‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

Of interest (just as the Safe Third Country Agreement acts as a wall with the USA):

When a group of Central American families forded the Suchiate River into Mexico last week, they were greeted by a wall of national guardsmen who locked riot shields and fired teargas into the crowd.

Questioned about the incident, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, dismissed it as “an isolated case” and said such scenes were “not the style of this government”.

The very next day, the national guard once again teargassed migrants near the border with Guatemala. News footage showed women and children howling in distress as guardsmen rounded them up and loaded them on to buses.

The president, generally referred to as Amlo, once railed against the abuse visited on migrants. In opposition, he pleaded for Mexico to provide safe passage to people heading for the US border.

But 13 months into his presidency – and under the looming threat of US tariffs – Amlo has assumed a new role: immigration enforcer.

The president his struggled to reconcile his past rhetoric with current actions, claiming good intentions at every turn, invoking human rights and even citing scripture to call for the proper treatment of migrants.

But Amlo has staunchly defended the national guard, a militarised police forced he created last year ostensibly to fight organized crime. Its first deployment was against migrants, even as violence continues to wrack the country.

“The national guard resisted a lot because there was aggression, on the part of the migrants,” he told reporters. “They didn’t fall in the trap of responding with violence, which is possibly what the leaders of these caravans and our political adversaries were looking for.”

Cabinet ministers parroted the same line: “In no way was there an act of repression,” said the interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero. “A tragedy was avoided,” said the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard.

The National Immigration Institute, meanwhile, said that it had “rescued” 800 migrants – using the word as a euphemism for “arrested”.

As he swept to power in 2018, Amlo promised to end a bitter history of government repression: under successive administrations, soldiers and police have often been deployed to disperse – and disappear – protesters and opposition activists.

“Mexico has a long history of its government acting out against its citizens,” said Esteban Illades, editor of the magazine Nexos.

But the arrival of migrant caravans from Central America has exposed the extreme ideological promiscuity of Mexican politics. Like his ministers, members of Amlo’s coalition have followed the president’s lead and turned against the caravans.

Source: ‘Mexico has become Trump’s wall’: how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

Le parrainage de réfugiés miné par la corruption

Latest implementation fiasco in implementing:

La pression s’accentue sur le ministère de l’Immigration, alors que des tentatives de corruption et des cas d’intimidation ont été rapportés au ministère et décriés par les personnes voulant parrainer des réfugiés.

Selon ce qu’a appris Le Devoir, des messagers, qui pour certains attendent depuis jeudi l’ouverture des bureaux du ministère pour y déposer des dossiers de parrainage, se seraient fait intimider et proposer de l’argent pour céder la place avantageuse qu’ils occupent dans la file.

Par souci d’équité pour les gens vivant en régions, le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) exige que toutes les demandes de parrainage — 750 seront acceptées au total — soient déposées par des messagers.

L’incident a eu lieu un peu avant 22 h vendredi, dans l’une des salles d’attente aménagées par le ministère, où des gardiens de sécurité et du personnel du MIFI devaient s’assurer du bon déroulement du processus. Des coursiers ont été intimidés par un groupe de personnes déçues de ne pas avoir eu les premières places dans la file. « “Dis-moi c’est quoi ton prix”, c’est ce qu’il a dit », a raconté au Devoir un représentant d’une église, témoin de l’une des tentatives d’extorsion.

Ce dernier avait été appelé en panique par le coursier chargé de ses dossiers. Il dit avoir été témoin à son arrivée de « gestes agressifs » et de menaces verbales à l’endroit de son coursier. Lui-même a été menacé verbalement d’agression physique.

Toujours selon ce témoin, un autre coursier venait tout juste d’être approché et aurait cédé sa place dans la file en échange d’une importante somme. « Parrainer des réfugiés, c’est malheureusement devenu un commerce », déplore ce représentant d’une église. « Il y a si peu de places. Ça a créé un marché noir. »

Disant « prendre la chose au sérieux », le MIFI confirme qu’il a été mis au courant de l’incident voulant que des personnes aient tenté « d’acheter des places », mais refuse d’infirmer ou de confirmer le dépôt de plaintes ou l’ouverture d’une enquête, pour des raisons de confidentialité. « Le ministère est encore en train de faire les vérifications », a déclaré Émilie Vézina, porte-parole du ministère de l’Immigration. Elle ajoute que, pour la journée de dimanche, aucune plainte et aucun cas de ce genre n’ont été rapportés.

Peur et inquiétude

Cela ne rassure pas ce représentant d’une église qui ne lâche pas son coursier d’une semelle. Jour et nuit, il s’assure qu’il est escorté dans certains de ses déplacements et que des gens de confiance sont dans la salle avec lui.

