchor baby is a term used to refer to a child born to a non-citizen mother at the time of the child’s birth in a country that has birthright citizenship.

Policy Options magazine published a new study last Thursday from the Institute for Research on Public Policy, suggesting every year, there are 1,500 to 2,000 “anchor babies” born in Canada.

Among all the hospitals in Canada, Richmond Hospital has the highest volume of babies born to non-resident mothers – 469 last year, taking up Richmond’s number of such births to 21.9 per cent of the total births in the hospital.

“I’m glad this national organization was able to shed light on this issue. It acknowledges for the first time everything everyone suspected and builds on the reporting the Richmond News has done,” said Johal.

“Every level of government has to acknowledge the issue and work together. We can’t just be polite Canadians and not deal with it. It has nothing to do with political correctness, but got everything to do with our healthcare system, for and by Canadians. Period.”

Johal said he is very concerned about the birth tourism industry, which “is not only allowed to exist, but to flourish.” He is working with some local residents to put together a petition, which he will introduce to the province in spring.

“There is a whole industry built on marketing these practices, attracting these individuals, housing these individuals, making sure they get proper medical treatment and care services,” said Johal.

“What are the companies being set up to bring these women here? How much do they charge? What’s the money they make? We need to shine some sunlight into an industry that’s being done in the shadows.

“And there is cost to taxpayers. I know they pay for natural birth and C-section, but the potential capacity could be used for somewhere else in the health care system in Richmond.”

The petition, according to Johal, will ask the provincial government to acknowledge that birth tourism exists and have a public say that the government does not support it.

“It will also ask the government to take concrete measures, to eliminate or very much reduce the practice,” he said.

Johal said as an immigrant moving from India when he was little, this issue upsets him on the personal level.

“I value the Canadian passport more than anything in my life, but this fundamentally debases the value of Canadian citizenship,” said Johal.

Source: MLA aims to address birth tourism as new data shows high non-resident birth rates 

Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone: Jamie Liew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Selley: Maybe Canada has a ‘birth tourism’ problem after all

My Policy Options article (Read Story) prompted more comment. I agree with Selley in his critique of the over-reaction by the Liberals and the NDP to the CPC policy resolution calling for an end to birthright citizenship and the reflexive labelling of the proposal as racist or xenophobic rather than a measured response.

Which, as Selley notes, the government now has in its plans to study the issue using the same data from CIHI that I used in my article:

Well, here’s something curious. Last week the Liberal government announced it has commissioned research on “birth tourism” — that is, the practice of coming to Canada with the sole intent of giving birth, then returning home with a child who’s a Canadian citizen. “The government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts,” Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen wrote in a response tabled in Parliament.

It’s in reaction to new research by Andrew Griffith, a former senior official at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, published last week in Policy Options. It suggests the practice may be far more widespread than had previously been thought.

Earlier reported numbers from Statistics Canada, based on provincial records, suggested there might be 300 such births in a year. But a single hospital in Richmond, B.C., was reporting more. Griffith turned instead to the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s discharge abstract database, and found that 1.2 per cent of births between 2010 and 2017 in Canada, excluding Quebec, were to non-resident mothers.

That excludes refugee claimants and permanent residents who aren’t yet eligible for their province’s medical insurance; they are categorized separately. It includes people who aren’t birth tourists as we commonly think of them: Foreigners posted to Canada by their employers, international students, and Canadian expats returning home to give birth.

Even if just half of those are “birth tourists,” though — a conservative estimate, in Griffith’s view — it’s still more than five times what had been reported. We might be granting citizenship to more birth tourist babies than Prince Edward Islander babies. The numbers grew steadily from 1,354 in 2010 to 3,628 in 2017.

None of that is to say this is a massive problem. I say it’s curious because earlier this year, when Conservative Party of Canada members approved a resolution in favour of the most superficially obvious solution — don’t grant automatic citizenship to Canadian-born children of parents who aren’t citizens or permanent residents — the Liberals, along with much of the Canadian media, went absolutely bananas.

“The NDP unequivocally condemns the division and hate being peddled by Andrew Scheer and the CPC,” leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted. Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, lamented that the Conservatives “committed to give the government the power to strip people born in Canada of Canadian citizenship.”

Media consumers were told the policy would create stateless children. But Canada is bound by treaty not to create stateless people, as are the majority of countries around the world that do not grant absolute birthright citizenship. Even the Conservatives’ law stripping convicted terrorists of Canadian citizenship respected obligations regarding statelessness; there’s every reason to believe these changes would as well.

“(It’s a) shame to see the Conservatives going back down the path established by the Harper government, which seeks to strip away the citizenship of people who have only ever known Canada as a home,” a spokesperson for Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen fulminated.

You would never know it was Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido, a Liberal, who sponsored a petition asking the government to condemn birth tourism and figure out how to stop it. And you would certainly never know lawyers for Hussen’s department were in court arguing not to grant citizenship to two Canadian-born children of Russian spies.

