Trump Suspends Some Asylum Rights, Calling Illegal Immigration ‘a Crisis’

For the Conservatives arguing for closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that does not return asylum seekers entering outside regular border crossings (i.e., Roxham Road) to the U.S., the constraints on the U.S. government doing the same for its Southern border may be instructive:

President Trump proclaimed on Friday that the illegal entry of immigrants across the southern border of the United States was detrimental to the national interest, spurring tough changes that will deny asylum to all migrants who do not enter through official border crossings.

The proclamation, issued just moments before Mr. Trump left the White House for a weekend trip to Paris, suspends asylum rights for all immigrants who try to cross into the United States illegally, though officials said it was aimed primarily at several thousand migrants traveling north through Mexico in caravans.

“The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders,” Mr. Trump wrote in the proclamation.

As he left the White House for the overseas trip, Mr. Trump said, “We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Friday within hours of the president’s proclamation, urging a federal judge to prohibit Mr. Trump from moving ahead with his plans to deny asylum to thousands of migrants who may cross the border.

In a legal filing in United States District Court in San Francisco, the A.C.L.U. said that the president’s move was “in direct violation of Congress’s clear command that manner of entry cannot constitute a categorical asylum bar.” The lawsuit also alleges that the administration enacted the rule “without the required procedural steps and without good cause for immediately putting the rule into effect.”

The lawsuit could set in motion another clash between Mr. Trump and the judicial system over the power of the presidency to control the nation’s borders. Officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit.

Administration officials said on Friday that the suspension of asylum rights would be in effect for at least 90 days, but could end sooner if Mexico’s government would sign an agreement allowing the United States to return those who illegally cross the border from Mexico, regardless of their home country — a proposal that Mexico has long rejected.

For decades, immigration law in the United States has required that officials allow migrants who fear persecution in their home countries to seek asylum regardless of whether they entered the United States legally or illegally.

Mr. Trump’s proclamation is a radical departure from that tradition. With the exception of children arriving without parents, officials said that all migrants who cross illegally would automatically be denied asylum. Advocates for migrants condemned the policy shift as meanspirited and unconstitutional.

“Issuing a presidential proclamation effectively denying vulnerable families protection from violence is contrary to our laws and values,” said Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies. “In the long run, it will not deter asylum seekers who are fleeing for their lives. On this one, the emperor has no clothes.”

Across the world, nations have for years agreed to consider asylum protections for those fleeing violence and persecution, even if they cross borders illegally. Human rights advocates said on Friday that the United States should be a leader in supporting that idea.

“One thing that unites a majority of Americans is a belief in the principle of asylum,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “Eroding that principle means eroding a defining value of our nation.”

Administration officials insisted that the new rules would remain consistent with United States obligations to the rest of the world because seeking asylum is not the only way for someone fleeing persecution to receive protection.

Officials said migrants would be allowed to seek other protections if they could prove a risk of being tortured in their home countries. However, they conceded that those claims were purposely much harder to prove and that fewer people were likely to qualify to stay in the United States than would have by receiving asylum. The only way to seek asylum will be to arrive at an official border crossing.

But officials conceded that many of the crossings from Mexico into the United States — known as ports of entry — were over capacity and already had trouble processing the number of asylum claims being made by migrants there. Under the new policy, many more are expected to arrive at the crossings.

In the proclamation, Mr. Trump acknowledged the problem and directed his administration “to commit additional resources to support our ports of entry at the southern border to assist in processing those aliens.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation drew on the same powers to control the nation’s borders that he cited when he banned travel from several predominantly Muslim nations shortly after becoming president. The Supreme Court upheld a later version of that ban after a nearly year-and-a-half legal fight.

The new proclamation is certain to ignite a similar legal battle.

For months before the midterm elections, Mr. Trump cast the group of migrants as a threat to national security, claiming — without evidence— that among them are criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation puts into effect regulatory changes announced Thursday afternoon that effectively overhaul deep-rooted asylum laws that sought to provide a safer life in America for people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Officials said the changes would take effect early Saturday morning.

Most of the migrants in the caravan come from Honduras and other Central American nations, where they say they fear for their lives because of continuing violence.

Mr. Trump has been seething for months about the increase of immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico and the caravan of several thousand migrants whose travels have drawn news media attention. The president ordered more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the border to prevent the migrants from crossing.

By early this week, that caravan still had about 4,000 or 5,000 people and had made it to Mexico City.

ICYMI: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

Worth reading:

Hunched forward in his chair, his fingertips and thumbs forming a familiar diamond shape, Donald Trump seemed to anticipate the question that Axios’s Jonathan Swan was about to ask him. “On immigration, some legal scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution—” Swan began, before Trump cut him off gingerly. “With an executive order,” he interjected. “Exactly,” Swan replied. “Have you thought about that?” The president didn’t miss a beat. “Yes.”

The video teaser of the interview, which will appear in Axios’s forthcoming documentary news series on HBO, erupted in the middle of a news cycle driven by Trump’s inflammatory comments regarding immigration—his decision to dispatch the military to the U.S.-Mexico border, relentless fear-mongering over a migrant caravan of Central American “invaders,” and a white-supremacist terror attack inspired by Jewish aid for refugees. Trump, who is presiding over a midterm election next week that could determine control of the House, has been betting that a hard-line message on immigration will drive G.O.P. turnout. Yet even for a party that has largely aligned itself with the president’s nationalist rhetoric, what Trump proposed was radical and largely without precedent. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” the president continued in his conversation with Swan. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.” His subsequent claim—that the U.S. is the only country that bestows citizenship upon anyone born within its jurisdiction—was false, but the racial anxiety he was tapping into is real. “[A] person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States . . . with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

The idea of revoking birthright citizenship has wended its way through Washington for years. Democrat Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, proposed revoking birthright citizenship in 1993, before repeatedly apologizing for it. (“I didn’t understand the issue. I’m embarrassed that I made such a proposal,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.) On the right, fear of “anchor babies” has been exploited politically by even moderates such as Jeb Bush, who invoked the issue in 2015. But Trump’s decisive claim that he could get end birthright citizenship with the stroke of a pen caused critics to drop their jaws. “He obviously cannot do that,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, noting the intractable reality: birthright citizenship has been enshrined in the 14th Amendment for 150 years and would require no less than an act of Congress or a Supreme Court challenge to knock it down, an endeavor the vast majority of legal scholars consider impossible.