Sylvain Thibault, qui parraine des Congolais réfugiés en Ouganda, se désole lui aussi de ne pas avoir l’esprit tranquille. « Depuis jeudi, j’ai de la misère à dormir », admet-il. « Je sens la peur et la colère au sein des membres de notre groupe. Est-ce que notre coursier va flancher sous des pressions ? Je ne pense pas, mais peut-être que d’autres flancheront d’ici le dépôt. »

Dimanche après-midi, dans un stationnement enneigé en face des bureaux du MIFI, ses amis et lui ont planté une tente et quelques chaises pour recréer de manière symbolique un petit camp de réfugiés. « Parrainer des réfugiés, c’est censé être une belle expérience humaine, avec des moments d’incertitude, mais des moments de grande joie. Mais là, on est pas mal dans la lourdeur », souligne-t-il. « Veut, veut pas, on a la responsabilité des gens qu’on parraine sur notre dos, et de se faire mettre des bâtons dans les roues par des quotas trop bas et un système de dépôt bâtard, ce n’est pas une expérience agréable. »

Parrainer des réfugiés, c’est malheureusement devenu un commerce. Il y a si peu de places. Ça a créé un marché noir.

Peu de places

Au début de 2017, victime de son succès, le programme de parrainage de réfugiés avait été suspendu par les libéraux pendant 18 mois, le temps de le réviser en profondeur et de diminuer l’inventaire de plus de 10 000 dossiers de parrainage qui s’étaient accumulés. Des intervenants du milieu avaient en effet informé le ministère que de la corruption s’était infiltrée dans le processus.

À la réouverture du programme en septembre 2018, les règles avaient été resserrées et 750 demandes, dont 100 venant de particuliers (« groupe de 2 à 5 personnes physiques »), étaient désormais acceptées par le ministère.

Vu le faible nombre de places, le processus s’était déroulé dans un climat de tension et de vive compétition entre les parrains. « Ça s’était mal passé », se rappelle Sylvain Thibault, qui était à l’époque responsable des dossiers de parrainage privé à la Table de concertation des services aux réfugiés et aux personnes immigrantes. Pour lui, le ministère, qui avait pourtant été avisé, « sous-estime encore le problème ».

Le ministre Jolin-Barrette interpellé

Manon Leroux, qui veut faire venir au Canada les membres de la famille d’un couple de Syriens qu’elle a parrainé il y a trois ans, déplore le climat de tension engendré par cette façon de faire. « Jamais de ma vie je n’ai été en contact avec ce genre de choses, je trouve ça affligeant », dit-elle. « Ce n’est pas à la hauteur de ce que le Canada est capable d’offrir aux réfugiés. »

Avec d’autres parrains et marraines, elle s’apprête à envoyer une lettre au ministre de l’Immigration, Simon Jolin-Barrette, pour lui demander de prendre les mesures nécessaires afin de garantir l’équité et la transparence du processus de dépôt. Car les histoires de tentative de corruption, qui sont venues aux oreilles de plusieurs, nourrissent le climat d’incertitude. « Je me doute bien que ce qui se passe au début de la file peut se passer ailleurs dans la file. Je trouve ça révoltant et désolant », dit Mme Leroux. « Ce qui me révolte le plus, c’est le nombre de personnes qui attendent en file pour rien. »

Car malgré un système de numérotation de chaises, rien n’indique combien de précieux dossiers transportent chacun des coursiers, fait-elle remarquer. Et si le premier en file déposait d’un seul coup des centaines de dossiers, voire assez pour remplir à lui seul les quotas ? Où est l’équité pour les parrains, dont certains font la file depuis jeudi pour garantir une bonne place à leur messager ? Le MIFI se dit « sensible à la réalité des garants qui ont décidé de se présenter à l’avance pour attendre », mais il ne commente pas « de cas hypothétiques », a-t-il indiqué au Devoir. La réception des demandes devait débuter à 8 h 30 lundi et respecter « le principe du premier arrivé, premier servi ».

Source: Le parrainage de réfugiés miné par la corruption

StatsCan Study: The long-term economic outcomes of refugee private sponsorship

Of note how the economic outcomes of privately and government-sponsored refugees become similar over time after an initially wide gap:

Canada was the first country to introduce private sponsorship for refugee resettlement. The program has played a key role in the country’s responses to international refugee crises over the last four decades. Private sponsors are responsible for providing financial, material and personal support to refugees during their first year in Canada.

A new Statistics Canada study compares the employment rate and earnings between privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees who were admitted to Canada from 1980 to 2009.

This study is based on the Longitudinal Immigration Database and focuses on refugees who arrived between the ages of 20 and 54 under the two programs (privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees). The analysis follows refugees up to 15 years after they first arrived in Canada.

Refugees are a diverse population with varying degrees of human capital and pre-migration circumstances. Privately sponsored refugees and government-assisted refugees differ in some key socio-demographic characteristics. Over the study period, privately sponsored refugees came more predominantly from Eastern Europe, whereas government-assisted refugees came more often from South and Central America and the Caribbean. Privately sponsored refugees had a higher level of education and tended to be more concentrated in Toronto than government-assisted refugees.