“Only 34 countries grant the automatic acquisition of citizenship through birthplace regardless of parents’ nationality or status,” the federal submission argued (noting none of the 34 are in Europe). “This practice is not consistent and uniform enough to ground a rule of customary international law.”

This is a trick only Liberals can pull off: Deny a problem exists; denounce those who suggest it exists as despicable human beings trying to foment social unrest; later accept there may actually be a problem without the slightest bit of humility, and if possible continue denouncing those who think there’s a problem even while trying to solve it. It speaks ill of our political arena that they get away with it so often.

None of the potential solutions are especially palatable. Griffith suggests asking visa applicants whether they intend to give birth in Canada; misrepresentation could lead to revocation of the child’s citizenship, as it would have been acquired fraudulently. He suspects enforcement would be “virtually impossible,” however. And asking visiting women about their reproductive intentions is the sort of thing Liberals would scream bloody murder about in opposition.

The Conservatives examined the idea of limiting birthright citizenship but ultimately rejected it for reasons of cost and practicality. But after studying the problem more in depth, if the problem really is five times or more bigger than we thought, there is no reason not to consider it again. This is something nearly every country comparable to Canada does without violating human rights. It makes perfect sense: We don’t grant citizenship to children of foreign diplomats; why grant it to others whose parents have no personal link to Canada? There is something more than a bit weird about a country where such a normal idea can be met with such hysteria.

Source: Chris Selley: Maybe Canada has a ‘birth tourism’ problem after all

In Ireland, Bid to Restore Birthright Citizenship Gains Ground

More on Irish birthright citizenship debates, where the case of a young boy has helped shift opinion:

Ireland, which seems intent on bucking the illiberal tide in the West, is at it again: As other countries move to tighten restrictions on immigration, the Irish public is overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to reinstate birthright citizenship.

A proposed law on the subject passed a preliminary vote in the Irish Senate on Wednesday, three days after an opinion poll for the Irish edition of The Sunday Times of London showed that 71 percent of respondents favor birthright citizenship. Nineteen percent were opposed and 10 percent undecided.

Should it be enacted, the proposed law would grant the right to citizenship to any person who is born in Ireland and subsequently lives in the country for three years, regardless of the parents’ citizenship or residency status. It would largely reverse the effect of 2004 referendum in which 79 percent of voters supported the removal of a constitutional provision granting citizenship to anyone born in Ireland.

This remarkable swing in public opinion, at a time when President Trump has called for ending birthright citizenship in the United States, follows a high-profile case in which Eric Zhi Ying Xue, a 9-year-old boy who was born in Ireland, was threatened last month with deportation along with his Chinese mother.

His teachers and classmates at St. Cronan’s School in County Wicklow rallied around him, and a petition asking the government not to deport Eric or his mother collected 50,000 signatures within a few days. The family was instead given three months to make a case to be given legal permission to remain in the country, a possible route to full citizenship.

As popular as it may be, the birthright citizenship proposal has one critical opponent: the Irish government, which says it will seek to defeat the new bill.

The government’s opposition is based on the special relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland, said a spokesman for the Department of Justice and Equality, which has responsibility for immigration matters.

Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, its people are legally entitled to both British and Irish citizenship. The Irish government fears that people living illegally in Britain could move to Northern Ireland, give birth to a child there and obtain Irish citizenship for their child after living there for three years.

The parents could then use the child’s citizenship to obtain residency anywhere in Ireland or the United Kingdom which, though separate countries, confer extensive mutual residency and travel rights on each other’s citizens.

There are also concerns that British residents seeking to retain European rights to free movement after Britain leaves the European Union might use the same mechanism to obtain citizenship in the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the bloc.

The case of Eric Zhi Ying Xue, who was born in Ireland and threatened with deportation, galvanized public opinion in favor of birthright citizenship.
The spokesman also said that the present path to citizenship for those born in Ireland was aligned with the provisions in most other European Union member states, and that the government had the discretion to make exceptions in difficult cases. Under the current system, the Irish-born individual must have at least one Irish parent, or several years of legal residency in Ireland by a parent, to qualify for citizenship.

Ivana Bacik, the senator who introduced the bill, said that the current immigration system was too slow and too dependent on the opaque decisions of officials.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of cases of children born and raised in Ireland, yet who are threatened with deportation because their parents’ immigration cases have dragged on for years and years,” Ms. Bacik said.

“In cases like Eric’s, the ministers tend to intervene under public pressure and give leave to remain,” she said. “But it shouldn’t be up to the classmates of frightened children to mount campaigns to have them stay in the country.”

Ms. Bacik said that her bill had the support of the three main opposition parties, and that she was confident it would pass all stages in the Senate. But its prospects in the more powerful lower house, the Dail, are less certain.

“Whether it can pass in the Dail remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful,” she said. “The government is more trenchant in its opposition than we expected. Their talk in the Senate about new waves of immigrants was almost Trumpian. But even if they can defeat this bill, they will still have to do something to regularize people in this position.”

