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

Canada has a skills shortage – but which skills, and where? Lack of data leaves the experts unsure

Another in-depth look by the Globe on data gaps:

Five years ago, then prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government was convinced that Canada’s labour market was sinking into a deepening skills-mismatch problem: There were plenty of skilled jobs available, but not enough qualified applicants to fill them.

In the February, 2014, budget, the Tories attempted to drive home the point by including a Finance Department study that said the job-vacancy rate (open jobs as a percentage of all jobs) was north of 4 per cent, its highest level since 2008, despite still-high unemployment of 7 per cent.

But that study contradicted Statistics Canada’s data on job openings, which put the vacancy rate at barely above 1 per cent.

It turned out that some of the government’s stats were gleaned from internet job postings on sites such as Kijiji, and those counts were badly tainted – double-counting some jobs and including some positions that had already been filled.

The so-called Kijiji Jobs Report, as it became known, was a major embarrassment for the Harper government. Critics accused the Conservatives of using half-baked statistical evidence to justify their economic policies.

But it was unclear whether Statscan’s numbers were right either. Job vacancy estimates from the Conference Board of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business yielded still different results.

The episode was a wake-up call: If Canada faced deepening shortages in key skills, it lacked the statistical detail to see them properly, let alone do anything about the problem.

In the five years since, there has been a renewed focus on bringing Canada’s labour-skills data into the 21st century – with increased funding to match.

But progress has been slow and the stakes are rising. A growing economy and aging population have eaten into the available labour pool, slicing the unemployment rate to a four-decade low. An increasing number of companies complain that they can’t find enough skilled workers.

To help fill the labour gaps, successive federal governments have increased what’s known as “economic” immigration, targeting highly skilled foreign workers. The provinces have also been given increased powers to recruit immigrants to fill their skills needs. All this comes against a backdrop of rising automation and artificial intelligence, which will dramatically reshape the labour market.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said that skills development will be a focus of his March 19 budget. But if Canada is going to embark on a skills overhaul, it will need to fill the gaps in its data first.

“Being able to gather that information, in terms of the [skills] supply and demand, I think is going to be really important, given the scale and speed with which this [change] is happening,” says Dominic Barton, head of Mr. Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, probably the most influential voice shaping the government’s long-term economic priorities. “There is an urgency to this.”

This challenge didn’t exactly sneak up on policy-makers. It’s been a decade since the Harper government’s Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information (LMI), chaired by prominent Queen’s University economist Don Drummond, issued a 228-page report containing wide-ranging recommendations to modernize Canada’s labour data.

“Reducing unemployment or raising wages by a better matching of workers and jobs by as little as a tenth of a [percentage] point would raise GDP by some $800-million,” Mr. Drummond wrote. “That is why we need to spend more money on LMI and spend it smarter.”

Identifying problems with Canada’s labour skills data differs depending on who you ask. Academics, economists, policy-makers, employers, teachers and workers all use the information. But there are two common complaints.

First, information isn’t sufficiently “granular” – it doesn’t drill down deep enough to identify specific skills in supply or demand in the marketplace, or precisely where these skills are available or needed.

Second, data are too scattered among a variety of agencies and levels of government, which don’t do a great job of sharing their information with each other or making it user-friendly.

Statscan is the primary producer of labour data in this country. But the Harper government slashed Statscan’s labour market information budget by more than 20 per cent between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 fiscal years.

In the wake of the Kijiji Jobs Report, however, the Conservatives re-opened the taps, and the flow has accelerated under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Statscan’s current budget for labour data is more than $30-million, up nearly 40 per cent from 2013-14 levels. Still, it’s a small slice of the agency’s total annual budget of more than $600-million.

….

Source:     Canada has a skills shortage – but which skills, and where? Lack of data leaves the experts unsure David Parkinson March 11, 2019     

Douglas Todd: Female foreign students endure harassment, exploitation

Of note:

Female foreign students from South Asia are experiencing sexual harassment by landlords, exploitation by bosses, and ethno-cultural double-standards, all the while dealing with their own fears of being deported.

