Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A Policy Road Map

Of interest. Two ideas Canada could consider:

  • “a new “bridge” visa as the main route for admission for most foreign workers arriving on employment visas. This bridge visa would cut across occupations, allow for circularity and bridge the artificial dichotomy between temporary and permanent pathways.” Already happening to a certain extent in Canada given increased numbers of temporary to permanent resident transitions.
  • “creation of an independent expert body within government that makes recommendations on annual admissions based on careful, nonpartisan review of labor market, economic, demographic and immigration trends.”
  • New reporting by the Census Bureau that the United States saw the second slowest rate of population growth since the decennial census began in 1790 represents a warning sign for a country seeing rising shares of retirees and a declining child population. In fact, the Census Bureau is projecting that the United States will have more seniors than children in less than 15 years. In this context, immigration will become increasingly important for sustaining the growth of the U.S. labor force.

    Yet the legal immigration system, which was built on a scaffolding first established in 1952 and saw its last major legislative update in 1990, is profoundly misaligned with these demographic realities and other key factors shaping migration to the country. This misalignment is the principal cause for illegal immigration, with an unauthorized immigrant population estimated at 11 million people. It is also responsible for the mounting backlog in legal immigration streams, with some in the green-card queue scheduled to wait an impossible 223 years for an employment-based visa. 

    The consequences of the failure by Congress and past administrations to update immigration laws to match current realities have been enormous for the country and for its economy, as a new policy brief from the Migration Policy Institute’s Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy initiative makes clear. In Rethinking the U.S. Legal Immigration System: A Policy Road Map, MPI analysts Muzaffar Chishti, Julia Gelatt and Doris Meissner sketch the broad contours of some of the most needed reforms in the legal immigration system.

    “Immigration policy should fundamentally be tailored to serve U.S. national interests,” they write. “As such, it should reflect factors inside the United States that create a need for immigrant workers and position the country well to benefit from immigration. The age structure of the U.S. population and shifts in the U.S. economy are two such factors, both of which clearly establish sustained immigration as an asset that benefits the country and the economy.”

    The policy brief offers a quick tour of the new framework that MPI is advancing through its Rethinking Immigration initiative. The vision includes:

    • A meaningful and responsible reform of the U.S. immigration system must begin with addressing the challenge of the country’s unauthorized immigrant population, 60 percent of which has been in the United States a decade or more, with legalizations that could be accomplished in incremental steps.
    • Restructuring the employment-based system to better reflect economic and demographic realities and the behavior of employers and workers with three streams: 1) seasonal/short-term workers on briefer stints than current H-2A or H-2B workers but with the same protections as comparable U.S. workers; 2) direct admission of immigrant workers recognized as the best and brightest in their fields as permanent residents; and 3) a new “bridge” visa as the main route for admission for most foreign workers arriving on employment visas. This bridge visa would cut across occupations, allow for circularity and bridge the artificial dichotomy between temporary and permanent pathways. It would more accurately reflect how immigration and labor markets already operate, given 80 percent of those getting an employment-based green card adjust from a temporary work visa in the United States. Under MPI’s proposal, the U.S. government would also pilot a points-based immigration system, similar to those used in Canada, Australia and other countries.
    • Retaining family-sponsored immigration as a major priority of the U.S. immigrant selection system, but with changes to some backlogged categories.
    • Reforming the humanitarian protection system, including U.S. asylum system reform that MPI has been championing for more than two years, to improve efficient and fair adjudication.
    • Injecting much-needed flexibility into immigration levels, with creation of an independent expert body within government that makes recommendations on annual admissions based on careful, nonpartisan review of labor market, economic, demographic and immigration trends.

    “Harnessing the benefits of immigration has long been a source of strength for the United States,” the authors conclude. “Redesigning immigration pathways to match with today’s realities—and building flexibility so that the system can evolve to match tomorrow’s as well—would allow the United States to better reap the advantages of immigration for its economy and society.”

    The road map is the latest in the multi-year Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative. The initiative is generating a big-picture, evidence-driven vision for the role immigration can and should play in America’s future. Reports focusing on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) governance, the immigration detention system, the immigration courts and the bridge visa are among those that will be published in the coming weeks and months. 

    Read the legal immigration road map here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/rethinking-us-legal-immigration-road-map.

    Le programme des anges gardiens tarde à prendre son envol

    Of note:

    Après un timide départ, le programme de régularisation des anges gardiens ne semble toujours pas avoir pris de réel envol : à peine quelques milliers de candidats ont déposé un dossier et seulement 216 ont obtenu une résidence permanente, dont aucun au Québec.

    À plus de la mi-chemin de la période des mises en candidatures, le nombre de dossiers déposés dans le cadre de ce programme spécial visant à régulariser les statuts des demandeurs d’asile qui travaillent dans la santé ne dépasse pas les 3200 au Canada. De ce nombre, un peu moins de la moitié (1400) proviennent du Québec, selon les données d’Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC) datées du 10 avril. Un dossier représentant deux personnes en moyenne, 7577 personnes au total convoitent actuellement la résidence permanente par l’entremise de ce programme.

    « C’est une goutte dans l’océan », a laissé tomber Stephan Reichhold, directeur de la Table de concertation des organismes au service des réfugiés et des immigrants (TCRI). « On ne parle pas de raz-de-marée, on parle d’un mini-programme d’immigration », a-t-il ajouté en rappelant les craintes du gouvernement Legault qui, contrairement à Ottawa, souhaitait un programme plus restreint qui ne toucherait que les demandeurs d’asile ayant travaillé en soins directs aux patients durant la première vague.

    À ce stade-ci du programme, le président de l’Association des avocats en droit de l’Immigration, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, estime que la grande majorité des gens admissibles devraient avoir déposé une demande. Un avis que partagent les trois organismes communautaires québécois mandatés pour accompagner les candidats dans le processus. « On va parler de quelques milliers de personnes à travers le Canada, 10 000 personnes au maximum », dit-il, en soulignant que rien qu’au Québec, le gouvernement Legault cherche actuellement à pourvoir 14 000 postes en santé.

    Un programme trop restrictif

    Pour Marjorie Villefranche, directrice de la Maison d’Haïti, qui est l’un des organismes accompagnants, il ne fait pas de doute que le programme doit être élargi à plus de demandeurs d’asile. « Peut-on enlever la règle qui dit que 120 [des 750 heures de travail] accumulées doivent l’avoir été pendant la première vague, entre le 13 mars et le 14 août ? Il y en a plein qui ont travaillé tout aussi fort mais pendant les deuxième et troisième vagues », souligne-t-elle.

