Global Opinions of Immigrants | Pew Research Center

On a more cheery note, the latest Pew Research:

Majorities of publics in top migrant destination countries say immigrants strengthen their countries, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey of 18 countries that host half of the world’s migrants.

In 10 of the countries surveyed, majorities view immigrants as a strength rather than a burden. Among them are some of the largest migrant receiving countries in the world: the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia (each hosting more than 7 million immigrants in 2017).

By contrast, majorities in five countries surveyed – Hungary, Greece, South Africa, Russia and Israel – see immigrants as a burden to their countries. With the exception of Russia, these countries each have fewer than 5 million immigrants.

Meanwhile, public opinion on the impact of immigrants is divided in the Netherlands. In Italy and Poland, more say immigrants are a burden, while substantial shares in these countries do not lean one way or the other (31% and 20% respectively).

Countries surveyed hold half of the world’s migrants

Table showing the 2017 size of immigrant populations in the countries included in Pew Research Center's survey. The 18 nations surveyed contain more than half (51%) of the world’s migrant population, or some 127 million people, according to United Nations and U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Countries with some of the world’s largest immigrant populations were surveyed, including more traditional destinations like the United States, Canada and Australia that have seen waves of immigrants arrive since at least the 19th century. Also surveyed were more recent destination countries in the European Union such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece, all of which experienced immigration waves after World War II.

Japan and Israel were also surveyed. Japan is making efforts to attract more migrants due to its aging population. Israel has been a destination for immigrants since it enacted its 1950 Law of Return for Jewish people worldwide. Russia was surveyed since it has one of the world’s largest foreign-born populations. At the same time, South Africa continues to be a top destination country for many Africans.

Also included in the survey were some newer destinations. Mexico, for example, has become an increasingly important destination and transit country for migrants fleeing violence from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Similarly, Hungary became an important transit country for migrants entering Europe during the refugee surgethat peaked in 2015. And although Poland for many years was a country of emigration, it has seen a recent wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are top immigrant destinations that were not surveyed. Pew Research Center does not have a history of conducting surveys in these countries.

Table showing that views on the impact of immigrants in Europe have shifted since 2014.In the U.S., the nation with the world’s largest number of immigrants, six-in-ten adults (59%) say immigrants make the country stronger because of their work and talents, while one-third (34%) say immigrants are a burden because they take jobs and social benefits. Views about immigrants have shifted in the U.S. since the 1990s, when most Americans said immigrants were a burden to the country.

Meanwhile, in six European Union countries surveyed, public opinion about the impact of immigrants has changed since 2014. That was the last time the Center asked European publics this question. It was also before hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers arrived on Europe’s shores in 2015. In Greece, Germany and Italy, three countries that experienced high volumes of arrivals, the share of adults saying immigrants make their countries stronger dropped significantly.

Chart showing that immigrants are viewed more favorably among those on the ideological left in the 18 countries included in the survey.By contrast, public opinion shifted in the opposite direction in France, the UK and Spain, countries surveyed that received fewer asylum seekers in 2015. In all three countries in 2018, majorities said immigrants made their countries stronger, up from about half who said the same in 2014.1

While majorities in many of the 18 countries surveyed see immigrants as a strength, this opinion is not equally shared across all groups within countries. In most countries surveyed, those on the left of the ideological spectrum are more positive about immigration’s impact on their country than those on the right. Similarly, in many countries surveyed, those with higher levels of education, younger adults, and those with higher incomes are more likely to say immigrants make their countries stronger because of their work and talents. (See Appendix B for group breakdowns.)

Also, in all countries surveyed, those saying they want fewer immigrants arriving in their countries are less likely to view immigrants as making their countries stronger.

Publics split on immigrants’ willingness to adopt their societies’ customs and way of life

Chart showing that views on immigrants’ willingness to integrate are mixed across the 18 countries included in the survey.Attitudes are mixed on immigrants’ willingness to adopt the destination country’s customs or wanting to be distinct from its society. A median of 49% among countries surveyed say immigrants want to be distinct from the host country’s society, while a median of 45% say immigrants want to adopt the host country’s customs and way of life.

In six destination countries – Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the U.S., France and Sweden – publics are more likely to say immigrants want to adopt the host country’s customs and way of life than say immigrants want to be distinct.

Japan is an outlier: A large majority of the public (75%) says immigrants want to adopt the country’s customs and way of life. This country, whose aging population and low birth rate make immigration relevant for its population growth, has recently changed its policies to attract more foreigners. Views about immigrant integration in Japan could be linked to the low number of immigrantsthe country hosts and that many immigrants in Japan are ethnically Japanese.

By contrast, in eight destination countries – Hungary, Russia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland, Israel and Australia – more people say immigrants want to be distinct than say they are willing to adopt the host country’s customs. Majorities hold this view in Hungary, Russia, Greece, Italy and Germany. In addition, sizable shares of people in most of these countries refused to choose one option or the other when asked this question.

In many countries surveyed, younger adults, those with higher levels of education and those on the left of the political spectrum are generally more likely to say immigrants are adopting the country’s customs and way of life (see Appendix B for group breakdowns).

