Immigration status: Ministers reverse May-era student visa rules

Another bad legacy of former PM and Home Secretary May, fortunately being repealed:

International students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job, under new proposals announced by the Home Office.

The move reverses a decision made in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May that forced overseas students to leave four months after finishing a degree.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the change would see students “unlock their potential” and begin careers in the UK.

But campaign group Migration Watch called it a “retrograde” step.

The change will apply to international students in the UK – there were around 450,000 last year – who start courses at undergraduate level or above from next year onwards.

They must be studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks.

Under the proposals, there is no restriction on the kinds of jobs students would have to seek and no cap on numbers.

“If one needed evidence of a new approach to immigration within government, today’s announcement allowing all foreign students to stay for two years after graduation is just that,” the BBC’s home editor Mark Easton said.

“Where Theresa May introduced what she called a hostile environment around migration rules, with an ambition to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, Boris Johnson has promised to scrap that target and encourage the brightest and best to come and live and work in global Britain.”

Student Shreya Swamy, from India, says the proposal is “a great step forward” but it is “a sad day” for her as it has come too late to help students already in the UK.

She has just finished studying for a master’s degree at the University for the Creative Arts, in Kent and Surrey, and says she has “struggled so much” with the current rule giving her up to four months to look for work.

Jobs for international graduates “are close to nil”, she says, blaming their lack of experience.

“I have been through hell and back trying to figure out my career plan these past few months because it seems practically impossible to have one in the UK,” she says.

“I feel really helpless, and almost regret coming here to study because I’m going to end up going back home with a very expensive piece of paper.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid tweeted that the move was “about time”, adding that the government “should have reversed this silly policy years ago”.

Former universities minister Jo Johnson – who quit his brother’s government last week – tweeted that it was “success at last” after being involved in the cross-party campaign.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, welcomed the decision, saying it would benefit the UK economy and reinstate the UK as a “first choice study destination”.

“Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26bn in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students,” he said.

But Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said the decision was an “unwise” step that would “likely lead to foreign graduates staying on to stack shelves”.

“Our universities are attracting a record number of overseas students so there is no need to devalue a study visa by turning it into a backdoor route for working here,” he added.

Others suggested that the overhaul of the rules should come in sooner so students who are due to graduate next year could be eligible for the visa.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Institute of Student Employers, said there was “ample time” for the new rules to be implemented for those who finish their studies in 2020.

How many international students stay in the UK?

Just over 450,000 international students are currently studying in UK universities.

Of these, almost two-thirds are from outside the EU, so will require a student visa to be in the country.

Between about 170,000 and 185,000 of these students graduate each year and, under current rules, they have four months to transfer to another visa – such as a work visa – or decide to continue studying.

In 2018, 6,300 individuals moved from student visas to skilled work visas, meaning they have officially been offered a job paying at least £20,800 in the first year.

A further 450 were granted “high-value migrant” visas, which are normally reserved for those with particular expertise in a field or those who have a set sum of money to invest in the country.

We also know that almost 40,000 student visas are extended each year, implying that a large number of graduates are continuing studies in the UK.

That still leaves more than 100,000 students not formally extending their visas – and we don’t have complete figures for how many of them leave the UK.

However, analysis of exit checks by the Office of National Statistics suggests that 97% of them were leaving on time.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Labour has always said graduates should be able to work here after their studies.

“It enables them to contribute to our economy, our universities and to research, and helps us to attract the brightest and best from around the world.

“It is a great pity that ministers have previously supported measures that did the opposite.”

‘International collaboration’

The government’s announcement coincides with the launch of a £200m genetics project at the UK Biobank, a charity and health resource that contains information and samples from 500,000 people.

The UK Biobank collected DNA samples and health questionnaire information from 500,000 British volunteers over several years and is now open to researchers from anywhere in the world who want to use those resources to develop new treatments for diseases.

The prime minister said projects of this kind wouldn’t be possible “without being open to the brightest and the best from across the globe to study and work” in the UK.

Mr Johnson said: “That’s why we’re unveiling a new route for international students to unlock their potential and start their careers in the UK.”

Britain had a “proud history” of being at the centre of international collaboration, he said, adding that it was “bringing together experts from around the globe to work in the UK on the world’s largest genetics research project”.