Metro Vancouver community workers are warning about the particular vulnerability of the increasing number of young women coming to Canada from the Punjab region of India and other parts of South Asia, whose often-modest families have sold off much of their property and assets to get them to Canada.

Stories are emerging that some female international students — desperate to make enough money to avoid returning to their homelands — are resorting to offering sexual services to landlords and are even getting involved in the drug trade, says Kal Dosanjh, a police officer who runs a Surrey-based support program called Kids Play.

The young women are frightened, especially when exploitative employers in the underground economy, including at some restaurants, threaten to report them to immigration officials and have them deported, said Dosanjh.

“When these kids, who don’t know the law, hear about deportation, they get scared, because they’ve already spent so much money coming to Canada, and so much money surviving here, that the last thing they need is to be sent back to their country,” Dosanjh said.

There are more than 500,000 foreign students in Canada. After a jump of almost 50,000 additional students from India in 2017, one quarter of Canada’s international students now come from there.

“It’s a source of shame if they get sent home. They fear they’ll never get the chance to come back to Canada,” said Dosanjh, who also works with male foreign students whom he says tend to get exploited by under-paying construction companies or become low-level participants in the drug trade to pay high student fees and rents.

Being able to fly into Canada on a student visa is seen as the “ticket out of India, out of poverty” for many students, said Dosanjh. “For them to be able to stay here means everything in terms of future job prospects, monetary wealth, sanitary conditions, a significant change in lifestyle.” Many will put up with a lot of hardship to avoid going home.

MOSAIC, a large B.C. settlement service for migrants, this year began training teachers and other education officials about what they could do to support women among Metro Vancouver’s 110,000 foreign students, who the agency maintains are generally “more likely to be sexually assaulted and less likely to be helped” than native-born students.

“New research confirms that international students reported more sexual assault than domestic students and experience more intense fear, helplessness and horror after victimization,” says a statement from MOSAIC, whose 350 staff members are led by CEO Olga Stachova.

“Some perpetrators of sexual violence see international students as easy targets — too ashamed to report sexual assaults, unaware of where they can get help and influenced by different cultural norms.”

MOSAIC highlighted the case of Maham Kamal Khanum, an international student from Pakistan at UBC, who said sexual violence against women is “normalized” in her home country. “It was almost a culture shock to learn how unacceptable sexual violence was here,” Khanum said.

Dupinder Kaur Saran, Kal Dosanjh, Kiran Toor. Saran and Toor are volunteers with Kids Play, which helps youth in Surrey who are getting into trouble. Kal Dosanjh is a police officer and head of the non-profit group.

Many international students “don’t have a place to belong” when they come to Canada, says Kiran Toor, who, along with Dupinder Saran, has volunteered to work with international students through Kids Play, a large Surrey-based non-profit organization devoted to supporting young people, particularly South Asians.

Many foreign students are under a great deal of financial, social and academic pressure, including to learn English.

A recent article in Desi Today, an Indo-Canadian magazine in B.C., said it’s common for male and female foreign students to work more than the 20 hours a week permitted under a Canadian study visa.

The magazine quoted South Asian community workers who know of intimidated young women being sexually harassed in the workplace by employers, because they have worked many hours over their allowed limit and don’t want to be reported to border officials.

The young women especially feel shame about admitting to something that might hurt their reputations.

In 2017 there was a sudden jump of 48,000 more students from India. (Source: Canadian Bureau for International Education)

While Dosanjh said many female students from India are “liberal, open-minded and sophisticated,” Desi Today quoted community officials who said some traditional Indo-Canadians are “talking bad about the girl students from India.” Some Indo-Canadians don’t like that the young women are often see in public with males. Most officials cited in Desi Today did not respond to The Vancouver Sun’s messages.

At the worst, Dosanjh said, some Indian foreign students who are desperate for cash are getting involved in prostitution and the drug trade. The young men, says the longtime Vancouver police officer, are generally serving as “mules” and the women are agreeing to hold drugs for their male friends.

The effort to help schools provide more support to female foreign students who arrive in Canada without support networks is hampered, MOSAIC’s Stachova said, by the under-reporting of difficult incidents. “The students always think they have the worry: What will happen to my status in Canada?”

Even though the problem of exploitation of female foreign students is real in Metro Vancouver, Stachova said it has to be put into perspective. “I don’t want to sound alarmist,” Stachova said, “because we are generally a safe country.”

Still, the stakes are exceedingly high for the students.

As Dosanjh says, many families in India, particularly in the Punjab, see Canada as a kind of heaven on earth. “So the young people think of it is a land of rich amenities, where they can have a better life, become permanent residents and eventually sponsor their family to come over. That means that once these students come here the last thing most of them want to do is return to India.”

All of which make them more susceptible than most to exploitation.

foreign students from South Asia are experiencing sexual harassment by landlords, exploitation by bosses, and ethno-cultural double-standards, all the while dealing with their own fears of being deported. Metro Vancouver community workers are warning about the particular vulnerability of the increasing number of young women coming to Canada from the Punjab region of India and other parts of South Asia, whose often-modest families have sold off much of their property and assets to get them to Canada.

Source: Douglas Todd: Female foreign students endure harassment, exploitation

Anti-Immigration Groups See Trump’s Calls for More Legal Immigrants as a Betrayal

Kind of amusing. But one should judge his administrations anti-immigration actions more than this apparent change of language:

For months, President Trump has been railing about the urgent need for a wall to protect against what he calls “an invasion” of illegal immigrants flooding across the southwestern border. But he has also been delivering another message: “We need workers,” he told a group of activists recently.

In other words, he wants more immigrants.

“I want people to come into our country, in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally,” Mr. Trump ad-libbed last month during his State of the Union address.

Comments like those from the president have ignited furious criticism from his hard-line, anti-immigrant supporters who accuse him of caving to demands for cheap foreign labor from corporations, establishment Republicans and big donors while abandoning his election promise to protect his working-class supporters from the effects of globalism.

“This is clearly a betrayal of what immigration hawks hoped the Trump administration would be for,” said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates cutting legal immigration by more than half. He warned that Mr. Trump was in danger of being “not even that different from a conventional Republican.”

Breitbart News, a conservative website that promotes anti-immigrant messaging, published on Thursday the latest in a series of articles attacking Mr. Trump for catering to big business at the expense of the Americans who put him in the Oval Office. “Trump Requests ‘More’ Foreign Workers as Southern Border Gets Overrun,” the site blared on its home page.

“That Mr. Trump would advance the interests of the global elite ahead of our citizens would be a tragic reversal on any day,” Lou Dobbs, the Fox News host, said in a televised rant against the president on Wednesday evening on the Fox Business Channel. “The White House has simply lost its way.”

Corporations and influential corporate conservatives such as Charles G. Koch and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have long urged the president to help them recruit the talent they need by expanding the number of workers who can enter the United States from other countries.

That has become more urgent as the economy has improved and as declining unemployment has made it harder for companies to find workers. To assuage their concerns, Mr. Trump has increasingly tailored his immigration talking points to cater to the needs of business executives like those who attended a business round table on Wednesday at the White House.

“We’re going to have a lot of people coming into the country. We want a lot of people coming in. And we need it,” Mr. Trump said as he sat next to Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, and other executives. “We want to have the companies grow, and the only way they’re going to grow is if we give them the workers, and the only way we’re going to have the workers is to do exactly what we’re doing.”

But that message runs counter to the hard-line immigration image that Mr. Trump has carefully nurtured — most recently by shutting the government down for 35 days in a failed attempt to pressure Congress to fund a wall on the Mexican border.

Mr. Trump won the White House in no small part by embracing anti-immigrant messaging that tapped into the economic fears of blue-collar workers upset about losing their jobs to foreign workers. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, he attacked undocumented immigrants as “rapists and murderers” and called for a “big, beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico.

Since becoming president, Mr. Trump has aggressively sought to crack down on illegal border crossings, increase deportations, cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States and make it harder for migrants to claim asylum. He has complained about drug dealers, gangs and members of Central American caravans pouring across the border. And last summer, his administration separated thousands of migrant children from their parents in an effort to deter Central American families from trying to seek refuge in the United States.

The harsh record — and comments by Mr. Trump that disparaged African nations in vulgar terms and suggested that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” — has earned him the enmity of Democrats and immigration activists, who call him a racist president.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will follow through on his recent, pro-business messaging. Many of the president’s aides — including Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser in the White House — agree with the hard-line activists about the need to lower legal immigration.

In 2017, Mr. Trump endorsed the Raise Act, a Republican Senate bill that would reduce legal immigration by as much as 50 percent. And the administration is currently considering a proposal to cut immigration by denying work authorizations, known as H-4 permits, to almost 100,000 spouses of immigrants who are brought in by companies to work legally in the United States.

But even so, some of the nation’s most hard-line anti-immigration activists have become increasingly nervous that Mr. Trump might waver on their primary concern — the need to shrink the number of immigrants who enter the United States each year, currently 1.1 million.

They argue that tight labor markets make it exactly the wrong time to allow more foreign workers to compete with Americans. Chris Chmielenski, the deputy director of NumbersUSA, which lobbies for lower legal immigration, said companies should be pressured to hire more Americans instead.

“Anything we do now to bring in more foreign workers could actually reverse some of the economic gains over the last four years,” Mr. Chmielenski said. “We’re absolutely concerned. We feel this isn’t how he ran on the issue.”

Last week, in an effort to communicate that message directly to Mr. Trump, NumbersUSA began airing an ad on Fox News Channel in the hopes that the president would get the message that his supporters do not want to let in more than one million immigrants each year.

“The majority of voters say the number should be cut to 500,000 or less,” the ad said. “Americans want less immigration.”

Mr. Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, said that companies that no longer have access to foreign workers would have no choice but to turn to Americans who are still struggling to find work: people with disabilities, teenagers, older people and even former convicts.

He also said that modest increases in wages for workers would evaporate if companies were allowed to simply tap an unlimited pool of lower-paid workers from other countries.

“If you want wages to go up,” Mr. Krikorian said, “you don’t import more foreign labor.”

Business groups dispute that analysis. They argue that immigration expands the amount of business activity in the United States, adding jobs and increasing wages for the vast majority of American workers.

“Our country has benefited tremendously from welcoming people who have contributed to our economy, our communities, across the board,” said James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network. “We want to welcome in everyone who wants to contribute to our society. We want to see more legal immigration.”

Todd Schulte, the president of FWD.us, a pro-immigration advocacy group that started with backing from Mark Zuckerberg, a founder of Facebook, said that “immigrants and immigration increase economic growth, they increase economic productivity and they increase wages for the overwhelming number of native-born Americans.”

Mr. Schulte, whose group has been highly critical of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant messaging and policies, welcomed the president’s recognition that legal immigration is a positive thing for the United States’ economy.

But he cautioned that Mr. Trump must be measured by his actions, not his words. He called on the president to halt the effort to deny the H-4 work permits to immigrant spouses.

“He should stop trying to revoke the H-4 rule,” Mr. Schulte said. “Increasing legal immigration would help native-born Americans. Unfortunately, the record has been one bent on cutting overall immigration levels.”

The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration

In-depth analysis. Always helpful to follow the money:

For years, the think tanks and organizations that pushed for tougher immigration restrictions operated on the fringes of public policy debates. Now, with a powerful friend in the White House, they are enjoying new influence. Promises to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border were a popular refrain at then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies. As president, he has remained committed to lowering immigration levels and has escalated efforts to secure funding for the wall, starting by shutting down the government, and now by declaring a national emergency.

Cheering Trump on, and often providing intellectual ammunition for his administration’s policies, are nonprofits like the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA—all kept alive by philanthropic donations from a handful of foundations and donors.

Those organizations and others like them are not without controversy. The Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform are both designated as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though the classification is rejected by supporters. NumbersUSA is not designated as a hate group by the watchdog, though several other, smaller groups working to restrict immigration are. The full list may be found here.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has also criticized the Center for Immigration Studies for releasing inaccurate research to advance its restrictionist agenda.

These think tanks depend on philanthropic donations for their survival. Donations made up 99 percent of revenue at both the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA in 2016. That year, they made up 96 percent of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s revenue.

Many of those donations flow from a relatively small set of donors who’ve backed advocates and policymakers pushing for lower immigration levels over many years. These funders are finally seeing a return on their investment in a case study of the influence that can come from patiently backing policy work—so it’s worth taking a close look at their motivations and priorities.

Who Are These Funders and What Do They Want?

Foundations that give to organizations pushing to restrict immigration include the Colcom Foundation, the Scaife foundations, which include the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Weeden Foundation.

The Colcom Foundation is the most prolific of this group. The Pennsylvania-based funder gave nearly $18 million to groups pushing for lower immigration in 2016, about 60 percent of the foundation’s total giving that year.

The foundation was established in the 1990s by Cordelia Scaife May. May was a friend of John Tanton, who was involved in several anti-immigration organizations, including Colcom grantees the Center for Immigration Control, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA. Tanton was known for his controversial views about eugenics and the need to defend a “European-American majority” in the United States. Colcom and other foundations that give to organizations Tanton was involved in have tried to distance themselves from racial or nativist motivations. But his views continue to provide fodder to critics.

May was the sister of Richard Mellon Scaife, the conservative billionaire behind the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation. All three foundations give to policy groups that push to lower immigration.

Education and shaping public discourse around immigration levels is a big focus of Scaife’s grants to organizations pushing to restrict immigration. While the goal of this funding is to lower immigration levels, representatives from the Colcom and Weeden foundations stressed to Inside Philanthropy that they don’t consider themselves anti-immigrant, or even anti-immigration, though they do want to restrict the number of foreigners coming into the country.

For the Colcom Foundation, cutting immigration by about half to around 500,000 people a year would be a good starting point, said Vice President John Rohe. As a foundation, the organization does not lobby for specific policy measures, rather it hopes to influence public opinion. Rohe believes this work is necessary because of the emotional tenor of debates about immigration.

“This is fundamentally important to a country because immigration has, over time, been an emotional issue for the United States, and it still is today,” said Rohe. “It’s difficult for the United States to have a meaningful, informed conversation on the level of immigration somewhere in the middle.”

Rather than emotions, Rohe believes concerns for the labor market and environment should inform the conversation around immigration levels. “What should the level of immigration be that preserves the carrying capacity and ensures a long-term, pro-immigrant, sustainable level of immigration? Which, by the way, should be administered on a racially neutral basis,” Rohe said. “There should be no room, zero tolerance, for racism in this policy.”

The environment comes up a lot with funders that support restricting immigration levels. They believe environmental sustainability is threatened by population growth fueled primarily through immigration.

“We currently have about 328 million people. You’re looking at almost a one-third increase in 50 years in a country that has biodiversity losses, that has 40 states confronting water shortages, that has trouble controlling the toxic emissions from cars and gridlock and energy in its cities, that is dealing with urban sprawl devouring millions of acres every year, and then you add 103 million people,” Rohe said, citing a 2015 Pew Research Center report that estimated immigrants and their children would account for more than 100 million people added to the U.S. population by 2065.

“Some would have a concern that adding another 103 million people in 50 years to a nation that’s already straining its water resources,” Rohe added. “Are our landfills too under-utilized? Are our roads too open? Is there too much farmland? Is there too much fresh water? Is the water too clean?”

The Weeden Foundation funds groups pushing for lower immigration for similar reasons, though immigration work makes up a much smaller percentage of the funder’s total giving. “Immigration is addressed in the context of U.S. population growth and its impact on the environment, particularly on habitat for wildlife,” said Don Weeden, the foundation’s executive director.

“It’s not a major effort for us, but we feel it’s important to address the drivers of biological impoverishment, and that includes the United States’ very high level of consumption and its relatively high population growth,” he said. “It’s a combination of both that’s really driving a combination of unsustainable trends, including sprawl, energy use, CO2 emissions and pollution generally.”

Not everyone agrees that overpopulation is or will in the near future be a problem in the U.S. In fact, some economists argue that immigration is needed, given falling birth rates.

As the country’s birth rate declines and population ages, some economists, like Lyman Stone, a columnist for Vox and an agricultural economist at the Department of Agriculture, argue that population growth and the contribution of immigration are not only desirable, but necessary for long-term prosperity.

Stone also argued in Vox that the role population growth plays in climate change, whether through birth rate or immigration, has been overhyped.

Groups advocating on behalf of immigrants have also objected to the foundations’ use of conservation as a justification for their work to curb immigration. Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, stressed that overpopulation is not an issue in the United States.

“The U.S. birth rate is at a 30-year low, and many economists believe that more immigration is needed,” Petsod said. “In parts of the country that are depopulating—from Rockford, Illinois, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania—mayors, business and civic leaders are actively seeking immigrants and refugees to help revitalize their communities.”

“It’s not valid to connect the two issues because limiting immigration does not advance conservation goals,” she said. “Anti-immigrant groups often hide behind the guise of conservation to promote their restrictionist agenda.”

The Numbers

Among the foundations, Colcom gives the most—both in dollar amounts and percentage of total grants—to groups working to restrict immigration.

With about $440 million in reported assets in 2015, the foundation also gives to groups that tackle conservation from other angles. Past giving has especially favored conservation efforts in the foundation’s native Pennsylvania.

However, the majority of grants each year—about 60 percent in 2016—go to groups that focus on immigration, rather than deal directly with the environment. The biggest beneficiaries of this strategy in 2016 were the Federation for American Immigration Reform with $7.4 million in grants, NumbersUSA with $6.8 million and the Center for Immigration Studies with $1.7 million.

The foundation also gave to Americans for Immigration Control, Californians for Population Stabilization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

Perhaps an even more telling sign of Colcom’s stature in the field is how much of the organizations’ annual revenues are dependent on the foundation’s donations.

For the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in 2016 Colcom grants made up about two-thirds of the think tank’s total revenue, and nearly 70 percent of contributions the organization received.

Colcom’s giving makes up a similar percentage of NumbersUSA’s revenue and total gifts. At the Center for Immigration Studies, Colcom’s giving hovers at just under 60 percent of the nonprofit’s revenue. For smaller organizations, Colcom can serve as an even more significant lifeline. The foundation’s donations made up about 97 percent of the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s funding in 2016.

The Weeden and Scaife foundations also give to support anti-immigration groups, but to a much smaller extent when compared to their overall grantmaking. In 2015, the Scaife Family Foundation gave about 7 percent, or $225,000, to organizations arguing for less immigration. That number was near 2 percent for the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

With its other giving, the Sarah Scaife Foundation carries on founder Richard Mellon Scaife’s support of conservative and libertarian causes. In 2015, the foundation supported the conservative think tanks the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, along with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the free-market economics think tank and research center supported by Charles Koch.

The Scaife Family Foundation stands out from the others for its focus on the well-being of domestic animals. The foundation supports several organizations that work with cats, dogs and horses.

The Weeden Foundation typically gives 5 to 10 percent of its grantmaking dollars to organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies. In 2015, the foundation reported about $31 million in assets.

That year, about $165,000 out of the funder’s $2.2 million in grantmaking went to think tanks working to reduce immigration, including the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, along with Californians for Population Stabilization, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

With the rest of its giving, the Weeden Foundation supports environmental organizations, conservation efforts and other means to curbing population growth, including groups that advocate for reproductive rights.

The Colcom, Scaife and Weeden foundations are not the only funders supporting hardline immigration organizations, though most others give at much lower levels.

The F.M. Kirby Foundation, Jaquelin Hume Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Weiler Foundation, and William H. Donner Foundation have also given to the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation for American Immigration Reform, or both, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive nonprofit watchdog and advocacy organization. However, those donations were at much lower levels than the Colcom or Scaife foundations.

Of course, foundations are not the only avenues donors have to give to organizations. They can give as individuals or funnel money through donor-advised funds.

Money that comes from individuals or flows through donor-advised funds is harder to track than foundation giving. Like any philanthropy, donor-advised funds are required to disclose their grantees on publicly accessible tax forms, but they’re not required to share where that funding comes from. This anonymity can be attractive to donors who want to give to causes that they may feel are controversial.

The Foundation for the Carolinas, which hosts 2,600 donor-advised funds, is one major conduit of money to organizations pushing for immigration restriction. In 2016, the foundation gave around $4.3 million to such groups. In 2015, that number was about $4.8 million. NumbersUSA was the biggest recipient, racking up about $5 million in grants over two years. These gifts, none of which can be traced back to a specific funder, made up a relatively small percentage of the foundation’s total giving each of those years, which ranged from about $260 to $290 million.

Donors Trust is another donor-advised fund, known for its support of conservative causes. The fund has given some money to anti-immigration think tanks over the years, according to a database maintained by Conservative Transparency, which tracks donations to conservative causes and candidates. However, the amounts have never rivaled foundations like Colcom or even the Foundation for the Carolinas in size.

From 2002 to 2017, the trust gave a little more than $3 million to hardline immigration organizations. NumbersUSA was the biggest beneficiary of that giving, racking up $2.7 million over that 15-year period.

The Criticism

Philanthropic support of anti-immigration organizations has attracted intensifying criticism in recent years. “For decades, these foundations have financed anti-immigrant groups to spread a narrative that demonizes and dehumanizes immigrants. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented statements and actions by many of these groups as being racist, bigoted and xenophobic,” said GCIR’s Petsod. “Their efforts to espouse fear and hate have divided our nation and have resulted in policies that are anathema to American values.”

As Petsod highlighted, several of the think tanks these foundations support are characterized as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). That includes two of the three most prominent organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The SPLC and its designations are not without their own critics, especially on the right, which has accused the watchdog of inappropriately labeling groups it disagrees with as extremists.

Don Weeden sees the center’s hate group designations as another symptom of a national conversation that has deteriorated into name calling. In the past, the Weeden Foundation has given to Californians for Population Stabilization, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which are labeled as hate groups by the SPLC.

“I vouch for our grantees,” Weeden said.

“It’s a kangaroo court—that’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing in labeling these groups ‘hate groups,’” he said. “In fact, it strikes me that there are those on the left—and I’m not saying everyone on the left—who have chosen to smear rather than debate. Perhaps you can say it’s easier, and in some respects more effective, but it has led in part to the polarization on this issue and the lack of national debate on this issue, as well.”

In fact, Weeden says that his foundation gets criticized from both sides of the aisle for the work it supports.

“We and our grantees get criticized on the right for being radical environmentalists. You turn it around and you get criticized from the left for being right-wing reactionaries. So where is the truth?” he said. “Well, it’s none of the above.”

“We don’t look at issues through a political lens. We look at them largely because our mission is to protect biodiversity. We look at it through that lens.”

Colcom’s Rohe echoed Weeden’s lament about the reluctance at informed, measured debate around immigration.

“This has been an emotionally charged issue, and the effort to have an informed, constructive, civic dialogue has been difficult for the country over the course of history,” he said. “Hopefully we can move beyond that.”

Rohe also denied that his foundation would have any part in supporting racism or organizations with racist agendas.

“It would not be funded by this foundation, but there could be people that would be drawn to this issue for the wrong reasons,” Rohe said. “I can’t apologize for that. The foundation would never support that.”

Source: The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration