The Changes in Canadian Immigration Policies Post 9/11
The Al Qaeda orchestrated the American World Trade Center’s attack of 9/11. This attack affected the US in different ways. It also affected other countries all over the globe differently. Among the countries that were affected by this attack was Canada. This is partly because the US and Canada have so much in common in terms of their economic policies, foreign policies and ethnic composition. Both are the largest destinations for the immigrant population globally. The US’ attack therefore instigated a reconsideration of the immigration policy of Canada which has always been changing. The recent recommendations on this policy border favoritism for people with specific skills as well as language proficiency more so English and French. Therefore, the change in immigration policy is against and targeted at people of the Arab origin with preference for the populace of the European origin.
Special emphasis has been put on the proficiency of the immigrants in these national languages by the recent immigration policy’s shift. This indicates a move towards the prevention of people from certain regions in the world including Asia from immigrating into Canada while preferring people of the European origin (French and British). Statistics Canada (2006) indicates that before the 1970s, most people who immigrated into Canada came from Europe. However, after 1970s the immigration policy in Canada and programs changed on the basis of the economic, social and humanitarian goals of the country as well as the events that happened internationally affecting the movement of refugee and immigrants into Canada. This change of the Canadian policy of immigration increased the proportion of the Middle-East and Asian immigrates to reach 40.8% of the entire immigrants’ population. As such, it surpassed the population of the European immigrants whose percentage was 36.8 (Statistics Canada, 2006).
However, after the attacks of 9/11 the recent shift of the immigration regulations seem to be a means of curbing the number of the immigrants of Asian origin especially from Philippines, Pakistan and India which is increasing. Subtly, this policy is a means of preventing the “inherently dangerous” people from entering the country especially because Pakistan is largely connected with Al Qaeda militants yet these claimed responsibility for the attack. Therefore, this shift is based on cultural racism. Durrheim and Dixon (2000) observe that this has now shifted from the classification of individuals to a form of individual’s existence (p.94). As such, this shift considers Arabs as rapist, junky, delinquent and dangerous (Durrheim & Dixon, 2000, p. 94).
Despite being slightly different, the change in the immigration policy of Canada has several similarities with the policy that existed before 1930. The aim of the 1930’s policy was to attract more Europeans in order to increase the population of the country. It was also aimed at enhancing economic growth. This policy required immigrants to only be in reasonable health as well as to have a European background (Grubel, 2013, p.2). This policy therefore barred Asian and African immigrants from entering the country on the basis of cultural and social norms’ preferences. In particular, the policy viewed Africans as mentally retarded and inferior (Durrheim & Dixon, 2000, p. 94). Excluding Asians at that time was depicted by denying 354 immigrants entry into the country. These immigrants were on a boat at a Vancouver’s port (Grubel, 2013, p. 2).
Canada adopted a point system that was more open in offering citizenship to the immigrants as well as accommodating asylum seekers especially after the reforms of the immigration policy in 1967. However, the system of allowing immigration to people into Canada remained discriminatory. This system introduced visa granting which has been adopted since then. It requires the visa applicant to show interest in his/her interest in promoting economic, demographic, cultural and social policies of the country (Gruel, 2013, p. 3). Thus, applying for the immigration visa requires one to attach evidence that proves their health, age, education and other information about their demographic. This is vital information because it helps in determining the economic prospects of the applicant. Only applicants with the set qualifications are granted visa. Applicants who qualify for Canadian visa are healthy and they do not threaten the country’s national security.
Therefore, points system as it was called give preference to the skilled workers and these make almost 60% of the current overall population of immigrants in Canada. A specific criterion is used to ensure this preference under the system. This criterion makes it possible for prospective immigrants to get points on the basis of the considered factors. Proficiency in French and English as well as educational qualification top the list of the considered factors. These factors account for 24 and 25 percent. This is almost 50% of the total score. The other factors that are considered include working experience which has approximately 21 points, 10 points for arranged employment and 10 points for age as well as 10 points for adaptability (Grubel, 2013, p. 3). Since the attacks of 9/11, applicants must score a minimum of 67 points in order to be granted the immigration visas.
Going by per capita rate, Canada is still the country that has the highest rate of immigration among the developed countries. However, the recent shift in its immigration policy indicates the intention of this country to reduce the population of immigrants more so those whose education qualifications are low and those who cannot speak the national languages of the country (Bissett et al., 2008, p. 3). Therefore, immigrants of different origins who cannot speak French or English cannot seek immigration in Canada with the current policy change. In addition, with the high illiteracy rates in most Arab countries where illiteracy levels in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Morocco are above 40%, this policy effectively prevent individuals from these countries to immigrate into Canada (UNESCO Institute for Education, 2003, p. 12). The changes seem to be a means of excluding people from these countries who are seen as synonyms of terrorism.
The notion that prospective immigrants may gauge eligibility using a platform on the internet is aimed at discouraging candidates who are unqualified from attempting to apply. This software allows individuals to input credentials after which they are analyzed and provided with information on whether they can qualify or not. Just like a manual process, the system employs a point method which focuses on language proficiency and academic qualifications.
After 9/11, there have been changes that affect both the people who apply for Canadian immigration visas as well as asylum seekers. The system that determines refugee has been changed and this appears to be a means of reducing its vulnerability to possible exploitation by those who seek asylum fraudulently since these can eventually risk the security of this country (Bissett et al., 2008, p. 3). Canada is among the top 10 countries that have the highest rate of acceptance for asylum seekers at 4.3 percent (Grubel, 2013, p. 24). There have been several loopholes for the process that legitimizes asylum seekers with the interested parties viewing program’s expansion as a means of benefiting individuals. Lawyers have greatly benefited by providing legal services that the government pays for those who seek shelter in the country. In addition, some refugee consultants coach those seeking asylum so that they can come up with histories and present them as the required evidence in order to get favorable rulings (Grubel, 2013, p. 24). Judges who hear cases have also benefited from refugees. Credentials of some judges have been questioned because they get the positions of the jury as political perks that are awarded for previous services and loyalty.
However, security concerns have increased and this has necessitated the modification of these practices. Such changes include the possibility of declaring a group of asylum seekers irregular arrivals. These can be deported promptly or detained (Grubel, 2013, p. 26). This kind of a policy is targeted at asylum seekers from Asia who use boats to enter Canada especially from India, Pakistan and Cambodia.
The attacks of 9/11 have played a vital role in the introduction of changes in the immigration policy of this country. The made alterations are targeted at locking out specific ethnic groups. This can be seen from the emphasis that is put on language proficiency and education. The requirements set for consultants and lawyers’ registration are aimed at ensuring that only people of integrity get a chance to work with prospective immigrants. The move also ensure that there are only few or no illegal immigrants in the country and that background checks for asylum seekers is done by qualified personnel only.
Bahdi, R. (2003). No Exit: Racial Profiling and Canada’s War against Terrorism. Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 41(2 & 3): 293-316.
Bissett, J. et al. (2008). Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat in Canada and the United States. Fraser Institute
Durrheim, K & Dixon, J. (2000). Theories of culture in racist discourse. Race and Society, 3:93-109.
Grubel, H. (2013). Canada’s Immigrant Selection Policies: Recent Record, marginal Changes and Needed Reforms. Fraser Institute
Statistics Canada (2006). Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census: Immigrants came from many countries. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-557/p4-eng.cfm
UNESCO Institute for Education. (2003). Literacy and Adult Education in the Arab World. UNESCO
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