Regardless of whether it is a midterm stunt, Trump’s fever dream has very real origins in the scholarship of the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank based in Southern California—the front line, incidentally, of illegal border crossings. The current legal argument for revoking birthright citizenship, which had percolated on the left and right in the 90s, began gaining traction in 2006, when John C. Eastman, a Claremont Institute affiliate who is a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, published an article for the Heritage Foundation laying out a three-point argument to challenge the authority of birthright citizenship. First, according to Eastman, at the time of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, children born to foreigners were “not entitled to claim the birthright citizenship” provided by the act. Since the Act eventually became the backbone of the 14th Amendment, therefore, the original interpretation of citizenship should take precedence. Second, he argued the reading of the 14th Amendment—that birthright citizenship can be bestowed upon anyone who is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States—was overbroad; in Eastman’s reading, citizenship can only be bestowed upon people with “total and exclusive allegiance” to the country. If a child’s parents had not pledged fealty to America, either by becoming full citizens or establishing permanent residence, their loyalty to the Constitution would, by all definitions, be as temporary as that of their parents. (The common legal interpretation of ”subject to the jurisdiction” is that anyone who enters the country, no matter how briefly, are subject to U.S. laws.) Finally, he wrote, the policy was a medieval remnant inconsistent with the Founding and the notion that Americans need consent to be governed: “This consent must be present, either explicitly or tacitly, not just in the formation of the government, but also in the ongoing decision whether to embrace others within the social compact of the particular people.”

The next year, Edward J. Erler, a Claremont scholar and one of the original thinkers on birthright issues, published a bookwith two colleagues examining what reviewer and Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson deemed the problem of “massive illegal immigration from Mexico” for the American identity: “How did the founders and their successors deal with problems of being an American, and what are the effects of massive noncompliance with the laws of the United States?” Apart from several additional treatises they published, however, the idea never caught on with the rest of the conservative legal community. “It’s certainly in the idea of originalism, in that it relies that you understand the text at the time it was written, [but] there are a lot of people, even in that broadly conservative camp, that just reject it,” said Corey Brettschneider,professor of political science and public policy at Brown University, and the recent author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents. “There are a couple of scholars that are pushing it, but it’s not a mainstream view even in conservative circles. That’s because it’s kind of wacky.”

Over time, Eastman and Erler’s legal arguments were adopted in Washington as part of various efforts to curb illegal immigration. In 2010, a small group of Republican senators, including Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain, floated the idea of holding hearings on the issue; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a similar plan in 2015. Most conservative figures in Congress, to say nothing of the pro-immigration donor class, balked. But when Trump launched his unconventional, nativist-pandering campaign, legal birthrightists held out hope that he could indeed become their political vessel to revoke the law. “Political pundits believe that Trump should not press such divisive issues as immigration and citizenship. It is clear, however, that he has struck a popular chord—and touched an important issue that should be debated no matter how divisive,” Erler wrote in National Review in August 2015. At the same time, Erler acknowledged foreseeable roadblocks. “Republicans want cheap and exploitable labor and Democrats want future voters,” he said.

By early 2016, Stephen Miller was forcefully pushing for an end to the birthright privilege, calling it the linchpin in the administration’s immigration policies. “Birthright citizenship really is the ultimate magnet for illegal immigration,” he told the Daily Caller that February, outlining the traditional conservative fears of chain migration, anchor children, and the decreased likelihood of deportation. “[It’s] an open, worldwide invitation to ignore America’s immigration laws and an absolute perversion, misinterpretation, misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” Miller then suggested that Trump could do it more easily than the media or legal scholars imagined: “You could do it through a variety of different means, whether it be legislatively, whether it be through potential guidance that’s issued.”

According to Axios, the Trump administration had been quietly working on this policy for months, and Trump himself was surprised that Swan brought it up in their interview. (“I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one.”) But the revelation of the plan—only weeks away from the midterm election, and in the middle of Trump’s furious posturing on the migrant caravan winding its way to the southern border—immediately won plaudits among several of Trump’s allies, with Lindsey Graham announcing that he was completely on board. More sober-minded Republicans told Politico that they opposed Trump taking action via executive order, and would perhaps try to tailor the breadth of the amendment’s application in Congress. Nevertheless, ending birthright citizenship unilaterally, they concurred, was a bad idea. “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process,” said Ryan. “But where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.”

The Talmudic ponderings of Congress, however, may be less important than the energy this will automatically inject into the election—not just for Democrats enraged about Trump’s treatment of illegal immigrants, but also for conservatives prioritizing border control. Indeed, if a talk Erler delivered in April at Hillsdale College is any indication, birthright citizenship is only one facet of the great threat of political correctness, progressive equalization, and the horrors of plurality looming over the American experiment. “Greater diversity means inevitably that we have less in common, and the more we encourage diversity the less we honor the common good,” he said at the time, calling multiculturalism “a solvent that dissolves the unity and cohesiveness of a nation.” He condemned Republicans for caving so quickly to any accusations of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. “Only President Trump seems undeterred by the tyrannous threat that rests at the core of political correctness,” he explained.

Source: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

In Search of a New Equilibrium: Immigration Policymaking in the Newest Era of Nativist Populism: MPI

Relevant MPI report. Worth reflecting upon, even if the Canadian situation is quite different from Europe:

When faced with the growth of radical-right populism, mainstream political actors face a dilemma: respecting the democratic mandate of populists and treating them like any other political actor, or drawing a line in the sand by ostracizing and refusing to cooperate with them. Regardless, mainstream politicians need to reckon with how to respond to the forces driving support for nativist populism in the first place— deep concerns about cultural identity, rising inequality, pressure on limited public resources, deepening political polarization, and the politics of fear and resentment. In doing so, they will also need to grapple with how to build a new consensus on immigration. Points of reflection include:

