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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s a critical issue.”

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

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

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

Leaning on temporary foreign workers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barr Packs Board of Immigration Appeals with Judges Who Denied Asylum Claims at ‘High Rates’

The power of appointments (in Canada, Sean Rehaag has done comparable analysis of IRB board members Refugee approval rates reflect subjectivity of decision-makers, prof says – Montreal – CBC News):

The Trump Administration is making significant moves in an apparent effort to reduce the number of successful migrant applications for asylum at the border. Rather than a ban, which the Trump Administration has explored, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has promoted six immigrations judges to the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) — all of whom have “high rates” of denying asylum claims, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday.

According to the report, the six appointees who were sworn in on Friday will comprise more than 25-percent of the 21-member BIA. In case you are unfamiliar with what this board is for and how powerful it is, don’t worry, the Department of Justice has got you covered [all emphases ours]: 

“The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. It is authorized up to 21 Board Members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman who share responsibility for BIA management. The BIA is located at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Generally, the BIA does not conduct courtroom proceedings – it decides appeals by conducting a “paper review” of cases. On rare occasions, however, the BIA hears oral arguments of appealed cases, predominately at headquarters.

The BIA has been given nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions rendered by immigration judges and by district directors of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a wide variety of proceedings in which the Government of the United States is one party and the other party is an alien, a citizen, or a business firm.

BIA decisions are binding on all DHS officers and immigration judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. Most BIA decisions are subject to judicial review in the federal courts. The majority of appeals reaching the BIA involve orders of removal and applications for relief from removal. Other cases before the BIA include the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States, petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws, and motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previously rendered.”

“Prior to the new rule, the Attorney General’s own decisions were binding on all of DHS, but the BIA’s decisions weren’t binding on the entire system unless a majority of Board members voted to publish them. Currently, this happens about 30 times a year. By giving the Attorney General unilateral power to designate BIA decisions as precedent with the stroke of a pen, the regulation destabilizes the fair checks and balances in the court process.”

The names of the promoted judges: William Cassidy, Earle Wilson, Keith Hunsucker, Deborah Goodwin, Stephanie Gorman, Stuart Couch.

Cassidy and Wilson respectively rejected 95.8-percent and and 98.1-percent of asylum claims between 2013 and 2018; the national denial average was 57.6 percent, the Chronicle reported. (Both of them have inspired complaints of unfairness.) With the national average in mind, consider the other rejection rates added to the board: Hunsucker, 81.6-percent; Goodwin, 89.4-percent; Gorman, 86.9-percent; Couch, 92.1%. These percentages came from data tracked by Syracuse University — data the DOJ claimed it doesn’t track and can’t verify when responding to the Chronicle story.

“DOJ doesn’t track asylum approval and denial rates for individual immigration judges, and (Syracuse) uses its own methodologies in interpreting the data it receives, resulting in conclusions that we cannot verify,” a DOJ spokesperson said. “Collectively these judges … have nearly 120 years of immigration law (experience) through multiple administrations. Advocates that attack their integrity and professionalism only undermine the entire system.”

Source: Barr Packs Board of Immigration Appeals with Judges Who Denied Asylum Claims at ‘High Rates’

Québec évoque un nouvel accompagnement pour mieux intégrer les immigrants

While Quebec reduces the number of immigrants, it also invests in integration programs (reducing the gap between the federal government’s block grant to Quebec and Quebec’s actual expenditures):

Le Québec étant aux prises avec des pénuries de main-d’oeuvre à divers degrés dans plusieurs secteurs et régions, le budget du gouvernement Legault a évoqué jeudi un nouveau « parcours d’accompagnement personnalisé » pour les immigrants de même que des moyens supplémentaires annuels de 146 millions au ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion. Les détails du parcours seront annoncés plus tard.