The Irish Council for Immigrants, an independent nongovernmental organization, said that Eric’s case was part of a broader problem relating to the registration and legalization of children who were either born in Ireland to undocumented immigrants or brought to the country when they were very young.

This year, pupils, teachers and parents at a school in Tullamore, County Offaly, successfully fought the deportation of Nonso Muojeke, a 14-year-old who was born in Nigeria but has lived in Ireland since the age of 2.

“It is really the classmates of these children who are standing up for them,” said Pippa Woolnough, a spokeswoman for the Irish Council for Immigrants. “It’s people saying, ‘Hang on, this is Eric or Nonso; I play with him after school and he’s part of our community. He’s as Irish as I am.’”

Immigrant support groups complain that Ireland’s immigration system is intimidating, inconsistent, slow and difficult to navigate. They want the government to make the system more streamlined and transparent, so that children threatened with deportation do not have to lobby in the hope that someone with influence will take an interest in their case.

Maeve Tierney, the principal of St. Cronan’s, where Eric is a student, said that she had heard from other schools that there could be several hundred more cases similar to those of Eric and Nonso, and that the government may have opposed the proposed changes for fear of setting a precedent.

But she said the current system was unfair and unsustainable.

“I’m not saying open the doors to everyone and anyone,” she said. “Any system can be exploited. But this is just wrong.”

Source: In Ireland, Bid to Restore Birthright Citizenship Gains Ground

Birth Tourism: Media interest following my Policy Options piece (updated)

While I had expected considerable media interest, given the substance and the politics of the issue, yesterday had me doing TV interviews on all major networks and a radio interview with Rob Breakenridge of Global news in Calgary.

The most in-depth TV interview was on Power and Politics at the 1:13 mark: Power and Politics 23 Nov 2018.

Global TV:  New numbers show more ‘birth tourism’ in Canada than thought

CTV: New data shows birth tourism on the rise on Canada

Later interviews

On Radio Canada Vancouver (in French):

Boulevard du Pacifique: La Colombie-Britannique, chef de file du tourisme des naissances

CTV’s Your Morning:

Shocking new study reveals “birth tourism” in Canada is steadily increasing

The Sunday Edition, with Michael Enright, featuring mmigration lawyer Jamie Liew and Jas Johal, MLA for Richmond-Queensboroug: Birth tourism may be a hot button issue in the next federal election

 

Richmond Hospital is ground zero for the skyrocketing number of ‘anchor babies’ born in Canada, study indicates

Good report from the Vancouver Star:

More than one in five babies born in Metro Vancouver’s Richmond Hospital could be so-called “anchor babies” — children born to non-residents in order to gain Canadian citizenship — according to a new study.

The study, authored by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) and published Thursday in Policy Options magazine, suggests 21.9 per cent of the children delivered in Richmond Hospital are born to non-resident mothers — more than double the percentage born in any other Canadian hospital.

The IRPP study also shows the number of such children born in Canada is far higher than previously estimated.

While a Statistics Canada report found roughly 312 babies are born in the country each year to mothers whose place of residence is officially listed as outside of Canada, IRPP’s study put that number at closer to 1,500 or 2,000 children annually. The data shows the number of births to non-resident mothers — including all provinces but Quebec, which refused to release the data — skyrocketed to 3,628 last year from just 1,354 in 2010.

The issue of birth tourism — when pregnant women fly to Canada to give birth — is divisive because children born under such circumstances are automatically granted Canadian citizenship. They therefore enjoy all the attendant rights and privileges, such as access to domestic university fees as well as subsidized education and health care, even though their parents aren’t taxpayers and the children themselves will not necessarily be raised in Canada.

Joe Peschisolido, Liberal MP for Steveston-Richmond East, believes the revelation provided by the study has some troubling implications.

“Even though I believe the (birth tourism) epicentre is in Richmond — and at the hospital in Richmond — I think you’re starting to see birth tourism as an institution,” Peschisolido told StarMetro in a Thursday phone interview.

“There are individuals that are profiting from this. And I think that’s the most heinous thing. You’re getting individuals that are abusing … the immigration and citizenship system … and are profiting off of an illegitimate — and the government has said unethical — system.”

A Thursday statement from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) confirmed the numbers in the IRPP study, though slightly more children were actually born to non-resident mothers in Richmond Hospital than the IRPP study accounted for.

While the IRPP study showed 469 non-resident births occurred in Richmond Hospital in 2017-18, VCH’s figures show 474 children were born to 469 resident mothers. The disparity, the statement explained, comes from the number of twins born in that time period.

And while the number of babies born to non-resident mothers has been increasing over the past several years — from 15.4 per cent of the total in 2014-15 to 22.1 per cent of the total in 2017-18 — the total number of babies born to all mothers decreased slightly this year, according to VCH.

