The road to fix America’s broken immigration system begins abroad

Interesting take but not sure how realistic or how high it will be on the priority list compared to more immediate reversals of Trump immigration changes;

Being an immigrant in the United States in the past few years has been difficult, to say the least. The toxic rhetoric against immigration coming out from the White House from day one of the Trump presidency—and the fact that it enjoyed popular support by the Republican base—made many of us rethink whether it was time to simply leave this country for good. Perhaps the most salient feature of Trump’s legacy was that he and his policies put in doubt whether America will continue to hold on to its self-proclaimed title of “a country of immigrants.”




To summarize what the Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric and policies consisted of is: Simply put, there is no place for immigrants in America. Over the past four years, over 400 executive actions directly targeted immigration and immigrants of all backgrounds. It was not only about illegal immigration, and it was not only about unskilled foreign workers. It was a full-fledged attack on immigrants across the board.

At first, the White House went against immigrants from Muslim-majority countries in a move that many analysts early on categorized as racist. Then the White House attacked undocumented immigrants, categorizing them as criminals (despite there being abundant evidence contesting such claims) and calling for a more active deportation policy. Next, the Trump administration cut the number of admitted refugees to the United States to its lowest level in 40 years, and actively established inhumane policies to deter refugees crossing from Central America, such as separating minors from their parents and putting them in cages. Finally, claiming without evidence that the ultimate goal was protecting American jobs amid the pandemic, the Trump administration restricted the issuance of green cards and work visas for highly skilled individuals (a move that me and co-authors estimate cost over $100 billion dollars to the U.S. economy almost overnight).

One of the most obvious deductions of what we saw in the past four years is that without a robust institutional binding framework in place to administer global migration flows, any future president could do and undo as he or she pleases.

With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, most of the world can be relieved that this circus of nonsense anti-immigration policies will come to an end. At least for now. To me, one of the most obvious deductions of what we saw in the past four years is that without a robust institutional binding framework in place to administer global migration flows, any future president could do and undo as he or she pleases. The truth is that there is too much at stake to let that happen: not only the livelihoods of about 250 million immigrants in the world—50 millions of them in America—but also the well-being of the global economy that partly relies on the hardworking and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants wherever they are.

With the likely scenario of a Republican-controlled Senate, a divided government will make it nearly impossible for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform of the sort that the U.S. needs. For instance, offering a practical and a just path to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants—including Dreamers—is a win-win policy: By eliminating once and for all the uncertainty of an imminent deportation, these immigrants will be more likely to make long-term investments in their children’s education, their communities, and their businesses. In addition, the government must get rid of the arbitrary yearly limit of 65,000 H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers, or at the very least, it must allow for the cap to increase along with the demand for skills. A similar case can be made about limits to refugee admissions. Ongoing unresolved conflicts and climate change will likely continue to push entire communities to flee their homes in search of refuge somewhere else. Furthermore, reforms such as offering permanent residence or a path to citizenship to foreign students who complete graduate school in the U.S. would also be smart policy.

But, realistically, we are unlikely to see an ambitious domestic agenda on comprehensive migration reform in the next four years. Hence, it makes sense for the incoming administration to put efforts into the international arena where, without the need for Congressional involvement, important steps can be made to construct an ambitious and robust global governance apparatus for international migration, which could serve as an important stepping stone for a domestic comprehensive migration reform down the road.

In this context, the very first action item for the Biden-Harris administration is to rejoin the United Nations’ Global Compacts for Migration and for Refugees, which despite being not much more than a multicountry declaration, under the right leadership, it can serve as the basis for establishing a system of global governance with practical policies to administer migration flows. For instance, expanding bilateral or multilateral agreements to include Global Skill Partnerships, so that immigrants can receive training before moving to better satisfy the demand for certain skills in their future destinations, or establishing an international rule system to govern refugee resettlement using market-like mechanisms, to name a couple. These practical global or regional agreements inspired by the Global Compacts should be the basis for a robust and comprehensive institutional framework to govern international migration, such as what we currently have for global trade, for example, embodied in the World Trade Organization.

If there’s something we’ve learned during the global pandemic, it is that in order to better deal with the challenges ahead, we need more—not less—global governance and cooperation. This is even more relevant when it comes to immigration, a global flow that will continue to grow. Thus, if the U.S. cannot fix its immigration system at home, it must again lead the way to bring the world together on designing and putting forward the best policies to let immigrants, wherever they are and wherever they come from, achieve their full potential. And for that, the work begins abroad.

Source: The road to fix America’s broken immigration system begins abroad

On immigration, Scheer is trying to please two different audiences at once

Aaron Wherry’s take, noting his silence on the Conservative Party’s opposition to the global compact on migration :

Andrew Scheer’s immigration speech on Tuesday night rested its arguments on a debatable premise.

“With each passing day,” he said, “Justin Trudeau and the Liberals undermine” Canada’s “proud legacy” of immigration. “They have managed,” Scheer said, “to undermine the long-standing consensus that immigration is indeed a positive thing for this country.”

Public polling on this topic is mixed, but a recent survey by Environics suggested that general views on immigration have changed little over the last eight years. In 2011, 47 per cent of respondents said immigration made Canada a better place, while 16 per cent said it made Canada a worse place. In 2019, those numbers were 44 per cent and 15 per cent.

In 2011, 58 per cent disagreed with the statement that immigration levels were “too high.” In 2019, 59 per cent disagreed.