  • ƒThe many benefits of running a tight ship on immigration policies. Governments need to rebuild public trust in the integrity and fairness of their migration-management system. Doing so will require minimizing immigration disorder and ensuring effective and orderly return procedures, while tipping the balance towards a more selective system that is better aligned with national economic and labor-market needs.
  • ƒThe challenges and crucial importance of communicating complexity. Policymakers need to think carefully about how to communicate their policy priorities and decisions, and the evidence that underpins them, to a concerned public. This includes speaking candidly about what the evidence does—and does not or cannot—say about hot-button issues such as immigration. This must be done in terms that can be readily understood by a wide audience of nonexperts and, when it comes to immigration, include an honest discussion of the benefits of a well-managed immigration system and the tradeoffs such a system can entail. These communications must also include concrete actions to address these emotive issues, especially in times of crisis.
  • ƒThe need to redress inequality by investing in communities. The rise of populism and nativism should serve as a wake-up call for mainstream policymakers on the importance of acknowledging and targeting disadvantage by adopting policies to redress the uneven costs of immigration, globalization, and economic crises. In striving to revitalize neglected regions, governments face tough decisions about whether to invest in costly social and economic development policies to help people stay—and attract new residents, especially immigrants— or to help people relocate to areas with more economic opportunities (at the risk of further shrinking the fiscal base of struggling regions).
  • ƒThe promise of employing a whole-of-society approach to immigration and integration issues. In an era of growing “welfare chauvinism,” with populists calling to limit access to welfare benefits to citizens, policymakers should confront head on the perception that immigrants benefit disproportionately from government programs and services. Research has also demonstrated the advantages of moving away from programs that target certain groups, such as immigrants, and towards robust services available to and flexible enough to meet the needs of all who qualify.

Ultimately, the rise of nativist populism should be understood both as a symptom and driver of political turmoil in Europe and the United States. Its rise is rooted in longstanding social and economic grievances and divisions that have been overlooked by mainstream politicians for far too long. Governments need to learn from their mistakes and respond much more proactively to manage these divisions—or risk seeing societies drift further apart and create a breeding ground for nativism and populism.


John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Ivison on the Michelle Rempel’s critique of the Liberal government’s immigration policies and approach and their communications challenges.

Federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement last week that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021 seems designed to flush out the Conservatives.

With Maxime Bernier’s fledgling party promising to cut the number of permanent residents arriving in Canada from the current target of 330,000 next year to around 250,000, there is growing pressure on the Conservatives to follow suit.

The party’s immigration critic, Michelle Rempel, admits it might be the politically expedient thing to do. “If I was taking the easy route, I’d just say ‘Cut immigration’ … But the reality is we have to reform the system. It isn’t working by any metric,” she said in an interview.

Rempel said she is desperate to avoid what she called an “Americanized” debate about immigration levels.

“What Bernier doesn’t understand is that for the people looking at his party, there is only one number that is sufficient — and that’s zero,” she said.

An August survey by the Angus Reid Institute set off alarm bells that the consensus that has characterized Canadian attitudes towards immigration for the past four decades is in danger of shattering.

The poll found that the number of respondents who felt immigration levels should stay the same or be increased, which has registered at over 50 per cent for forty years, had fallen to 37 per cent. Half of those surveyed said they would prefer to see the federal government’s 2018 immigration target of 310,000 new permanent residents be reduced.

Rempel said the consensus is under pressure because the Liberals have bungled aspects of immigration policy like the “irregular” border-crossing file.

“The consensus is not breaking down, but the public is looking at what is happening with the asylum seekers and they don’t think the social contract criteria are being met,” she said. “The debate shouldn’t be about numbers but about the process by which we set those numbers.”

It’s clear that immigration will be one of the key battlegrounds in the 2019 election. The Conservatives would seek to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows people to enter Canada illegally from upstate New York, and expedite the removal process of those people whose refugee claims were rejected. Rempel admits there is also pressure coming from within her own caucus to put a number on what immigration levels would be under a Conservative government.

“But I’m not going to treat this like an auction for votes,” she said, noting that on the Syrian refugees issue, her party had pledged to admit 10,000, which persuaded the NDP to raise its commitment to 15,000 and the Liberals to trump them all with a promise to admit 25,000. Yet, as she points out, unemployment rates among Syrian refugees remain stubbornly high more than two years after most arrived.

“It’s irresponsible to set a target without ascertaining how much it will cost to adequately process the huge backlog of asylum seekers,” she said.

Unlike many other centre-right parties, the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration. In 2015, levels remained at a historically high rate, with 271,833 new permanent residents landing in Canada.

During the Harper government’s term of office, 2.8 million people arrived as permanent residents in Canada, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

The mix was heavily weighted towards those chosen for their skills and education levels— in 2015, 63 per cent were economic class migrants, 24 per cent arrived under the family reunification program, and 13 per cent were refugees.

The consensus is based on a broad recognition that Canada’s worker to retiree ratio — 4.2:1 in 2012 — is set to decline precipitously to 2:1 by 2031.

It is widely understood that a decade after they arrive the labour force participation rates for immigrants is comparable to those who were born in Canada. And it is accepted that immigrants and the children of immigrants are generally better educated that the Canadian-born population (almost half have a bachelors degree, compared to one quarter for the latter).

But the complexion of the immigration system is set to change. The mix planned by the Liberals will by 2021 see economic class migrants fall to just 51 per cent of the total of 350,000, with family reunification numbers increasing by more than one third to account for nearly 30 per cent of the total and refugee numbers rising by 44 per cent to reach 19 per cent of the total.

[Note: The levels plan shows that the percentage of economic class immigrants is essentially flat at 57-58 percent, compared to the low 60s during the Conservative government).

The increased number of family members admitted into the country is likely to play well in ridings with large immigrant populations — as it did in the 2015 election.

But irregular migration is not playing well with anybody — particularly not immigrants, who see asylum-seekers as queue-jumpers, nor Quebecers, who are bearing the brunt of the refugee tide.

The government has allocated an extra $440 million to improve processing and settlement programs, and an additional $173 million specifically to manage irregular migration levels. A further $50 million has been given to provinces to pay for temporary housing for “irregular” migrants.

But as Rempel pointed out, throwing money at the problem does not make it go away. “The issue for many people is that they see higher numbers (of illegal migrants) at Roxham Road, and the higher social costs, and say we should reduce numbers,” she said.

Rempel is trying to hold a line that is under pressure from “open borders” policy on the left and “closed borders” policy on the right.

She needs to sharpen her messaging, if she is to succeed in persuading Canadians this is not just a numbers game.

But it is a line worth holding.

The debate over immigration in Canada has not descended into bigotry and resentment because it has worked for four decades. As Stephen Harper noted in his recent book, Right Here, Right Now: “Make immigration legal, secure and, in the main, economically-driven, and it will have high levels of public confidence.”