    Dans sa version actuelle, le programme est aussi jugé « trop restrictif » par les organismes, car il exclut plusieurs professions jugées essentielles. Par exemple, les aides de service, qui sont nombreux à avoir effectué des gestes de préposés aux bénéficiaires durant la crise de la première vague, sont exclus. « Selon leur description de tâches, plusieurs personnes ne devaient pas être en contact direct avec le patient, mais dans les faits, elles l’ont été », a dit Martin Savard, qui s’occupe du programme spécial pour le Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI).

    Lenteur de traitement

    Au Québec, seulement 94 de tous les dossiers déposés, soit 7 %, ont obtenu une « approbation de principe », ce qui signifie qu’il ne manque que les vérifications d’usage, notamment de sécurité, pour que les candidats soient admis par le gouvernement fédéral. Ailleurs au Canada, ce sont 48 % des dossiers qui sont à cette étape d’approbation. « À ce jour, certaines personnes n’ont même pas reçu d’accusé de réception de la première étape. C’est anxiogène pour elles », constate Yannick Boucher, directeur des services aux personnes chez Accueil liaison pour arrivants (ALPA).

    Marjorie Villefranche rappelle que le mouvement pour demander la régularisation des demandeurs d’asile travailleurs essentiels était parti d’ici. « En négociant un programme spécial, le Québec en a fait bénéficier tout le monde au Canada. Mais là, plus de personnes sont acceptées ailleurs, et c’est chez nous que ça bloque », dit-elle. « On ne comprend pas et on regarde les gouvernements se renvoyer la balle. » Avec les deux autres organismes, elle dit avoir fait part de ses doléances lors d’une rencontre proposée par le ministre fédéral de l’Immigration, Marco Mendicino.

    Selon Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, les deux ordres de gouvernements ont leur part de responsabilité dans les délais. « Avant qu’on reçoive l’accusé de réception et la lettre permettant de se tourner vers Québec pour demander le Certificat de sélection du Québec [CSQ], IRCC nous fait attendre deux bons mois. Ensuite, le Québec met encore deux ou trois mois à délivrer le CSQ », dit l’avocat, en se basant sur ce qu’il observe des dossiers de ses clients.

    Encore des obstacles

    Me Cliche-Rivard déplore surtout que le gouvernement du Québec n’ait pas changé son principal formulaire, qui semble toujours exiger une attestation de travail ou une lettre d’emploi dans leur version « originale », ce qui est difficile à obtenir en pleine pandémie. La ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, Nadine Girault, avait pourtant annoncé en mars dernier des « mesures d’assouplissement » et des copies avec justification allaient pouvoir être acceptées.

    Joint par Le Devoir, le cabinet de la ministre a indiqué qu’il acceptait, comme promis, les copies des documents originaux. Quant aux délais de délivrance de CSQ, ils ne dépasseraient pas un mois et 339 demandes, sur un total de 651 reçues, ont été traitées en date du 26 avril, selon l’attachée de presse, Flore Bouchon. « Le nombre de dossiers traités et de CSQ délivrés est en évolution continue, ce qui démontre le succès du programme spécial », a-t-elle déclaré.

    Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/600049/immigration-le-programme-des-anges-gardiens-tarde-a-prendre-son-envol?utm_source=infolettre-2021-05-04&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

    USA: Do immigrants harm native students academically?

    Interesting debunking:

    Over the past 50 years, the United States has experienced the second-largest wave of immigration in its history. As a result, the share of recent immigrants (either foreign-born or children of foreign-born) in public schools reached 23% in 2015, with concentrations over 70% in several school districts in high-immigration states. These trends have generated a policy debate about the effects of immigration on public education and the perceived costs that immigrants may impose on public schools, local governments, and educational outcomes of the U.S.-born student population.

    Better understanding the causal effects of immigrants on native students is therefore critical to inform these policy debates, yet there are two factors that complicate any effort to reveal this link. First, immigrant students are not randomly assigned to schools, and are more likely to enroll in schools educating students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Second, U.S.-born students, especially those from comparatively affluent families, may decide to leave when a large share of immigrant students move into their school district—a phenomenon commonly referred to as “native flight.” Both factors imply that simple correlations between immigrant exposure and native student outcomes will likely yield a more negative relationship than the true causal effect of immigrant exposure.

    In a recent paper, we show how immigrant exposure affects the academic achievement of U.S.-born students. We do this with an analytical strategy that addresses both concerns above. We make use of rich, longitudinal education and health microdata from Florida. These data are exceptionally detailed. For example, they identify students’ siblings in school records, which enables us to use the within-family, across-sibling variation in immigrant exposure to study the effects of immigrants. In other words, we can compare the learning of U.S.-born siblings when one of those siblings happened to have more immigrants in their school cohort than the other sibling(s).

    Figure 1, illustrating our main result, shows the relationship between immigrant exposure and native student math scores, and how this relationship changes when one accounts for native flight. We present the results for all U.S.-born students (black bars), along with the results for white (green bars) and Black students (blue bars) to demonstrate the effects for different student groups.

    Estimated Effects of Immigrant Exposure on U.S.-Born Student Math Scores: Overall and by Race

    The results on the left of the figure are from a common model that accounts for the non-random sorting of immigrants (by comparing U.S.-born students with their peers in the same school), yet does not address native flight. (That is, we compare the academic performance of native students with their peers in the same school who have different levels of exposure to immigrants because they are enrolled in different grades.) On the right of the figure, we present the results from our preferred model where we rely on sibling comparisons. Several findings are worth highlighting.

    First, when we move from our baseline model to sibling comparisons that account for native flight, we see that the relationship between immigrant exposure and U.S.-born student test scores changes from negative to positive.

    Second, we find that this trend is entirely driven by students from more advantaged backgrounds. For example, for white students, we find a negative relationship between immigrant exposure and math achievement in models that fail to account for native flight compared to a sizable positive relationship in our preferred model. In contrast, for Black students, the positive effect of immigrant exposure remains virtually unchanged between the two models. This is consistent with the expectation that native flight is a bigger issue when examining the effects of immigrants on students from more advantaged backgrounds who can afford alternative schooling options in the wake of an immigrant influx.