Source: Immigration status: Ministers reverse May-era student visa rules

Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage

Sigh. Quebec already receives about 40 percent of settlement funding and only received about 16 percent of immigrants in 2018:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his government would give a boost to Quebec’s immigration funding to help prepare immigrants to fill the province’s labour shortage.

At an announcement in Drummondville, Que., on Saturday, Singh promised to increase the federal immigration transfer payment to Quebec by $73 million per year to improve settlement services for newcomers, if he is elected prime minister.

The province has been dealing with a labour shortage, with more than four per cent of all jobs in Quebec left vacant for four months or longer, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report. That’s roughly 120,000 jobs.

“Quebec is dealing with a serious labour shortage, and needs immigration to help meet the challenge,” said Singh.

“It’s a critical issue.”

The NDP’s platform also commits to bolstering immigration settlement in rural areas of Quebec. Many immigrants arrive in Quebec with no French language skills, which affects their ability to work in the province. Singh said that a funding increase from an NDP government would help to target those language barriers.

Quebec will already receive $25.5 billion from Ottawa this fiscal year in the form equalization payments and health and social transfers. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, $490 million was allocated for immigration supports.

But the provincial government isn’t completely sold on the idea of increasing immigration.

Leaning on temporary foreign workers

The CAQ government intends to accept around 20 per cent fewer immigrants this year, or 40,000 instead of the nearly 52,000 accepted last year.

However, Premier François Legault said temporary foreign workers can counter the shortage.

His government recently launched a $21-million plan to make it simpler for smaller businesses to recruit foreigners. It includes subsidizing recruitment missions by Quebec companies overseas and offering to cover $1,000 in moving expenses for the workers.

The province also announced $34 million for measures aimed at better integrating immigrants into the workforce.

Source: Singh promises bump to Quebec’s immigration funds to address labour shortage

Robert Falconer: The open society, Canada’s best response to immigration

Good response to the pulled back op-ed “Ethnic diversity harms a country’s social trust, economic well-being, argues professor.”

The world is experiencing the largest displacement and movement of people of any period since the Second World War.

Canada is not immune to these flows. Almost one in four people living here were born outside Canada, with one million more arriving in the next three years.

We recently passed our neighbour to the south in resettling more refugees than any other country in the world, mostly due to vast reductions in refugee admissions under the Trump Administration, but also in part due to increased resettlement under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Since 2017, approximately 150,000 asylum seekers have claimed protection in Canada, many of whom crossed the border to do so. Under these conditions, questions by Canadians are to be expected.

Some questions will be raised by bad actors. These individuals will not be satisfied by reasonable answers or potential solutions on the issue of immigration or asylum in Canada.

A few of these may stoke fears or unfounded claims about newcomers. Many more Canadians, however, have genuine concerns, worries, or fears about the arrival of newcomers to their communities.

They do not have animosity toward individual immigrants, but they may have concerns regarding border security, the integrity of Canada’s immigration system, or the values and beliefs immigrants bring with them to Canada.

It is this group that policy-makers, academics and journalists should address with open ears, facts, and ideas. Some of these include addressing the following on immigrant integration and social cohesion.

Defining integration is difficult, but some common measures include immigrant official language capability, sense of belonging to Canada, and the adoption of Canadian norms and values. By these measures, Canada is wildly successful at integrating its newcomer population.

The 2016 census showed that approximately 93 per cent of all immigrants in Canada can speak English or French. The census also showed that the majority of immigrants choose to speak English or French in the home.

This high number might surprise some, but it should be noted that official language capability is one of the selection criteria for immigrants seeking to move to Canada.

Official language capability is also one of the citizenship requirements — with the exception of the very old and the very young. Even more fundamentally, there is a workplace advantage that comes with speaking either language.

Official language capability and citizenship requirements may not be relevant if only a few immigrants became citizens, but at approximately 85 per cent Canada has one of the highest naturalizations rates in the world. The United States sits in the mid-40 per cent range.

This means the vast majority of immigrants will, at some point, pass a language test and successfully answer questions on Canadian history, culture and values, culminating in the oath of citizenship to Canada’s Queen, its laws, and the duties associated with citizenship.

Immigrants also tend to show high levels of belonging and civic pride in Canada. Researchers at Statistics Canada found that 93 per cent of newcomers have a strong or very strong sense of belonging to Canada. Some of these (24 per cent) show an affinity only for Canada, while more feel a sense of belonging to Canada and their home country (69 per cent). Only three per cent feel a higher level of attachment to their home country.

When broken down by pride in specific symbols or institutions, such as the Canadian flag, Parliament, or even hockey, immigrants placed greater or equal importance in these than natural born Canadians.

This makes intuitive sense when considering why immigrants choose Canada. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute has pointed out that most immigrants self-select, meaning that those who are most dissatisfied with Chinese communism, the Ayatollah, or Venezuelan socialism are the most likely to leave, and the least likely to bring those values with them. They choose Canada because they identify with the norms and values that make Canada.

That is not to say there aren’t issues. Canada is struggling to process a backlog of 75,000 plus asylum seekers, many of whom will have less than well-founded claims of persecution. That speaks to a processing issue at the federal level, rather than an issue with immigrant integration in Canada.

A backed-up system is more likely to attract those with unfounded fears of persecution. The solution is not to stigmatize newcomers, but to ensure that our immigration and asylum systems remain “fast, fair and final,” able to process claims in a timelier manner.

For those who are already here, Canada’s best tool for integrating them is open access to our political system and jobs market.

Some have cited Alberto Alesina’s work on fragmentation, the idea that greater population diversity is associated with social strife. This is true in countries with weak democracies and restricted labour markets, where the political and economic systems favour a select few.

Alesina’s subsequent works have shown that diverse populations reap economic benefits and remain relatively cohesive when everyone has a fair shot at becoming an MP or getting a job. Open societies enjoy strong trade relationships with other countries, a diversity in goods and services, and stronger workforces. Under these settings the work of integration takes care of itself, with newcomers and their children identifying with Canada and its values.

In that light, the work of integrating newcomers within the fabric of Canada is less about exclusion, and more about maintaining, celebrating, and safeguarding Canadian institutions, entrepreneurship, and our open society.

Source: Robert Falconer: The open society, Canada’s best response to immigration

Sudan Invites Jews Back To Country To ‘Enjoy Citizenship’

Unlikely many will for social and economic reasons:

Members of Sudan’s Jewish community who had left the country in previous years were free to return and “enjoy citizenship” like other ethnic groups, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr-Eddin Mofarah said on Friday.

Speaking to Al Arabiya TV, the newly appointed minister said Sudan was welcoming of diverse ideas, values, cultures and “intellectual persuasions.”

He even added that the Muslim-majority country was welcoming of other religions, citing the number of Christians and Jews who still lived in the country and those who might have left.

“I urge them (Jews) from this platform to return to Sudan and recover their right to naturalization and citizenship because Sudan is a civil state where citizenship is the source of all rights and duties. We also have other religions and faiths embraced by different people,” he said.

The announcement came after Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his Cabinet on Thursday, the first since former President Omar Bashir was ousted in April.

The Cabinet includes Asmaa Abdalla, Sudan’s first woman foreign minister, and a former World Bank economist. Hamdok also picked women to lead the Sports and Youth Ministry, the High Education Ministry, and the Labor and Social Development Ministry.

The new Cabinet has come about as part of a power-sharing agreement between the military and pro-democracy demonstrators, following pressure from the US and its Arab allies amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a new civil war.

Mofarah said Islam had been a peaceful part of Sudanese life for centuries, and had not been introduced through violence or conflict.

He also stressed the importance of religious tolerance in the post-Bashir era.

“Religious tolerance has also been given a significant importance in the Holy Qur’an, in which Muslims have been urged to accept and respect other religions and live in peace with them,” Mofarah said.

“This constitutes a clear call for the Sudanese to live according to the saying ‘you have your religion and I have mine,’ as long as there is no infighting, sedition or wars and as long as people interact,” the minister added.

“The issue of peace, tolerance, loyalty and resilience is one of the indicators that will allow us to build this nation on new foundations, centered around freedom, justice, equality and noble moral values,” he said.

Sudan’s power-sharing deal calls for the government to reach a peace agreement with the rebels within six months.

Source: Sudan Invites Jews Back To Country To ‘Enjoy Citizenship’

South African Riots Over ‘Xenophobia’ Prompt Backlash Across Africa

Depressing reality, encouraging response:

Pop stars have announced a boycott. Air Tanzania has suspended flights to Johannesburg. Madagascar and Zambia are refusing to send their soccer teams. Nigeria has recalled its ambassador and pulled out of a major economic forum.

South Africa is facing a backlash after rioters in and around Johannesburg targeted immigrants from other African countries this week, torching their shops and leading to at least 10 deaths. Now, angry citizens and governments across the continent are lashing out at South Africa and its businesses, denouncing what they call “xenophobia.”

Africans across the continent once rallied behind South Africans in their struggle to defeat the apartheid government, which was finally replaced in elections held 25 years ago. Now, some Africans find themselves in the unfamiliar position of protesting the actions of the same communities in South Africa that they once stood with in solidarity.

“The only time we’ve seen this type of cooperation of African countries in terms of backlash,” said Tunde Leye, a partner at the Nigerian political research firm SBM Intelligence, “was in terms of support of the anti-apartheid movement.”

The current level of political solidarity on the continent, he said, was “almost unprecedented.”

The riots, and the retaliatory measures, could not come at a more inopportune time for regional cooperation. This week, African leaders are meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Area, an agreement made this year that sets the stage for the creation of the largest free-trade area in the world. It would join Africa’s more than one billion consumers into a single market.

The conflict, while not likely to imperil the free trade agreement, could at least slow its implementation, which is expected to take years, African analysts said.

Nigeria’s government, angry that its citizens have been victimized in the South African riots, has pulled out of the Cape Town meeting.

Nigeria is the continent’s largest economy, and South Africa is the second-largest. Both countries were already reluctant participants in the accord, which is supposed to help knock down the many barriers to trade among African countries.

Anti-immigrant sentiment is a longstanding issue in South Africa, where the legacies of colonialism and apartheid run deep, and a political shift has not delivered meaningful change to many poor South Africans. Immigrants from countries like Nigeria, Mozambique, Somalia and Zimbabwe are often regarded by South Africans as competitors for jobs and social services.

In South Africa, attacks on foreigners have become common, and they surged beginning Sunday when rioters stormed neighborhoods in and around Johannesburg, lighting fires and breaking into shops.

At least 10 people have died in the riots, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video address on Thursday, in which he also condemned the violence.

“There can be no excuse for the attacks on the homes and businesses of foreign nationals,” he said. “Equally, there is no justification for the looting and destruction of businesses owned by South Africans.”

In Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg, authorities have arrested at least 423 people, said Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, a police spokesman. On Thursday, he said that many shops owned by foreigners remained closed and that more shopping centers in the eastern part of the province “are being targeted.”

Police seized guns, he said, not just from South Africans, but also from at least two foreign nationals.

The rolling backlash has united broad swaths of the continent. Two popular Nigerian musicians, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage, said they were boycotting South Africa. Burna Boy was set to headline the Afropunk festival in Johannesburg in December, alongside artists like Solange Knowles. Tiwa Savage had an appearance in South Africa scheduled for mid-September.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, protesters rushed and sometimes looted South African-owned businesses in Nigeria and Zambia, including Shoprite supermarkets. The company closed stores. The South African telecommunications giant MTN did the same.

On Thursday, the protests spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where demonstrators outside of the South African Embassy in Kinshasa held signs that read “Don’t kill our brothers” and “No xenophobia.” In Lubumbashi, they broke windows at the South African Consulate.

Nigeria recalled its ambassador to South Africa. South Africa has shuttered its diplomatic missions in Nigeria, citing threats.

The clashes cast a cloud over the World Economic Forum in Africa, which began in Cape Town on Wednesday. Leaders were set to discuss the free trade pact, an agreement signed by 54 countries that supporters have said could reshape economic relationships on the continent.

The accord has the potential to bolster intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022, according to the United Nations. Right now, intra-African trade accounts for just 16 percent of the continent’s trade volume. It can be cheaper to ship something from Nigeria to Europe, and then to Senegal, rather than directly from Nigeria to Senegal. This is a major barrier to regional development, economists say.

Still, a host of challenges await before the pact is put in place.

African analysts differed on whether Nigeria’s decision to skip the Cape Town meeting would have any effect in the long term.

Gilbert Khadiagala, a Kenyan professor of international relations at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said Nigeria’s move was little more than “grandstanding,” and that would not impede the trade agreement.

But Mr. Leye, of SBM Intelligence in Nigeria, said that in his view, Nigeria’s boycott of the Forum “will have an impact in terms of the pace of implementation.”

Source: South African Anti-Immigrant Riots Prompt Backlash

There’s a good reason the immigration debate in Canada is calmer than in the U.S.

Pretty weak argument on its own. I think the large number of irregular or illegal immigrants in the USA, given its southern border, is a much larger factor in popular discourse, along with our selection system which priories more highly skilled immigrants:

In recent years the world has been rocked by the movement of tens of millions of people fleeing war, disaster and other forms of conflict. Canada has helped relieve some of the pressures that come from such large movements of people by accepting refugees, asylum-seekers and also ordinary immigrants. Far from conflict zones, surrounded by oceans, and sharing its only border with a country that is not usually a significant source of refugees, Canada has been able to be very deliberate in its calculation of how many people it chooses to admit as citizens. In general, the choices made have served the Canadian economy well by reversing what would otherwise have been a steady decline in our population and our prospects for economic growth.

So far at least, and unlike the U.S. experience, Canadian immigration policy has not become very political. One reason the two countries’ politics on this issue have differed may be their differing national fertility rates. The figure shows the fertility rate in Canada and the United States for each year from 1920 to 2018. The fertility rate measures the average number of children that would be born to each woman over her child-bearing years given prevailing age-specific fertility rates. Also shown, as the horizontal dashed line, is the population replacement rate — the fertility rate required for the population to replace itself. The replacement rate varies over time and by country due to changes and differences in mortality rates. It probably has fallen in both countries since 1920 but it is currently judged to be roughly 2.1 children per woman.

The large swings in fertility rates between 1920 and 1960 strongly suggest economic conditions affect the decision to have children. The onset of the Great Depression in 1930 coincided with a significant drop in the fertility rate in Canada, a drop that started much earlier in the U.S. The post-war baby boom saw fertility rates in both countries increase by nearly 1.5 children. Peaking in 1960, the fertility rate plummeted across North America for the next 15 years before levelling off — by the mid-1970s in the U.S. and the mid-1980s in Canada. U.S. fertility rates have since risen and now hover near the replacement rate. In this country, however, they remain well below the replacement rate.

That U.S. fertility rates are higher than ours may surprise many Canadians. Families here have greater access to supports and benefits in the form of parental leave provisions, extended employment insurance benefits, and full health-care coverage. Continuing low fertility rates in Canada suggest other influences must also be important.

But whatever the reason for it, our low fertility rate highlights the need for high levels of immigration to maintain and grow the population. After the dramatic fall in fertility rates in the 1960s, the federal government introduced a number of reforms to immigration policy, beginning in the mid to late 1970s. Since the early 1990s, Canada has settled between 200,000 and 300,000 immigrants each year. The government recently announced annual targets over the next three years that average 340,000 new immigrants per year. This level of immigration will enable Canada’s population to grow despite our low fertility rate.

The data presented in the figure may help explain why in recent years the debate over immigration hasn’t been as sharp or divisive here as in the United States. For Canada, maintaining a significant level of immigration and also a high level of trust in the process by which we invite foreigners to apply for citizenship is crucial for maintaining our economic growth.

Source: There’s a good reason the immigration debate in Canada is calmer than in the U.S.

Viktor Orbán trumpets Hungary’s ‘procreation, not immigration’ policy

Sigh. Not one or the other. Policies to assist families with the costs of having and raising children by themselves will not fully address demographic pressures:

Procreate or face extinction: that’s the message from central European leaders to their shrinking populations, as across the region rightwing governments implement so-called “family first” policies to incentivise childbearing.

Hungary’s government is holding an international summit on demography in Budapest this week, being attended by several regional leaders and delegations from dozens of countries in an attempt to trumpet their investment in family policies.

The country’s nativist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said it was conceivable that Hungary, with a population of just under 10 million that is shrinking due to low birthrates and emigration of Hungarians to EU states further west, could simply disappear.

“It’s not hard to imagine that there would be one single last man who has to turn the lights out,” he said at the opening of the conference on Thursday.

Orbán, who has based his political campaigns in recent years on anti-refugee and anti-migration sentiment, said other European politicians saw immigration as the solution, but he firmly rejected this, tapping into the far-right “great replacement” theory.

“If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future and we take this as given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others,” said Orbán. “There are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population for ideological or other reasons.”

Orbán’s words were backed up by one of the guests of honour at the summit, the former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who saluted the Hungarian leader for having “the political courage to defy political correctness”.

Abbott said dying populations, not climate change, were the biggest threat to western civilisation, and lashed out at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for recent remarks that they would not have more than two children due to the effects on the environment. “Having fewer children in western countries will hardly make the climate better when so many children are being born elsewhere,” said Abbott.

A fear of rising populations in other parts of the world was the dominant theme during the opening morning of the Budapest summit, despite the presence of delegations from many developing countries. The tone was set by an artistic performance that opened the forum, portraying hordes of people from the south and east advancing on Europe.

“Europe has become the continent of the empty crib whereas in Asia and Africa they face demographic challenges of the opposite type,” said Katalin Novák, Hungary’s minister of state for family, youth and international affairs.

The two-day summit was also attended by Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, who both said boosting birthrates was a priority for the long-term development of their countries. Vučić said his country was losing the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized town each year. “Serbian people have one expression for negative population growth: the white flag,” he said.

Source: Viktor Orbán trumpets Hungary’s ‘procreation, not immigration’ policy

‘See beyond difference’: Japan looks to Aussie example as it opens door to foreign workers

Interesting challenges and modest expectations:

The woman tasked with repitching Japan’s strict immigration policy to open the doors to foreign workers for the first time says she wants to avoid the ‘friction’ evident in Australia’s multicultural community.

Japanese MP Yoko Kamikawa said the country has a lot to learn from Australia in ‘drafting a multicultural community’.

“I understand Australia has welcomed a lot of immigrants,” she told SBS News.

“Australia has faced several frictions coming from the difference in the cultures or religions with people from different backgrounds.

“Japan has a lot of things to learn from your country to overcome these challenges.”

Japan started rethinking it’s immigration policy last year, faced with an aging population and a shrinking labour force.

A new visa program, aiming to lure more foreign workers to Japan took effect in April, and Ms Kamikawa said it was working well so far.

But she flagged room for further improvement.

The visa covers 14 industries that need foreign workers to boost labour forces –  including food services, cleaning, construction, agriculture, fishing, vehicle repair and machine operations.

Ms Kamikawa said, so far, the number of foreign workers entering Japan would be relatively small.

“We estimate that there will be merely 350,000 foreign workers in the next five years,” she said.

“We will improve the system step by step. We are trying to make the best effort to make our system properly workable.”

But there has been resistance to the new visas.

Ms Kamikawa said while some tension was ‘inevitable’, she believed the key to a successful multicultural community was a mutual understanding.

“We have to see beyond the difference in the cultures and the religious differences, especially in the workplace and at the community level,” she said.

“We must try to study from each other and learn from each other.

“The foreign workers should study Japanese culture but at the same time, the Japanese community must understand the people with a different background, from foreign countries.

“Mutual understanding is the key and I strongly believe with mutual understanding it will lead to achieving a true multicultural society eventually.”

Ms Kamikawa said Japan was also looking at ways of ‘improving the process’ for refugee intake.

Japan has accepted just over 40 asylum seekers so far in 2019, which is already double the intake of last year.

“Japan is now looking a process of welcoming refugees and the convention relating to the status of refugees,” Ms Kamikawa said.

“We try to continue to improve these operations and we try to have more refugee intake into our society in accordance with international obligations.”

Source: ‘See beyond difference’: Japan looks to Aussie example as it opens door to foreign workers

Community groups gear up to counter far-right propaganda in federal election

Of note. And encouraging, as reported, more dialogue and conversation-based than haranguing or labelling:

It worries Janice Folk-Dawson when the veteran union leader sees hate posters popping up on university campuses and far-right supremacist groups showing up in her community.