Les sommes destinées à l’immigrationreprésentent une hausse de 42 % du budget du ministère, a fait remarquer le Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ). Il s’agit ni plus ni moins que d’une « bouffée d’air frais », a déclaré son président, Richard Perron. Sur cinq ans, les nouvelles sommes totalisent 730 millions.

Les efforts visant une meilleure intégration au marché du travail incluront notamment une amélioration des services à la francisation, a indiqué le ministre des Finances, Eric Girard. Mais dans l’ensemble, les nouvelles façons de faire de Québec toucheront plusieurs aspects de l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, notamment la planification, la prospection, le recrutement international et la sélection. Le budget mentionne également un soutien aux collectivités qui accueillent des immigrants et aux entreprises.

Le gouvernement Legault a confirmé en décembre 2018 qu’il comptait réduire de 53 000 à 40 000 le seuil annuel d’immigration, ce qui avait déçu le milieu des affaires, notamment le Conseil du patronat, qui décrit ces travailleurs comme un bassin « essentiel » pour combler les besoins de main-d’oeuvre de la prochaine décennie.

Le Québec est « ouvert aux immigrants », a dit M. Girard dans son discours, ajoutant que « cette immigration doit cependant répondre aux besoins de main-d’oeuvre existants dans toutes les régions du Québec ».

Source: Québec évoque un nouvel accompagnement pour mieux intégrer les immigrants

Working knowledge: Quebec expands on-the-job French lessons for newcomers

Interesting approach and focus on individual training to small business owners:

Wang Weidong’s shop in Chinatown offers the typical bounty of the Montreal dépanneur − lottery tickets, toothpaste, fireworks, an entire wall of snacks and, of course, beer and wine. One recent morning, the store also featured novel fare: French lessons.

Huit dollars,” Mr. Wang said, struggling to pronounce “eight dollars” in French.

Est-ce que je peux avoir un reçu?” said his teacher, Félix Pigeon, asking for a receipt as he stood before Mr. Wang at the counter.

Mr. Wang was a willing pupil in the expanding frontier of French-language learning in Quebec. As the province seeks to ensure newcomers can work and function in French, it’s increasing funding by $450,000 for on-the-job lessons offered at neighbourhood businesses across Montreal.

In Mr. Wang’s case, that means turning the ubiquitous Montreal dépanneur into a classroom. For two hours a week, Mr. Pigeon, a master’s student in literature, exchanges with Mr. Wang at the counter or between store shelves, doling out French phrases as easily as Mr. Wang dispenses ramen soup and chocolate bars. Customers come and go as Mr. Wang works the cash and gamely tries to grasp the intricacies of French grammar and verb conjugation.

“French is important here. I know that if I want to make my business better, I have to speak French,” said Mr. Wang, 51, who came to Montreal from Beijing two years ago with his wife and now 8-year-old son.

“But I don’t have time to go to school. I have to work.”

Mr. Wang’s views underscore a fundamental reality for many immigrants to Quebec: Learning French is essential to building their new lives, but, like Mr. Wang, they’re unlikely to find time to visit a classroom after long hours on the job.

The on-the-job courses have become a success story within Quebec’s vast undertaking known as “la francisation” – the province’s multimillion-dollar efforts to turn immigrants into French speakers.

The new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government announced funding this month to expand the workplace program in the city, which is run by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. The initiative began in 2016 with just 30 immigrant merchants; more than 500 are expected to take part this year.

The “students” include an Egyptian immigrant who owns a driving school, a Ukrainian-born waitress at a Greek restaurant, and a woman from Grenada who runs a beauty salon in Montreal’s multicultural Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood.

“For an entrepreneur – someone operating a dépanneur or a travel agency – going to a French class means closing their business,” said Céline Huot, a vice-president at the chamber of commerce. “So we had the idea of bringing the French class to them.”

As part of the $1.5-million program, participants such as Mr. Wang sport a button saying “J’apprends le français, encouragez-moi,” (I’m learning French, encourage me). The message addresses a basic truth in Montreal: Most people are bilingual and tend to switch to English if they sense that a newcomer is struggling in French. It’s part of the daily interplay of language in a city that typically seeks common linguistic ground.

The message on Mr. Wang’s button turns his personal language effort into a shared goal with his customers.

“It becomes a question of pride for the merchants,” Ms. Huot said. “It’s not, ‘I don’t speak French well, and so I feel a certain embarrassment.’ It becomes extremely positive. The whole campaign shows a positive image of immigrants who are making efforts to integrate.”

At a time when Quebec’s “francisation” programs have come under criticism as inefficient, these free courses have brought measurable results: 80 per cent of immigrants who took part progressed at least one level of French after their three-month session.

And for university students such as Mr. Pigeon, 28, the exchanges deliver their own rewards.

“I’ve travelled a lot and everywhere I go, I’m well-received. Canadians have the reputation to be a welcoming people, so I wanted to be part of that,” Mr. Pigeon said. “I wanted to give back.”

Ensuring newcomers speak French has long been a cornerstone of immigration policy in Quebec, where language is seen as central to the province’s identity and survival. The theme has been heavily promoted by the CAQ government of Premier François Legault, which argues that its 20-per-cent cut to immigration this year is necessary to better integrate immigrants and teach them French. The party has even raised the prospect of expelling immigrants after three years if they failed a French and values test.

Yet despite the “rhetoric” of immigrants posing a threat to the French majority, newcomers in fact overwhelmingly want to learn the language, and 95 per cent of all Quebeckers have a knowledge of French, says Richard Bourhis, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Quebec at Montreal who has studied immigrant integration.

Immigrants might not have time to study French while they’re struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table, he said, but the will is there. “They all want to give themselves as many tools as possible to make their immigration project successful,” Prof. Bourhis said. “If you’re just patient with them, either the first or second generation do learn French. They want to.”

That is certainly the case for Mr. Wang. When a francophone customer comes in asking for fortune cookies, Mr. Wang struggles to understand what she’s saying. Mr. Pigeon coaches him, then Mr. Wang rushes over to a shelf full of cookie bags.

Mr. Wang says he now wants to become proficient enough to go beyond what he calls “dépanneur French,” and has his sights set on a bigger goal: His son’s hockey games.

“When the kids play their games, we have to shout,” Mr. Wang says of his son’s matches with the Jeunes Sportifs d’Hochelaga in Montreal. “I can’t figure out what to say.”

He may not find the answer among the lychee jelly snacks and cans of pop in his dépanneur. But he feels the goal is within reach.

Source: Montreal program

How second-generation immigrants are transforming the landscape of Spanish society

One does not see too many articles on Spain, and even fewer on the second generation and many of the issues are similar to those experienced by the second generation in Canada:

Children born in Spain to immigrant parents have not had to go through the trials and tribulations of migration but they do have to live between two cultures. They belong to a new generation of Spaniards who have been brought up here and whose parents are predominantly from countries further to the south.

They are very often bilingual and their mixed identity allows them to enjoy links to their parents’ culture while positioning themselves within Spanish society, according to the report Spain in expansion: the integration of immigrant children, published in 2014 by La Caixa Foundation.

20% of babies born in Spain have a foreign parent

Fátima J., a criminology graduate from Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, explains that she has grown up with two very different mindsets, and this has helped make her more tolerant. She has two approaches to life and she says her visits to Morocco during the holidays have taught her the value of hospitality. “You are always welcome in anyone’s house,” she says. “In Spain, this seems strange because you have to be invited to eat at a relative’s home. But in Morocco, the doors are open to you any time of the day.”

In 2005, it wasn’t clear whether immigration would continue to grow in Spain or whether the trend would reverse. There are four million foreigners registered in the country, which is 10% of Spain’s 46.7 million population, and data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows that the new generation of Spaniards is the most diverse to date.

A study carried out by Verne on births, nationality and population reveals that 20% of the almost five million births in the last decade – amounting to 1,150,629 – have been to at least one foreign parent, according to INE data from 2007 to 2017.

Data gathered between 2006 and 2016 indicates that immigrant parentswho arrived in Spain during the last decade are predominantly Moroccan (around 26%), with Rumanians accounting for 12%, Ecuadorians 6% and Chinese 4%. It is their children who are transforming the landscape of Spanish society.

The Longitudinal study on the Second Generation by La Caixa, which carried out 7,000 interviews over the course of 10 years, suggests that the identities of the children of immigrants is fluid and changes over time and according to the context they are in, particularly during adolescence.

“The children of immigrants select the values from each culture that are worth preserving,” says Nathalie Hadj Handrim, doctor in Spanish and Latin American Civilization and Language at the University of Barcelona.

….

Born in Spain, but without Spanish nationality

Not all the children of foreigners born in Spain obtain Spanish nationality. It depends on the legal status of their parents. If neither parent has Spanish nationality, the children take the nationality of their parents unless they are stateless.

In legal terms, this is known as the right to nationality by blood versus the right to nationality according to place of birth. To be recognized as Spaniards on paper, either one of the parents must have Spanish nationality or the child must reside in Spain for a year, according to the country’s Civil Code.

According to the Algerian sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad, who studied the children of immigrants in France during the 1990s, administrative and social realities keep these children in between two worlds.

“On the one hand, there is an administrative reality which determines nationality […] and on the other hand, a social reality which keeps these children between two countries and two nationalities and two societies beyond the purely legal dimension […] so that they become products and victims of the same story,” he writes in his work The Double Absence. From the dreams of the emigrant to the suffering of the immigrant.

A glance at INE data from 2013 to 2017 shows there were 108,074 children of immigrants who acquired Spanish nationality in that period, 46,700 of whom were previously Moroccan, 8,556 Ecuadorian, 5,818 Bolivian, and 4,318 Nigerian.

Rosa Aparicio, from the José Ortega and Gasset Foundation’s Research Institute and co-author of The Longitudinal study on the Second Generation, points out a recent spike in Moroccans who are becoming Spanish citizens, having accumulated the 10 years of official uninterrupted residency.

This is because, according to INE data, Moroccan immigration peaked exactly 10 years ago, with the arrival of 70,000 migrants. Last year, 39,000 migrants arrived in Spain from Morocco, a similar number to 2009 figures.

Four million people, or around 10% of the population, are currently registered as foreign nationals, most of whom are either Moroccan or Romanian. This percentage was 3.85% in 2001, according to a report by the Ministry of Employment and Social Issues.

Forging identity through art

Born in 1995 in Spain, Kinue Tsubata has maintained close ties to her Japanese roots. Though her mother is from Alicante, both parents – her father is from Nagaoka in Japan – have instilled Japanese values in her, such as punctuality, perseverance and the importance of attention to detail.

“I think I definitely feel more Spanish because I grew up in Spain, but I also identify with Japanese values,” explains Kinue, who is currently in London getting a master’s degree in Japan-focused International Administration at the School of Oriental and African Studies. “I have a lot of contact with Japanese culture and I watch series and films in Japanese so I won’t forget the language.” She goes on to list Japanese animation movies including Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away from Ghibli studios.

Since she was little, she has had to find her own cultural references as everyone on TV and in cartoons was white. “I was drawn to films such as Mulan and I had a Japanese Barbie that wore a kimono,” she says. Now, she tries to participate in as many cultural events and parties thrown by the Japanese community as possible.

According to the mothers of children of African descent, such as Sara Plaza and Kenia Ramos, second-generation children need references to help them identify – “both in the media and within institutions,” says Sara, the mother of a two-year-old whose father is Senegalese.

“Everything that reaches them contains images of white people and particularly the typical blonde girls with blue eyes,” says Kenia, who has a seven-year-old daughter.

In order to forge the identity of their children, both women try to find relevant cultural references in food, stories and toys. “It’s difficult because there’s no information,” says Kenia, who points out that there are many more books of this kind in English than in Spanish, such as Little Leaders: bold women in black history and Kirikú and the sorceress.

The Cross Border Project theater company, which began in New York and has since set up in Spain, addresses the issue with their play Fiesta, fiesta, fiesta,which tells the story of seven teenagers born in Spain to foreign parents.

The play covers themes such as wearing the headscarf, the culture clash between parents and their children, and the teenagers’ own dreams and fears. “What is happening in the classroom is what is happening in Spain,” says dramatist Lucia Miranda, who came up with the script base on real-life conversations and interviews.

“This is the big identity issue facing the country and Europe, not what is promoted by nationalists. I think it’s an issue that is still not being spoken about in debates. People who are very close to me still speak about Spain in a way that is completely outdated. Spain is no longer white and Catholic. It is very diverse.”

METHODOLOGY

This analysis is based on data from the INE and the Ministry of Education on the census, births and student numbers. We have classed any child with at least one foreign parent as the child of immigrants, in line with the broadest academic definition of the term and with the definition used by researcher Rosa Aparicio.

No distinction has been made between the terms immigrant and foreigner. We are aware that the word foreigner carries less political punch than the word immigrant. No distinction has been made as the data and conversations carried out by experts suggest that 73% of people coming from abroad to live in Spain are from the south while 27% come from countries further north such as Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom.

The analysis of school students is based on data from the Ministry of Education between 2010 and 2017. The data included preschool, primary, secondary, vocational training and pre-university schooling. The children of immigrants who have Spanish nationality have not been included as they are now registered as Spanish.

The analysis may be extrapolated since, according to researcher Rosa Aparicio, the economic status on which it is based is different to that of children with two Spanish parents. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE) points out, “The different socio-economic levels account for more than a fifth of what differentiates immigrant students from native students when it comes to acquiring basic skills in OCDE countries and the European Union.”

For population data, provisional 2018 statistics have been used and subjects have been grouped as follows: children between 0 and 19, youths between 19 and 30, adults between 30 and 69, and the elderly. It is not possible to analyze minority nationalities, which are classed as “others” due to statistical confidentiality, according to the INE. Oceania is also treated as a country as no data exists apart from the statistical data.

English version by Heather Galloway.

Source: How second-generation immigrants are transforming the landscape of Spanish society

Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

Yes another pleasant surprise. And funny how the CPC seems to be using more and more anti-UN language on migration (see Immigration critic Michelle Rempel’s earlier Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan where she singled out UNHCR role in selecting refugees):
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is being called out by a former immigration minister in Stephen Harper’s government for factual inaccuracies in a public statement Scheer made Tuesday in which he called on the Liberals to reject a UN agreement on migration.

Speaking in the foyer of the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, Scheer said his party strongly opposes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “plan to sign Canada on to the UN Global Compact on Migration.”

Scheer said that by signing the compact, Canada would open the door to foreign bureaucrats directing its immigration policy.

“It gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities. It attempts to influence how our free and independent media report on immigration issues and it could open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders,” Scheer said.

“Canadians, and Canadians alone, should make decisions on who comes in our country and under what circumstances.”

Chris Alexander, who once held the post of immigration minister under Harper, pushed back against Scheer’s claim on social media.

“Scheer’s statement is factually incorrect: This Compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty. It has no impact on our sovereignty,” he wrote on Twitter.

According to the text of the agreement, the compact is not a treaty but an agreement charting out how countries around the world can work together to mitigate the impact and stresses of increased global migration.

“The Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework that recognizes that no state can address migration on its own due to the inherently transnational nature of the phenomenon,” the compact says.

The document goes on to say in the very next section that it “reaffirms the sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction in conformity with international law.”

The part of the agreement that deals with how the media report on migration issues is referred to under objective 17 of the compact.

That section calls for an effort to eliminate “all forms of discrimination” in public discourse about migration issues.