    In summary, we find no adverse effects of immigrant students on the academic achievement of U.S.-born students. This is true even when the immigrants’ academic achievement is lower than the U.S.-born students. In fact, we find significant benefits of having immigrant peers on the test scores of native students, especially among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    This does not necessarily mean that immigrant students do not require public resources initially as they acquire English proficiency and get accustomed to the school system and life in a new country, which could have adverse effects on native students in the short-term—especially in the aftermath of large migrant inflows. That said, our findings suggest that, in the long run, the benefits of exposure to recent-immigrant peers, who are typically higher performing academically and have higher educational aspirationscompared to more established immigrant generations, likely outweigh these potential short-term adverse effects.

    Source: Do immigrants harm native students academically?

    With Great Demographics Comes Great Power: Why Population Will Drive Geopolitics

    Same logic as with Canadian advocates for a much larger population such as the Century Initiative. But of course, should other countries adopt similar strategies, any “population race” will not change relative positions. And the geopolitical perspective is a limited one compared to broader perspectives of prosperity, quality of life and well-being:

    Demographics may not be destiny, but for students of geopolitics, they come close. Although conventional measures of economic and military power often receive more attention, few factors influence the long-term competition between great powers as much as changes in the size, capabilities, and characteristics of national populations.

    The United States is a case in point. In 1850, the United States was home to some 23 million people, 13 million fewer than France. Today, the U.S. population is close to 330 million, larger than the British, Dutch, French, German, and Italian populations combined. For more than a century, the United States has had the world’s largest skilled work force, and by measures such as mean years of adult schooling, it has long had among the world’s most highly educated populations. These favorable demographic fundamentals, more than geography or natural resources, explain why the United States emerged as the world’s preeminent economic and military power after World War II—and why it still occupies that position today.

    Yet past performance is no guarantee of future results. Thanks in large part to demographics, rival states such as China have become genuine great-power competitors over the past few decades. The United States, meanwhile, has eroded or squandered its demographic edge in a number of ways, even as its traditional allies in Europe and Asia have struggled with population stagnation or decline. So far, the damage to U.S. power has been limited by the fact that the United States’ main geopolitical rivals face serious demographic problems of their own. Gazing further into the future, however, population growth and rising levels of education may propel new countries toward great-power status.

    Demographics offer a clue to the geopolitical world of the future—and how Washington should prepare for it. To maintain the United States’ edge, American leaders must take steps to slow or reverse the negative demographic trends now eating away at the foundations of U.S. power. They must also begin to rethink Washington’s global strategy, recognizing that the future of the U.S.-led international order lies with the young and growing democracies of the developing world. With wise domestic policy and farsighted diplomacy, U.S. leaders can ensure that their country’s still considerable human resources reinforce American power long into the coming century.

    PEOPLE POWER

    For premodern empires and kingdoms, a larger population meant more people to tax and send off to war. But thanks to modern economic development, demographics are more important now than ever before. Since the Industrial Revolution, technological innovations and other improvements in human productivity have led to a long-term decline in the price of natural resources and basic commodities such as food. At the same time, they have greatly increased the returns to skilled labor. In fact, most global economic growth since World War II can be attributed to two factors: improvements in human capital—a catchall term for education, health, nutrition, training, and other factors that determine an individual worker’s potential—and favorable business climates, which allowed the value of those human resources to be unlocked. Human capital, in particular, has an extraordinary impact on economies. For each year of increased life expectancy today, for instance, a country sees a permanent increase in per capita income of about four percent. And for each additional year of schooling that a country’s citizens obtain, the country sees, on average, a ten percent increase in per capita GDP.

    Vast disparities between human capital development in different countries have produced gaps in economic productivity that are larger today than at any previous point in history. For example, in 2017, according to World Bank estimates, Ireland’s per capita GDP was roughly 100 times as high as that of the Central African Republic (when adjusted for relative purchasing power). Yet such disparities are not set in stone: thanks to technological breakthroughs, nations can now augment their human capital faster than ever before. It took Sweden from 1886 to 2003 to raise its life expectancy from 50 years to 80 years; South Korea accomplished the same feat in less than half the time, between the late 1950s and 2009.

    Despite the possibility of such rapid and often unexpected improvements in human capital, demography as a whole is a fairly predictable social science. Unlike economic or technological forecasts, population projections tend to be reasonably accurate for at least a few decades, since most of the people who will be living in the world of 2040, for example, are already alive today. And although such projections cannot predict the future, they can offer a rough guide to the emerging contours of international politics—the changing realm of the possible in world affairs. Policymakers who want to plan for the long term should be paying attention.

    POPULATION PROBLEMS IN THE PRC

    Today, the international arena is dominated by one superpower (the United States) and two great powers (China and Russia). Recent U.S. misadventures abroad and political turbulence at home have naturally led some to suggest that American power is on the wane. A look at demographic projections for China and Russia, however, suggests that fears that the United States will lose its position of primacy anytime soon are misplaced. 

    China is the United States’ main international rival, and at first glance, it is an impressive rival indeed. It is the world’s most populous country, with almost 1.4 billion people, and over the past four decades, it has seen the most rapid and sustained burst of economic growth in human history. Adjusting for relative purchasing power, the Chinese economy is now the largest in the world. China’s growth since the 1970s is usually attributed to the policies of Deng Xiaoping, who pushed the country in a more market-friendly direction after becoming the paramount leader in 1978. But demographics also played a critical role. Between 1975 and 2010, China’s working-age population (those aged 15–64) nearly doubled, and total hours worked grew even faster, as the country abandoned the Maoist policies that had made paid labor both less available and less appealing. Overall health and educational attainment rose rapidly, as well.

    Given this impressive record, many—apparently including China’s leadership—expect that China will surpass the United States as the world’s leading power sometime in the next two decades. Yet the country’s longer-term demographic prospects suggest otherwise. Over the past two generations, China has seen a collapse in fertility, exacerbated by Beijing’s ruthless population-control programs. The one-child policy, introduced in 1979, was ended in 2015, but the damage had already been done. China’s total fertility rate (TFR) has been below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman since at least the early 1990s. According to the UN Population Division, China’s TFR now stands at 1.6, but some analysts, such as Cai Fang, a Chinese demographer and member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, believe it may be as low as 1.4—more than 30 percent below replacement. In major cities such as Shanghai, fertility may stand at one birth per woman or less.