Publics are less concerned about immigrant crime than the risk they pose for terrorism

In recent years, security concerns about immigration have become part of the public debate in many countries. Some of these concerns are about crime and immigration, while others are about terrorism and immigration.

Chart showing that in many of the 18 countries included in the survey, half or more of the public say immigrants are no more to blame for crime than other groups.Immigrants and crime

In several immigrant destination countries, large majorities say immigrants are notmore to blame for crime than other groups. This is the case in Canada, the U.S., France and the UK. Among other countries surveyed, only in South Africa, Sweden and Greece do majorities believe that immigrants are more to blame for crime than other groups.

In the Netherlands, Japan, Israel and Germany, opinions are split on the impact of immigrants on crime. In four other countries where views were mixed, substantial shares refused to choose either of the two statements offered – Italy (26%), Hungary (17%), Poland (15%) and Russia (14%).

In countries where majorities see immigrants as a strength, majorities also tend to say immigrants are not more to blame for crime. Notable exceptions are Germany and Sweden, where majorities say that immigrants strengthen their countries, but pluralities of adults say that immigrants carry more responsibility for crime.

Chart showing that majorities in many European migrant destinations think immigrants increase risk of terrorism.Immigrants and terrorism

Publics across top migrant destination countries are split on whether or not immigrants increase the risk of terrorism in their countries.

In seven countries, majorities believe immigrants do not increase the risk of terrorism in the host country. These include all surveyed countries in North America (Mexico, Canada and the U.S.), as well as South Africa and Japan. Publics in France and Spain, two European countries that were not at the center of the 2015 refugee crisis, also hold this view.

By contrast, majorities in seven European nations – Hungary, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands – believe immigrants increase the risk of terrorism in their countries.

Views on the topic are divided in the UK, Australia and Israel. In Poland, half (52%) of the public says immigrants increase the risk of terrorism, while 28% say they do notincrease the risk of terrorism. But a substantial share in Poland (19%) also refused to respond one way or the other.

Majorities in many countries think immigrants in the country illegally should be deported

Chart showing that half or more of the public in several countries included in the survey support deporting immigrants living in their country illegally.Majorities in most immigrant destination countries surveyed support the deportation of people who are in their countries illegally.

In seven of the 10 EU countries surveyed, majorities support the deportation of immigrants living in their country illegally. In 2007, between 1.7 million and 3.2 million unauthorized, or irregular, migrants were estimated to be living in the 10 EU countries surveyed. The number of asylum seeker applications has increased following the 2015 refugee surge. Since then, the number of rejected asylum applications has increased substantially. Many of these rejected asylum seekers may continue to reside illegally in Europe.

Similarly, majorities in Russia, South Africa, Australia and Japan also support deporting immigrants living in those countries illegally.

Chart showing that more people on the ideological right support the deportation of immigrants living in their country illegally.In the U.S., public opinion is divided on the issue. About half (46%) of the public supports deporting immigrants residing there illegally, while the other half (47%) opposes their deportation.2 The Center estimates 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2016, which represented less than a quarter (23.7%) of the U.S. immigrant population. The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has been falling since 2007 and is now at levels last seen in 2004.

In Mexico, fewer than half (43%) say they support the deportation of immigrants living there illegally. In recent years, Mexico has experienced an increasing number of migrants entering the country without authorization from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexico has historically been a migrant-sending country: About 12 million people born in Mexico live outside the country, nearly all in the U.S. Among those in the U.S., nearly half are unauthorized immigrants.

In most countries surveyed, those on the right of the ideological spectrum are more likely to support deportation. Similarly, older people in several countries surveyed are more likely to support the deportation of immigrants living illegally in their countries (See Appendix B).

Source: Global Opinions of Immigrants | Pew Research Center

Note to David Frum: Americans Actually Really Like Immigrants

Pretty effective counterpart to Frum’s earlier missive by Jordan Weissman. His footnote is particularly strong:

Earlier this week, David Frum, the former George W. Bush speechwriter turned never-Trump scribbler, published a long article in the Atlanticarguing that the United States should massively reduce legal immigration by cutting the number of green cards it issues each year by about half. How come? Mostly because he thinks it might mollify white working-class voters, whose anti-immigrant rage he believes led them to back the authoritarian galoot who now occupies the Oval Office. “If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do,” Frum, who immigrated from Canada, writes.

Oddly, in all 7,800-ish words of his piece, Frum never once mentions that Republicans have introduced a piece of legislation that would do exactly what he’s recommending. It’s called the RAISE act. It was written by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue in 2017 and backed by the president himself. Frum may not admit it out loud, but he’s basically arguing that the best way to defeat Trumpism is to cave on some of its most extreme policy demands. It’s Clintonian triangulation, but for white nationalism.

There are many reasons a reader might object to Frum’s argument.

One could object on moral grounds. If you believe that Trump’s immigration stance is racist and repugnant at its core, then accommodating it in the name of political expediency probably doesn’t sound like a hot idea.

Or one could object on economic grounds. Frum tries to downplay immigration’s benefits to growth, but the bottom line is that mainstream analyses of the RAISE Act have shown that it would make the country modestly poorer over the long term. (By 2040, the Penn Wharton Budget Model shows per capita GDP would be 0.3 percent lower.)

One could also object on political grounds. After all, Frum doesn’t actually provide any evidence that cutting immigration would make white working-class voters less likely to vote for demagogues like Trump in the future. He simply asserts that it might. Yet his own piece offers reasons to think otherwise. Early on, he cites academic evidence showing that white voters become more authoritarian in the face of ethnic change. Later on, he admits that ethnic change is already inevitable, even if we slash how many green cards Washington issues annually. “Under today’s policies, the U.S. will become majority-minority in about 2044,” he writes. “Even cutting immigration by nearly half would postpone that historical juncture by only one to five years.” Will giving caucasians an extra half-decade in the majority really be the magic bullet that saves us from being overrun by MAGA hats? Count me skeptical.

And finally, one could object to Frum’s piece on the simple grounds that most Americans really like immigration. Frum might think the whole Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor”thing is just “nostalgia,” as he puts it, but just Thursday, the Pew Research Center released polling showing that 59 percent of Americans think immigration makes us a stronger country, while only 34 percent think it’s a burden. Most Americans also think immigrants want to assimilate culturally; only 19 percent think immigrants are more to blame for crime than native-born residents. You want an anti-immigrant country? Check out Poland, or Russia, or Greece, not the U.S.

Meanwhile, Gallup’s most recent survey results show that only 31 percent of Americans think immigration levels should be reduced, versus 30 percent who think they should be increased and 37 percent who believe they should be kept the same. Immigration restrictionists don’t even make up a plurality of this country, yet Frum thinks we should cater to them, largely on the hunch that it might make white voters less likely to back the next Fox-addled demagogue who runs for president.1 The U.S. electoral system might hand disproportionate power to a minority of voters in this country. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us should cave in on our values to them.

1 Frum does try to make a wider case about the downsides of immigration, but it is astonishingly weak—and mostly shows that once you strip away the Ann Coulter–style bile, there’s little left in the restrictionist position. He admits up top that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or indulge in substance abuse than native-born Americans. He tries, halfheartedly, to cast doubt on the economics literature that has consistently shown that the arrival of new immigrants doesn’t hurt the wages of other workers much, if at all (other immigrants, or people without high school degrees, may see their wages drop slightly in the short term), before suggesting the issue isn’t that important. (“Neither the fiscal costs nor the economic benefits of immigration are large enough to force a decision one way or the other,” he writes.) He tries to claim that immigrants are lowering Americans’ average education and skill levels, but fails to mention that today’s new arrivals are now more likely to have a college or graduate degree than native-born Americans. In the end, he’s left arguing that the presence of unnaturalized immigrants has encouraged companies to abuse their employees—blame the victim, much?—while making the U.S. more hierarchical, sort of like Dubai. There’s also an odd Malthusian aside about how bringing more people to the United States could hasten global warming. Suffice to say, once you’ve given up on economics, public health, and public safety as battlegrounds for this subject, there isn’t a whole lot left to stake an argument on.

Source: Note to David Frum: Americans Actually Really Like Immigrants

Douglas Todd: Who cares about ‘winning’ the immigration debate?

Good for the Conference Board for inviting some more critical or sceptical voices like Todd (whose articles, as you know, I always find interesting).

On polling data, the picture is more complex than simply presenting one polling firm where the timing, question phrasing and methodology may somewhat skew results (e.g., Environics and Pew present a more positive portrait than IPSOS).

And not sure that immigration policy is developed in any less transparent manner than any other area of government policy, and where stakeholder groups, who follow the issues carefully, have more influence:

Politicians and corporations that want more immigrants in Canada are mounting marketing campaigns to “win the immigration conversation.”

At least the CEOs, think tanks and civil servants are upfront about aiming to promote higher immigration levels, which aligns them with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.

Where, however, does this leave all the Canadians in the mushy middle? That’s where most Canadians are at, according to immigration department officials and other migration experts who spoke at a Conference Board of Canada event held last week in Vancouver. The gathering was titled, “Winning the Immigration Conversation.”

Not many Canadians are extremists, either for or against current immigration policy or rates, polls suggest. The bulk of the population seems hazy about Trudeau’s plan to continue to increase immigration levels to 350,000 people a year by 2021, up from 260,000 when he was elected in 2015.

My sense is most Canadians are not eager to either “win” or “lose” the immigration discussion. Most of us don’t think immigration boils down to an either/or option. Some of us mostly want to know what’s going on, so we can be informed at the ballot box.

But as some speakers at the Conference Board event noted, Canada’s politicians and mandarins are almost unique in the obscure way they dictate the country’s powerful immigration policies from behind closed doors.

Kareem El-Assal, the senior immigration director for the Conference Board, asked me to speak at the “Winning the Immigration Conservation” conference so participants would not end up in the usual echo chamber, in which everyone basically agrees with each other.

El-Assal had seen my 2017 story on the clubby atmosphere that reigned among the more than 1,000 Canadians who work with immigrants, refugees and international students and attended Montreal’s Metropolis Conference. My article on that gathering was headlined, “The narrow view from the migration sector bubble.”