But public support is on the decline thanks to illegal migration, porous borders and an increase in the proportion of non-economic migrants.

Rempel’s argument is that Trudeau has lost the “social license” to increase immigration levels and only the Conservatives can restore it. Whether that can be done without giving a number on entry levels remains to be seen.

Source: John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

The changing face of Japan: labour shortage opens doors to immigrant workers

More on changes to Japan’s immigration policies:

One by one, Mohammad and Munadi thread scallop shells on to thin metal rods, breaking the monotony with quiet chatter in their native Javanese. The shells will soon be used to cultivate oysters, a speciality in this region of western Japan.

Neither of the men, crouching on the floor of a shed overlooking Japan’s Inland Sea, had even seen an oyster before they came to Akitsu, a tiny port town in eastern Hiroshima prefecture, in April this year.

They are part of a growing foreign workforce that policymakers see as a solution to Japan’s shrinking, ageing population and a stubbornly low birthrate.

Under pressure from businesses battling the tightest labour shortage in decades, Japan’s government has finally been forced to relax its tough immigration policy.

Last week, the administration of prime minister Shinzo Abe approved legislation that will open the door to as many as half a million foreign workers by 2025, in what some are calling the end to Japan’s traditional opposition to large-scale immigration. The bill is expected to pass by the end of the year and go into effect next April.

Japan – one of the world’s most homogenous societies – has long resisted foreign labour, with exceptions made for those in professions such as teaching, medicine, engineering and the law. Mohammad and Munadi are part of a government-run foreign technical trainee programme that is supposed to provide workers from developing countries with skills they can take back to their home countries after five years.

Critics say employers abuse the scheme for cheap labour, with many failing to pay proper salaries and forcing interns to work long hours. In addition, the programme, which employed just over 260,000 foreign workers last year, does not include enough people with the specific skills required in sectors of the economy that are suffering from a labour shortage.

There were 1.28 million foreign workers among Japan’s workforce of 66 million in 2017 – double the number in 2012. But many are university students or technical trainees who, like Mohammad and Munadi, are not permitted to stay indefinitely. Unemployment dropped to at just 2.3% in September and there are 163 job vacancies for every 100 job seekers – the highest job availability for more than 40 years.

‘Not a conventional immigration policy’

Under the new legislation, foreign workers will be divided into two categories. Those with skills in sectors experiencing labour shortages will be allowed to work for up to five years but cannot bring their families with them. Those with more advanced skills will be able to bring family members and renew their visas indefinitely, and may eventually apply for permanent residency. Members of both groups must pass a Japanese-language exam.

Abe denied he was abandoning Japan’s tough immigration policy. “Please don’t misunderstand,” he said, warning that labour shortages risked obstructing Japan’s return to modest economic growth.

“We are not pursuing a conventional immigration policy,” Abe told MPs, adding that most foreign workers would stay in Japan for limited periods and that the policy would be reviewed in the event of an economic downturn or easing of labour shortages in particular sectors. “It would be wrong to force our values on foreigners. Instead, it’s important to create an environment in which people can happily coexist.”

But some experts disagree. “I think this is a de facto shift to an immigration policy,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, the former head of the Tokyo immigration bureau.

The prospect of a significant rise in the number of immigrant workers prompted a backlash from opposition parties.

The rightwing Japan First party complained that an influx of foreign workers would place intolerable pressure on welfare services and lead to higher crime rates.

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the centrist Democratic Party for the People, voiced concern over pressure on wages and social services. But he became the first party leader to support a European-style immigration policy that, he said, should ensure equal pay for equal work and allow foreign workers to bring their families to Japan.

The current edition of the rightwing magazine Sapio features a series of articles warning of a rise in violence, sex crimes and cultural clashes, while the private broadcaster Fuji TV was criticised for a recent programme about visa overstayers that demonised immigrants.

The public appears more tolerant, however. A survey by the TV Tokyo and the Nikkei business newspaper showed 54% of Japanese voters favoured allowing in more unskilled foreign workers, with 36% against. Support for the move was particularly high among younger people.

The liberal Asahi newspaper said Abe had failed to address “a slew of concerns about its hasty initiative to drastically increase the number of foreign workers”.

“Whether they are called immigrants or not, the government has a responsibility to lay out a viable and convincing vision of the future of Japanese society where foreign workers and Japanese citizens can live together in harmony and feel secure,” the newspaper said, adding that the change was “bound to have a far-reaching effect on Japanese society”.

Those changes are already being felt in Hiroshima prefecture’s fisheries, where one in six workers is foreign – the highest rate in any industry in Japan. Among fishermen in their 20s and 30s, the ratio is one in two.

‘Places like this can’t survive without foreign workers’

In Akitsu, young fisheries workers from overseas now outnumber their ageing Japanese counterparts 33 to 30.

Takatoshi Shiba, head of the Akitsu fishermen’s cooperative, jokes that at 67, he is relatively young compared to his Japanese colleagues. “It feels like a wasted opportunity because the trainees spend time learning the job and getting used to life here, and then they have to go home after a few years,” says Shiba. “I don’t think the government has any choice but to act soon. Places like this can’t survive without foreign workers.”

Mohammad and Munadi say they have adapted well to life in rural Japan, although neither has plans to stay more than three years. They spend their days off shopping in nearby Hiroshima and playing badminton, and can now buy halal meat from the local supermarket. In just a few months they have acquired enough conversational Japanese to communicate with their neighbours and other trainees from China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“We get on well with our Japanese colleagues and bosses,” says Munadi, 27, who left Java in April just after his wife gave birth to their first child. “And we get paid a lot more here than we would back in Indonesia.”

Mohammad agrees. “The work is no problem, but we miss our families,” he says as he removes another scallop shell from the pile in front of him. “But we are happy here.”

Source: The changing face of Japan: labour shortage opens doors to immigrant workers

The Nauru Experience: Zero-Tolerance Immigration and Suicidal Children

Good and disturbing reporting:

She was 3 years old when she arrived on Nauru, a child fleeing war in Sri Lanka. Now, Sajeenthana is 8.

Her gaze is vacant. Sometimes she punches adults. And she talks about dying with ease.

“Yesterday I cut my hand,” she said in an interview here on the remote Pacific island where she was sent by the Australian government after being caught at sea. She pointed to a scar on her arm.

“One day I will kill myself,” she said. “Wait and see, when I find the knife. I don’t care about my body. ”

Her father tried to calm her, but she twisted away. “It is the same as if I was in war, or here,” he said.

Sajeenthana is one of more than 3,000 refugees and asylum seekerswho have been sent to Australia’s offshore detention centers since 2013. No other Australian policy has been so widely condemned by the world’s human rights activists nor so strongly defended by the country’s leaders, who have long argued it saves lives by deterring smugglers and migrants.

Now, though, the desperation has reached a new level — in part because of the United States.

Sajeenthana and her father are among the dozens of refugees on Nauru who had been expecting to be moved as part of an Obama-era deal that President Trump reluctantly agreed to honor, allowing resettlement for up to 1,250 refugees from Australia’s offshore camps.

So far, according to American officials, about 430 refugees from the camps have been resettled in the United States — but at least 70 people were rejected over the past few months.

That includes Sajeenthana and her father, Tamil refugees who fled violence at home after the Sri Lankan government crushed a Tamil insurgency.

A State Department spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the rejections, arguing the Nauru refugees are subject to the same vetting procedures as other refugees worldwide.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said in a statement that Nauru has “appropriate mental health assessment and treatment in place.”

But what’s clear, according to doctors and asylum seekers, is that the situation has been deteriorating for months. On Nauru, signs of suicidal children have been emerging since August. Dozens of organizations, including Doctors Without Borders (which was ejected from Nauru on Oct. 5) have been sounding the alarm. And with the hope of American resettlement diminishing, the Australian government has been forced to relent: Last week officials said they would work toward moving all children off Nauru for treatment by Christmas.

At least 92 children have been moved since August — Sajeenthana was evacuated soon after our interview — but as of Tuesday there were still 27 children on Nauru, hundreds of adults, and no long-term solution.

The families sent to Australia for care are waiting to hear if they will be sent back to Nauru. Some parents, left behind as their children are being treated, fear they will never see each other again if they apply for American resettlement, while asylum seekers from countries banned by the United States — like Iran, Syria and Somalia — lack even that possibility.

For all the asylum seekers who have called Nauru home, the psychological effects linger.

Nauru is a small island nation of about 11,000 people that takes 30 minutes by car to loop. A line of dilapidated mansions along the coast signal the island’s wealthy past; in the 1970s, it was a phosphate-rich nation with per capita income second only to Saudi Arabia.

Now, those phosphate reserves are virtually exhausted, and the country relies heavily on Australian aid. It accounted for 25 percent of Nauru’s gross domestic product last year alone.

Mathew Batsiua, a former Nauruan lawmaker who helped orchestrate the offshore arrangement, said it was meant to be a short-term deal. But the habit has been hard to break.

“Our mainstay income is purely controlled by the foreign policy of another country,” he said.

In Topside, an area of old cars and dusty brush, sits one of the two processing centers that house about 160 detainees. Hundreds of others live in community camps of modular housing. They were moved from shared tents in August, ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental meeting that Nauru hosted this year.

Sukirtha Krishnalingam, 15, said the days are a boring loop as she and her family of five — certified refugees from Sri Lanka — wait to hear if the United States will accept them. She worries about her heart condition. And she has nightmares.

“At night, she screams,” said her brother Mahinthan, 14.

In the past year, talk of suicide on the island has become more common. Young men like Abdullah Khoder, a 24-year-old Lebanese refugee, says exhaustion and hopelessness have taken a toll. “I cut my hands with razors because I am tired,” he said.

Even more alarming: Children now allude to suicide as if it were just another thunderstorm. Since 2014, 12 people have died after being detained in Australia’s offshore detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea.

Christina Sivalingam, a 10-year-old Tamil girl on Nauru spoke matter-of-factly in an interview about seeing the aftermath of one death — that of an Iranian man, Fariborz Karami, who killed himself in June.

“We came off the school bus and I saw the blood — it was everywhere,” she said calmly. It took two days to clean up. She said her father also attempted suicide after treatment for his thyroid condition was delayed.

Seeing some of her friends being settled in the United States while she waits on her third appeal for asylum has only made her lonelier. She said she doesn’t feel like eating anymore.

“Why am I the only one here?” she said. “I want to go somewhere else and be happy.”

Some observers, even on Nauru, wonder if the children are refusing to eat in a bid to leave. But medical professionals who have worked on the island said the rejections by the Americans have contributed to a rapid deterioration of people’s mental states.

Dr. Beth O’Connor, a psychiatrist working with Doctors Without Borders, said that when she arrived last year, people clung to the hope of resettlement in the United States. In May, a batch of rejections plunged the camp into despair.

Mr. Karami’s death further sapped morale.

“People that just had a bit of spark in their eye still just went dull,” Dr. O’Connor said. “They felt more abandoned and left behind.”

Many of the detainees no longer hope to settle in Australia. New Zealand has offered to take in 150 refugees annually from Nauru but Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, has said that he will only consider the proposal if a bill is passed banning those on Nauru from ever entering Australia. Opposition lawmakers say they are open to discussion.

In the meantime, Nauru continues to draw scrutiny.

For months, doctors say, many children on Nauru have been exhibiting symptoms of resignation syndrome — a mental condition in response to trauma that involves extreme withdrawal from reality. They stopped eating, drinking and talking.

“They’d look right through you when you tried to talk to them,” Dr. O’Connor said. “We watched their weights decline and we worried that one of them would die before they got out.”

Lawyers with the National Justice Project, a nonprofit legal service, have been mobilizing. They have successfully argued for the medical evacuation of around 127 people from Nauru this year, including 44 children.

In a quarter of the cases, the government has resisted these demands in court, said George Newhouse, the group’s principal lawyer.

“We’ve never lost,” he said. “It is gut-wrenching to see children’s lives destroyed for political gain.”

A broad coalition that includes doctors, clergy, lawyers and nonprofit organizations, working under the banner #kidsoffnauru, is now calling for all asylum seekers to be evacuated.

Public opinion in Australia is turning: In one recent poll, about 80 percent of respondents supported the removal of families and children from Nauru.

Australia’s conservative government, with an election looming, is starting to shift.

“We’ve been going about this quietly,” Mr. Morrison said last week. “We haven’t been showboating.”