There’s a crucial partisan division in the 2019 numbers, however. On the question of whether immigration levels were too high, 75 per cent of Liberal voters and 70 per cent of NDP supporters disagreed. Just 44 per cent of Conservative voters disagreed.

It’s that breakdown of consensus that leaves Andrew Scheer trying to address two different audiences — to reassure the wide swath of voters who are basically happy with immigration, while also speaking to the sceptics who support his party.

The resulting tension was barely concealed in Scheer’s remarks on Tuesday.

How many is too many?

He expounded on the contributions that successive waves of immigrants have made to this country and explained the economic imperative for continued immigration. He promised that, if he becomes prime minister, his government would move to increase private sponsorship of refugees.

But Scheer made a point of declining to say exactly how many immigrants Canada would accept under a new Conservative government. He described the whole topic of setting a number as “a little bit of a red herring.” That seemed to be an excuse to avoid being pinned down.

Those calling for the current levels to be cut, he said, are making “rash promises.” But those who advocate for “high targets” are also doing so for political ends, he argued.

Scheer, apparently, would arrive at some kind of objectively correct number. But not unless or until he becomes prime minister. And even then, he said, “that number may change every year.”

The Conservative leader was more categorical in condemning racism and intolerance.

“I’d like to make something absolutely crystal clear,” he said. “There is absolutely no room in a peaceful and free country like Canada for intolerance, racism and extremism of any kind. And the Conservative Party of Canada will always make that absolutely clear.”

Polishing the party’s immigration image

That Scheer felt he needed to say so might be viewed as evidence of an image problem. If, for instance, he had not appeared at a protest attended by members of the so-called ‘yellow vest’ movement, and if his party hadn’t had to retract an attack ad about asylum-seekers that featured an image of a black man crossing into Canada, he might not have felt it necessary to clarify his position on racism.

But Scheer also condemned the Liberals for too harshly condemning their critics. “We should be able to have an immigration debate in this country without the government calling people who criticize its failure racists and bigots,” Scheer said.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen did once describe his Ontario counterpart’s language on the issue of irregular immigration as “not Canadian.” And Trudeau has challenged Scheer to condemn white supremacists.

But in the one case where Trudeau directly accused someone of racism, he was speaking to a woman in Quebec who had referred to “your illegal immigrants” and “Québécois de souche” — an inflammatory phrase that refers to the original descendants of French colonists. Scheer criticized Trudeau’s comments at the time.

On Tuesday night, Scheer dwelled on the issue of irregular migration along Canada’s southern border, just as his party has over the last two years. “The numbers are almost hard to believe,” he said of the more than 40,000 people who have come to Canada in that time.

Choosing to present that situation as a pressing problem might strike some as understandable. But it’s also a political choice — one that no doubt speaks to those who think Canada is currently accepting too many immigrants.

In that respect, Scheer’s speech was most interesting for what he did not mention: the UN’s global compact on migration.

Last December, Scheer publicly and prominently condemned the Trudeau government’s decision to sign the non-binding statement of principles that’s meant to frame an international approach to the emerging challenge of migration. Canada joined 151 other countries in ratifying the compact.

International opposition to the initiative was later traced to far-right activists. In opposing the pact, Scheer’s Conservatives found themselves on the same side with Donald Trump’s administration and several nationalist parties in Europe. Scheer said the compact was a threat to Canada’s national sovereignty. “It gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities,” he claimed.

Chris Alexander, the former Conservative immigration minister, was moved to say that Scheer’s assessment was “factually incorrect.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called Justin Trudeau’s immigration plan “irresponsible” and “broken.” So what would his approach be? David Cochrane breaks down Scheer’s latest policy speech leading up to this fall’s election. 2:13

The Conservative party’s website still features a condemnation of the compact and an invitation for Canadians to add their names to an online petition opposing it.

But six months after saying he’d pull Canada out of the compact, Scheer gave a 3,000-word speech about immigration without mentioning it once.

Maybe Scheer is ready to forget what he said in December. But if he’s still opposed to the compact, it’s an odd omission.

UN Compact needs a substantive discussion, says ex-Harper aide

Interesting the focus on the Global Compact but I understand that the panel’s discussion was more wide ranging. It is hard to argue against more discussion and debate over any issue, including the Global Compact (although I find the fears overblown).

However, the question arises whether a more open discussion of the Global Compact in the Citizenship and Immigration committee have assuaged fears over its actual and potential impact and altered some of the political posturing (virtue signalling) on both sides or not:

Canada needs to have a substantive policy debate about the UN Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and how it will influence domestic law, said Rachel Curran, former Harper-era staffer, at a panel discussing Canada’s immigration policy.

Speaking at the Manning Networking Conference on Sunday, Ms. Curran recalled that, last year, when the Trudeau government announced it would sign the first-of-its-kind compact on migration, there was immediate backlash from the other side.

There’s been a lot of rhetoric, but not enough policy analysis, she said, attributing the lack of substantive debate prior to its adoption to the Trudeau government. “[It] does Canadians a real disservice,” Ms. Curran, who served as then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s director of policy, said in a post-panel interview.

When asked why the Conservative party itself hasn’t had the policy conversation, Ms. Curran said she doesn’t think political parties have the appropriate resources to do a detailed policy analysis.

“When a party is in opposition, in particular, its capacity to do policy work and policy analysis is eroded quite significantly,” she said.

She would like to see the Opposition Leader’s Office and the Conservative Party to do some more digging, but the primary responsibility lies with the government, she said, as it has more resources.

“The opposition party, its primary role is to oppose the government, right? They don’t have a policy shop, or a host of policy analysts or experts who are on call to answer those questions,” she said after the panel.