“It’s frightening to see small towns becoming the targets of hate groups,” said the president of the Guelph and District Labour Council. “Fascism started in small towns and the education system. We need to address the rise of the right and bust the myths they spread.”

Earlier this year, the 62-year-old, who is of Russian and Irish descent, enrolled in a workshop held by the Migrant Rights Network, a national anti-racism alliance that aims to help communities stand up against racism and the far right in the run-up to the federal election, when immigration and refugees are expected to be a wedge issue.

Formed last December to put migrant issues on the agenda for the Oct. 21 election, the alliance began canvassing migrant groups about the issues they were most concerned about. Almost everyone cited their fear of rising racism and xenophobia in Canada and asked for assistance in pushing back against the spread of far-right ideologies.

The alliance spent months developing training materials including a video and a tool kit, and since April has delivered more than 50 workshops training hundreds of volunteers — affiliated with unions, charities and community groups — from Squamish, B.C. to St. John’s, Nfld. The aim is to have them reach out to their local communities and have conversations with family, friends and colleagues about immigration and refugee issues, armed with the facts on policies to counter myths fuelled by propaganda.

The network has organized rallies across the country, including a number on Labour Day, and begun monitoring candidates’ campaign rhetoric and calling out those they feel are misinforming the public with racist and anti-immigrant comments.

A newsletter will be distributed to people who sign up to support the alliance’s work to keep them informed on issues and concerns raised during the campaign.

Karen Cocq, the alliance’s education co-ordinator, said political parties and politicians, to consolidate their support base, often draw attention away from their own policy failures and point fingers at “the others,” such as migrants.

Instead of blaming migrants for straining government services and pushing down wages, said Cocq, people should be asking politicians why they cut budgets and fail to properly protect workers with decent wages.

“We understand people are anxious about their future, about the economy and try to make sense of the problems they face. We want to focus on this climate of anxiety that allows scapegoating in our society,” said Cocq. “We try to provide everyday folks the tools they need to understand what’s going on and not get fooled by those who use racism to divide us.”

Ottawa climate activist Katie Rae Perfitt of Our Time, a campaign that engages young people to push for a New Green Deal in the upcoming election, said her volunteers often hear Canadians raising issues about migration when they are canvassing about climate change.

Born and raised in a farming community in the Ottawa Valley, Perfitt said far-right groups exploit the fears of people who worry for the future of their children, about jobs being taken away and migrants being a drain on existing government services and the health-care system. When she heard about the workshop put on by the Migrant Rights Network earlier this summer, she jumped at the opportunity.

Recently, she was canvassing on Sparks St., a pedestrian mall in downtown Ottawa, when she struck up a conversation with an older man about climate change and the chat quickly turned to the influx of asylum seekers in Canada via the United States land border over the last two years.

“We really clicked talking about climate change and the political action needed. It caught me off guard when he started talking about what he thought of the people who crossed the border,” recalled the 32-year-old. “I realized I had to pull out my migrant tool box.”

Perfitt started asking the man about his source of information and presenting him with the facts that refugees have the legal right to seek asylum here, and trying to calm his fear that Canada has lost control of its border.

“We did not agree 100 per cent, but we were able to centre our values, have a conversation and push back some of that fear,” she said.

Folk-Dawson said these conversations can be hard because it’s much easier for people to point at someone else for causing their miseries. Over the summer, she has used her own labour movement network to raise awareness of migrant issues and far-right rhetoric.

“A debate of facts is not a debate of opinions. We try to help people work through their feelings and experience to alleviate their fear. It can be uncomfortable and confrontational,” said Folk-Dawson, adding that even union supporters are susceptible to the myths that migrants are stealing jobs and pushing down wages.

In June, she was handing out flyers at the University of Guelph when a businessman in his 60s started complaining to her that border-crossing asylum seekers were queue-jumpers and immigrants were straining the health-care system. She explained to him that those refugees really have no queue to jump because they are ineligible for any immigration program and that migrants do contribute to Canada’s tax base but often have limited access to government services.