But there are still questions about what happens next.

Last month, Sajeenthana stopped eating. After she had spent 10 days on a saline drip in a Nauruan hospital, her father was told he had two hours to pack for Australia.

Speaking by video from Brisbane last week (we are not using her full name because of her age and the severity of her condition), Sajeenthana beamed.

“I feel better now that I am in Australia,” she said. “I’m not going back to Nauru.”

But her father is less certain. The United States rejected his application for resettlement in September. There are security guards posted outside their Brisbane hotel room, he said, and though food arrives daily, they are not allowed to leave. He wonders if they have swapped one kind of limbo for another, or if they will be forced back to Nauru.

Australia’s Home Affairs minister has said the Nauru children will not be allowed to stay.

“Anyone who is brought here is still classified as a transitory person,” said Jana Favero, director of advocacy and campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Center. “Life certainly isn’t completely rosy and cheery once they arrive in Australia.”

On Monday, 25 more people, including eight children, left the island in six family units, she said.

Those left behind on Nauru pass the days, worrying and waiting.

Christina often dreams of what life would be like somewhere else, where being 10 does not mean being trapped.

A single Iranian woman who asked not to be identified because she feared for her safety said that short of attempting suicide or changing nationality, there was no way off Nauru.

She has been waiting two years for an answer to her application for resettlement in the United States — one that now seems hopeless given the Trump administration’s policies.

Each night, often after the power goes out on Nauru, she and her sister talk about life and death, and whether to harm themselves to seek freedom.

Source: The Nauru Experience: Zero-Tolerance Immigration and Suicidal Children 

Jeff Sessions Is Out, But His Dark Vision for Immigration Policy Lives On: The New Yorker

Good overview on his views and legacy:

For more than two decades, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s hostility to immigrants put him on the outer fringes of the Republican Party. When Congress seemed likely to pass comprehensive immigration reform—first in 2007, then in 2013—Sessions worked assiduously to scuttle it. In 2015, after the Republicans took control of the Senate, he circulated a memo titled “Immigration Handbook for a New Republican Majority,” in which he argued that the G.O.P. had lost the Presidency in 2012 partly because it failed to curtail legal immigration to the U.S. The next year, he became the first U.S. senator to back Donald Trump in the Republican Presidential primaries, which at once bolstered Sessions’s flagging public profile and legitimized Trump’s candidacy in the eyes of anti-immigration hawks. (“Sessions was Trump’s Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” Mark Krikorian, the head of the Center for Immigration Studies, an influential anti-immigration think tank, told me last year.) Addressing a group of immigration judges in Virginia last October, Sessions paused to marvel at his own good luck. “I’m just astounded that President Trump made the miraculous intervention, and I’m the Attorney General of the United States,” he said, grinning broadly. “It’s really, really hard to believe.”

On Wednesday, Sessions resigned under pressure from the White House. For the past year and a half, the President, who felt betrayed that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, in March, 2017, had routinely mocked and insulted his Attorney General. Trump upbraided him in the Oval Office, called him a “dumb Southerner” behind his back, and taunted him in speeches and on Twitter. (“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me,” Trump said in September. “He wanted to be Attorney General, and I didn’t see it.”) But, as the Trump Administration adopted increasingly draconian policies, it became clear that, for Sessions, orchestrating the most systematic and wide-reaching assault on immigrants in modern history was well worth enduring near-constant humiliations from the President. As the government’s top lawyer, Sessions was responsible for, among other things, cancellingdaca, spurring family separations, trying to defund sanctuary cities, dismantling the asylum system, reshaping the immigration courts, and retooling multiple travel bans. To the extent that the President has styled himself as an anti-immigration crusader, it’s with a script written entirely by Sessions.

Trump’s immigration agenda has always faced an administrative hurdle that Sessions was particularly determined, and well-positioned, to try to overcome: the President wants to deport more people than the machinery of the federal bureaucracy can possibly process. When Sessions took over as Attorney General, in January, 2017, there was a backlog in the country’s immigration courts of more than five hundred thousand cases, and the number has since grown to more than a million. Meanwhile, at Trump’s urging, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been increasing the number of people it arrests, which has only compounded the problem. In April, Sessions, who presided over the country’s immigration-court system as the Attorney General, instituted a quota to force judges to hear seven hundred cases a year—about three per day—and then further restricted their ability to weigh evidence in individual situations. A former immigration judge told the Times, “Sessions is treating them like immigration officers, not judges.”

Sessions claimed to be making these changes in the name of efficiency, but his real motives were easy to discern. In May, he issued a ruling forbidding immigration judges from exercising a crucial form of discretion called “administrative closure.” As the court backlog has grown in the last several years, judges have frequently closed cases when an immigrant did not face imminent deportation. As of September, 2018, some three hundred and fifty thousand cases had been dismissed because the defendants were considered such a “low priority” for arrest by the enforcement standards established under President Obama. Sessions declared this practice illegal. A few weeks later, lawyers at ice received a memo that cited his decision and instructed them to reopen old cases. According to the document, “there is no burden to provide a persuasive reason” for rescheduling the cases, “or to provide any reason at all.” The signal from Sessions was justification enough. In the past fiscal year, ice lawyers have already reopened about eight thousand previously closed deportation cases.

What made Sessions so dangerous as Attorney General was his technical knowledge of which levers to pull to advance his agenda. As the head of the Justice Department, Sessions made frequent use of a fairly obscure authority to refer pending immigration cases to himself for review; in eight such cases that had come before a body known as the Board of Immigration Appeals, he ultimately issued his own, superseding legal judgments. (By contrast, this referral power was used nine and four times during the entirety of the Bush and Obama Presidencies, respectively.) In three instances, including the case involving administrative closure, Sessions ruled on how to manage the immigration court docket to facilitate increased deportations. In the remaining five, he attempted to redraw the system for how the U.S. government grants asylum. “He knew when he got the job what power he was getting,” Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told me. “And you could see, based on the cases he referred to himself, what his priorities were.”