The health authority also noted that non-residents are required to pay all hospital and medical-care costs for the mother and baby, including a prepayment deposit of $8,200 for a vaginal birth and $13,300 for a caesarean birth.

In March, Peschisolido sponsored a petition spearheaded by Richmond resident Kerry Starchuk calling on the federal government to condemn the “abusive and exploitative practice” of birth tourism.

Birth tourism, the petition said, fundamentally debases the value of Canadian citizenship; costs taxpayers money, since children of non-residents have access to services such as health care and subsidized education; and displaces residents from local hospital beds.

On Monday, the federal government tabled its response to Peschisolido’s petition, saying Canada does not currently collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when she enters Canada.

“A person is not inadmissible nor can they be denied a visa solely on the grounds that they are pregnant or that they may give birth in Canada,” the response reads.

And while misrepresenting the purpose of a visit to Canada to a federal officer carries “significant consequences,” the statement points out citizenship acquired through birth on Canadian soil has been policy since 1947.

Ottawa’s response, however, refers back to 2016 data from Statistics Canada, saying only about 300 of the 385,000 children born in Canada each year are born to non-resident mothers.

“This constitutes less than 0.1 per cent of the total number of births in Canada,” the response says, adding these numbers show the practice is not widespread but that the government has nevertheless commissioned research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information to look into the issue. It also committed to developing measures to address the institute’s findings.

Peschisolido said he was satisfied with the response. He said he hopes to participate in the review process once more granular data has been collected and responsible decisions can be made about the extent of birth tourism and what can be done to stop it.

But Will Tao, a Vancouver immigration lawyer, said he worries that focusing purely on statistics risks unnecessarily casting aspersions on all non-resident mothers.

“I don’t think (birth tourism) is the problem itself, so much as a symptom of the problem,” Tao told StarMetro. “I think the real problem is the unregulated nature of immigration advice.”

There are most certainly practitioners abroad who advise mothers to come to Canada to give birth as a kind of backdoor to citizenship, he said. And the federal government could do a better job providing a narrative — much in the way it has for individuals seeking refugee status — that would discourage abuses of the birthright policy, he said.

But there are countless non-residents who have children while in Canada for many other reasons. Those people, he said, should not be painted with the same brush as those who wilfully exploit the path to Canadian citizenship.

The IRPP study reflects that concern, noting its figures are not exact because they don’t express how many children were delivered by mothers with temporary status in Canada — a bracket that includes Canadian expatriates returning to give birth, corporate transferees and international students.

But researcher Andrew Griffith told The Star that a conservative estimate would suggest roughly 40 or 50 per cent of the non-resident mothers were birth tourists.

The study mined the Canadian Institute for Health Information discharge database, and according to Griffith, the IRPP’s figures — based on hospital financial data that codes services provided to non-residents under “other country resident self-pay” — more accurately reflect the number of non-resident births in Canada.

The IRPP study offered several options to address the problem of birth tourism, including:

  • Amending immigration laws to make it an offence if a woman fails to disclose the delivery of a child as the purpose of a visit to Canada and make that child’s citizenship fraudulent due to its procurement through misrepresentation
  • Adopting a “qualified” birthright approach by which a child is granted citizenship only when at least one parent is either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the child resides in Canada for at least 10 years after birth

Tao, the immigration lawyer, said he understood why people are shocked by how far above the national average the number of children born to non-resident mothers in Richmond Hospital are.

But through his interactions with clients, he said, he has encountered many families who could technically be called “birth tourists,” were that definition applied loosely enough. He said he was concerned that forthcoming regulations could encompass non-resident families or individuals whose children were born in Canada for legitimate reasons.

Tao also suggested a policy requiring immigration officials to question the motives of pregnant women as a matter of course could be “a very slippery slope into prejudice and background checking of other types.”

Griffiths, the researcher, agreed that birth tourism at the national level, currently accounting for roughly 0.5 per cent of the total annual live births in Canada according to the IRPP, is not a huge problem but suggested it should be monitored closely.

“Using this as a starting point, if we see any further increase or a trend line, then we need to take another fresh look at it,” he said.

But Peschisolido said that in a city like Richmond, where birth tourism appears to be a far more pervasive trend, every level of government has a responsibility to investigate how it can be slowed or stopped and what, exactly, may be driving it.

Source: Richmond Hospital is ground zero for the skyrocketing number of ‘anchor babies’ born in Canada, study indicates

Birth Tourism: My analysis and related articles

The link to my Policy Options article on the extent of, and options in dealing with birth tourism:

 Hospital stats show birth tourism rising in major cities 

Article has attracted considerable interest on Twitter and in the media.

In the Toronto Star:

The number of so-called “anchor babies” — children born to non-residents for the purpose of gaining citizenship — is at least five times higher than Canadian officials had estimated, new research suggests.

Birth tourism in Canada, where women late in pregnancy fly in to deliver their babies here, is controversial because the newborns are automatically Canadian citizens and enjoy full citizenship rights such as free education and lower university fees, even though their foreign parents aren’t taxpayers.