“At the end, the man said he would go back and have the same conversation with others. That’s one person we changed,” said Folk-Dawson gleefully. “We have to get to them before some other folks get to them first.”

Source: Community groups gear up to counter far-right propaganda in federal election

The “Debt” Immigrants Can Never Repay

Interesting read:

In July, Donald Trump told a story about how he coerced a wealthy businessman he didn’t like and who didn’t like him into praising him. The story focused on the pleasure Trump took in watching that man grovel and tell him he was “doing good.” In Trump’s hands, it was a parable about debt and gratitude. “You know,” Trump says he told this nameless enemy, “you don’t like me and I don’t like you. I never have liked you and you never have liked me—but you’re gonna support me because you’re a rich guy. And if you don’t support me, you’re going to be so goddamn poor you’re not going to believe it.” Trump describes the man as acquiescing and praising him, closing the story with: “And maybe we didn’t get along, but it’s not like he has a choice. He has no choice.”

To Trump, this is the story of an excellent “deal.” The best deal is one where the other party, who has something you want (like “a wealthy businessman’s grudging approval”), has no choice but to give it to you. It doesn’t matter if the praise is genuine as long as it costs the businessman something to give it. This calculus may seem pragmatic, but it ends up having a long-term price of its own: “You lose all your friends when you’re president,” Trump laments later in his monologue, one of his part-joke, part-confession asides. When the “deal” is your only framework, your universe shrinks and shuts out bonds over things like (for example) shared principles. It also makes nontransactional feedback—or any truly independent judgment untainted by bribes or threats—implausible. Some consequences of this approach are as old as they are obvious: Choosing to exert control through coercion, insincere praise, or veiled threats frays relations into the kind of exploitation on the one side and lying obsequiousness on the other that Shakespeare’s fools spent every play mocking. More worrying, for a democracy, is that there is no aspiration to anything resembling the ideal of equality here: Trump’s “deal” is about supremacy. He applies it to everything, and his most ardent support (and much of his administration) draws power by championing this worldview.

Trump’s story may have been apocryphal, but it’s also clarifying. Though no friend to the poor and marginalized, his priorities remain clear even with his ostensible equals; these priorities consist largely of making his deal partners lose. The story also offers one of the better examples of the gratitude tax he tries to exact from those with whom he interacts. This is a particular kind of American paternalism at its finest, a framework where the weaker party is not only forced into social or financial debt—they are humiliated and made to feel it. The paternalist values getting the better end of a deal over pretty much everything else. And that’s what a particular subset of Trump supporters—striving to “win” this way themselves—like about him.

Absent an arrangement where he profits financially, the paternalist deal-maker makes sure to profit socially. That’s crucial to understanding some of the less-obvious gears powering Trump’s worldview. Yes, he’s racist; yes, he’s classist. But he’ll make exceptions for poor people (or people from marginalized communities) if they’ll grovel and praise. Sen. Lindsey Graham argued that Trump’s dislike of Somali immigrants like Rep. Ilhan Omar is not based on race. The reason he’s demonizing her to his followers, Graham argued—as if this weren’t racist and above all slimy—was that she didn’t likehim. “I really do believe that if you’re a Somali refugee who likes Trump, he’s not going to say, ‘Go back to Somalia.’ ” You’ll recognize the currency Graham’s identifying here: The only nonwhite migrants worth tolerating, to this way of thinking, are those willing to pay—and they’d better give more than they got, whether in dollars or in gratitude.

This bleak standard is symptomatic of a larger pattern of American paternalism that has always existed but is now flourishing under Trump as other national ideals wither. The American paternalist in the Trumpian mold thinks he’s generous and even-keeled. In practice, he tends to be paranoid, erratic, and consumed by the pursuit of “deals” that put him ahead of the other party in an imaginary ledger he curates with obsessive care. People with less material wealth than him are suspect; as he cannot imagine other motives for them, they must be out to take advantage. He is therefore on guard with them and keen to maintain his advantage by any means. This has obvious consequences for immigration policy: Such a person sees nothing meritorious in courageous dreamers filled with human potential traveling to a foreign country to make a better life. In his ledger, their arrival (and indeed, their existence) appears as a debit.

Source: The “Debt” Immigrants Can Never Repay