The most consequential of these cases involved a Salvadoran woman who had been granted asylum in the U.S. after escaping an abusive husband in 2014. In June, Sessions reversed the ruling on the grounds that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence no longer qualified for protection under U.S. law. Legal experts estimated that Sessions had single-handedly dismantled between sixty and seventy per cent of asylum jurisprudence from the previous three decades. An asylum officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services told me, “Ninety per cent of the people I’ve referred to a judge for an asylum hearing were referred on the basis of gang-related violence or domestic violence in Central America. Now what?” Sessions’s ruling came just as the Trump Administration, under a so-called zero-tolerance policy advanced by Sessions, was separating families as they sought asylum at the border. Parents who fled to the U.S. with their children, Sessions claimed, were scarcely better than human smugglers secreting contraband. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you,” he said. “That child will be separated from you as required by law.”

Where immigration policy is concerned, Trump will be hard-pressed to find an Attorney General as ideologically single-minded and crafty as Sessions was. Yet Sessions’s departure will likely do little, if anything, to slow the broader agenda he’s already set in motion. In large part, this is because Sessions can rely on a cabal of former staffers and loyalists across the federal bureaucracy to carry on in his absence. The most notorious and powerful of them is, of course, Stephen Miller, who is now leading the President’s crackdown on immigrants as a senior policy adviser in the White House. Others are less well known, but nearly as influential. Gene Hamilton, another former Sessions staffer (like Miller, he joined the Trump campaign in 2016), is a counsellor at the Justice Department and served briefly at the Department of Homeland Security advising then-Secretary John Kelly. Hamilton wrote the memo ending daca, partnered with Miller to sabotage the refugee program, directed officials at D.H.S. to separate families, and worked to quietly end a raft of humanitarian protections that have long defined U.S. immigration policy. L. Francis Cissna, who, as the head of U.S.C.I.S., is trying to punish legal immigrants for using public benefits, worked with Sessions as a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee—as did Cissna’s deputy, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik. Others, like Dimple Shah, a lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security, and Julie Kirchner, now the ombudsman at U.S.C.I.S., are also hardened ideologues who came out of Sessions’s political network. In effect, Sessions’s reach extends across every government agency that shapes immigration policy.

Since it was Trump who severed his relationship with Sessions, and not the other way around, there’s a temptation to cast the President as the one who got the better of their partnership. The opposite may be closer to the truth, however. In less than two years, Jeff Sessions managed to import his world view into the upper echelons of the U.S. government; Trump was Sessions’s mouthpiece, and his lifeline out of political obscurity. When Sessions was weighing whether to endorse Trump, in February, 2016, Steve Bannon had to persuade him. “Trump is a great advocate for our ideas,” Sessions told Bannon, according to Joshua Green’s book “Devil’s Bargain.” “But do you think he can win?” he asked. Bannon replied, “One hundred per cent. If he can stick to your message and personify this stuff, there’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Source: Jeff Sessions Is Out, But His Dark Vision for Immigration Policy Lives On

The Most Pro-Immigration House of Representatives in Over a Century

David Bier of the Cato Institute on the midterms and immigration:

In this election, journalists following the immigration beat will focus on the outcomes of individual races. Dave Brat, the Virginia nativist whose defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 doomed hopes of immigration reform, lost in a previously safe GOP seat. Democrats blew out Corey Stewart in Virginia and Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania, the most anti-immigrant Senate candidates. Kris Kobach, the author of state anti-immigrant laws across the country, cost Republicans the governorship in Kansas.

But the two most important outcomes of this election are in the big picture. First, nativists have officially squandered their last, best chance to restrict legal immigration. There may never be another moment like the one in 2017 and 2018, where the House, Senate, and White House were all controlled by Republicans with nativist agendas. They held multiple votes in the House and Senate on various measures to make legal immigration cuts, and all their efforts went down in flames.

The second outcome is even more important: the House of Representatives is now the most pro-immigrant that it has been since the 19th century. Current House Democrats would not only pass the broadest legalization in the history of the United States—they also would greatly expand legal immigration. No elected House Democrat is opposed to legalization, even if they would want it paired with some enforcement measures.

The last Democratic House from 2007 to 2010 did pass the Dream Act for a very small portion of the illegal population—only a subset of the Dreamers qualified—but it didn’t even reach a majority of the House (216, not 218, voted yes). House leadership lost 38 “blue dog” Democrats and got the votes of just five Republicans. Today, the Dream Act would easily pass the House with more than a dozen Republicans voting for it, even after moderate-Republican losses.

The last Democratic-majority House could not—and did not—pass any comprehensive immigration reform bill that would offer a path to citizenship for most illegal residents or expand legal immigration. From 1995 to 2006, the GOP majority bookended its tenure by passing the two harshest immigration enforcement bills since the 1920s: the Sensenbrenner enforcement bill in 2005 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996.

Except for one Congress from 1933 to 1994 Democrats controlled the House and during that time the House did pass several bipartisan immigration bills, a mix of expansive and restrictive measures. The Immigration Act of 1990 expanded legal immigration, while hiring more Border Patrol Agents. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided for amnesty, but it was generally seen as a restrictive measure (which is why most of the Hispanic Caucus voted against it) because it made it illegal to hire someone without a valid photo ID, which naturally led to discrimination against Hispanic workers.

Prior to that, a Democratic-majority House passed the Refugee Act of 1980 which increased legal immigration for refugees. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 legalized the status of Cubans who made it to the United States, and the Immigration Act of 1965 replaced the old national origin quotas and expanded legal immigration (though more than anyone expected at the time). Before 1965, House Democrats did only very slight liberalizations, ending the Asiatic Bar Zone and allowing some Jewish refugees to resettle in the United States. They mostly maintained the restrictive system created by Republicans in the 1920s.

House Democrats today would not just protect every expansive immigration measure enacted from 1965 to 1990—they would greatly build upon them if they could reasonably expect them to be signed into law. The starting place for reform for them is the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, H.R. 15, a version of which the Senate had passed. At the time, every House Democrat except two cosponsored the legislation. The bill would legalize more than 8 million illegal residents and at least double permanent legal immigration.

However, the bill also had some provisions that are unlikely to remain. In particular, while it expanded immigration overall, it ended the Diversity Visa Lottery and cut so-called “chain migration,” two issues that President Trump has championed. Because the lottery disproportionately benefits African immigrants—who Trump reportedly referred to as coming from “shithole” countries—many Democrats are now opposed to repealing it as a matter of principle.