    With decades of extremely low fertility in its immediate past, decades more of that to come, and no likelihood of mass immigration, China will see its population peak by 2027, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its working-age population has already been shrinking for the past five years, and it is set to decrease by at least 100 million between 2015 and 2040. The country will see a particularly large decline in its working-age population under 30, which may plunge by nearly 30 percent over these years. Although this rising generation will be the best educated in Chinese history, the country’s overall growth in educational attainment will slow as the less educated older generations come to make up a larger and larger share of the total population. The Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital estimates that by 2040, China’s adult population will have fewer average years of schooling than that of Bolivia or Zimbabwe.

    As China’s working population slumps, its over-65 population is set to explode. Between 2015 and 2040, the number of Chinese over the age of 65 is projected to rise from about 135 million to 325 million or more. By 2040, China could have twice as many elderly people as children under the age of 15, and the median age of China’s population could rise to 48, up from 37 in 2015 and less than 25 in 1990. No country has ever gone gray at a faster pace. The process will be particularly extreme in rural China, as young Chinese migrate to the cities in search of opportunity. On the whole, China’s elderly in 2040 will be both poor and poorly educated, dependent on others for the overwhelming majority of their consumption and other needs.

    Taken together, these unfavorable demographic trends are creating heavy headwinds for the Chinese economy. To make matters worse, China faces additional adverse demographic factors. Under the one-child policy, for instance, Chinese parents often opted for an abortion over giving birth to a girl, creating one of the most imbalanced infant and child sex ratios in the modern world. In the years ahead, China will have to deal with the problem of tens of millions of surplus men, mostly from disadvantaged rural backgrounds, with no prospects of marrying, having children, or continuing their family line. 

    China will also face a related problem over the next generation, as traditional Chinese family structures atrophy or evaporate. Since the beginning of written history, Chinese society has relied on extended kinship networks to cope with economic risks. Yet a rising generation of urban Chinese youth is made up of only children of only children, young men and women with no siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles. The end of 2,500 years of family tradition will be a departure into the unknown for Chinese civilization—and Beijing is manifestly unprepared for this impending great leap.

    THE RUSSIAN PARADOX

    For Russia, the demographic outlook may be even worse. The Kremlin sees itself as helming a global power, yet its grandiose self-conception is badly mismatched with the human resources at its disposal. From the standpoint of population and human capital, Russia looks like a power in the grip of all but irremediable decline.

    In some respects, Russia is a typical European country: it has an aging, shrinking population and difficulties assimilating the low-skilled immigrant work force on which its economy increasingly depends. When it comes to human capital, however, Russia faces an acute crisis. After fully half a century of stagnation or regression, Russia has finally seen an improvement over the last decade in the overall health of its people, as evidenced by measures such as life expectancy at birth. But the situation is still dire. In 2016, according to the World Health Organization, 15-year-old Russian males could expect to live another 52.3 years: slightly less than their counterparts in Haiti. Fifteen-year-old Russian females, although better off than the males, had a life expectancy only slightly above the range for the UN’s roster of least developed countries.

    In addition to its health problems, Russia is failing in knowledge production. Call it “the Russian paradox”: high levels of schooling, low levels of human capital. Despite an ostensibly educated citizenry, Russia (with a population of 145 million) earns fewer patents each year from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office than the state of Alabama (population: five million). Russia earns less from service exports than Denmark, with its population of six million, and has less privately held wealth than Sweden, with a population of ten million. And since Russia’s working-age population is set to age and shrink between 2015 and 2040, its relative economic potential will diminish, too.

    Ambitious revisionist states such as Russia can, for a time, punch above their weight in international affairs. Yet for all of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign meddling and military adventurism, his country is facing demographic constraints that will make it extraordinarily difficult for him and his successors to maintain, much less seriously improve, Russia’s geopolitical position.

    THE AMERICAN ADVANTAGE

    Relative to its principal rivals, the United States is in an enviable position. This should come as no surprise: the United States has been the most powerful country in the world since World War II, and its demographic advantages—its large and highly educated population, relatively high fertility rates, and welcoming immigration policies—have been crucial to that success.

    The United States’ most obvious demographic advantage is its size. It is the world’s third most populous country, and it is likely to remain so until 2040. No other developed country even comes close—the second and third largest, Japan and Germany, have populations that are two-fifths and one-fourth the size of the U.S. population, respectively. Between 1990 and 2015, the United States generated nearly all the population growth for the UN’s “more developed regions,” and both UN and U.S. Census Bureau projections suggest that it will generate all of these regions’ population growth between 2015 and 2040. In fact, excluding sub-Saharan Africa—the only region where the rate of population growth is still increasing—the U.S. population is on track to grow slightly faster than the world population between now and 2040. 

    The United States benefits from what might be called “American demographic exceptionalism.” Compared with other developed countries, the United States has long enjoyed distinctly high immigration levels and birthrates. Between 1950 and 2015, close to 50 million people immigrated to the United States, accounting for nearly half of the developed world’s net immigration over that time period. These immigrants and their descendants made up most of the United States’ population growth over those decades. But U.S. fertility is also unusually high for an affluent society. Apart from a temporary dip during and immediately after the Vietnam War, the United States’ birthrates after World War II have consistently exceeded the developed-country average. Between the mid-1980s and the financial crisis of 2008, the United States was the only rich country with replacement-level fertility. Assuming continued levels of immigration and near-replacement fertility, most demographers project that by 2040, the United States will have a population of around 380 million. It will have a younger population than almost any other rich democracy, and its working-age population will still be expanding. And unlike the rest of the developed world in 2040, it will still have more births than deaths.

    Yet the United States’ demographic advantage is not merely a function of numbers. For over a century, the United States has benefited from a large and growing cadre of highly skilled workers. Research by the economists Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee on educational attainment suggests that between 1870 and 2010, Americans were the world’s most highly educated people in terms of average years of schooling for the working-age population. In 2015, by their estimate, 56 million men and women in the United States aged 25 to 64 had undergraduate degrees or graduate degrees: twice as many as in China and almost one-sixth of the global total. The United States leads the world in research and development, as measured by international patent applications and scientific publications, and in wealth generation, with Americans having accumulated more private wealth since 2000 than the Chinese have in recorded history.