The compact calls for the promotion of independent, objective reporting on the issue through the passage of anti-hate speech legislation and the withdrawal of public funding from media organizations that promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination against migrants.

The agreement notes that any actions should always be “in full respect for the freedom of the media.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will sign the agreement on Canada’s behalf next week in Marrakech, Morocco.

“We are proud of the leadership role that our government has played to bring countries together to collaborate in order to protect our robust immigration system,” Hussen’s press secretary, Mathieu Genest, told CBC News in an email.

“We recognize that Canada is not alone in facing these issues and believe that a compact to promote safe, orderly and regular migration is an important step in the right direction.”

“Today’s press conference demonstrated to which lengths the Conservatives are willing to go to win over supporters of the Peoples Party of Canada,” he added, referencing break-away former Conservative Maxime Bernier’s new political party.

Source: Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

Sweden’s Decades-Long Failure to Integrate: Leonid Bershidsky

Excerpt from a good long and balanced read, along with the reminder of the links between integration and economic outcomes:

Media Vs. Reality

Having walked around Tensta after dark, I must admit it’s far nicer than any other bad neighborhood I’ve ever seen (I grew up in a concrete wasteland on the edge of Moscow). There’s no trash on footpaths between the boxy but well-maintained three- and six-story apartment blocks, built in the 1960s as part of Sweden’s “Million Homes Program” to provide affordable housing to workers. Socialist urban planning is often an underlying reason for the emergence of problem neighborhoods, but Tensta is fetchingly human-scale with a lot of small parks and footbridges spanning lanes of traffic. The absence of graffiti gave this Berlin resident an eerie feeling, and the lack of bars on ground-floor windows made me recall the complex gridwork necessary to keep out burglars in my country of birth.

From what I’d read in media accounts, I’d expected to see drug deals in progress, a common sight in some areas of Berlin. But no one lounged around Tensta looking like a dealer or offering illicit substances for sale. The area around the subway station used to have a lively scene, I’m told, but surveillance cameras, which are generally rare in privacy-minded Sweden, drove it to someplace I couldn’t find.

This isn’t just my impression or a situation unique to Tensta. The 176-page report of the National Council for Crime Prevention is based on a door-to-door survey of two “particularly disadvantaged” areas that yielded 1,176 completed questionnaires, a massive exercise conducted by young female field researchers. Johanna Skinnari, the project manager, told me that team members received strict instructions not to walk alone and not to knock on doors in the late evening, but learned to ignore these precautions because they never felt threatened. “These places are a long way from the banlieues,” Skinnari said, referring to the notorious Paris suburbs.

The “vulnerable areas” aren’t no-go zones in the sense that police and other emergency services avoid going there. “I’d have no problem going to Tensta with my daughter,” said Erik Akerlund, chief police superintendent for the Botkyrka municipality outside Stockholm, which includes a “particularly vulnerable” area of its own. The neighborhoods are, however, no-go zones in a different sense. Locals in Tensta complain of a shortage of government services and doctors’ offices. The neighborhood of 19,000 people doesn’t have a police station of its own, the nearest one is about four kilometers away in Sollentuna. The shopping center at the center of the area was nearly deserted at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and the few shops open there looked like they were hanging by a thread. The area’s reputation doesn’t make it a desirable place of business or posting for a civil servant or, say, a tax-funded dentist.

The violence and insecurity are real, too. Skinnari’s survey showed that a greater share of people in the vulnerable areas are exposed to crimes, especially property ones, than the residents of other Swedish neighborhoods. Protection rackets are common, and teachers often face the threat of violence at school. Street gangs can be visible and abusive. As a result, 55 percent of the women and 24 percent of men in the disadvantaged areas reported feeling unsafe going outside, compared with 27 percent of women and 8 percent of men in other neighborhoods. After 7 p.m., there are barely any women on the streets of Tensta.

The oppressive atmosphere can be easily linked to the neighborhoods’ economic profile. The employment level in the ghettos was 47 percent last year compared with 67 percent nationwide; between 40 and 67 percent, depending on the neighborhood, make less than 100,000 kronor ($11,000) a year.