Rather than cutting family-sponsored immigration, Democrats will seek to expand it. The legalization provisions were also very restrictive, covering just three quarters of the illegal resident population. Democrats would certainly go further now. Especially after seeing how their colleagues did in this midterm, the remaining moderate Republicans would likely sign onto these measures if tied to stricter enforcement.

As importantly, this House will have the backing of the most pro-immigration general public in recorded history. More Americans oppose cuts to immigration and favor expanded immigration than at any point since at least 1965. Because the Senate is still in GOP hands, however, Democrats will have to focus on chipping away at the numerous legal immigration restrictions and enforcement measures that the Trump administration has implemented or has plans to implement. Republicans would be wise to work with them in a bipartisan manner.

Source: The Most Pro-Immigration House of Representatives in Over a Century

UK: Immigration minister says sorry for Windrush generation’s treatment

Needed apology but informal (not in Parliament):

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes has issued a “heartfelt apology” to members of the Windrush generation and admitted that she felt “ashamed” of how the Home Office had treated them.

Nokes was addressing dozens of the Windrush generation at a meeting at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London, and told them that she had come to listen to their stories and find out about their experiences.

She has come under fire for issuing contradictory statements about whether or not employers would have to make additional checks on EU nationals post-Brexit in the event of no deal.

“The way I always learn best is by talking to people,” she told the members of the Windrush generation who had come to speak to her.

Several people told Nokes and the team of Home Office officials accompanying her about their experiences as a result of Home Office hostile environment policies which the Windrush generation became caught up in. At times the conversation became heated.

Nokes said: “It’s really important, it really matters to me that people have a chance to shout at me. It really is. I just feel really ashamed, that’s the honest truth.

“I feel ashamed the Home Office got it so badly wrong over a long period. I was going to say I have to say sorry but I want to say sorry. I’m really conscious that we have a massive piece of work to do.”

One woman from the Windrush generation told Nokes she had been thrown out of her council accommodation because of a lack of clarity about her immigration status.

“I have kids and grandkids here but the Home Office want to send me back,” she said. “I’m going blind but I’m scared to see a doctor because of my issues with the Home Office.”

The NHS is required to ask about patients’ immigration status and can refuse treatment to those deemed ineligible.

Nokes urged her to speak to the Windrush taskforce but she said she was too scared to do so.

“I don’t want anyone to feel scared,” said Nokes. “It’s stories like this that demonstrate to me that what went wrong went really horribly wrong. I will pick it up and do absolutely everything to help you.”

It emerged during the meeting that not all the applications for redress under the Windrush scheme had reached the government. A Freepost address has been provided for these applications but one person showed Nokes that his application had been sent back to him with a “return to sender” notice. Nokes promised to hand the application over personally to the right person.

Solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie of McKenzie Beute and Pope, who represents some members of the Windrush generation, and is a member of the Windrush Action Group, expressed concern at the low number of people who the Home Office said have been assisted by the Windrush taskforce to regularise their immigration status. There were 2,100 of them, according to the latest published statistics.

“That’s shockingly low,” McKenzie said. Officials declined to respond to her question about how many people the Home Office had brought back from the Caribbean who had been unlawfully removed but said they would be in touch about it.

Nokes apologised several times for treatment of the Windrush generation who had been invited to Britain to help rebuild the country after the second world war.

“We went out and asked for help. Help came. We have treated people shamefully since then. I would like to give everyone a heartfelt apology. We are here to help, we will help,” she said.

Source: Immigration minister says sorry for Windrush generation’s treatment

Ottawa débloque 11 millions pour l’immigration francophone

Useful expansion of pre-arrival integration/settlement services:

Les immigrants francophones auront accès à des services d’intégration en français dans les provinces canadiennes à majorité anglophone avant même d’arriver au Canada.

Le ministre fédéral de l’Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, a annoncé mercredi 11 millions sur cinq ans pour faire de la Cité collégiale à Ottawa le principal centre de services des nouveaux arrivants. Quatre organismes régionaux en Nouvelle-Écosse, en Ontario, au Manitoba et en Colombie-Britannique pourront fournir de l’information sur leur province d’accueil.

« Ils pourront ouvrir des bureaux et embaucher du personnel à l’extérieur du Canada, dans des pays francophones comme le Maroc ou la Tunisie », a-t-il expliqué.

Les immigrants déjà sélectionnés par le Canada pourront ainsi avoir un « contact personnel » avec quelqu’un qui pourra répondre à leurs questions avant leur arrivée.

M. Hussen a donné l’exemple d’un ingénieur marocain sélectionné par le ministère de l’Immigration. Celui-ci aurait d’abord un premier contact avec la Cité collégiale, qui ensuite le référerait à l’Ordre des ingénieurs de la province où il compte s’installer. Cette personne pourrait ainsi commencer les procédures de reconnaissance de diplôme avant son arrivée en sol canadien.

Cette annonce vient corriger les lacunes existantes dans l’accueil des immigrants francophones qui pourront maintenant recevoir des services en français à toutes les étapes de leur intégration, selon la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA).

« L’immigrant francophone avait de la misère à se retrouver dans cette panoplie de services où il y a une offre en anglais qui est beaucoup plus volumineuse qu’en français », a constaté son directeur général, Alain Dupuis.

Un montant de 36,6 millions sur cinq ans déjà annoncé dans le Plan d’action sur les langues officielles servira à améliorer l’accès aux services en français.

« Est-ce qu’on va avoir tous les services de A à Z avec cet investissement-là ? Non, a-t-il reconnu. Ce n’est pas assez, il va en falloir plus, mais c’est une bonne première étape pour commencer à s’assurer qu’on ait un continuum de services en français dans toutes les régions du pays. »

Baisse du prix des tests de français

Le ministre a également annoncé que les tests de français requis pour vérifier les compétences linguistiques des immigrants seront moins chers et plus accessibles. Ils pouvaient coûter quelques centaines de dollars de plus que les tests en anglais, un fait qui avait été dénoncé par l’ex-commissaire aux langues officielles, Graham Fraser, en 2016. Le ministre Hussen a promis que le prix des tests en français sera « comparable » aux tests en anglais, qui coûtent environ 300 $. Dès le 1er décembre, ils seront offerts dans un plus grand nombre de villes.

Le gouvernement fédéral s’est fixé pour objectif d’attirer 4,4 % d’immigrants francophones à l’extérieur du Québec en 2023.

Source: Ottawa débloque 11 millions pour l’immigration francophone