    THE TASK AHEAD

    Despite these advantages, all is not well for the United States. Warning lights are flashing for a number of key demographic metrics. In 2014, U.S. life expectancy began slowly but steadily dropping for the first time in a century. This drop is partly due to the surge in so-called deaths of despair (deaths from suicide, a drug overdose, or complications from alcoholism), especially in economically depressed regions of the country. Yet even before the decline began, U.S. progress in public health indicators had been painfully slow and astonishingly expensive. Improvements in educational attainment have also been stalled for decades: as of 2010, American adults born in the early 1980s had, on average, 13.7 years of schooling, only fractionally higher than the average of 13.5 years for their parents’ generation, born in the early 1950s. Meanwhile, employment rates for American men of prime working age (25–54) are at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

    Further, it is possible that consensus projections for U.S. population growth are too optimistic. Such projections generally assume that U.S. fertility will return to replacement levels. But U.S. fertility fell by about ten percent after 2008 and shows no sign of recovering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, the United States’ TFR stood at 1.77, the lowest level since the 1970s and below those of European countries such as France and Sweden. Most demographic projections also assume that the United States will maintain net immigration at its current level of roughly one million per year. But immigration is an intrinsically political phenomenon. In the past, the United States has decided to all but shut off immigration in response to domestic turbulence, and it may do so again.

    Even with these troubling signs of decline, no rival is likely to overtake the United States in terms of raw human potential anytime soon. China and India, for instance, may have more college-educated workers than the United States does by 2040, but the superior quality of U.S. higher education will weigh heavily in the United States’ favor, and the United States will almost certainly still have the world’s largest pool of workers with graduate degrees. If U.S. demographic and human resource indicators continue to stagnate or regress, however, Americans may lose their appetite for playing a leading role in international affairs. Isolationism and populism could thrive, and the U.S. electorate could be unwilling to bear the considerable costs of maintaining the international order. There is also a nontrivial risk that the United States’ relatively disappointing trends in health and education will harm its long-term economic performance.

    To avoid these outcomes, the United States will need to revitalize its human resource base and restore its dynamism in business, health, and education. Doing so will be immensely difficult—a far-reaching undertaking that is beyond the powers of the federal government alone. The first step, however, is for Americans of all political persuasions to recognize the urgency of the task.

    AGING ALLIES

    Even as they try to put U.S. demographic trends back on track, American policymakers should also begin considering what U.S. strategy should look like in a world in which demographic advantages no longer guarantee U.S. hegemony. One appealing solution would be to rely more on traditional U.S. partners. Japan’s GDP is nearly four times as large as Russia’s on an exchange-rate basis, and although its total population is slightly smaller than Russia’s, it has a larger cadre of highly skilled workers. The current population of the EU is around 512 million, nearly 200 million more than that of the United States, and its economy is still substantially larger than China’s on an exchange-rate basis.

    The trouble is that many of Washington’s traditional allies face even more daunting demographic challenges than does the United States. The EU member states and Japan, for instance, all have healthy, well-educated, and highly productive populations. Yet the EU and Japan have both registered sub-replacement fertility rates since the 1970s, and their fertility rates began to drop far below the replacement level in the 1980s. In both the EU and Japan, deaths now outnumber births. Their working-age populations are in long-term decline, and their overall populations are aging at rates that would have sounded like science fiction not so long ago. The main demographic difference between the EU and Japan is that Europe has embraced immigration and Japan has not.

    Both approaches have their drawbacks. For EU members, immigration has postponed the shrinking of their work forces and slowed the aging of their populations. Yet the EU’s record of integrating newcomers, particularly Muslims from poorer countries, is uneven at best, and cultural conflicts over immigration are roiling politics across the continent. Japan has avoided these convulsions, but at the cost of rapid and irreversible population decline. As in China, this is leading to an implosion of the traditional Japanese family. Japanese demographers project that a woman born in Japan in 1990 has close to a 40 percent chance of having no children of her own and a 50 percent chance of never having grandchildren. Japan is not just graying: it is becoming a country of elderly social isolates, with rising needs and decreasing family support.

    Population decline does not preclude improvements in living standards, but it is a drag on relative economic and military power. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States’ working-age population is set to grow by about ten percent between 2015 and 2040. Over the same period, Germany’s and South Korea’s working-age populations are expected to shrink by 20 percent, and Japan’s, by 22 percent. The number of young men aged 15 to 24, the group from which military manpower is typically drawn, is projected to increase over that period by three percent in the United States but to fall by 23 percent in Germany, 25 percent in Japan, and almost 40 percent in South Korea.

    This decline, combined with the budgetary politics of the modern welfare state—borrowing money from future generations to pay for the current benefits of older voters—means that most U.S. treaty allies will become less willing and able to provide for their own defense over the coming decades. The United States, in other words, will become ever more valuable to its aging security partners at the same time as they become less valuable to Washington—all while the United States’ own demographic advantage is beginning to erode.

    MAKING NEW FRIENDS

    Yet even as population trends sap the strength of traditional powers in Europe and East Asia, they are propelling a whole new set of countries, many of them potential U.S. allies and partners, toward great-power status. By courting these rising powers, U.S. policymakers can strengthen the international order for decades to come.

    Washington should begin by turning its attention to South and Southeast Asia. As Japan and South Korea lose population, for instance, emerging democracies such as Indonesia and the Philippines will continue to grow. By 2040, Indonesia could have a population of over 300 million, up from around 260 million today, and the Philippines’ population could reach 140 million—which would be possibly larger than Russia’s. Both countries, moreover, are young and increasingly well educated. In 2015, China had almost four times as many people aged 20 to 39 as Indonesia and the Philippines did combined; by 2040, it is projected to have only twice as many. Both Indonesia and the Philippines are likely to come into increasing confrontation with an expansionist China, and as they do, they may discover an interest in deeper security cooperation with the United States.

    Indonesia and the Philippines, however, pale in comparison to India. India is on track to overtake China as the world’s most populous country within the next decade, and by 2040, India’s working-age population may exceed China’s by 200 million. India’s population will still be growing in 2040, when China’s will be in rapid decline. By that time, about 24 percent of China’s population will be over 65, compared with around 12 percent of India’s. India has its own demographic and human resource problems—compared with China, it still has poor public health indicators, low average educational attainment, and egregiously high levels of illiteracy. Despite years of attempted reforms, India still ranks 130th out of 186 countries on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Yet by 2040, India may have a larger pool of highly educated workers aged 20 to 49 than China, and its advantage will be increasing with every year. The United States and India have already begun defense cooperation in the interest of countering China; American leaders should make it a priority to deepen this partnership in the years ahead.

    The United States today has many advantages over its international rivals, thanks in no small part to its favorable demographics. Yet U.S. power cannot be taken for granted. It would be a geopolitical tragedy if the postwar economic and security order that the United States built really were to fade from the scene: no alternative arrangement is likely to promise as much freedom and prosperity to as many people as the U.S.-led international order does today. Thankfully, it is a tragedy that can be averted. If the United States can begin to repair its human capital base and forge new alliances for the twenty-first century, it can strengthen—with the aid of demographics—Pax Americana for generations to come.

    Source: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2019-06-11/great-demographics-comes-great-power?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=weekend_read&utm_content=20210501&utm_campaign=Weekend%20Read_050121_With%20Great%20Demographics%20Comes%20Great%20Power&utm_term=FA%20Weekend%20Read-012320

    Ibbitson: China’s population decline poses challenges and opportunities

    We need to broaden thinking beyond “more immigration is the solution” to how Canada could adapt to a world of population decline, where fewer higher-skilled Chinese and other groups may wish to come here:

    China is reportedly holding back census data because it shows the country’s population has started to decline, years ahead of even the most aggressive predictions.

    If so, every game changes: global warming projections, global population projections, geopolitical and economic projections.

    The world’s most populous nation is now a nation on the wane.

    The Financial Times reported Tuesday that China has delayed the release of its 2020 census, which was expected earlier this month, because the data reveals that China’s population has declined from a peak of more than 1.4 billion in 2019 to less than 1.4 billion now.

    If true, this is one of the most momentous events of our time. Many analyses of the geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States are predicated on the assumption of continued Chinese growth and relative American decline.

    But it now appears United Nations population projections, which had China’s population peaking in the 2030s before levelling off and gradually starting to decline, were off by more than a decade.

    The reason, according to a report this month by the Bank of China, is steadily falling fertility. Even after the ban on more than one child per family was lifted in 2015, China’s fertility continued to fall, to a level well below that needed to sustain the population.

    For that reason, Darrell Bricker and I, in our book Empty Planet, predicted that population decline would hit China sooner and harder than expected. The question was how soon and how hard. If the answer to the first question is right now, then China could lose nearly half its population by the end of the century – more if fertility continues to fall.

    The decline could have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has suppressed birth rates across much of the world, as couples put off having a child during this period of economic insecurity. A post-pandemic baby boom is unlikely: Past experience shows that once couples put off having a child, they don’t make up for it later on. Instead, they settle for having fewer children than they’d planned.

    Population decline will present both opportunities and challenges for China. Environmentally, the news is encouraging: There will be fewer new coal-fired generating stations needed, as the number of people on the grid goes down instead of up.

    The problem of labour shortages could be addressed by bringing in temporary foreign workers and improving productivity through automation.

    But preserving economic growth becomes difficult when there are fewer young people every year buying their first refrigerator, their first car, their first baby stroller. Fewer young consumers also means fewer taxpayers to sustain the pensions and health care costs of older people, and fewer adult children to look after the needs of aging parents.

    Countries that lose population every year stagnate economically: Italy, Spain, Japan. China is the new Japan. And that could lead to problems containing the discontent of an overtaxed, overworked, increasingly frustrated population. China announced this week that it planned to gradually raise the age of mandatory retirement, which is currently 60 for most men.

    This delivers a huge competitive advantage to the United States. That country’s fertility rate has also reached record lows. But despite the effort of former president Donald Trump to seal the country’s borders, the U.S. continues to let in immigrants, both legal and illegal.

    The U.S. needs to return, as quickly as possible, to its former practice of welcoming a million new permanent residents each year. That may be difficult, given rising nativism among conservatives, but if Americans want to stay ahead in the race for economic and political power, immigration is the not-so-secret weapon.

    In any event, as my colleague Doug Saunders noted Tuesday on Twitter, the news about the Chinese census “will help make immigration a seller’s market.” As fertility rates decline in China and other source countries, such as Philippines and India, and as labour shortages grow in China, Japan and elsewhere, the question for immigrant-friendly countries such as Canada will shift from “how many should we let in?” to “how many can we convince to come?”

    That is another reasons why former prime minister Brian Mulroney and others are right to maintain that Canada should greatly increase its immigration intake. We need to get them while we still can.

    Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-chinas-population-decline-poses-challenges-and-opportunities/

    Ottawa says it only learned Chinese police ran visa centre this year

    Appears to be lack of due diligence as should have been caught earlier:

    Ottawa says it only learned in February that Canada’s visa-application centre in Beijing is managed by Chinese police, the same month The Globe and Mail reported the arrangement.

    The federal government has trusted its visa centre in Beijing to a police-owned company since 2008, and has been required to conduct due-diligence screenings during renewals of the contract in subsequent years including 2018.

    The government acknowledged its lack of awareness in documents tabled in the House of Commons this week in response to written questions from NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan.

    “In February, 2021, Public Services and Procurement became aware that Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company is ultimately owned by the Beijing Public Security Bureau,” the government said in an answer to Ms. Kwan that was signed by Steven MacKinnon, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

    The Globe reported the ownership structure of the company managing the visa-application centre on Feb. 8.

    Ottawa said in the documents that government officials have conducted three site visits to visa-application centres in China “since becoming aware of the subcontractor ownership,” according to another response to Ms. Kwan signed by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

    Ms. Kwan said she’s surprised by the government’s admission. “That to me is absolutely shocking. … How on Earth did they not know about the ownership structure?”

    She blamed both the Liberal government and previous Conservative government for failing to stop this arrangement and said she remains concerned about how Canada can safeguard visa applicants’ private and confidential information. “I fear for the applicants who use the Canadian government’s services there.”

    Canada’s visa-application centre in Beijing is operated by Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Company, which is owned by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, The Globe discovered. And at least some of the people working inside the centre are members of the Chinese Communist Party, recruited from a school that trains the next generation of party elite.

    Beijing Shuangxiong is a subcontractor for VFS Global, a company headquartered in Zurich and Dubai that holds a wide-reaching contract to provide visa-processing services around the world for the Canadian government. VFS offices collect personal and biometric information that is then forwarded to Canadian immigration officials for decisions on who will be granted visas.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has given no indication that it intends to end the Beijing arrangement.