Statistics Canada has, since 2013, counted 1,561 babies — about 312 annually — born here to mothers, whose place of residence was listed outside Canada, based on figures from provincial birth registries.

However, a new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy released Thursday suggests the number of “anchor babies” born here every year is likely in the 1,500 to 2,000 range.

The study mined the Canadian Institute for Health Information discharge database, and according to researcher Andrew Griffith, the figures — based on hospital financial data that codes services provided to non-residents under “other country resident self-pay” — give a clearer picture of the extent of the problem.

The data shows the number of births to non-resident mothers (including all provinces but Quebec, which refused to release the data) skyrocketed to 3,628 last year from just 1,354 in 2010, said the report by the Montreal-based think tank. It showed the Richmond Hospital in British Columbia with the highest volume of babies born to non-resident mothers.

Of the top 10 hospitals where such births were recorded, six are in the GTA.

The numbers are not perfect because they don’t break down how many of the births were to mothers with temporary status in Canada, which include Canadian expatriates returning to give birth, corporate transferees or international students who didn’t come here to specifically to have children. But Griffith says a conservative estimate is that 40 to 50 per cent of the non-resident mothers were birth tourists.

“How the (delivery) services are paid for is a more representative and realistic measure than the provincial registries,” said Griffith, a retired director general with Immigration Canada, adding part of the discrepancy can be attributed to birth tourists using their temporary Canadian address on birth registration forms and hence not being counted as non-residents.

“The concern has always been these people are exploiting the loophole in the law to obtain citizenship for their children when they are not entitled to that. There’s also the financial liability and responsibility on Canadian taxpayers for the child’s benefits.”

Currently, immigration officials cannot refuse a visitor visa application on the basis of the applicant’s intent to give birth in Canada, though they can assess if the person has enough money to visit Canada, if they will abide by the visa’s departure date and if they have a criminal record and should be barred from entry.

In 2012, the then-Conservative federal government, under Stephen Harper, had considered a crackdown on birth tourism but discarded the idea because the relatively small number of incidents — based on an estimate of 500 cases a year — did not justify the anticipated costs of enforcement.

However, with immigration and refugees expected to become a wedge issue in next year’s federal election, the Conservatives voted this summer at the party’s convention to end the birthright citizenship policy that gives citizenship to babies born in Canada even if their parents aren’t citizens or don’t have legal status in Canada. The motion is non-binding but could be part of their campaign platform next year.

Andrew Griffith, a retired director general with the immigration department, said birth tourism, while not a huge problem, should be monitored closely.

Griffith said any policy decision must be based on evidence and that’s what prompted him to seek out the most reliable data on the issue of birth tourism.

“Is it a widespread problem or is it just a phenomenon at the Richmond Hospital?” asked Griffith, referring to the B.C. hospital cited by the media as the epicentre of birth tourism. “We need data for informed decisions.”

He said birth tourism, currently accounting for roughly 0.5 per cent of the total annual live births in Canada, is not a huge problem but should be monitored closely.

“Using this as a starting point, if we see any further increase or a trend line, then we need to take another fresh look at it,” he said.

The study offers three options for policy-makers to tackle the problem if birth tourism gets out of control:

  • Amend immigration laws to make it an offence if a female visitor fails to disclose the purpose of her visit to give birth or declare her pregnancy to officials. The child’s citizenship would then be deemed fraudulently obtained due to misrepresentation by the mother.
  • Follow Australia’s move by adopting a “qualified” birthright approach specifying a person born in Canada would only be a Canadian citizen if the parent is either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the child lives in the country for 10 years after birth.
  • Introduce regulations prohibiting rooming houses and consultant and support services for birth tourists, substantially increasing the financial deposits required by hospitals from non-residents and ordering the provinces to require proof of payment prior to issuing birth certificates for children of non-resident mothers.

Source: Number of ‘anchor babies’ born in Canada far greater than official estimates, study shows

The CP article quoting Minister Hussen’s reactions to the findings along with other commentary:

With new research showing that more babies are born in Canada to foreign residents than Statistics Canada realized, the federal government is studying the issue of “birth tourism” in the hope of better understanding how many women travel to Canada to have babies who are born Canadian citizens.

Using numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researcher Andrew Griffith found over 3,200 babies were born here to women who weren’t Canadian residents in 2016 – compared with the 313 babies recorded by Statistics Canada.

The finding suggests not only that the numbers are higher than previously reported, but that it’s a growing trend, Griffith says.

“(The data) shows the steady growth in the number of babies born in hospitals to women who are residents of other countries, by absolute numbers and percentage, for all provinces except Quebec,” Griffith wrote in an article in Policy Options, published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy. “These births total just over one per cent of all live births in English Canada.”