This study compares labour market outcomes of these two groups of refugees, while taking these socio-economic characteristics into account and recognizing that other possible unmeasured differences between the two groups of refugees—such as exposure to violence, duration of displacement, physical and mental health, and ethnic and family networks—could impact their economic outcomes.

This study found that privately sponsored refugees had much higher employment rates and earnings than government-assisted refugees in the initial years after arrival, but this difference diminished over time with government-assisted refugees steadily catching up.

In the first full year after arrival, privately sponsored refugees had higher employment rates than government-assisted refugees, by about 17 percentage points among men and 24 percentage points among women. Fifteen years after arrival, these differences decreased to 3 percentage points among men and 2 percentage points among women.

Similarly, privately sponsored refugees earned 28% more than government-assisted refugees among men and 34% more among women in the first full year after arrival. This gap narrowed to about 5% for both men and women 15 years after arrival.

Furthermore, the employment and earnings advantage of privately sponsored refugees over government-assisted refugees was greater among refugees with less than a high school education than among refugees with higher educational levels. Over half of refugees in the study had less than a high school education.

Source: PDF

The Rohingya might be one step closer to justice

Interesting column by Erna Paris:

Gambia, mainland Africa’s smallest country, took an unprecedented step this week. To everyone’s surprise, it opened a lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague – the tribunal that adjudicates disputes among states – accusing Myanmar of genocide against the Rohingya Muslims.

Gambia is operating within the larger auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, but as is often the case, the impetus came from one individual. Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Gambia’s justice minister, visited a Rohingya refugee camp where he saw a parallel with the violent past of his own country. Importantly, he had been a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the 1990s and recognized genocide when he saw it. That court was the first to convict an individual of ordering mass rape as a tool of war. Significantly, the Myanmar perpetrators have also been accused of this crime.

Although they had lived in Burma/Myanmar for centuries, the Rohingya were incrementally dispossessed of their rights by the Buddhist majority and an authoritarian regime. Eventually, in 1982, they were deprived of full citizenship. In August, 2017, some Rohingya pushed back, giving the military an excuse to force them from the country. It is estimated that the military and their Buddhist allies killed at least 60,000 people and committed sexual violence against 18,000 women. Today, most of the survivors are in Bangladesh refugee camps, but Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries on earth and is complaining about the burden. Something had to give.

One remedy may be international justice. Push back against those who believe they can commit major crimes with impunity.

It’s not as though the world hadn’t noticed their plight. Rights groups have expressed outrage. In 2017, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader, to respond appropriately. (She didn’t.) The parliaments of several countries, including Canada, have called the situation a genocide. In 2018, an independent United Nations fact-finding mission concluded that Myanmar’s military acted with “genocidal intent” and recommended that six individuals be prosecuted. Reports of risk assessment have concluded that genocide remains a risk for those Rohingya who remain in Myanmar. But if too little happened until Gambia decided to act, it is because reality – and realpolitik – got in the way.

First, reality. Last year, a ruling from the International Criminal Court said that tribunal could investigate the case of Myanmar – but in a limited way only. The problem was the court’s statutory jurisdiction: Myanmar is not an ICC member country. Bangladesh, however, is a member, which makes it possible for the tribunal to investigate the cross-border ethnic expulsions as a crime against humanity. Not perfect, but a start.

Second, realpolitik. Had the UN Security Council decided to refer the Myanmar case to the ICC for investigation, the tribunal would, according to its statute, have had full jurisdiction. China and Russia did not prevent a Security Council briefing on the UN inquiry accusing Myanmar’s military of genocide, but their subsequent obstruction meant no referral. Still in the realm of realpolitik, there might have been pressure from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but Myanmar is a member of that organization, complicating matters. So, although it can prosecute only states, not individuals, the ICJ looked like the best route.

Support from other countries will be critical and Canada is already engaged. Along with the European Union, this country has imposed sanctions on individuals linked to the military operations of August, 2017, and has since stepped up its involvement. The legal case will need funding; the refugees need more help, as does Bangladesh; and Canada is well positioned to intervene in the case, should it decide to do so.

Given worries over diminishing respect for international institutions and the rules-based global order, it is important that the world’s liberal democracies buttress the case against Myanmar. There is already encouraging momentum. In the aftermath of the Gambia lawsuit, Rohingya and Latin American human-rights groups opened litigation in Argentina under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” a legal concept based on the premise that horrific crimes, such as genocide, can be tried anywhere.

The Gambia case has rightly revived the doctrine called “The Responsibility to Protect”. To demand accountability for the world’s worst crimes is in everyone’s self-interest.

Source: The Rohingya might be one step closer to justice Erna Paris

Canadian newcomers resent illegal immigrant queue-jumpers

Not particularly surprising. Mirrors what I hear anecdotally:

Those who legally enter Canada from other countries have a disdain for illegal immigrants who jump the queue, according to research by the country’s immigration department.