That’s an integration failure. According to official data, 50 to 60 percent of residents in vulnerable areas are immigrants or children of immigrants, compared with 17 percent nationwide. In hours of wandering around Tensta, I didn’t meet a single person who looked like a Swede.

The Swedish government has tried to get more ghetto residents into the labor market, even subsidizing employers who gave newcomers their first job. But the program backfired as the foreigners lost the jobs as soon as the subsidy period ran out.

“The government has often just thrown money at the problems — with good intentions, but now there’s a degree of project fatigue,” Skinnari said.

There are constant attempts to improve schooling in the vulnerable neighborhoods, but official statistics say that 40 percent of young people in the disadvantaged areas leave school before graduating.

The Sources of Gang Violence

No wonder the ghetto kids end up in gangs. Though Tensta is visibly segregated — you won’t see any Kurds sitting in the Somali cafe, and vice versa — researchers, locals and police officers told me that the modern Swedish gang is surprisingly multiethnic.

Earlier this month, Rostami published a report for the Stockholm-based Institute for Futures Studies in which he attempted to quantify Swedish organized crime and extremism by combining information from several government databases. He found “business” links spanning seemingly vast cultural divides, including between Islamic extremists and the Swedish nationalist far right. Of the 15,244 people who are part of the gang scene, according to Rostami’s data, 67 percent were born in Sweden. But many of them are second generation immigrant kids who grew up together in disadvantaged areas. They went into the drug business together, too.

This new generation is more violent than its predecessors. Rostami, an Iranian refugee who lived in a ghetto-like area in Gothenburg and worked as a cop before he became a researcher, told me that in recent years, competition from the new generation of gangsters has wreaked havoc with the self-policing of the traditional mafias — the Russians, the Italians, the Bosnians.

“They didn’t see the new generation coming up,” Rostami said. “There’s a cultural shift: For the new kids, violence is the language they speak. They don’t dream of becoming godfather, they want to be king for one day. They don’t care if they’re killed tomorrow, next week or next month.”

Akerlund, the police superintendent, has noticed the shift, too. “When I talk to older criminals,” he said, “I see they’re sometimes afraid of the younger members of their own gangs. They have a different mindset, more violent.”

This change has been brewing for years. Akerlund remembers how he started as an officer patrolling a difficult neighborhood in 2005; almost the first thing he remembers is a riot. The police made an arrest and stones were soon flying at the officers. Car burnings and rock-throwing, often in retaliation for a drug bust, were a frequent occurrence until the middle of the current decade. Now, they’re relatively rare: Akerlund says the police have a better idea of how to counteract rumors and inform the neighborhood what’s really going on.

But violence hasn’t gone away; it’s made a comeback in the shootings. The cutthroat gangland competition is a new phenomenon and researchers and police officials struggle to explain its roots or figure out why firearm use is growing despite restrictive gun laws. They all say, however, that the recent wave of immigration has nothing to do with it: The newcomers haven’t had time to integrate into the gang culture.

Trapped by Decades of Bad Policy

Although Skinnari’s report indicates some statistical improvement in the vulnerable areas — slightly less exposure to crime, more feeling of safety compared with a few years back —the prospects for residents may actually be getting worse. For decades, the bad neighborhoods were gateways for immigrants into the rest of Sweden. People settled in them for the ethnic support networks, learned the language, got better jobs and moved out in a few years, always replaced by more immigrants.

Now, people get stuck. Everyone I talked to named the Swedish real estate market as the reason. It’s almost impossible to rent an apartment in Stockholm or other big urban centers, and few can afford to buy one. Swedish housing prices were up 44 percent last year compared with 2012, and they’ve almost tripled since 2000.

“I remember, 20 years ago one could save, borrow and move out,” said Rostami, who’s done just that. “Now that’s a challenge: You need a very stable job and a high income.”

Fixing the housing market requires investment, political will and planning so skillful that I doubt it exists anywhere. Last year in the Netherlands, often touted as a model when it comes to creating neighborhoods for people with different income levels, residents of these mixed neighborhoods told me of powerful class and ethnic tensions. Sweden has even less experience with such projects.

Inadequate policing is at the core of the problem. Despite safety gains made in the past four years, Rostami said there aren’t enough officers to “shrink the space that organized crime occupies.” According to him, Germany has twice Sweden’s number of police officers per 100,000 residents.

Skinnari’s survey showed that in the vulnerable areas, the police and the court system often are mistrusted because they’re perceived as too soft: Known gang members are let out quickly and prisons lack space to accommodate everyone who’s sentenced, giving convicted gangsters a chance to keep terrorizing neighborhoods.

More prison cells — and, yes, a tougher deportation policy, as the Sweden Democrats suggest, could help.

Not even the nationalists propose going as far as neighboring Denmark with its infamous ghetto laws aimed at assimilating the immigrant population. The Sweden Democrat Bieler said she’d balk at the Danish idea of increasing punishment for crimes committed in problem areas. But it’s not unreasonable for a country to deport foreign nationals who have committed serious offenses. Though it offends liberal sensibilities, it’s also reasonable for a receiving country to try to instill some unifying values in newcomers, especially children. Not doing that has led to the emergence of parallel societies in the vulnerable areas, in which it’s normal to collect funds to refurbish a school in Baghdad but local schools are left to the Swedish government to worry about.

Interestingly, some of the younger immigrants, who yearn to become Swedes, don’t mind adopting a new identity as much as the previous generations of immigrants have done.

Ahmed Abdirahman, a 32-year-old integration policy expert at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and the founder of a non-governmental organization called the Global Village, was born in Somalia and lives in Tensta. He believes the immigrant areas, with a much higher proportion of children and young people, “are producing the future of Sweden,” a country with a low fertility rate. So the civil society in these areas shouldn’t aim simply to maintain the culture of the old home country, as has often been the case.

“We are the next generation, and for us it’s about being Swedes: we want to be part of the political conversation,” Abdirahman says.

Even if the Sweden Democrats ever become part of the establishment and succeed in restricting immigration, Sweden is stuck with a large, segregated immigrant population that both its high achievers and its criminals won’t let the rest of the country ignore.

Sweden has lived for decades with a blissful sense that a wealthy, tolerant society can iron out all its kinks. Now, there’s a widespread sense that the country’s social and law enforcement infrastructure is overburdened because too many immigrants are coming in, and time is needed to assimilate the earlier arrivals. But time isn’t the best doctor here: Problems with previous generations of immigrants and their kids were swept under the rug for too long.

What’s needed now is clearer awareness of where the problems really are. The police and researchers affiliated with them lead the way here with their attempts to pinpoint and study the problem neighborhoods and the gangs that operate in them. Superintendent Akerlund firmly believes that in 10 to 15 years, there won’t be any vulnerable areas in his district. But he understands that dream can only become reality with constant effort and learning.

The rest of Swedish society should concentrate on the real problem, too: It’s not the recent refugee wave, it’s decades of complacency and half-hearted integration policies. For Sweden, proud of its world-leading social policies, that’s a bitter pill to swallow, but better late than never.

Source: Sweden’s Decades-Long Failure to Integrate

Ottawa débloque 11 millions pour l’immigration francophone

Useful expansion of pre-arrival integration/settlement services:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baisse du prix des tests de français

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

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

Source: Ottawa débloque 11 millions pour l’immigration francophone

A new perspective on immigrants’ economic outcomes in Canada

My latest in Policy Options on the economic outcomes of visible minorities aged 25-34, broken down by gender, generation and geography, showing the overall relative success of Canada’s immigration and related programs, most notably for the second generation.

Data-rich from Census 2016

Source:  A new perspective on immigrants’ economic outcomes in Canada