So I give credit to the corporate-sponsored Conference Board, a booster of high immigration levels, for welcoming diversity of opinion. It turned out some scholars, and even some civil servants, had their own skepticism about Canada’s immigration levels, which are arguably the highest per capita in the world.

I told participants I’m intrigued by philosophy’s two foundational questions: What is real? And how then shall we live? And I bring those questions to immigration matters.

What I’ve discovered in recent years on the migration beat is the vast majority of native Canadians (and to a lesser extent immigrants) don’t have a grasp on what is real about the increasing global migration of people, particularly into Canada. And it’s understandable.

Even though the Conference Board has launched its own campaign for increased immigration, El-Assal revealed data showing most Canadians don’t have the foggiest idea about a basic issue: How many immigrants come into Canada each year.

Only nine per cent of Canadians knew correctly it is between 150,000 and 300,000 annually. What’s worse, El-Assal said, when Canadians learn how many immigrants are actually entering the country, their support goes down.

“The populists may have a point,” Antje Ellerman, a political scientist at UBC, told the Conference Board gathering.

“Canada has a high degree of (immigration) policy-making behind closed doors.” The immigration agenda has “traditionally been dominated by the government and civil servants, and rarely engaged the public in meaningful ways.”

In addition, the complexities of immigration rules are not often covered by the media. That is the unfortunate case even though, for instance, almost half the populations of Toronto and Vancouver are foreign-born.

One concern is that if Canadians are purposely being kept in the dark about immigration developments, and even opposition politicians are afraid of raising the subject for fear of being labelled xenophobic or racist, how can the host society make wise choices about an issue that has defined the country?

Turns out many Canadians are concerned. Only 45 per cent believe immigration is “good for the economy,” according to a new Ipsos poll. Another 57 per cent believe “immigrants place too much pressure on public services,” be that health or transit systems. And almost 60 per cent say government is “hiding the true costs to taxpayers and society.”

Immigration officials are not alone in finding in the past couple of years that there has been a shift among Canadians about immigration. That is part of the reason Ottawa has launched a promotional campaign called #immigrationmatters.

Its public relations effort is getting out stories about immigration successes, especially at the neighbourhood level. Not a discouraging word will be heard from #immigrationmatters, of course, since it will support a major plank in this year’s Liberal campaign.

However, Ellerman is among those who think it unwise for governments in Canada, Europe or elsewhere to ignore the populist voices that worry about immigration. To do so, she said, could feed anti-immigration radicalism.

UBC economics professor David Green offered the audience some data-based realities about immigration.

One finding takes issue with frequent claims by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen that high immigration is the key to economic prosperity. Green highlighted how immigration has an almost imperceptible effect on long-term Canadian wages, not doing anything at all for per-capita income.

And although boosters of strong immigration frequently maintain it is absolutely necessary to counteract an aging Canadian labour force, Green’s studies show its effect is minimal, almost non-existent.

Immigration numbers would have to jump multiple times over to make even a small dent in the growing portion of seniors in Canada, Green said. In addition, most people who obtain citizenship status in Canada soon try to sponsor older family members to join them.

But immigration is not all about economics. Many of the speakers recognized reliable new opinion surveys show much of the public resistance to high immigration has mostly to do with culture.

Roughly one in two Canadians fear too many immigrants “do not adopt Canadian values.” Many in the host society feel they are losing command of their own cultural identities. Some migration specialists said such feelings should not necessarily be dismissed as xenophobic.

Give the swirl of powerful factors at play, what are we to make of efforts by Ottawa and its supporters to “win the immigration conversation”? Even though organizers of the Conference Board event said they came up with the title to be provocative, I’d say immigration policy needs more balanced attention than that found in win-lose campaigns.

In a democracy, the public could use as much information as possible about migration policy and trends. Who knows what would happen if Ottawa became more transparent? Reality has a funny way of surprising all of us.

Source: Douglas Todd: Who cares about ‘winning’ the immigration debate?

Canadians share most favourable view of immigrants, global study finds

Good summary of the latest Pew report (Global Opinions of Immigrants | Pew Research Center for full report):

Canadians have the most favourable opinion of immigrants among the world’s top migrant destination countries, viewing newcomers as a strength rather than a burden, says a new international survey.

The report by Washington-based Pew Research Center also found Canadians are the least likely to blame immigrants for crime or an increased risk of terrorism, among the respondents in 18 countries that together host half of the world’s migrants.

“Canada is on the top of the list in believing immigration is a plus to the country,” said Jeffrey Reitz, director of ethnic, immigration and pluralism studies at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, who is not involved in the survey.

“It also shows Canada is less polarized than the other countries on immigration as all Canadian political parties are on board with immigration. Even those on our right are more positive about immigration than the left in many other countries.”

Sixty-eight per cent of Canadian respondents in the survey believed immigrants make the country stronger while only 27 per cent said newcomers are a liability because they take jobs and social benefits, said the report released Thursday.

Canada was followed by Australia, where 64 per cent of respondents favoured immigration; the United Kingdom and Sweden, both at 62 per cent; and with Japan, at 59 per cent, rounding up the top five. In Mexico, currently a destination and transit country for tens of thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Latin America, 57 per cent of people welcome migrants while 37 per cent considered them a burden.

In six European Union member states surveyed, public perception about immigration has shifted since 2014 after the arrival of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers. In Greece, Germany and Italy, the share of adults in favour of immigrants dropped significantly.

“In most countries surveyed, those on the left of the ideological spectrum are more positive about immigration’s impact on their country than those on the right,” said the 24-page report.

“In many countries surveyed, those with higher levels of education, younger adults, and those with higher incomes are more likely to say immigrants make their countries stronger because of their work and talents.”

The survey interviewed 19,235 people in 18 countries, including 1,056 Canadians, with five questions focusing on public attitude towards immigrants, integration, crime, terrorism and deportation. The Canadian portion of the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points

In Canada, people across the political spectrum share positive views of immigrants, with 81 per cent of left-leaning Canadians and 65 per cent of self-described conservative respondents in favour of newcomers. The 16 percentage-point gap was the second narrowest among the 18 countries.

In Greece, where the political gap was the narrowest, at just 13 percentage points, people were overwhelmingly opposed to immigration, with just 6 per cent of conservative respondents and 19 per cent of leftists in favour of migrants.

However, public attitudes are mixed on immigrants’ willingness to adapt to their new country’s customs and way of life, said the survey.

People in Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the United States, France and Sweden are more likely to say immigrants are inclined to integrate into their society, while their counterparts in Hungary, Russia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland, Israel and Australia all said the opposite. Canadians are split in their views on whether immigrants want to fit in or not.

Eighty per cent of survey respondents in Canada said immigrants are no more to blame for crime and 65 per cent said immigrants don’t increase the risk of terrorism, compared to 17 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, who said otherwise.

The majority in most countries surveyed support the deportation of people who are in their homeland illegally, and Canada is no exception. While 53 per cent of Canadians said irregular migrants should be removed, only 37 per cent disagreed with the statement.

Percentage of people in various countries who supported the following statements:

Immigrants no more to blame for crime:

  • Canada: 80%
  • U.S.: 77%
  • France 76%
  • UK: 74%
  • Spain: 68%
  • 18-country median: 50%

Immigrants do not increase risk of terrorism:

  • Mexico: 65%
  • South Africa: 62%
  • Canada: 61%
  • Japan: 60%
  • France: 59%
  • U.S.: 56%
  • 18-country median: 48%

Immigrants are a strength:

  • Canada: 68%
  • Australia: 64%
  • UK: 62%
  • Sweden: 62%
  • Japan: 59%
  • U.S.: 59%
  • 18-country median: 56%

Source: Canadians share most favourable view of immigrants, global study finds

Quebec’s plan to reduce immigration levels is ‘misguided,’ won’t help newcomers: study

More on Quebec immigration levels debate:

A Quebec think tank says the province’s plan to cut immigration levels is misguided and will not accomplish its intended goal of better integrating newcomers.

The Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-economiques published a study Wednesday concluding from publicly available data that immigrants are faring better in Quebec than the government claims.

Researcher Julia Posca said the employment rate among immigrants in Quebec has risen steadily to 79 per cent last year from about 70 per cent in 2009. She said almost 60 per cent of immigrants who arrive in Quebec are fluent in French or are bilingual.

“Based on those facts, you can say the integration of immigrants is going well, and there is no empirical evidence that tells us that if we lower the levels of immigrants that integration will be better,” Posca said in an interview.

Given the data, the proposed law is built on perceptions and prejudices about immigrants, Posca said: “The new policy of the government seems to be misguided.”

The institute said it is in favour of maintaining the province’s annual immigration level at 50,000, basing its argument on demographic and economic factors, given the province’s aging population and a shortage of workers.

The government plans to reduce immigration to about 40,000 people this year, with Premier Francois Legault telling reporters Wednesday in Quebec City the changes are necessary to respond to the needs of the workforce and to ensure new arrivals are comfortable functioning in French.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 in February, proposing to overhaul the system for selecting newcomers to the province. The government says the legislation is aimed at better matching applicants to the needs of the labour market and ensuring immigrants speak French and respect Quebec values.

But it has been widely criticized since it was introduced. A recent court ruling forced the government to resume processing outstanding immigration applications that it had scrapped.

A spokesman for Jolin-Barrette said in a statement Wednesday the Coalition Avenir Quebec government was elected last October with a mandate to reform the immigration system. He said the employment rate for newcomers remains a problem.

While the 79 per cent employment rate for immigrants still lags behind that of Quebecers born in Canada — 87 per cent –Posca said part of the difference is attributable to how the province recognizes newcomers’ work and education experience, as well as discrimination.

“These are real issues that immigrants face and that impedes their full integration and the bill doesn’t propose anything to counter those problems,” she said.

Source: Quebec’s plan to reduce immigration levels is ‘misguided,’ won’t help newcomers: study

Trump administration preparing to close international immigration offices

Yet another change that will likely adversely impact immigration processing:

The Trump administration is seeking to close nearly two dozen U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field offices around the world in a move it estimates would save millions per year. But critics argue the closures will further slow refugee processing, family reunification petitions and military citizenship applications.

USCIS spokeswoman Jessica Collins announced on Tuesday the agency is in “preliminary discussions” to delegate its international responsibilities to the State Department, or to its own personnel in the U.S. In some cases, the workload would be absorbed by U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

“The goal of any such shift would be to maximize USCIS resources that could then be reallocated, in part, to backlog reduction” at the agency, Collins told NPR in an emailed statement.

In a cost analysis conducted last year, USCIS officials estimated phasing out its international offices would save millions of dollars each year.

The USCIS field offices currently assist with refugee applications, family reunification visas and foreign adoptions. They also consider parole requests from people outside the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons and process naturalization documents for military members who marry foreign nationals, among other responsibilities.

Another “important function” of USCIS’ international offices is “to provide technical expertise on immigration-related matters to U.S. government agencies abroad, including other Department of Homeland Security components, the Department of State and the Department of Defense,” the agency explains on its web site.

In the statement, Collins downplayed the potential impact of shuttering all 23 field offices across 20 countries. She provided assurances that the transition would be coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security as well as the State Department, “to ensure no interruption in the provision of immigration services to affected applicants and petitioners.”

Additionally, the agency says the U.S. refugee program would not be affected because refugee interviews are conducted by U.S.-based personnel who travel around the world.

But Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute argued the plan will likely exacerbate a processing bottleneck of refugee applications that has led to fewer opportunities for people to seek asylum in the U.S. She noted the Trump administration slashed the ceiling on the number of allowable refugees from 45,000 in fiscal year 2018 to 30,000 in 2019 due to “a massive backlog of outstanding asylum cases.”

“It’s yet another step that USCIS has taken that slows the processing of refugee applications and will slow customer service in general,” Pierce said, adding that an increase in the backlog could fuel calls for further refugee cap reductions moving forward.

The USCIS International Operations department employs approximately 70 staffers in its offices around the globe. Foreign nationals make up more than half of its staff working abroad and approximately one-third of all its employees.

Source: US Citizenship and Immigration Services Moves To Close All Field Offices

ICYMI – Douglas Todd: China’s long surveillance arm thrusts into Canada

Chinese students understandably do not wish to be openly critical of the Chinese government. But it is another matter when they try to shut down or intimidate persons critical of China or Chinese policies:

….

The only hope is this culture of watchfulness doesn’t always work. A University of B.C. professor who specializes in Asia tells me how an apparent culture of subjugation is playing out on campus.

The majority of the many students from China that the professor comes across are self-censoring.

They don’t go to possibly contentious events about China. They don’t speak out in classes. A few patriotic ones feel it’s their duty to criticize the professor for exposing them to material that does not hold the world’s most populous country in a positive light. A few very privately offer the faculty member their thanks for the chance to hear the truth.

“Mostly, however, I find my undergrads in particular to be profoundly uninterested in politics and proud of their country’s rise,” said the professor, who, like many academic specialists on China these days, spoke on condition of anonymity. Metro Vancouver campuses host almost 50,000 of the more than 180,000 students from China in Canada.

Mandarin-language students in Canada are “the major beneficiaries of the rise” of China, said the professor. “They don’t want to rock the boat and the more aware ones are discreet about their critiques. They have decided to tread carefully, which suggests a consciousness that they could be under surveillance.”

If that is the look-over-your-shoulder reality for students from China in B.C., imagine how it is for those on some American and Ontario campuses, which have had high-profile outbreaks of angry pro-China activism.

National Post reporter Tom Blackwell has covered China’s recent interference in Canadian affairs. He’s dug into how University of Toronto student president Chemi Lhamo was barraged with a 11,000-name petition from people with Chinese names, demanding she be removed. Raised in Tibet, which China dominates, Lhamo was also targeted by hundreds of nasty texts, which Toronto police are investigating as possibly criminal threats.

A similar confrontation occurred in February at McMaster University in Hamilton, where five Chinese student groups protested the university’s decision to give a platform to a Canadian citizen of Muslim Uyghur background. Rukiye Turdush had described China’s well-documented human-rights abuses against more than a million Uyghurs in the vast province of Xinjiang in China.

The animosity and harassment is escalating. Even longtime champions of trade and investment in Canada from China and its well-off migrants are taken aback. Ng Weng Hoong, a commentator on the Asian-Pacific energy industry, is normally a vociferous critic of B.C.’s foreign house buyer tax and other manifestations of Canadian sovereignty.

But Ng admitted in a recent piece in SupChina, a digital media outlet, that Chinese protesters’ in Ontario “could shift Canadians’ attitude toward China to one of outright disdain and anger at what they see is the growing threat of Chinese influence in their country.”

It certainly didn’t help, Ng notes, that the Chinese embassy in Ottawa supported the aggressive protesters. “The story of Chinese students’ silencing free speech and undermining democracy in Canada,” Ng said, “will only fuel this explosive mix of accusations.”

Some of the growing mistrust among Canadians and others has emerged from multiplying reports of propaganda and surveillance in China.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, is attempting to control followers through a dazzling new app, with which China’s Communist Party members are expected to actively engage. The New York Times is reporting China has been swabbing millions of Uyghur Muslims for their DNA, with human rights activists maintaining the genetic samples could be used to track down those not already sent to “re-education” camps.

China’s pressure tactics are also coming down on journalists. The Economist reports students from China trying to enrol in Hong Kong’s journalism school are being warned against it by their fearful parents. They’re begging their offspring to shun a truth-seeking career that would lead to exposing wrongdoing in China, which could result in grim reprisals against the entire family.

Within the Canadian media realm there are also growing private reports that Mandarin-language Chinese journalists at various news outlets across this country are being called into meetings with China’s officials, leading some Chinese reporters to ask editors to remove their bylines from stories about the People’s Republic of China and its many overseas investors.

It’s always wise to be wary of superpowers. But China’s actions are cranking suspicion up to new levels. Compared to the flawed United States, which somehow still manages to win grudging admirers around the world, China’s surveillance tactics are making it almost impossible for that country to develop soft power with any appeal at all.

While some observers say many of the people of China are primed for more reform, openness and media freedom, it’s clear the leaders of China have in the past year been going only backwards, intent on more scrutiny and repression.

Source: Douglas Todd: China’s long surveillance arm thrusts into Canada

2019 TRUDEAU REPORT CARD C+ Overall, Immigration B

The intro to the section on immigration, largely written by Howard Duncan (I participated in an earlier report card). A downgrade from last year’s A-.

A bit overly harsh, as any government whatever its stripe would have found the influx of asylum seekers difficult to manage given the legal, policy and operational constraints.

The critique of the government’s communications, while valid in terms of its overly downplaying the issue and too much “virtue signalling,” underestimates the challenge given the tenor of debates south of the border and in Europe, and their crossover into some Canadian debates:

The influx of irregular border crossers continued to rise this year,and so have public discourse and import. On the one hand, the Trudeau government should be commended for its response in balancing between two very different views on the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA); demands to ‘close the loophole’ and outlaw any asylum claimants from the US, and calls for the complete suspension of the STCA, questioning whether the US can be considered a ‘safe third country’ at all. The Trudeau Government managed these conflicting calls by upholding Canada’s legal and moral obligations to allow individuals claiming asylum to have a fair hearing.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building
and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

While practically and programmatically, the government has done an acceptable job at responding, they haven’t done a good enough job of explaining what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The Liberals have allowed the Canada-US border issue to develop into a very volatile political issue due to an outrageous lack of communication and coordination.

This is exemplified in the way the government has responded to provincial governments that raised concerns (such as the Ford government in Ontario). The Liberal response was not aimed at addressing legitimate concerns of the governments, but rather deflected all concerns by pointing fingers and labelling governments as racist, exclusionary and a disgrace to Canadian values. This attitude along with the divisive comments has only antagonized those who don’t share Liberal political ideologies. Concerns from major host cities such as Montreal and Toronto about the mounting costs of refugees and the strain of refugees on public housing and social services reflects a complete lack of coordination in all levels of government.

The failures in communication are mounting. The failure by Minister Hussen to clearly communicate to the Canadian public what’s happening in Roxham Road (a favored border crossing in Quebec) and Emerson, Manitoba (another border crossing) is a case in point. Trudeau’s own town hall comments have further managed to blur the line between refugees and asylum seekers in public discourse.

These lapses reveal a very large weakness within the Liberal government in building and sustaining the consensus and support necessary to see difficult policies through to fruition. By taking a moral high ground, the Trudeau government has yet to demonstrate true leadership on immigration. The Liberals have allowed a policy problem, key to realising Canada’s future prosperity, to become an issue of politics. As a result, immigration has become a deeply divisive political issue and will be a subject of much debate in the upcoming elections.

The concern is not with immigration numbers, but with the government’s ability to project the public’s opinion and manage these flows in a financially responsible way. Irregular border crossings have come to a halt during these vicious winter months, following several cases of frostbite. Yet another run at the border is expected in the coming months.

All eyes are focused on how the Liberal government will respond.

….

Source: Trudeau Government Report Card 2019

Far fewer unauthorized immigrants living in Arizona cities than 10 years ago, Pew says

Interesting mix of factors, ranging from increased enforcement to improved economic circumstances in Mexico:

There are a lot fewer unauthorized immigrants living in key Arizona metropolitan areas than a decade ago, the Pew Research Center says.

New figures Monday show there were about 210,000 undocumented immigrants in the Phoenix metro area in 2016, the most recent estimates available. That compares with about 400,000 in 2007, though there is a margin for error.

Only the New York City and Los Angeles areas had a larger drop, though both decreases were smaller on a percentage basis.

It’s not just Phoenix reflecting the decline.

Tucson’s unauthorized immigrant population dropped about 25 percent, from 50,000 to 35,000.

The latest estimate for Yuma is 15,000 immigrants without documents, which may be a drop of about 5,000, though with the smaller numbers Pew reports the margin of error makes the accuracy less clear.

For the Prescott area, Pew reports that the number of unauthorized immigrants in 2016 may have been anywhere from 25 to 50 percent smaller than the 10,000 living there in 2007.

Pew researcher Jeff Passel said the reductions may partly be due to the change in immigration patterns from other countries.

“We know there’s been a significant drop in Mexican unauthorized immigrants over that decade,” he said.

“And Arizona’s unauthorized immigrant population is largely Mexicans,” Passel continued. “The fact that many fewer Mexican immigrants are coming into the country and more are leaving than coming is a big factor behind this.”

Some research suggests policies adopted by Arizona lawmakers also may be a factor, Passel said.

For example, Pia Orrenius, vice president and senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, looked at the requirement for employers here to use the federal E-Verify system.

That requirement is part of a 2007 law, formally known as the Legal Arizona Worker Act.

It allows a state judge to suspend all business licenses of any firm found guilty of knowingly hiring those not in the country legally. A second offense within three years puts the company out of business.

Another part of that law spells out that employers must use the online system to determine whether new employees are legally entitled to work here.

There is no penalty for failing to make the checks. But those who use E-Verify have a legal defense against charges they knowingly broke the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision in 2011, upheld the Arizona law, rejecting arguments by the business community, Hispanic-rights organizations and the Obama administration that it infringes on the exclusive right of the federal government to regulate immigration.

“The work that we found on E-Verify found that it actually has a significant impact on the wages of likely undocumented workers,” Orrenius said, with a specific finding of an 8 percent reduction in hourly wages.

But Orrenius said there also are larger issues at work, including an improved economy in Mexico and the changing demographics there.

Orrenius said the age of most migrants for economic purposes is between 18 and 24. As the number of people in that age segment decreases, she said, there are fewer to emigrate to the United States.

She had no specific studies on the effect that Arizona’s SB 1070 had in reducing the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the state.

That 2010 law contained several provisions aimed at illegal immigration. While some were struck down by federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court did give the go-ahead for Arizona to require that police ask the immigration status of those they stop if they have reason to suspect they are undocumented.

The Pew study also finds mixed results across the country.

Overall, the report says the unauthorized population in the United States dropped from about 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.7 million in 2016.

While most of the metro areas showed a decline or no significant change, there were a few areas with increases.

Most notable is the Washington, D.C., area where the number of people not in this country legally is estimated to have increased by 100,000 between 2007 and 2016, to 425,000.

Source: Far fewer unauthorized immigrants living in Arizona cities than 10 years ago, Pew says

Opinion: EU immigration policy is grist to the far-right mill

Would appear to be a similar dynamic at play in the U.S.:

Seven different EU immigration policy reform bills have been on the table for the last three years. And for three years, the bloc’s interior ministers have been fighting over them. They have been unable to come to an agreement, and they end each negotiation with the same lament: Something has to happen. Yet, nothing ever does.

The old Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that the country of first arrival is responsible for an immigrant, is still the law. Although almost all of the EU’s 28 interior ministers agree that the rule no longer works —  although they give very different reasons for why they think this is — they have yet to come up with a better solution.

A joint immigration and asylum policy that is somehow carried by all has failed to materialize.

Italy and Greece insist that new arrivals be distributed across the bloc. Hungary and Poland don’t want to take anyone. France and Germany see the countries of first arrival as bearing responsibility.

Now, at the last meeting of interior ministers before May’s European parliamentary elections, national representatives have officially admitted that they cannot come to an agreement. And with that admission, they are giving right-wing populists highly welcome campaign ammunition.

Far right will exploit the EU’s weaknesses

These will happily exploit the emotionally charged topic of immigration when making their plea to voters, as well as pillorying the EU’s inability to find a solution to this so-called crisis ahead of the May ballot. Italy’s radical right-wing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, will use that inability to justify closing Italian ports to refugees rescued at sea.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will use the collapse of negotiations to prop up his abstruse theory that Brussels seeks to flood his country with Muslims to “replace the people.”

Far-right parties across Europe, from the AfD in Germany and the FPÖ in Austria to the EKRE in Estonia, will no doubt spew similar nonsense.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), who last year used immigration policy to instigate a coalition crisis in Berlin and promised to deliver a European solution to the issue, also went down in flames — having achieved absolutely nothing.

His immigrant repatriation agreement with the populist government in Italy has yet to come about  in fact, the opposite is now the case. Contrary to Germany’s wishes, Italy is threatening to put an end to Operation Sophia, the EU’s naval rescue mission in the Mediterranean. And despite having happily shaken hands with far-right radical Salvini over a done deal in June, there is not a thing Seehofer can do about it.

Empty hands

Now it will be easy to make the case for closing oneself off entirely, for borders, higher fences, and walls. The utterly divided EU has nothing to offer on immigration policy. The migration crisis that the right is always talking about does not exist at the moment; the number of arrivals to Europe has dropped dramatically.

But the EU is woefully unprepared for another rush like that of 2015. Europeans are not prepared for the next civil war, the next famine, or for immigrants fleeing their homes due to climate change. It is a scandal that this is the case just 11 weeks before European parliamentary elections. And it should surprise no one if the populists and anti-EU parties gain seats.

The real test, however, will come at the end of the year, when the EU negotiates the distribution of grant money for the next decade. Will states that take more immigrants get more money? Will those that take none be penalized by receiving less? The showdown has the potential to paralyze the EU, or even worse, destroy it entirely.

Source: Opinion: EU immigration policy is grist to the far-right mill