Ms. Curran spoke alongside Tim Uppal, a former Harper-era minister of state for democratic reform, and later multiculturalism, and Eric Duhaime, Quebec radio host and commentator. The panel, centred on a discussion about Canada’s immigration and refugee policies, including the arrival of irregular migrants and the contention that conservatives are anti-immigration, was moderated by Andrew Lawton, an unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in last year’s Ontario elections. The annual Manning conference is organized by the Manning Centre, headed by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, and brings together conservatives to discuss and debate political issues.

The rhetoric around the UN migration compact has deemed those opposed to it as racist, said Ms. Curran, and given that Conservatives won’t want to talk about “issues around racism for the entire campaign,” they probably won’t bring it up.

“But again, that does a real disservice to Canadians who want to know what’s in it,” she said.

In response to a question about how Canada should address the UN Global Compact, Ms. Curran said during the panel that the point of these international agreements is to influence international law, and eventually, domestic policy. Canada should figure out, for example, if it would have an impact on how it responds to the issue of irregular migrants from the U.S.

“There’s never been really, I think, a truly honest and detailed discussion about what’s in the compact and how it’s intended to influence our domestic law over time,” she said.

The compact is not a legally binding document and is grounded in state sovereignty, responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights. It aims to foster a collaborative approach among the 160 signatory nations in their response to the leveraging the benefits of migration and addressing the challenges. While Canada was among the 160 countries that signed the agreement in December, the U.S did not.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) opposed the signing in December, saying it would give foreign entities influence over Canada’s migration system and would erode nations’ sovereignty. “We don’t need a global compact that binds Canada to provisions that are agreed to at the United Nations. We can do that already. … By signing onto this compact, our sovereignty to make those decisions ourselves will be eroded,” Mr. Scheer told reporters in December. Mr. Scheer’s statement on the issue drew criticism from Chris Alexander, an ex-Harper minister of immigration, who said that the compact is “not a legally binding treaty” and that has “no impact on our sovereignty.”

Some demonstrators in the United We Roll rally also expressed their opposition to the compact. Mr. Scheer netted further criticism for speaking at the rally, which was attended by Faith Goldy, a white supremacist and former Rebel Media personality.

Mr. Uppal agreed during the panel with Ms. Curran’s suggestion that it sets a direction, and added he’s happy that Mr. Scheer opposed its signing.

Mr. Duhaime, for his part, said during the panel that, Canada needs to close its borders in all places other than designated ports of entry.

“We cannot welcome people by asking them to break the law,” he said, adding the government should negotiate with Washington so that, no matter what, no one can cross at non-official points of entry.

All three panellists said they supported a fair, compassionate, and orderly migration system, suggesting that anti-immigrant rhetoric gains traction only when the file is mishandled by the government, but there is still strong support for immigration in Canada. Canada takes in about 300,000 immigrants annually, but the numbers are expected to rise to 340,000 by 2021.

Irregular migration issue also discussed

On the issue of irregular migration, the three panellists said the Liberal government has failed to get a handle on it.

Policy decisions by U.S. President Donald Trump have led refugee claimants in the U.S. to seek refugee status in Canada in fear that their claims will be denied. Under the Third Safety Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S., those who cross at official ports of entry in Canada from will be forced to turn back. That has led refugee claimants to cross the border at non-designated entry points, where they are apprehended by the RCMP, and are able to file their claims.

International refugee agreements mean the government must allow those on Canadian soil to make claims, regardless of how they got across the border.

Quebec and Manitoba, in particular, have had to contend with the arrival of refugee claimants more so than other provinces, according to numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In 2017, there were 20,593 RCMP interceptions that resulted in asylum claims. About 18,000 were in Quebec, while about 1,000 were in Manitoba. In 2018, that total number dropped to 19,419 claims, with roughly 18,500 in Quebec,  and some 400 in Manitoba.

So far this calendar year, the RCMP has intercepted 1,696 refugee claimants, with about 1,670 in Quebec and two in Manitoba.

The Liberals have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the issue since early 2017. Budget 2019 budget proposed another $1.18-billion over five years, with the aim of strengthening the border. Some $55-million for year after was proposed.

“In recent years, elevated numbers of asylum seekers, including those that have crossed into Canada irregularly, have challenged the fairness and effectiveness of Canada’s asylum system,” according to the budget.

Some $450-million of the money is earmarked for the Immigration Canada, while $382-million will go to Canada Border Services Agency, and $208-million is for the Immigration and Refugee Board, which reviews claims.s

Mr. Duhaime said the current backlog of claims is unsustainable and is “going nowhere,” and a new government should better secure the borders.

“It’s not fair for those people; it’s not fair for those who entered legally; and it’s not fair for taxpayers,” he said.

Refugee advocates have disputed the notion that there’s a queue for making a refugee claim.

Ms. Curran said that a new government should work with other countries to stop the flow in the first place, but also to work at speeding up the claims process. The hearings  can take years and are likely to be appealed.

People know how long the process takes and use it to their advantage, Ms. Curran said, so speeding up the process could create a disincentive for those trying to game the system.

Source: UN Compact needs a substantive discussion, says ex-Harper aide

Doug Saunders: The politics of border-crossing bogeymen are unwise – and dangerous

Valid points:

There’s a trick, long known to certain politicians, to get an electoral boost when you’re down in the polls: You declare that dangerous people are about to come across the border, and you latch onto a conspiracy theory claiming that the other political party, or some dark forces associated with them, are responsible.

It can be an effective tactic. Immigration is often a popular election issue, especially when it’s mixed with atavistic fears of mysterious predators entering your territory. It is also a profoundly dangerous tactic.

On Wednesday night, we heard the U.S. President attempt this trick, for the umpteenth time. Americans, Donald Trump declared in an address, are being “raped, murdered and beaten to death with a hammer” by nefarious figures streaming across the southern border, and “thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now” to build his wall.

Never mind that the threat is an utter fiction – illegal border crossings from Mexico to the United States are at their lowest rate in almost half a century, and those who make the crossings are measurably less murder-prone than Americans.

It’s also based on a wild conspiracy theory. Mr. Trump has repeatedly told voters that migrants approaching the U.S. border include “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners,” as well as terrorists, even though his own immigration officials deny this. He’s said that their march on the border is being funded by mysterious Democratic-linked forces; in October, he publicly endorsed an anti-Jewish conspiracy theory blaming Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros for the “caravan.”

But Canadians can’t watch this with any sense of superiority. For the first time in decades, this tactic has crept into mainstream Canadian politics.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer shocked many members of his own party last month by taking up a cause that had emerged from the fringes, denouncing a United Nations document known as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

That document, if you bother to read it, is an anodyne, purely symbolic statement of principles intended to reduce overall immigration numbers, and especially to discourage irregular – that is, illegal – immigration. Like other such UN compacts, its main purpose is to provide principled-sounding statements for preambles of other documents.

Instead, Mr. Scheer claimed that the Compact “gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities.” He then denounced the “crisis at our borders” and “chaos at our borders” caused by “illegal border crossers” – suggesting that cross-border chaos, danger and criminality would be products of this document.

Where did this weird theory come from? As Laurens Cerulus and Eline Schaart found out in an investigation this week for Politico, it was the product of a calculated social-media campaign by “a coalition of anti-Islam, far-right and neo-Nazi sympathizers” based in Europe. It was taken up in September by far-right parties in Europe, and by figures in Mr. Trump’s circle.

Mr. Scheer’s decision to join Mr. Trump in picking up this ugly thread might have seemed like an expedient way to turn immigration fears into anti-Liberal sentiment. Yet, the larger danger of such conspiracy theories is not just that they are absurdly false – but that some people really believe them.

In October, 11 people were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a man shouting anti-Semitic slogans. To judge by his social-media posts and statements, the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, had come to believe that criminal migrants headed to the Mexico-U.S. border were being funded and supported by Mr. Soros and other Jewish figures and organizations – the same conspiracy theory Mr. Trump endorsed. A few days earlier, a Trump supporter in Florida had sent pipe bombs to Mr. Soros and other Democratic-linked figures in apparent support of this theory.

These incidents, and others like them, followed a 2011 massacre in Norway orchestrated by Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people – many of them children – because he had come to believe a theory, promoted by European right-wing politicians, that “globalists” and “cultural Marxists” (including his victims) were conspiring to bring in threatening Muslim immigrants.

That conspiracy theory has now reached Canada. In January, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette walked into a Quebec City mosque and shot 19 people, killing six. In his police interview, he said he had been spurred to action after watching reports about Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, and after hearing conspiracy theories about Canada’s Syrian refugees. “I saw that and I like lost my mind,” he said. “I don’t want them to kill my parents, my family.”

Nobody but these killers themselves are responsible for their actions. But they all had been led to believe fictions about border-crossing bogeymen and the figures who supposedly back them. Given the dangerous implications of such inventions, to amplify them in the name of momentary political gain wouldn’t just be profoundly unwise. It would be absolutely reckless.

Source: The politics of border-crossing bogeymen are unwise – and dangerous

Tories pursue high-stakes strategy in condemning United Nation’s migrant pact: John Ibbitson and Chris Selley commentaries

John Ibbitson on the politics of the CPC’s opposition to the Global Compact on Migration:

A database search suggests that the first article in a mainstream Canadian news outlet that criticized the United Nations’ new migration compact appeared on the Toronto Sun website on Nov. 30.

That document – officially the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – is now a high-stakes controversy from which both Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau hope to profit. One of them is making a mistake. But right now, it’s hard to know who.

Liberal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, along with representatives from more than 160 other countries, has signed the agreement in Marrakesh. Mr. Hussen called the compact “an effective way to address the challenges that migration can bring.”

This may well be true. But had it not been for the conservative media and Official Opposition sounding the alarm, most of us would never even have heard about the compact, much less Canada’s decision to join it.

Parliament hasn’t debated or voted on the agreement; the government hasn’t bothered to consult Canadians on whether they oppose or support it. This is foreign policy conducted in the dead of night.

However, there is one significant problem with Mr. Scheer’s claim that the compact will “erode our sovereign right to manage our borders.” The problem is that the thing is innocuous, a succession of bland paragraphs promising to promote this and consult on that.

The document stresses that it is not legally binding and “reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and to govern migration within their jurisdiction.”

There is a foolish clause on “sensitizing and educating media professionals.” Otherwise the document mostly commits states to sharing information, fighting human trafficking and abiding by the rule of law. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Except that’s not how others treat the document, pro and con.

Pro: Former Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, who is now the United Nations Special Representative for International Migration, called the compact “one of the defining projects of our generation,” which “will remain the reference for all future initiatives dealing with cross-border human mobility.”

Con: The United States – well, of course, with Donald Trump as President – Australia, the Dominican Republic and Chile have not signed, along with Israel and a clutch of countries in Eastern Europe, where migrants are deeply unpopular. Rightly or wrongly, some analysts see things in those bland paragraphs that could force countries to increase their immigration and refugee intake.

This is one reason why the Conservatives are making such a big deal of the accord. Another is that demonizing the compact fits with a narrative they wish to construct: that the Liberals have lost control of the immigration system, that tens of thousands have streamed across the border illegally and that now the government is surrendering sovereignty to a dysfunctional, even corrupt, United Nations.

The truth is that, over the past six months or so, the government has managed to greatly reduce the flow of asylum claimants entering Canada from the United States. And, as I and wiser minds read it, the migration compact surrenders not a jot or tittle of Canadian sovereignty to the UN.

But many Canadians do worry about losing control of the border. This doesn’t make them anti-immigrant; it just makes them anti-uncontrolled-immigration. And even those who support increased immigration may shake their heads at the Liberal inability to manage major files. As the Tories might put it, the Liberals can’t build a pipeline, can’t control the border, won’t balance the budget.

But on the immigration issues, at least, this strategy comes with great political risk for the Conservatives. More than half the population of Mississauga is not Caucasian. Fifty-three per cent of the population of Richmond, B.C., is ethnic Chinese.

If suburban immigrant voters decide that the Conservatives have become anti-immigrant, even nativist, they will shun the party and the Conservatives will lose the next election. You cannot win at the federal level without substantial support from immigrant voters. There are just too many of them.

The Liberals take pride in how they’ve handled immigration and are happy to campaign on it. The Conservatives think the Liberals are vulnerable on immigration and are happy to campaign on it. Who is right? It will take an election to find out.

Source:     Tories pursue high-stakes strategy in condemning United Nation’s migrant pact Subscriber content John Ibbitson December 10, 2018     
And Chris Selley suggests the CPC could have made a more sophisticated critique of the Compact rather than playing the identity politics card (which the Liberals are also happy to play):
One hundred and sixty-four countries agreed to the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Morocco on Monday. And while the ship has long since sailed, in theory, there are quite a few things in there that Canadian conservatives might have gotten behind.

Migrations: un discours pernicieux

Manon Cornellier in Le Devoir on the Global Compact and Conservative opposition:

La planète traverse actuellement la pire crise migratoire depuis celle apparue dans la foulée de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Environ 260 millions d’humains ont quitté leur foyer pour échapper à toutes sortes de tourments ou améliorer leur sort. La grande majorité se retrouvent ailleurs dans leur pays ou dans un pays voisin. Une infime partie arrivent à fouler le sol canadien comme immigrants indépendants, membres de la famille, travailleurs temporaires ou demandeurs d’asile.

Tous cependant auront droit à un traitement modèle, le Canada ayant un des systèmes les plus élaborés, ordonnés et justes en la matière. Il est cité en exemple à travers le monde pour son équité procédurale et son professionnalisme.

L’arrivée de migrants irréguliers depuis l’hiver 2017 a semé le doute, mais ce n’est pas le système qui est défaillant, comme l’a démontré un rapport récent du directeur parlementaire du budget. Sous tous les gouvernements, il a souffert et souffre encore d’une insuffisance de ressources pour traiter sans délai ces dossiers particuliers. C’est là que le bât blesse.

À entendre les conservateurs fédéraux, visiblement influencés par Maxime Bernier et autres chantres d’une politique d’immigration plus restrictive, le gouvernement devrait simplement bloquer la route à ces migrants irréguliers. Mais aucun pays ne peut se mettre à l’abri ou freiner à lui seul les mouvements migratoires qui agitent la planète.

 C’est pour cette raison que la plupart des pays membres des Nations unies se réunissent au Maroc lundi et mardi pour signer le nouveau Pacte mondial pour des migrations sûres, ordonnées et régulières. Le Canada entend bien s’y associer, mais les conservateurs s’y opposent. Prenant le relais de et du chef du nouveau Parti populaire du Canada, Maxime Bernier, le chef conservateur Andrew Scheer laisse entendre que le Canada perdrait le contrôle de sa politique d’immigration. « Les Canadiens — et les Canadiens seulement — devraient décider qui vient dans notre pays et dans quelles circonstances, pas des entités étrangères comme l’ONU », a-t-il déclaré.

Le troisième principe directeur du document est pourtant clair. « Le Pacte mondial réaffirme le droit souverain des États de définir leurs priorités migratoires nationales et leur droit de gérer les migrations relevant de leur compétence, dans le respect du droit international. » Comme le fait déjà le Canada.

En entrevue au Devoir, l’ancien ministre conservateur de l’Immigration, Chris Alexander, invitait M. Scheer à rectifier le tir. Selon lui, ce pacte « n’est pas une menace pour le Canada parce qu[’il] est basé surtout sur notre expérience » et il peut avoir le mérite « d’encourager des dizaines, sinon des centaines de pays à légiférer et mieux réglementer leurs politiques d’immigration. Et si on fait ça, il y aura moins de migration irrégulière, moins de crises politiques causées par l’immigration, et cela, indirectement, est très bon pour le Canada ».

 Ce pacte n’est pas parfait et verse à maintes occasions dans l’angélisme, mais ce qu’il espère réaliser est non seulement rationnel, mais nécessaire. Comme le confiait à l’AFP Louise Arbour, représentante spéciale de l’ONU pour les migrations, l’objectif est de « maximiser les bénéfices de la migration tout en mettant en lumière ses aspects négatifs et en limitant les pratiques migratoires chaotiques et dangereuses ».

En faisant leurs choux gras depuis des mois de l’arrivée de migrants irréguliers, en préconisant la méthode forte, en entretenant une impression fausse à propos du Pacte, Andrew Scheer ne cherche pas à calmer ni même à répondre aux inquiétudes d’une partie de la population, mais à nourrir une méfiance inutile. Voilà un jeu dangereux dans un pays d’immigration comme le Canada, où la cohésion et le vivre ensemble imposent de susciter une meilleure compréhension des enjeux liés au traitement et à l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, pas à propager des faussetés.

Soumis à des pressions internes, bon nombre de pays qui cet été approuvaient le texte négocié s’opposent maintenant au Pacte ou hésitent à le signer. C’est désolant. Le Canada, lui, doit garder le cap. Il est écrit noir sur blanc que ce pacte « établit un cadre de coopération juridiquement non contraignant ». C’est avant tout une déclaration d’intention de la communauté internationale pour mieux encadrer ces mouvements de population. Comment peut-on être contre ?

Source: Migrations: un discours pernicieux

The demos against it in Ottawa (Clashes over immigration outside Canada’s Parliament) and Vancouver (VIDEO: Highway overpass protest against United Nations ‘compact’ on immigration) were sparsely attended and Bernier was a no show in Ottawa.

Andrew Coyne: Andrew Scheer steers hard to right on UN migrants pact

Some good contrasting articles from Andrew Coyne and John Ivison on the Conservative opposition to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, with Andrew Coyne’s, in my view, being the stronger.

Campbell Clark also, correctly I think, how the Conservatives are playing this as a wedge issue, similar to M-103 on Islamophobia, and possibly to counter Bernier, who will be attending a rally organized by the far right on Saturday on Parliament Hill:

Starting with Coyne:

Since he became Conservative leader, it has been a matter of speculation: how far would Andrew Scheer go to pander to the populist-nationalist right, specifically on the matter of immigration?

His predecessor had pulled in both directions at once, one minister building bridges to immigrant communities even as another was blowing them up. But candidates who had courted the pop-nats during the leadership race had not attracted many votes. Perhaps their moment had passed.

But then came the influx of asylum seekers crossing our border. After that came Maxime Bernier’s dramatic departure to found his own party, the one-time libertarian wonk rebranded as an immigration skeptic. And the question returned: how far would Scheer go to keep  from being outflanked on the issue?

Well now we have our answer: as far as it takes. Exploiting Liberal discomfort over the border-crossing issue was one thing. But with the Conservative leader’s embrace of far-right fear-mongering over an anodyne UN agreement on immigration, we are deep into the fever swamp. It is disturbing and frankly embarrassing to see.

The document in question is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Negotiated and drafted over a year and half, the text was agreed to in July by all but one of the UN’s 193 countries, the lone hold-out being the United States. It’s to be formally adopted later this month.

That so many countries saw the necessity for such an agreement is in recognition of the international dimensions of the issue, especially as migration has expanded in recent years. With so many people on the move — some 258 million now live outside their country of birth — there is a pressing need for states to work together. If countries attempt to deal with the pressures of immigration by dumping migrants on each other’s doorsteps, no one’s interests will be served.

Accordingly, the compact sets out a few basic principles to guide states’ actions, with the aim not just of facilitating “safe, orderly and regular migration,” but “reducing the incidence and negative impact of irregular migration.” That’s right: the agreement is as much about reducing immigration as it is facilitating it, specifically by addressing the “structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin.”

Among the 23 “objectives” are such not-terribly-shocking ideas as that states should “collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies,” that they should “ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation,” “facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences,” and so on.

Some are admittedly a little more contentious. Maybe not everyone believes states should “provide access to basic services for migrants,” or “establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements.” But here’s the thing. Suppose Canada, or any country, does not live up to these or any other of the agreement’s objectives. What happens then? Answer: nothing. The agreement is entirely and explicitly non-binding, non-enforceable, and non-justiciable.

This point is made at several points in the document. “The Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework,” it says, whose “authority rests on its consensual nature.” How does it affect national sovereignty? Not at all: “The Global Compact 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.” It could not be any clearer.

And yet in the months since it was agreed upon, the compact has become one of those bizarre objects of fascination among the conspiracy-minded, in which it has been elevated into a fiendish plot to dictate immigration policies to national governments, if not to eliminate them altogether. As in previous such episodes, what begins on the outer fringes of debate migrates inward: from racist websites to the right-wing press to opportunistic political leaders.

Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm [MALCOLM: The UN Migration Compact – the details are truly worrisome] handily sums up the theory in one breathless sentence: “This dystopian UN plan seeks to erase borders, destroy the concept of citizenship, undermine the rule of law and circumvent state sovereignty.”

It seeks, she claims, “to make immigration a universal human right,” while blurring “the distinction between refugees and migrants.” After all, doesn’t it say right there in the preamble: “Refugees and migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms”?

Yes it does. And in the next sentence says: “However, migrants and refugees are distinct groups governed by separate legal frameworks. Only refugees are entitled to the specific international protection as defined by international refugee law.” The compact is a statement of broad principles, not a body of law.

And yet there was Scheer on Tuesday, claiming the agreement could “open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders.” The Conservatives, he said “strongly oppose Canada signing” the compact and would “withdraw” Canada from it if elected. To which I suppose the best answer was supplied by Louise Arbour, UN envoy for international migration and former Supreme Court of Canada judge: “There’s nothing to sign. It’s not a treaty.”

Still, Scheer would put us in select company in rejecting the compact: not only Donald Trump, but the right-wing nationalist parties in Europe, such as now govern Hungary, Austria and Poland. I had not thought I would ever see the Conservative Party of Canada among their number, but you learn something new every day.

A final note: on one of the agreement’s objectives, that urging states to “(stop) allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants,” the critics have a point. The threat to press freedom is obvious.

But the answer to this concern is not to give public funding to media outlets — on any side — not to pander to hysterical fears about open borders and shadowy world governments.

Source: Andrew Coyne: Andrew Scheer steers hard to right on UN migrants pact

Ivison urging caution:

The late Christopher Hitchens called conspiracy theories the “exhaust fumes of democracy” — the unavoidable result of large amounts of information circulating among a large number of people.

The latest conjectural haze drifting in from the fringes of the political spectrum is that the United Nations’ agreement on migration, which Canada is set to sign in Morocco next week, will see this country lose control of its borders.

The Rebel’s Ezra Levant called the UN’s global compact on migration “dangerous” — “a done deal cooked up by unelected bureaucrats with no regard for national sovereignty.”

Andrew Scheer, the Conservative leader, said his party strongly opposes Justin Trudeau’s plan to sign Canada onto the compact, saying it will open the doors to foreign bureaucrats to direct immigration policy. He was specifically concerned about an objective in the compact that deals with how media report on migration issues. The section calls for an effort to eliminate “all forms of discrimination” in public discourse about migration issues — which, if enforceable, would be an existential threat to The Rebel.

After question period on Wednesday, Scheer asked for unanimous consent for a statement that urged the government not to sign the compact and which blamed the UN for the torrent of refugees that has crossed into Canada from the U.S. Not surprisingly, he did not get it.

For now at least, Scheer’s fears are overdone. The potential limitations on media reporting, for example, are not enforceable. Chris Alexander, a former Conservative immigration minister, pointed out that the compact is a political declaration, not a legally binding treaty. “It has no impact on our sovereignty,” he wrote on Twitter.

Trudeau made the same point on Wednesday, as he boasted about Canada’s “global leadership” and its adoption of “open policy.”

It’s hard to find anything particularly offensive in the compact — it says refugees and migrants are entitled to universal human rights; that countries should improve co-operation on international migration to save lives and keep migrants out of harm’s way. It is explicit that it is not legally binding and the sovereign rights of states to determine their own migration policy is re-affirmed.

Still, I remain unconvinced that Canada should sign on. The compact also says that states should “determine their legislative and policy measures for the implementation of the global compact.” The very act of signing creates an expectation that the signatories will take action. It’s not nothing.

We have heard in the past about UN declarations being merely “aspirational.” As it turned out, they have become much more than that.

Take the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was also sold as a non-binding, aspirational document.

When it was introduced in 2006, the Harper government opposed the declaration’s 46 articles, on the practical grounds that previous court decisions had referenced the work of UN bodies and used them to interpret the laws of Canada. One article in the draft version could have been interpreted to mean military activities could not take place on land that had traditionally been Aboriginal.

The late Jim Prentice, who was then Indian Affairs minister, said the declaration was inconsistent with Canadian law and refused to sign. The declaration only received the Canadian government’s unqualified support in 2016 under the Trudeau government. The new prime minister had already agreed to “fully adopt and implement” the UN declaration, even though his justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, called it “unworkable” and a “political distraction.”

Whatever your views on the declaration, it is beyond dispute that it is not merely an “aspirational document.”

In fact, it is now the law, after NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private members’ bill was passed by the House of Commons last May. The bill required that Canada’s laws be consistent with the declaration.

In the coming months and years, legislation and judicial interpretation will determine whether Canada’s existing jurisprudence on the duty to consult is sufficient to meet the UN declaration’s requirement on the need to secure “free, prior and informed consent” in any given area of policy. Critics argue that the passage into law of the declaration gives Indigenous Canadians rights not enjoyed by other Canadians.

What was presented as a nice thing to do to be onside with a global consensus has now evolved into a situation that could yet result in legislative gridlock, if the declaration’s provisions on the “rights of self-determination” are taken at face value.

The global compact’s intentions may be pure, but there will be consequences to its adoption that could over time impact Canada’s ability to set its own course on migration.

It won’t erase the border but it could erode sovereignty on immigration. You don’t have to inhale the exhaust fumes of the online conspiracy theories to believe that signing the UN global compact on migration is not a great idea.

Source: John Ivison: The UN’s global pact on migration sounds nice — but don’t sign it

Lastly, Campbell Clark on the politics and similarity with M-103 tactics:

The Global Compact for Migration is the new motion M-103, held up by anti-immigration right-wingers as a scary monster that is going to radically change Canada even though it won’t do much of anything at all.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer stepped out on Tuesday to warn, wrongly, that the Global Compact, a document negotiated by many countries under UN auspices, would force Canada to cede its sovereignty and cede influence to shadowy “foreign entities.”

In fact, the Global Compact – which aims to promote international co-operation on migration flows – is a vague, non-binding document full of long-winded, gobbledygook claptrap that includes a few worthy principles and a couple of dumb ideas. But it won’t force anyone to do anything.

So if Mr. Scheer had opposed the signing of Global Compact on the grounds that Canada shouldn’t put its name to long tracts of big words that don’t have any clear meaning just to make people feel good, he would have deserved a nod of respect.

But the warning the Global Compact will put Canada’s sovereignty in imminent danger is fantasy.

This is the kind of fabricated freak-out we saw in 2017 with M-103, a Liberal MP’s motion asking the Commons to condemn Islamophobia. The motion sparked conspiracy theories – fuelled by the online site the Rebel – that it would restrict free speech, provide “special privileges” to Muslims or somehow lead to sharia law.

It was bunk, because such parliamentary motions don’t lead to anything other than a study. The motion passed, a parliamentary committee issued a bland report last February – and sharia law was not imposed.

Now, the same angst machine is working on the Global Compact for Migration. The Rebel argues it is dangerous, Maxime Bernier, Leader of fledgling right-wing People’s Party, complained about it on Tuesday morning. Then Mr. Scheer followed.

The thing is, the Global Compact is a mess of muddle verbiage, but it is not going to cede immigration policy to the UN or anyone else.

“There is no duty on Canada to implement, enact or enforce anything,” said James Hathaway, a Canadian who is director of the University of Michigan’s program in refugee and asylum law. The compact not only explicitly says it is non-binding, it is also not a treaty, Prof. Hathaway noted. It signs up countries for a discussion process. “No government has to do anything here other than show up for meetings.”

Of course, it’s reasonable to ask whether there’s much real point to the 16,600 words of bureaucratic blah-blah. It is supposed to encourage things such as sharing data on migration. The signatories say they hope to “minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin” – you know, like poverty – but there are no firm commitments.

Some of the criticisms seem to be based on a misreading of the document itself. The Rebel’s Ezra Levant decided that approving references to “regular migration” meant that the compact aims to make mass migration normal and permanent. But regular migration refers to orderly flows of migrants through official border crossings and legal methods – as opposed to irregular migrants. Mr. Bernier echoed Mr. Levant’s words.

One commentator argued that the compact muddies the divide between refugees and migrants, but as Prof. Hathaway noted, it explicitly separates the two. Another commentator alleged it establishes new human rights for migrants, but it doesn’t.

There are flaws: circuitous language and dumb stuff. There’s a section on “promoting independent, objective, and quality reporting” on migration, including cutting off public funds to media outlets that “promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants.” Canada certainly shouldn’t want state re-education of the media to be an accepted notion in such documents.

It is worth asking whether this loose collection of words is worthwhile.

Chris Alexander, the former Conservative immigration minister, who tweeted that Mr. Scheer’s warnings were factually incorrect, also opined that there is nothing wrong in setting out some principles for dealing with migration. Prof. Hathaway said there were some ideas in it that made it “a little bit better than nothing.”

Mr. Scheer has every right to think it’s worse – full of misguided notions. But no, next week’s signing won’t give the UN control over Canada’s borders.

Source:     To right-wingers,the Global Compact for Migration motion is a sign the sky is falling again Campbell Clark December 5, 2018     

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

FATAH: Sealing western prosperity in a Ziploc bag won’t work

Every now and then, Tarek Fatah pleasantly surprises me:

Next Monday on December 10, delegates from countries around the globe will converge in Marrakesh, Morocco, to sign the ‘Global Compact on Migration,’ a non-binding United Nations agreement on a common approach to international migration.

Based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was first drafted in 1948 by the Canadian jurist John Humphreys, the Global Compact on Migration has drawn unwarranted hostility bordering xenophobia, thanks to Marcel de Graaff, a right-wing politician belonging to Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands.

Despite the fact that the UN General Assembly — which created the ‘Compact’ —  says unambiguously that the document is “a non-legally binding, cooperative framework” and “upholds the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law,” de Graffe declared at a press conference on October 23:

“The agreement wants to criminalize migration speech. Criticism of migration will become a criminal offense. Media outlets that give room to criticism of migration can be shut down.”

This was a complete fabrication and had no basis in facts, yet de Graaff’s statement and video clip went viral with hysterical anti-immigrant ‘sky is falling’ alarmists barely sounding different than their great-grandparents who lined the shores of Vancouver in 1914 to vent hatred towards what one newspaper described as “Howling masses of Hindus.”

Not content with his alarmist fabrication, de Graffe added fuel to the fire by declaring: “In fact, it will become impossible to criticize Merkel’s welcome migrants’ politics without being jailed for hate speech.”

I read the entire 34-page document that will be signed in Marrakech next week and could not find a shred of evidence that would back the claims made by de Graffe, which have now been shared by a number of Western newspaper columnists.

The UK Express led with the headline, “Criticising migration could become CRIMINAL offence under new plan” while a column in this newspaper was headlined, “The UN migration compact spells radical change for Canada.”

Nonsense. The Migration Compact merely asks Governments to “Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets …  investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media.”

Of course, we should have concerns about fake refugees arriving from the United States into Canada as Brian Lilley has highlighted, but that is because of the incompetence of the Trudeau government, not the fault of Hondurans or Guatemalans living in cages on the U.S-Mexican border or sub-Sharan Black Africans left to die in the Algerian desert.

So far Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland have stated they will not sign the non-binding agreement, but it is not in these countries where the refugee and migrant crisis plays out.

A 40-second clip of children being trafficked in a sealed water tanker on the border of Iran and Balochistan shocked the world last week. Asia Bibi rots in a Third World jail, not in Britain and it is not Canada that is playing host to 10,000 Pakistani Christians abandoned in Thailand.

If refugees and mass migration resulting from wars and genocides in Africa, Asia and Latin America bother de Graffe and his minions in Europe and North America, then trust me, the Marrakech meeting is the first step towards a solution.

One cannot seal the West in a Ziploc bag to lock in our prosperity. Sooner or later the hungry will break open the padlock on the refrigerator.

Source: FATAH: Sealing western prosperity in a Ziploc bag won’t work