A petition tabled recently in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido calls on Canada to take stronger measures to end birth tourism, saying it abuses Canada’s social-welfare system.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen responded by saying his department has commissioned research to get a better picture of the scope of the issue in Canada.

“While these statistics indicate that this is not a widespread practice, the government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts,” Hussen said in his response, tabled in Parliament.

The department has commissioned CIHI to perform this research.

The issue of so-called birth tourism has been polarizing in Canada, with the Liberals defending the current law that gives automatic citizenship to anyone born on Canadian soil except for children of foreign diplomats.

Conservative party members passed a policy resolution during their biennial convention this summer calling on the government to end birthright citizenship “unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.”

Leader Andrew Scheer said at the time one of the goals would be to end the practice of women coming to Canada simply to give birth to a child that will automatically have Canadian citizenship.

Other countries have ended or modified their birthright-citizenship laws, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, India, the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Portugal. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenship in the United States, although critics have argued such a change could violate that country’s constitution.

Canada did explore changing Canada’s existing birthright policy under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. This work ultimately found any change to the law would have significant impacts, according to a senior government official who spoke to The Canadian Press on background.

Many Canadians – 40 per cent or more – don’t have passports and use birth certificates to prove their citizenship. A change in birthright-citizenship rules would mean they’d need new forms of identification to prove their citizenship and get government services.

A 2013 estimate pegged the cost of changing the rules at $20 million to $30 million, plus $7 million in extra costs for the federal government every year, the senior official said. He further noted this did not include costs to the provinces and territories, which would be even higher because they’re responsible for more personal documents than the federal government is.

The Conservatives did not change the policy. Nor will the Liberals, said Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Hussen.

“The birth-on-soil principle has been enshrined in our legislation since Canadian citizenship first came into existence in 1947. A change to this principle was planned by the Harper Conservatives, but abandoned after listening to the advice of experts,” Genest said. But the Immigration Department still wants a better understanding of what’s going on.

Griffith said he was inspired to delve into the question of how prevalent birth tourism is in Canada after he noted the number of non-resident births reported for Richmond Hospital in B.C. were disproportionate to the rest of the country, as calculated by Statistics Canada.

The data he collected from CIHI captured the number of mothers who paid out-of-pocket for their hospital bills, which was at least five times higher. He acknowledged this would include Canadian expatriates and foreign students whose hospital expenses were not covered by Canadian medicare.

Ontario immigration lawyer Gordon Scott Campbell said he’s had several clients in recent years who have given birth while in Canada while in the middle of legitimate refugee or immigration processes.

For example, he said some women with visitor status live with their spouses while applying for spousal sponsorship, and some refugees arrive pregnant or become pregnant while waiting for their claims to be processed.

“It would seem extremely punitive, even misogynistic, arguably, to say that no woman should be able to become pregnant or be pregnant if you’re not a permanent resident or a citizen of Canada,” Campbell said.

“Are we talking about three people a year, four people a year, flying into Canada (to give birth)?” he asked. “I’m not sure we even have any proof of that. There might be anecdotal proof out there in media articles, but if we’re talking two or three people a year, it’s hardly a national crisis justifying legislation.”

Vancouver Coastal Health, the authority that oversees the Richmond Hospital, said Thursday that taxpayers don’t pay for non-resident births. The agency provided its own statistics, which differed slightly from Griffith’s findings but which were also out of keeping with the numbers of non-resident births in Canada reported by Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada says it generates its data from demographic information provided by vital-statistics registries in the provinces and territories. Parents complete these registry forms and are responsible for filing them with local registrars, the agency said. Griffith believes Statistics Canada might record lower numbers of non-resident births because parents put local addresses on these forms that aren’t their real permanent addresses.

As part of his response to Parliament, Hussen said Canada does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering Canada, nor can a woman legally be denied entry solely because she is pregnant or might give birth in Canada.

Source: Ottawa studying ‘birth tourism’ in light of new data showing higher non-resident birth rates

Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun who also wrote an earlier piece on surrogacy and birth tourism:

When it comes to hot tourism spots in Canada, few would put suburbs like Richmond, British Columbia or Scarborough, Ontario up there with the CN Tower or the Rockies.

But to a certain kind of tourist, these suburbs, and specifically their hospitals, are all the rage.

A new paper from the Institute for Research on Public Policy shows birth tourism is growing in Canada’s major cities.

Written by Andrew Griffith, the former director general of Immigration Canada, the paper reveals significantly more women than thought are coming to Canada to deliver their babies and leave with a Canadian passport for their child.

“The level of birth tourism nationally is at least five times greater than the 300 births captured by Statistics Canada in 2016,” Griffith writes.

Instead of the Statistics Canada number, Griffith estimates that there were 3,628 babies born to foreign parents in 2017, and that doesn’t include numbers from Quebec.

“The impact of this practice can no longer be described as insignificant given its effect on the integrity of citizenship and public perceptions that birth tourism is a fraudulent shortcut to obtaining citizenship,” Griffith writes.

These figures don’t include landed immigrants or refugees, this is simply people who are simply visiting Canada when they give birth.

While some would be people visiting on a work or student visa, Griffith says that even with a conservative estimate of 40% to 50% the number is too high.

His search for better data on birth tourism was sparked by reports earlier this year showing more than 20% of births at the Richmond Hospital just outside Vancouver were due to birth tourism.

Of 2,145 births at this hospital in 2017-18, 469 were non-resident births.

The second highest hospital tracked by Griffith for the paper is Scarborough and Rouge Hospital — Birchmount site in Toronto’s East End and St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal.

Both of those sites saw more than 9% of all births involve non-residents.

One thing all the hospitals on the list have in common is easy access to a major airport and direct flights in and out of Canada.

A petition sponsored by Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido, who represents the Richmond area, calls on the government to study the problem of birth tourism and take steps to end it.

So far the petition has garnered almost 11,000 signatures.

The previous Harper government considered taking action to stopping birth tourism but with StatsCan saying there were only a few hundred cases a year, the cost to enforce any new measures was deemed too high.

Now with higher and growing numbers, it is time to act.

The numbers tracked by Griffith show the number of births to non-resident mothers has just about tripled between 2010 and 2017.

None of this includes the numbers I revealed in this paper a week ago showing 44% of surrogacy births in British Columbia in 2016 and 2017 were for foreign based parents using a Canadian surrogate.

Each of those children, regardless of the status of the parents, gets full Canadian citizenship and all the benefits that entails. Even if the mother only flew into Canada and checked into the hospital for the express purpose of giving birth.

Isn’t that making a mockery of our system?

Doesn’t that debase Canadian citizenship?

There are lawyers, consultants and “global mobility solutions” experts offering services on having a baby in Canada in order to get a Canadian passport for the baby.

The Conservative Party passed a resolution at their convention this past summer to end the practice of birth tourism.

That move was instantly attacked by Trudeau’s top aide Gerald Butts as, “a deeply wrong and disturbing idea.”

You’ll recall that Trudeau famously campaigned to give back Canadian citizenship to convicted terrorists who had dual citizenship and who had taken up arms against Canada.

His mantra was that a Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.

It’s a handy catch phrase and useful when the real purpose is to try and sound compassionate and scare immigrants.

The truth is that under Trudeau Canada has still stripped many people of citizenship. From former Nazis to people that lied on their applications to come here.

The simple fact of the matter is that Canadians get to decide who gets citizenship, and we do that all the time.

Changing the law to end birth tourism, a growing and disturbing trend, would hardly be controversial for most Canadians.

Let’s hope someone in the political world has the courage to take up this issue.

Source: LILLEY: Birth tourism on rise across Canada | Toronto Sun

An article in The Breaker on the formal government response to the petition by MP Peschisolido (written before my article came out):

The federal Liberal government says it will undertake further research into birth tourism.

That, according to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s Nov. 19 response to an electronic petition initiated by Richmond activist Kerry Starchuk and sponsored by Steveston-Richmond East Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido.

Starchuk’s petition, which was supported by 10,882 people, was brought to the House of Commons on Oct. 5 by Peschisolido. It called upon the government to state it opposes birth tourism, commit public resources to determine the full extent of the practice and implement concrete measures to reduce and eliminate the practice. Under federal law, MP-endorsed electronic petitions that gain 500 or more supporters within four months are tabled in the House of Commons. 

Citizenship acquired through birth on soil has been in place since the first Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, though it does not apply to children of anyone representing or working for a foreign government. Richmond Hospital averages one foreign birth a day and there have been cases where local mothers have been transferred to other hospitals to make way for foreign mothers. Petitioner Starchuk is also concerned with the potential future health and education costs to taxpayers.

The 354-word response said the government does not collect information on whether a woman is pregnant when entering the country, and a person cannot be deemed inadmissible or denied a visa if they are pregnant or if they may give birth in the country. But foreign nationals are required to state the purpose of their visit.

“Applicants must always be honest about the purpose of their visit. Providing false information or documents when dealing with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or Canada Border Services Agency is considered misrepresentation and has significant consequences,” said the official response.

The response quoted from 2016 Statistics Canada data that said only 300 children were born to foreign women among the 385,000 babies born in the country that year. But that data has been discredited in media reports which found public agencies do not harmonize their research and there are loopholes that prevent accurate data collection.

The Richmond News reported in June that many non-resident women who give birth at Richmond Hospital list their address as a birth house or birth hostel where they are temporarily staying. Richmond Hospital saw a jump in self-pay births from non-resident mothers from 299 in 2015-2016 to 379 a year later. Most were from China.

RICHMOND HOSPITAL (MACKIN)

Should the birth house operator list the address of their home business at the hospital’s registration desk, the ministry would not count the baby as a non-resident,” the newspaper reported. “Only when the true address of the mother is registered, does the birth become a non-resident in the eyes of Vital Statistics B.C.”

The response said the federal government “recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts. IRCC has commissioned research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which also show the number of children born to non-residents who were required to pay hospital expenses to be less than 1% of total births in Canada, and will undertake further research in this regard.”

Starchuk said the response lacks details about the government’s next steps.

“There’s no deadline, they’ve left it open-ended,” Starchuk told theBreaker. “How long are they going to take to do it?”

She was also perplexed why such a multifaceted issue attracted a response from only the immigration minister, but not the ministers of public safety (Ralph Goodale) or border security (Bill Blair).

The response also said the government is “committed to protecting the public from fraud and unethical consulting practices and protecting the integrity of Canada’s immigration and citizenship programs,” so it is undertaking a comprehensive review aimed at cracking down on unscrupulous consultants and those who exploit programs through misrepresentation.”

In 2016, Starchuk also petitioned the federal government to end birth tourism, but the December 2016 reply from then-Immigration Minister John McCallum dismissed the issue. McCallum was later appointed Canada’s ambassador to China.

Source: Feds to study birth tourism, but petitioner wants details

Lastly, an op-ed by Jamie Liew of University of Ottawa law faculty written before my analysis, quoting my comments dismissing the issue as insignificant given the previous numbers (my position has evolved :):

There’s been a lot of talk about getting rid of birthright citizenship in Canada and the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he’ll issue an executive order to do so, and the Conservative Party of Canada passed a motion that, should they form the next federal government, birthright citizenship will be no more.

In the U.S., the president will have to contend with the fact that he can’t just unilaterally eliminate a right granted in the 14th Amendment of their constitution.

In Canada, birthright citizenship can be eliminated simply by amending or repealing parts of the Citizenship Act.

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

As Andrew Griffith, former director general at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, points out, fewer than 0.1 per cent of total births in Canada in the past 10 years (except 2012) involved births of children to foreign mothers. Griffiths concludes, “An impartial observer would conclude that there is currently no business case for changing Canada’s birth policy.”

Aside from the business case, what’s not talked about is how the elimination of birthright citizenship would affect not just migrants, but all of us. Undoubtedly, such a policy would increase the number of stateless persons in Canada.

Every person born in Canada to non-citizen parents would have to apply for citizenship. More tax dollars would be needed to process the applications. Clerks would suddenly have the power to make substantive and legal determinations about the status of every person who applies for citizenship. Like any administrative system, mistakes would be made. Bad or wrong decisions would be challenged in the courts at great expense to both the state and people affected. People would struggle with the fact that they are stateless in the interim.

Being stateless has serious implications.

Stateless persons have difficulty accessing education, employment, health care, social services and freedom of movement. Simple things such as getting a bank account, cellphone account or registering birth, marriage or death are complicated, if not impossible. Stateless persons would be subject to arrest, detention and potential removal to places they may never have been to.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable: the indigent, the less educated, those with mental illness, children in precarious family situations or wards of the state. These are the people who may not have the appropriate paperwork or proof that they do qualify for citizenship or they won’t have support for obtaining citizenship.

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

The elimination of birthright citizenship is, then, not an act to preserve or protect the integrity of citizenship. The policy is a dividing tool that fuels discrimination against those of different races and socioeconomic classes. It’s a tool to delegitimize persons who have a genuine and effective link to Canada. It would create barriers to important rights that come with citizenship, including the right to vote.

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

Canadians should be cautious when considering the idea to get rid of birthright citizenship. It wouldn’t stop migrants from coming. Instead of making it harder to get citizenship, we should trust our well-oiled immigration system to deal with the entry of persons within our country.

Such a policy would not build confidence in the integrity of Canadian citizenship. Instead, citizenship would be more precarious than ever before.

Canadians should also be mindful that Canada has signed onto the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which obligate Canada not to create situations of statelessness.

My father was born stateless because the state he was born into didn’t confer birthright citizenship. It affected his opportunity for education, employment and his mental health.

Being a child of a previously stateless person, I’m proof enough that welcoming stateless persons to Canada with the conferral of citizenship is the best way to build a nation.

Source: Birthright citizenship affects all Canadians

 

Huge swing in favour of citizenship for all born in Ireland

Interesting shift. Shows the power of personal stories to change narratives (as happened with the

Alan Kurdi photo and Syrian refugees):

Seven out of 10 voters believe children born on the island of Ireland should be automatically entitled to citizenship, in an almost direct reversal of the result of the citizenship referendum 14 years ago.

A new Behaviour & Attitudes poll for The Sunday Times has found 71% of Irish voters believe anyone born in Ireland should be entitled to citizenship, while one in five (19%) feel they should not have automatic entitlement.

The poll was taken following the high-profile case of Eric Zhi Ying Xue, 9, a pupil in St Cronan’s national school, Bray, Co Wicklow, who was faced with deportation along with his Chinese mother, Leena Mei Mei Xue.

Source: Huge swing in favour of citizenship for all born in Ireland