    Alexander Cohen, press secretary for Mr. Mendicino, said Wednesday that Immigration officials regularly audit and inspect visa-application centres for compliance, including through unannounced audits, and that video cameras are used for ongoing monitoring.

    He said no privacy breaches have been reported at these centres by those operating them and that VFS Global has complied with all security requirements in its contract. “Since 2018, [the Immigration department] has conducted over 20 site visits to visa-application centres in China,” Mr. Cohen said.

    The government had acknowledged earlier this year that it was unaware from the start of the contract that Chinese police ultimately owned the company that is the facilities manager of the Beijing visa-application centre. At the time, though, it did not reveal when precisely it learned of the matter.

    Richard Fadden, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who served as national security adviser to two prime ministers, has said that Ottawa should end the visa situation in Beijing.

    “An instrument of the Chinese government has access to a facility in China with connections to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada,” he said. “I cannot think of a more promising entry point for China’s cyberspies.”

    The 2018 contract was not the first time VFS and affiliated companies had won federal contracts to operate visa-application centres, including the ones in China. Earlier contracts were awarded under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. And during parliamentary hearings in February, MPs learned that Beijing Shuangxiong has actually provided facilities and staff for Canada’s visa-application centre in China’s capital since 2008.

    VFS told the hearings it informed Ottawa in 2008 that it intended to use Beijing Shuangxiong as the local subcontractor, or as it calls the company, its local facility-management company.

    However, two former Conservative immigration ministers Jason Kenney, now the Premier of Alberta, as well as Chris Alexander, have told The Globe that they were unaware the subcontractor for the visa-application centre in Beijing was a company owned by the Chinese police.

    “There was a public tendering process, and as you know there can be no political interference in tendering. If this happened during my tenure and I had been made aware of it, obviously I would have stopped it,” Mr. Kenney told The Globe earlier this year.

    Mr. Alexander, for his part, said: “I was never informed of this arrangement in Beijing: it should never have happened. No state body in any region should be controlling access to our immigration or any other programs.”

    Jeremy McIntee, a spokesman for former Conservative immigration minister Diane Finley, who was in charge of the department in 2008, said she does not recall whether she was informed of the subcontractor’s ownership.

    VFS has said it is obligated to use local partners under Chinese law. It has also said it conducts “deep identity, credit, criminal, residency, education and employment checks” on employees, uses encrypted systems to send application information to Canadian servers, and employs a raft of measures to secure information, including an obligation for employees to hand over mobile phones to managers inside the visa centre.

    Beijing Shuangxiong also acts as a subcontracted facility manager for VFS in Beijing for other Western countries, including New Zealand, Britain and Ireland. Immigration New Zealand has said it knew “from the outset” that the Beijing police have ownership of Beijing Shuangxiong.

    VFS spokesman Peter Brun has previously said the Chinese companies it works with “are managed by VFS Global and we ensure they operate entirely according to all VFS Global security processes and protocols, and according to the Canadian government’s visa-application process and data-protection requirements, which are audited regularly by the Canadian government.”

    Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-says-it-only-learned-chinese-police-ran-visa-centre-this-year/

    CATO Poll: 72% of Americans Say Immigrants Come to the United States for Jobs and to Improve Their Lives

    The top level finding, with the report having a wealth of detail, with some of the same characteristics as in Canada such as age, education, political affiliation in terms of support or not for immigration:

    The Cato Institute 2021 Immigration and Identity National Survey, a new national survey of 2,600 U.S. adults, finds that nearly three‐​fourths (72%) of Americans believe immigrants come to the United States to “find jobs and improve their lives” while 27% think immigrants come to obtain government services and welfare.

    READ THE FULL SURVEY REPORT HERE

    Support for More Immigration Is on the Rise

    Support for more immigration has tripled from the mid‐​1990s when about 10% of the public supported more immigration and two‐​thirds wanted less. Today 29% of Americans want more, 38% want to maintain current levels, and 33% want less.

    Chart 1

     

    Democrats’ views largely account for this shift. Starting around 2008–2010, Democratic support for more immigration rose from about 20% to 47% today.

    ….

    Source: Poll: 72% of Americans Say Immigrants Come to the United States for Jobs and to Improve Their Lives

    #COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 28 April Update

    The latest charts, compiled 28 April as the third wave has started. The spike of infections and deaths in India per million, although dramatic, has not resulted in a change in the relative ranking given the size of India’s population.

    Vaccinations: Overall, Canada and most provinces continue to be comparable or greater to EU countries. On a personal note, received my vaccine last week.

    Trendline charts

    Infections per million: Recent spikes in Ontario and Alberta continue to be more apparent.

    Deaths per million: Canadian North ahead of Atlantic Canada.

    Vaccinations per million: Vaccination rates in Canadian provinces continue to increase more quickly than overall G7 less Canada countries. Increases among immigration source country reflect China and India mass vaccination roll-out.

    Weekly

    Infections per million: Surge in Ontario has not changed overall ranking but surge in Alberta has resulted in Alberta surpassing Quebec.

    Deaths per million: As noted, Canadian North now ahead of Atlantic Canada.

    India is in a COVID-19 crisis. South Asian-Canadians are weeping from afar, but also seeing devastating parallels for our people in Ontario

    Captures well some of the dilemmas facing diaspora communities:

    11,627 km.

    That’s the distance from my house in Peel to Delhi, India, where the majority of my family lives.

    This past week has been extremely difficult as a first generation Canadian born in India. I watch the devastation occurring in my hometown, and can’t help but see the parallels happening here in Ontario within the South Asian community. Immigrants like myself are fighting two pandemics – one here and one tens of thousands kilometres away, and it weighs heavily, each and every day.

    On March 23, India had 40,000 COVID-19 cases. Fastforward to April 22, that number rose to 330,000. This is what exponential growth looks like. Experts believe these numbers are vastly under-reported by a margin of at least 10 times. Even if 10 per cent of these were hospitalized, with the average COVID-19 related hospital or ICU stay being 15 days, there is simply no healthcare system in the world that has the capacity to sustain such volume.