According to the government administration news website Blacklock’s Reporter, a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs stated there’s an “underlying sense of unfairness when compared to experiences of other immigrants.”

“Some felt this situation was unfair, that these individuals are jumping what they view as an immigration queue,” the survey noted.

An official estimate pegs the federal government has lost $1.4 billion in three years thanks to illegal immigration.

Between January 1, 2017 and October 1, 2019, the RCMP has picked up 52,097 people entering the country illegally, Blacklock’s Reporter reported. Those individuals mainly composed of Haitians and Nigerians.

Hosting the illegal immigrants comes with a cost — which includes food, shelter, transportation and schooling. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, about $1.1 billion in direct federal costs were spent on hosting, with an additional $371.5 million paid to authorities in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba in cost compensations.

The Ipsos survey, entitled 2018-19 Annual Tracking Study, got feedback from landed immigrants who participated in focus groups. The groups called the number of asylum seekers “a significant number” with some Chinese participants noting the number is “disproportionately higher than Canada’s population can absorb.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid Ipsos $249,823 to conduct the survey.

Ipsos interviewed 4,004 people in 14 focus groups in Toronto, Mississauga and North York, Ont., Winnipeg, Vancouver and Moncton. Participants were from Chinese, Filipino, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and African descent.

One of the participants reportedly told Ipsos researchers that there’s an apparent “loophole in the system” that allows illegal immigrants to “cross (the border) and just put in their papers.”

“They can lie to the Canadian government,’ another told researchers, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Others in the focus groups told researchers they worked really hard to get here and there was no support and no help”, or that they are angered that “everybody is coming in.”

One citizen survey noted: “Your English has to be good, you do all these tests, your health has to be good, then you land in Canada and find people here who don’t speak English and you wonder, are there double standards?”

Those surveys felt the federal government was doing a poor job at regulating illegal immigration and felt the United States should take some responsibility to prevent irregular crossings in order for Canada to “effectively screen asylum seekers.”

Blacklock’s Reporter noted officials previously told the Senate national finance committee that asylum seekers spend an average of two years in Canada waiting to hear if they will be deported.

Associate deputy immigration minister Michael MacDonald said the processing time for illegal immigrants has gone up to about 24 months.

In testimony to the Commons immigration committee in March 2018, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told MPs he considered asylum seekers as illegal immigrants.

“I’m happy to use ‘illegal’,” he said. “I have used the word ‘illegal’ and I have used the word ‘irregular’ and I think both are accurate. I have no qualms in using the term.”

Source: Canadian newcomers resent illegal immigrant queue-jumpers

France’s 20 measures to ‘take back control’ on immigration

One of the better summaries. Too dirigiste IMO in picking sectors with rigid quotas rather than the greater flexibility of a points system that values both specific skills shortages and general human capital and adaptability:

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the “immigration plan” to the French parliament on Wednesday, where they re expected to spark much debate.

“We want to take back control of our migration policy,” Philippe said at a press conference, unveiling a series of measures which he said aimed to strengthen France’s “sovereignty”.

It comes after President Emmanuel Macron had signalled a tougher line on immigration in the second half of his mandate, arguing the government must stop voters drifting to the far-right.

“France cannot host everyone if it wants to host people well,” he said. France received a record 122,743 asylum requests last year, up 22 percent from the year before.

Among the measures Philippe announced was a toughening up of the rules around how asylum seekers and migrants can access healthcare in France.

Asylum seekers in France can access vital healthcare via France’s Aide medicale d’Etat(AME). According to AFP some 318,000 benefit from the system each year.

But Macron himself has said he wants to end cases where foreigners arrive in France on a three month tourist visa but stay in the country and can access healthcare via AME.

The government also intends to toughen checks on those migrants who claim benefits, with suggestions that some asylum seekers have been able to claim two types on state benefits.

The government will also impose a three month “waiting period” (delai de carence) before asylum seekers can access the basic PUMa (protection universelle maladie) health cover, which is for accessible to anyone who resides in France.

Currently asylum seekers can apply to access the PUMa system as soon as they have lodged their application.

The French PM also announced that the squalid sprawling migrant camps on the northern edge of Paris would be cleared out “before the end of the year.”

He also reiterated a plan to double the number of foreign students in France to 500,000 by 2027.

Quotas for industries in need of migrant workers

But the measures drawn up by the government don’t just revolve around making France a harder place to be for asylum-seekers.

The government wants certain sectors, which are most in need of workers, to be able to recruit migrant workers. The PM has already said that the idea of quotas for economic migrants in certain industries should no longer be taboo.

Philippe confirmed that parliament would in future set annual sectoral “goals or quotas” on skilled migration from non-EU countries, similar to the systems in place in Canada and Australia.

The quotas will be based on a list of professions in which employers would be exempted from having to prove that the job cannot be filled by a French person.

But a government statement detailing the reforms made clear that the new caps on economic migration, which accounted for only 33,000 of the 255,956 residence permits awarded in 2018, “will not be restrictive”.

“The idea is to have quantified targets, or quotas,” the Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud told BFMTV on Tuesday morning.

“This is about France hiring based on its needs. It’s a new approach, similar to what is done in Canada or Australia,” Penicaud told BFM television.

The list of sectors in which companies will be able to recruit migrant workers, will be updated each year in order to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of employers in different regions of France.

Currently employers have to justify why a French citizen cannot be hired in a complex administrative process, which resulted in around 33,000 economic migrants being granted visas last year.

Construction, hotels and restaurants, and some retailing sectors have long complained of a shortage of people willing to take what is often low-paying work.

Information technology and engineering industries, by contrast, say France does not produce enough qualified candidates.

Penicaud did not say how many foreign workers would be granted visas, nor if an applicant’s nationality would be taken into account.

France also intends to put more resources into reducing the time it takes for asylum applications to be processed.

The government passed a law in 2018 aiming to being the average time down from one year to six months, but according to Le Monde newspaper it has failed to have any impact.

The French government also intends to push for greater European cooperation to secure the EU’s borders.

Macron has noted France had seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people asking for asylum since the 2017 presidential election and said much tighter  European cooperation was needed.

“There is not enough cooperation in Europe and we need to look at this migratory phenomenon and take decisions,” he said.

The French president, whose first term expires in 2022, is keenly aware that his biggest political rival remains Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Rally party which has built its popularity on a strong anti-immigration stance.

“In order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country,” said Macron.

Family reunification policies – where someone can gain the right to live and work in France on the basis of a spouse or member of their family being here – will not be touched, Philippe added.

Source: France’s 20 measures to ‘take back control’ on immigration

Asylum seekers turned away by Canada at the border will get the chance to explain why they feel U.S. is unsafe for refugees

A case to watch given its implications for both asylum seekers and the government:

She knocked on Canada’s door and begged for protection. Instead, she was turned away, handcuffed and jailed — and no one even cared to ask her why she fled her native Burundi.

Then, in a cold cell at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, she was handed a flimsy prison jumpsuit and put in solitary confinement while waiting for the results of a mandatory TB test. Behind two panes of glass, she ate, slept and used the toilet in plain sight of the guards and anyone walking by. She was held for 51 days.

More than four years after the “horrific” detention experience she said still haunts her, this asylum seeker and others like her who were turned away by Canada at the Canada-U.S. border will finally have their day in court to explain why they feel the United States is not a safe country for refugees.

Starting Monday in Toronto, the Federal Court of Canada will hear a constitutional challenge to the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, under which both countries consider themselves a safe haven for refugees and agree to block would-be claimants from attempting to enter either country at official border crossings. Arguments will be heard over five days before Justice Ann Marie McDonald.

The Burundian woman, who cannot be named but spoke to the Toronto Star, will be one of the witnesses.

“I preferred death in my country than this treatment like a criminal in the U.S. If I were to die, I should die at home,” she said.

The bilateral pact, implemented in 2004, was originally touted by both Canadian and U.S. officials as a way to curb “asylum shopping.” However, critics have long argued that the U.S. asylum system is cruel and inhumane, especially now under President Donald Trump.

Trump’s anti-migrant policies have spurred an influx of so-called irregular migrants skirting asylum restrictions by crossing outside of Canada’s official ports of entry, where restrictions apply. More than 50,000 asylum seekers have come here that way via the U.S. over the past two years. Once here, after passing initial medical and security screenings, refugees can work and access health care pending a decision on their asylum claims.

In 2007, three advocacy groups — the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches — took Ottawa to federal court and successfully had the U.S. declared unsafe for refugees, but the decision was later overturned on appeal, largely on the grounds that the groups failed to find a lead individual litigant who was directly impacted by the policy.

After Trump’s election in November 2016 with an anti-immigration agenda, Canadian and American non-governmental organizations and refugee lawyers renewed their effort to challenge the legality of the asylum restrictions.

In 2017, they connected with a Salvadoran woman in the U.S. who sought asylum after she was raped and threatened by the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang in El Salvador, and agreed to be the lead litigant.

The other litigants include a Syrian family of four and a young Ethiopian woman, all of whom were denied access to asylum in Canada. The three Canadian rights groups also enlisted nine other witnesses, including the Burundian woman, to provide evidence in support of the litigants’ arguments.

“This litigation is significant because this is a way for us to collectively take a position on the human rights abuses and violations against refugees and migrants in North America,” said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

“Canadians are horrified by what’s been happening in the U.S., with (migrant) children separated from their families, refugees turned away at the Mexico border, the Muslim travel ban and all these measures in the U.S. The litigation is a way of standing up against these policies we don’t and can’t approve of.”

The litigants are expected to present evidence of human rights violations and Canadian Charter breaches in U.S. detention and asylum practices, and highlight the impact of the Safe Third Country Agreement on the most vulnerable refugees fleeing gender-based persecution and gang violence, who are singled out by the Trump administration to be excluded from the U.S. refugee definition.

“Refugee claimants that Canada turns away at our borders are exposed to grave risks of detention and mistreatment in the U.S.,” the litigants claim in their court submissions. “Refugee claimants are being detained indefinitely, in conditions that are nothing short of cruel and unusual, simply for seeking protection.”

In response to the claim, the Canadian government said the Canada-U.S. agreement is no different from similar deals in other refugee-receiving countries in response to rising global migration and forced displacement. Ottawa conducts regular reviews of the pact in order to ensure fair access to asylum, it said in a written response to the litigants’ claims.

“Claimants are returned to a highly developed asylum system that grants protection to large numbers of persons every year, and is subject to both administrative and judicial checks and balances,” it argued. “The U.S.A. complied with its international refugee protection and human rights obligations, notwithstanding debate both in the U.S.A. and internationally with respect to certain aspects of American policies and practices.”

However, the Burundian witness, who is only identified as “Morgan” because her identity is protected by the court, told the Star in an interview her experience in the U.S. tells a different story.

“With their accents, and English not being my first language, I had tremendous difficulty understanding them. They were treating me like I was trying to commit a crime,” recalled Morgan, 28, who said she had been threatened by government militia in Burundi after she and the civilian group she belonged to reported voter registration fraud in the 2015 election. Her cousin, also a member of the group, was shot and killed, she said.

“(American officials) were accusing me of fraud because my visa was for students. But I never intended to lie. All I wanted to do was leave a country where I could die any time,” added Morgan, who said getting a student visa was the only way she could get to the U.S. as a pathway to Canada.

Morgan, who has a degree in business administration back home, said she wanted to flee to French-speaking Canada, but since Ottawa does not have a visa post in Burundi she went to the U.S. consulate instead. She arrived in Pittsburgh in May 2015, before taking an overnight bus to Plattsburgh, N.Y., and from there to the official Canadian border post at Lacolle, Que.

She said she did not know about the asylum restrictions and was denied entry to Canada and detained in the U.S.

In addition to the lack of privacy in detention, Morgan said U.S. officials were “aggressive and rude” and did not help her fill out forms. She said with the one call she was allowed from jail she contacted a friend of a friend in the U.S., who found her a lawyer.

After 51 days behind bars, including 10 days in solitary confinement, she was released and had to couch-surf at the homes of people she barely knew while waiting for an asylum hearing to be scheduled. She said she was unable to support herself because immigration officials held her ID and she couldn’t get a work permit.

More than a year later, Trump won the U.S. presidential election, leaving Morgan to wonder if she would ever get asylum south of the border. When she learned people were bypassing the asylum restrictions at Canadian border crossings, she followed in the footsteps of those “irregular migrants” by crossing at Roxham Rd. in Quebec in August 2017.

However, she is still deemed inadmissible and ineligible to seek asylum in Canada because she had already been denied entry once — in 2015. Meanwhile, Canada cannot deport her to Burundi because of the current humanitarian crisis there.

“I am a victim who needs protection. It doesn’t make sense to call the U.S. a safe country,” she said. “I see how bad the consequences of this agreement are. I still can’t apply for refugee status in Canada because of this. This has to stop.”

Source: Asylum seekers turned away by Canada at the border will get the chance to explain why they feel U.S. is unsafe for refugees

Mexico’s Immigration Institute Commissioner Accused Of Racism, Xenophobia

Unfortunate comments but one can only imagine the pressure he must be under:

The leader of Mexico’s immigration office is under fire after giving statements with racial and xenophobic connotations.

Francisco Garduño is the commissioner of Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration. He stated that Mexico will deport every single transcontinental migrant and that they should take the last massive deportation as a warning.

“Even if they’re coming from Mars, we are going to send them back,” Garduño said. The audio comes from a recorded provided by Reforma newspaper.

The commissioner said the cost for having migrants from India and Africa in Mexico is high, even on a political level with the United States.

“It’s unacceptable that immigration officers are being attacked and held hostage in their own country by African men,” Garduño added, referring to the recent migrant protests at Mexico’s southern border.

Immigrant rights defenders and nonprofit organizations like Sin Fronteras are demanding the Mexican government sanction Garduño for his comments.

Source: Mexico’s Immigration Institute Commissioner Accused Of Racism, Xenophobia

Spanish government reduces irregular immigration by half

Through working with Morocco to reduce the “supply:”

The Spanish executive has reached its goal of reducing irregular immigration by half, a decision that was taken in January after arrivals in 2018 reached a record 64,298 people.

The latest official data shows 24,159 undocumented arrivals, marking the first time since 2010 that there has been such a steep drop in immigration by land and sea.

One out of every 100 migrants continues to die at sea

This decrease is largely owed to renewed efforts by Morocco to stop migrants from departing from its coastline.

“The preventive efforts by Moroccan authorities continue to be effective, and they are key to understanding the strong reduction in arrivals in Spain during 2019,” said the European Commission in an internal report to which EL PAÍS has had access. Those efforts include, among other things, preventing thousands of departures by land and the rescue of 10,700 migrants who were returned to Moroccan territory, adds the report.

Thanks to this assistance, in just a few months Spain has gone from being the main Mediterranean route for irregular immigration to showcasing itself as a role model in Europe. Spain and its European partners want to reinforce cooperation with Morocco, which has been rewarded diplomatically and financially with aid worth €180 million.

Immigrant deaths at sea have not dropped by as much. So far this year, 317 people have drowned or disappeared in the Strait of Gibraltar and the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean as they attempted to reach Spain, a 42% drop from 2018. One out of every 100 migrants continues to die at sea.

In 2018, record arrivals put irregular immigration at the top of the political agenda. Migratory pressure had been increasing since 2017, but the opposition claimed there was a push effect because of the Socialist (PSOE) administration’s decision to take in humanitarian vessels that had been rejected by Malta and Italy, such as the Aquarius NGO vessel.

Since then, the caretaker government of Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has adopted tougher measures, including pushback policies at the border between Morocco and the Spanish exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, and preventing NGO-run humanitarian ships from sailing to the central Mediterranean.

While sea arrivals are more visible, a majority of immigrants arrive by air. Although it is impossible to know how many people on tourist visas extend their stay, asylum requests have ballooned to 82,000 so far this year, a figure that is largely due to Venezuelans and Colombians who make up 32% and 23% of asylum seekers, respectively.

Source: Spanish government reduces irregular immigration by half

Election 2019: Party Platform Immigration Comparison

With all party platforms out, it is now possible to compare the written policy commitments of each party. 

While each party leader has made additional commitments on the campaign trail (e.g., Conservative Party of Canada leader Scheer on maintaining current Liberal immigration levels, New Democratic Party leader Singh pledging additional funding for Quebec integration and settlement services), this analysis looks only at the official party platforms, as these will form the basis of any future government “report card.”

In general, differences among the four main parties are a matter of nuance as all accept ongoing large numbers of immigrants, programs to facilitate integration, straight forward  pathways to citizenship  and the multicultural reality of Canada. 

The only major dissent from that overall consensus is from the People’s’ Party of Canada. The Bloc québecois’ narrow focus on Quebec issues is reflected in virtue signalling its intent to table private members’ bills that assert or seek to expand Quebec’s jurisdiction in immigration.

Party platforms reflect commitments, which are both concrete and “virtue signalling” to their respective bases and voters that they wish to attract.

The Conservative platform on immigration is sparse, with commitments that reflect their main focus on management of immigration, particularly the irregular arrivals at Roxham Road. This is balanced by their commitment to remove the cap on privately sponsored refugees while clarifying priorities for refugee selection (implicitly downplaying the UN Refugee Agency role). Commitments that reflect more strongly concerns of their base include banning values tests for Grant and Contribution programs (Canada Summer Jobs program) and re-opening the Office for Religious Freedom. 

The platform is silent on high profile issues previously raised in opposition such as M-103 on Islamophobia and other forms of racism and discrimination and their opposition to the UN’s Global Compact for Migration.

The lack of meaningful commitments on immigration levels and mix, citizenship and multiculturalism would provide a Conservative government considerable policy and program latitude should it form the government. The PPC picks up on some of issues the Conservatives dropped, along with prohibiting birth tourism and an overall hard-tone on immigration.

The Liberal platform is stay the course on immigration levels and most other policy areas. Apart from the major announcement of eliminating citizenship application fees, the platform places greatest emphasis on multiculturalism-related issues, whether it be with respect to diversity of appointments, anti-racism and anti-hate strategies, and resources to counter international far-right networks, including additional funding. The platform is silent on family reunification, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, refugees, and integration.

The NDP and Green platforms are to the left of the Conservative and Liberal platforms. Of the two, the NDP platform is the more coherent. In the event of a minority government, the almost “laundry list” approach in both platforms would provide some areas of agreement, but not their call to abolish the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA.

Neither major party has chosen to make immigration the big issue that was predicted at the start of the campaign, reflecting that both parties need to win a substantial part of the immigrant and visible minority vote to win the election. So while there are differences in tone and substance,  these have been relatively downplayed in their respective platforms, campaign language notwithstanding.

This table (Election Platforms 2019 Comparison) highlights party positions on immigration (levels, mix, Temporary Foreign Workers, refugees, irregular asylum seekers), integration, citizenship and multiculturalism.

Immigration levels: The Conservative platform is silent on immigration levels. The Liberal platform continues the current trajectory of “modest and reasonable” annual increases along with making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent and establishing a Municipal Immigration Pilot. The NDP platform states that levels should reflect labour market needs.

The Green platform commits to regularize the status of illegal (non-regularized status immigrants) and improve the pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC platform proposes a cut of between 50 and 70 percent of current immigration levels, along with the addition of in person interviews to assess the “extent to which they align with Canadian values and societal norms.” The PPC also proposes increased resources to Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the interviews and more thorough background checks.

Immigration mix:  While the Conservative, NDP and Green platforms all promise to speed up family reunification, particularly for parents and grand-parents for the Conservatives and NDP and children for the Greens, the PPC platform calls for abolishing family reunification for parents and grand-parents. The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

The NDP platform calls for faster reunification of caregivers with their families. The Green platform calls for a “robust system” to assess the education and training credentials against Canadian standards prior to arrival along with clear explanations for professionals and an improved pathway to permanent residency for international students and Temporary Foreign Workers.

The PPC proposes to adjust the point system to increase the percentage of economic class immigrants.

Temporary Foreign Workers:  While the Conservative platform commits to match employment backgrounds to employment needs of companies that rely on TFWP, the Green platform calls for the replacement of Temporary Foreign Workers by increased immigration. The PPC platform calls for limiting numbers and ensuring they are only temporary. Both the NDP and Green platforms call for increased regulation of immigration consultants. 

The Liberal and Bloc platforms are silent.

Refugees: While the Conservative platform commits to the elimination of the cap for privately sponsored refugees, the PPC calls for relying solely on private sponsorship, accepting fewer refugees, no longer “relying” on the UN for refugee selection, and taking Canada out of the UN Global Compact for Migration.

The Conservative platform places priority on genocide survivors, LGBTQ+ refugees, and internally-displaced persons while the PPC platform places priority on persecuted religious minorities (e.g.,  Christians, Yazidis) in majority Muslim countries.

The NDP program calls for increased support for refugee integration. The Bloc calls for a moratorium on deportations to countries in conflict or where the life of a refugee would be in danger. The Liberal platform is silent.

Asylum seekers (Safe Third Country Agreement): While the Conservative platform calls for closing the loophole in the STCA that allows irregular arrivals between official border crossings, the Liberal platform states that it will work with the USA to “modernize” the Agreement. The NDP, Greens and Bloc call for its termination. 

The PPC would declare the whole border an official port of entry , deport irregular arrivals,  and fence frequently used border crossings like Roxham Road.

The Conservative platform commits to speed up refugee processing by deploying Immigration and Refugee Board judges to common arrival points and speed up deportations by hiring an addition 250 CBSA agents. The Green platform calls for the establishment of a Civilian Complaints and Review Commission for CBSA. The Bloc platform calls for the hiring of additional IRB members in Quebec to adjudicate claims.

Integration (settlement services): The Conservative platform commits to continue supporting settlement services while the Green platform calls for increased funding for language training through earmarked transfers to the provinces. The platform also calls for increased funding to multicultural organizations to provide language and other services. No other party makes integration commitments.

Citizenship: The Liberal platform commits to eliminate citizenship fees (currently $630 for adult applications). The Green platform commits to address the remaining cases of “lost Canadians” while the PPC platform commits to change the Citizenship Act to make birth tourism illegal.

Multiculturalism: The Conservative platform commits to end values tests for government G&C programs (e.g., the Summer Jobs program) and to reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The Liberal platform promises to continue improving the diversity of GiC appointments and senior levels of the public service. The Anti-Racism Strategy will be strengthened through doubling funding, along with increased G&C funding. The platform commits to improve the quality and amount of data collection regarding hate crimes. An additional $6 million over three years will be provided to the Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence along with resources to counter the rise of international far-right networks and terrorist organizations.

Both the Liberal and NDP platforms commit to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech.

The NDP platform has the longest list of commitments including: ensuring all major cities have dedicated hate crime units; the convening of a national working group to counter online hate; funding for anti-gang projects to deter at-risk youth from joining gangs or becoming radicalized; a ban on carding by federal law enforcement and working to end carding in all jurisdictions; and a national task force to develop a roadmap to end over-representation of Indigenous and visible minorities in prison populations, along with an African Canadian Justice Strategy.

The Green platform commits to improving the integration into the multicultural fabric, assisting cultural organizations to obtain charitable status, amending the Anti-Terrorism Act and Public Safety Act to require that formal charges be brought against all those detained and lastly, investigating allegations that Canadian officials cooperated with foreign agencies known to use torture.

The PPC platform commits to repealing the Multiculturalism Act and eliminating funding that promotes multiculturalism.

The Bloc platform focusses exclusively on Quebec jurisdiction questions: opposing any federal intervention in Bill 21 and laïcité; strengthening relations with immigrant communities;  private member bill “virtue signalling” with respect to exempting Quebec from the Multiculturalism Act; banning offering or receiving public services with face covered; having citizenship applicants living in Quebec demonstrate knowledge of French; and making federally regulated sectors (banks, transport, communications) located in Quebec subject to Bill 101.