    The situation in India is grave and complex. India saw a sharp decline in cases earlier this year, with around 10,000 cases on average per day in February. This unfortunately led to a sense of complacency, with some experts claiming preemptively that the country had achieved herd immunity. Subsequently, life returned to a form of “normalcy,” with weddings, religious festivals and political rallies being commonplace. Even Kumbh Mela, which is one of the largest gatherings in the world that sees upwards of 110 million people over the duration of the festival and up to 30 million people per day, went ahead as planned.

    Complacency, however, wasn’t the only factor that led us to this situation. It’s a culmination of other factors. India has one of the lowest testing capacities per capita, with only 0.4 tests conducted per 10,000 people. India also has a much slower vaccination program. While India has manufactured large quantities of vaccines, it has distributed the majority of these globally. It is one of the largest suppliers into the COVAX program, accounting for 60 per cent of global vaccine supply. Meanwhile, less than 10 per cent of India’s own population has received one dose of the vaccine, with only 1 per cent fully vaccinated with two doses.

    In addition, India now has a potentially concerning new variant, B.1.617, that amongst many mutations has two critical ones — L452R and E484Q — within the spike protein, making it more transmissible and possibly able to evade pre-existing immunity. It is still unknown whether vaccines are efficacious against this variant.

    The stories, pictures and videos coming out of India are devastating. Scenes of people lying on the ground on the street with oxygen masks connected to empty tanks, dying outside of hospitals that did not have capacity to take them in, health care systems collapsing. There are make-shift outdoor hospitals, mass cremations sites, and reports of families having to keep dead bodies of relatives at home for two days because there was no wood left to build a funeral pyre. Hospital with mere hours left of oxygen supply.

    Many in the South Asian diaspora are carrying the burden of knowing our own family members are amongst those affected. My father, who lives with me, spends his entire day calling each and every one of his family and friends. So many infected, many hospitalized, many searching for hospitals. Daily updates, sometimes hourly. Everytime he utters Hari Om Tat Sat (a sanskrit mantra) I wait with baited breath. I feel helpless remembering we are again, 11,627 km, apart — a number I can’t stop thinking about.

    What hurts my heart even more is knowing that what is occurring to my people in India is also occurring here on Canadian soil. South Asians have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has been deeply inequitable, from support and protections to testing and now access to vaccines. Further, we are seeing additional stigmatization of South Asians due to this new variant now being found in Canada despite the fact that the primary reason for transmission remains to be structural barriers faced by our racialized communities. And like me, they are dealing with two pandemics — the one here and the one back home.

    It really feels like because our skin is brown, our lives mean less. But we didn’t get to choose the colour of skin we were born into our socioeconomic status. We didn’t get to choose the country we were born in.

    It was heartbreaking to see the world’s response to India’s crisis. Canada shut its borders. Simultaneously, our Premier’s office contacted the Indian high commissioner to request additional AstraZeneca vaccines in spite of the current crisis. The United States of America continues to sit on unused AstraZeneca vaccines and withhold raw materials required for India to manufacture more vaccines. This ‘me first’ strategy is not only inequitable, it is unwise because we know how the pandemic unfolds in one country will eventually happen in another.

    And this is why vaccine nationalism is lethal. Your access to vaccines and subsequent right to life is dependent on factors that are out of your control. It is the stark inequities, the perpetuation of discrimination, the haves vs the have nots, the unfairness of it all that weighs heavily on me.

    India gasps for air and burns with funeral pyres. But these lives don’t seem to matter. Because they’re brown.

    I can’t stop crying. Because my heart can’t take it anymore.

    Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/04/24/india-is-in-a-covid-19-crisis-south-asian-canadians-are-weeping-from-afar-but-also-seeing-devastating-parallels-for-our-people-in-ontario.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=thestar_recommended_for_you

    ICYMI: Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

    Of note:

    International graduates and essential workers eligible to apply for permanent residency under a new program say requiring them to retake language proficiency tests is unreasonable, especially during a global pandemic.

    Akshay Aman, a law clerk graduate currently working as a security officer in Toronto, said international students have already passed language tests and proved their proficiency in English or French when they got their school admission and student visa.

    “We all had our degrees from Canada and everything was in English,” Aman said.

    “There is no sense (in taking) the test again and again.”

    The new program announced last week aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates who are currently in Canada permanent status.

    On May 6, the immigration department will start accepting up to 50,000 applications from health care and other essential workers and 40,000 applications from international students who graduated from a Canadian institution.

    The government is requiring international graduates and essential workers to submit an official language evaluation that is less than two years old when the permanent residency application is received.

    Aman, who graduated from Niagara College, said he has all the documents he needs in order to apply for permanent residency except a new English proficiency test.

    He said the websites of the government-approved language tests have crashed since the announcement of the new program last week, leaving thousands of applicants struggling to register for an exam.

    All the spots are booked until the end of September, he said, adding that after he failed to book a test in Toronto, he tried to find one in Alberta or British Columbia but all the exams are booked there too.

    He added that it’s unsafe to require tens of thousands of people to take in-person tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “They should delay (this requirement) or they can drop that because we already have our degrees,” he said.

    Alexander Cohen, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, said the department wants to assure prospective applicants that the process will be fair for everyone, but he didn’t say whether the department will drop the language requirement for those who have already passed proficiency tests.

    “(The program) will allow far more international students to plan their futures in Canada,” Cohen said in a statement.

    “The size, scope and speed of this new program is unprecedented.”

    Morad Roohi, a third-year PhD student at Queen’s University, said he has been trying to book an English evaluation test with his partner, so they can apply for permanent residency under the new program.

    He said they have spent days searching for an available test appointment, but they couldn’t find one.

    Roohi described the application process, which also involves gathering many documents, as like hitting a “stone wall.”

    “It is really, really unfair.”

    He said they moved from Kingston, Ont., to Toronto during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when his partner found a job at a homeless shelter in the city.

    “She risks her life all through these months of (the) pandemic and lockdown. She has not been at home for a single day,” he said.

    “When it comes to this application, still you’re just bombarded by … different (reasons for) pressure and stress.”

    Roohi said requiring international students to pass a general language test after they passed an academic exam is not understandable.

    Newcomers are offering their skills and expertise to the Canadian society despite all the difficulties they are facing during the pandemic, he added.

    “As international students, as newcomers, (we are) going through lots of stress, pressure, uncertainty and many, many difficult things,” he said.

    He said the government should make changes to the application requirement to make it easier for international graduates and essential workers to apply.

    “When there is a pandemic and where there is no exam available, what can we do? There should be some accommodation for us.”

    Source: Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway