New Canadian Media

By: Amanda Connolly in Ottawa

Immigration lawyers in Canada are warning about risks caused by the spread of misinformation as the Trump administration rolls back a U.S. government program that shielded illegal immigrants brought to the United States as minors from deportation.

U.S. President Donald Trump formally announced on Tuesday the end of an Obama-era program that protected almost a million young people brought illegally into the country by their parents and granted them renewable two-year work permits, which will now begin to expire in early 2018.

While immigration lawyers said many clients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — widely known as “dreamers” — could be prime candidates for legal immigration to Canada, the challenge will be in making sure those looking to move are not getting faulty information about Canada’s immigration rules from unscrupulous immigration advisers or false reports. That’s what happened with thousands of Haitians earlier this summer when Trump threatened to rescind a program that lets those displaced by the earthquake in Haiti seven years ago live temporarily in the United States.

“These people are North American trained or brought up, so they have the skills to quickly adapt to the Canadian labour market or integrate into the post-secondary schooling system so there may in fact be some options for them,” said Betsy Kane, one of Canada’s top immigration lawyers and a partner at Capelle Kane.

“The only issue is if they are going to get misinformation from people trying to capitalize on their vulnerability and get sucked into a situation like the Haitians did, relying on potentially false information that would lure them into coming to make the wrong type of application to Canada.”

Roughly 7,000 asylum seekers, most of them Haitians from the U.S., have crossed into Canada since July. Some critics have accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of not doing enough to prevent the surge; some have even accused him of being partly to blame for it.

A January tweet in which critics said the prime minister implied that Canada would welcome just about anyone — legal migrant or not — has increasingly come under fire, prompting the government into damage control mode in recent months.

Two weeks ago, Trudeau walked that welcome back in a series of tweets cautioning that while Canada is an open and diverse society, it also has immigration laws that must be obeyed.

Liberal MP and Whip Pablo Rodriguez also announced Wednesday he is heading to Los Angeles on Friday on a mission similar to that of MP Emmanuel Dubourg last month.

Following a surge of illegal Haitian migrants over the summer, the government sent Dubourg — who is himself of Haitian origin — to Miami to speak with Haitian community leaders and try to counter the flow of misinformation about how Canada’s immigration system works.

The government’s goal was to get a message across loud and clear: Not every refugee claim in Canada succeeds.

Now, Rodriguez is set to carry that same message to the other side of the country in a bid to stem a new wave of Mexican and Central American asylum seekers who are expected to be next to try and make the move north. Those people are in limbo now because of the possible end of temporary protected status for nearly 350,000 Salvadorans and Hondurans in the U.S. — a change that is unrelated to the rescinding of the DACA program but is similar in terms of how those affected might be influenced by misinformation.

Kane said the effort so far to counter the spread of bad information has been committed and social-media focused, which is exactly where it needs to be.

“I think it might be a more sophisticated group that’s not going to rely on WhatsApp or an internal rumours or community rumours as opposed to doing their research,” she said. “These are young people, they’re internet-savvy, and perhaps they’re going to spend a little more time getting the correct information, especially with all the social media that’s out there, because they’re all on social media. They’re young people, so that’s where they’re looking for information and CIC has been targeting social media.”

Many of those living in the U.S. under the DACA program are highly-educated and have skills that would make them prime applicants for the Express Entry system, Canada’s immigration scheme for skilled workers.

The question is whether those who want to use that route, or other legal options like applying for international student visas, will even be able to do so given the system overload caused by the influx of Haitians.

“The system is now overwhelmed,” said Julie Taub, an Ottawa immigration lawyer and former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board. “It’s having an impact on the other applications and it’s creating a lot of resentment for those who are immigrating to Canada legitimately through the proper channels and for those who are legitimate refugee claimants.”

For now, Taub said, those Americans who may face deportation without DACA will be looking for the best way to wait for a reinstatement of the protection — and she expects Trump’s move to rescind the program eventually will be overturned.

“It’s beyond reason that he has taken this measure,” she said. “It’s ludicrous and I think it will be overturned.” 


By arrangement with ipolitics.ca. 

Published in Top Stories

by Beatrice Paez in Toronto

When Elizabeth Philibert arrived in Montreal as an émigré in 1979, she immediately felt the city would be her closest connection to Haiti. 

The city’s circle of activists quickly embraced Philibert, who had risked her life on the front lines of Haiti’s anti-Duvalier movement. The movement began in opposition to self-declared "President-for-life" Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and continued against the oppressive regime of his successor and son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. 

Most Canadians may not have heard of Philibert and other Haitian Canadians who, through their collective efforts, influenced Quebec’s cultural and political traditions.

In A Place in the Sun: Haiti, Haitians and the Remaking of Quebec, historian Sean Mills chronicles how the Haitian community, while relegated to the margins, actively challenged the status quo while also finding common ground within it. 

While Quebec was gripped in its fight for sovereignty, Haitians in the province wielded what resources they had to insert themselves into the political debate.

Haitians in the Quiet Revolution

Philibert joined the wave of Haitian immigrants who settled in Quebec in the 1960s and 1980s, drawn by shared linguistic and religious ties. She arrived at a time when members of Montreal’s Haitian community were claiming a stake in Quebec’s political future, and Canada’s international affairs.

While Quebec was gripped in its fight for sovereignty, Haitians in the province wielded what resources they had to insert themselves into the political debate. 

“The importance of Haitians was well known among many Haitians, of course, but it wasn’t part of mainstream understandings of the Quiet Revolution and its aftermath,” says Mills, referring to a period in the 1960s during which the province saw the secularization and expansion of the welfare state in sectors such as health care and education. “I was struck by the involvement of Haitians in the waves of political and cultural activism in the 1960s and 1970s, and I wanted to learn more about these developments.”

Mills’ curiosity led him to delve into the written work of the Haitian diaspora and their oral histories, as told by those who had fled the violence under the two Duvalier regimes. He illuminates the ways Haitians sought to elevate their status in Quebec.

Through their vast literary publications, activism and media appeals they set out to upend a political system intent on shutting them out. 

A Place in the Sun revisits history with a new perspective, and succeeds in delivering a nuanced portrait of their lives during a critical juncture in Quebec’s history. 

“By entering the political sphere and rupturing its traditional composition, they opened a new space for themselves.”

Challenging paternalism 

The first contingent of Haitian exiles came in the 1960s. Most were francophone elites who integrated well into society. The second wave of migrants in the 1970s, representing a poorer class who spoke Creole, faced far more discrimination. 

That they had markedly different experiences speaks to Quebec’s complex perception of Haiti, Mills writes.

Haiti had long held symbolic significance to Quebec, especially in the 1940s as it sought to establish cultural linkages through its Catholic missionary work. Although they were bound by a shared language and colonial legacy, the missionary cause set them on unequal footing. 

It was a relationship defined in familial terms, albeit a paternalistic one, in which Haitians were ridiculed for their religious belief in voodoo and regarded as “childlike” and “devoid of complex thoughts.” 

Mills argues, convincingly, that confined as many were to exploitative occupations in the taxi industry or domestic service, Haitian immigrants refused to be reduced to stereotypes. Instead, they cast themselves as political beings capable of exerting pressure on the government to confront its policies and in some cases, to adopt their cause. 

“They had to fight to find a place for themselves in a political sphere that did not see them as legitimate interlocutors,” Mills writes. “By entering the political sphere and rupturing its traditional composition, they opened a new space for themselves.” 

Culture of activism

For the Haitian diaspora, Quebec became a proxy battlefield through which they could undermine support for the Duvalier regimes.

It helped that Haitians were attuned enough to know that language can be a potent bargaining chip in Quebec. 

One critical test was the “crisis of 1,500” in 1974, when Haitians mobilized support from diverse groups to quash the deportation of non-status migrants.

They appealed both to the “conscience of the population” and used language strategically to position themselves as “ideal francophone immigrants for modern Quebec.” René Lévesque, as Parti Québécois premier, ultimately endorsed their cause on humanitarian grounds, but also for demographic considerations. 

For the Haitian diaspora, Quebec became a proxy battlefield through which they could undermine support for the Duvalier regimes. They compelled Canada to confront its policy of distributing foreign aid to a dictatorship, which had driven many to flee and was ultimately the root of the migrant crisis. 

These efforts weakened the federal government’s claim that they were merely “economic migrants” as opposed to political refugees. It also served as a rallying cry of solidarity between Quebecers and Haitians, both vying for self-determination. 

Although they’ve made significant strides in improving their conditions, the “asymmetrical relationship” between Quebec and Haiti persists, writes Mills. To this day, many of the organizations Haitian immigrants founded remain an enduring force in integrating new arrivals. 

“[I’m] continually impressed by the incredible vitality of the Haitian community,” says Mills. “It’s certainly a world that is very alive and vibrant to this day.” 

Beatrice Paez is a freelance journalist based in Toronto whose work spans from writing about international development issues to the arts and culture. She also writes a public art column for the Torontoist and co-founded The Origami, an online magazine about Asian Canadians in Toronto.


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Books

by Rosanna Haroutounain in Montreal 

While candidates in Quebec are doing their best to reach out to new Canadian voters in the current federal elections, some advocates are hoping that the current Syrian refugee crisis will widen the conversation on how to accept newcomers.

Although political parties have yet to discuss immigration at large in this campaign, members of organizations working for people without status in Canada say this group continues to be overlooked.

“Clearly we pay attention to what’s going on in politics and have some demands as a group, but those aren’t things that are necessarily going to be achieved by a change of leadership in Ottawa,” says Jaggi Singh, an activist who works with Solidarity Across Borders in Montreal.

One of the group’s demands is a regularization program that allows all non-status people who live in Canada to have status. Singh says it’s an issue that will require a significant amount of political mobilization to achieve.

The group is also preparing to defend migrants who are facing deportation after the Conservative government lifted the moratorium on deportations to Zimbabwe and Haiti, Singh adds.

Fayçal El-Khoury, the Liberal candidate in Laval–Les Îles, says both issues are on his party’s radar.

“A Liberal government will invest at least another $100 million this fiscal year to accelerate the processing of asylum applications, without diminishing the quality of the process, and to increase the means available to service sponsorship and settlement in Canada,” he says.

“We can better treat all files received at Immigration Canada including those related to deportations of people from Haiti or Africa,” he adds.

Immigrating to Quebec

El-Khoury came to Canada in 1976 to escape war in Lebanon. He studied civil engineering at Concordia University and started his own construction company.

“We chose to settle in Quebec for the beauty of its landscapes and the warmth of Quebecers towards immigrants.”

“We chose to settle in Quebec for the beauty of its landscapes and the warmth of Quebecers towards immigrants,” he says. “Moreover, since we already spoke French, it was easy for us to come here.”

El-Khoury became the Liberal candidate for Laval–Les Îles in November of last year, and is just one of several Montreal-area federal candidates born outside of Canada.

The NDP’s Paulina Ayala immigrated to Quebec from Chile in 1995. An activist against the Pinochet dictatorship, she says she was disappointed by the democratic transition that followed.

She studied at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)with the intention of returning to her home country, but says after meeting her husband and developing new roots, she decided to stay.

“The love for the politics of my country is very important, so it was a very important choice to become a Canadian,” she says. “I studied the pros and cons very carefully.”

She says part of the reason she became a citizen in 2006 was so she could participate in Canadian politics. In 2011, Ayala defeated the three-term Liberal incumbent, Pablo Rodriguez, to become the MP for Honoré-Mercier.

“People look at me like a model, so when I tell young women I am the first Latin-American woman in Parliament, I always add that I’m not the last,” she says.

“They must re-learn everything, pass exams, and despite all this, it doesn’t mean you will have a job in your field.”

Ayala says in her work as a teacher, learning French was one of the biggest challenges to integration. She says that for other immigrants, the qualifications needed to belong to Quebec’s professional associations and orders pose extra barriers.

“They must re-learn everything, pass exams, and despite all this, it doesn’t mean you will have a job in your field,” she says. She adds that in Montreal it is very common to meet taxi drivers who were engineers before they came to Canada.

“This is an enormous brain drain,” she says.

Collaborating on immigration policy

Ayala says the federal government must engage in more conversation with Quebec, which regulates its own immigration targets and criteria.

While he welcomes the discussion, Singh says the parties’ promises do not go far enough.

“A meaningful response would be an opening of our borders to allow for large numbers of refugees and migrants to come to Canada.”

“This is an issue that goes beyond just one group of refugees,” he says. “It goes to structural changes that have been made to Canadian immigration policies over the last two decades that have made the system more temporary and more difficult for refugees to get in.”

“A meaningful response would be an opening of our borders to allow for large numbers of refugees and migrants to come to Canada,” he says. 

He adds that while this policy might seem radical, Germany is expected to accept 800,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

Candidates for the Bloc Quebecois and Conservative Party of Canada did not respond to requests for an interview.  A Simon Fraser University study provides a brief overview of where each party stands on several immigration issues based on past policies.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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Great changes were on the horizon. It was the end of March 1789. The Estates General had been summoned by King Louis XVI, and the forty “Immortals” of the Académie française gathered in an “secret extraordinary session” to decide what steps to take with respect to the historic assembly that would soon begin.


In the eyes of the Perpetual Secretary, Jean-François Marmontel (1723-1799), their very honor as academicians was at stake, for the silence they had kept up to that point had been interpreted “as a guilty lack of concern, or as humiliating incompetence.”

- The Postcolonialist

Read Full Article, along with the full interview with Dany Laferrière

 

Published in Other Regions

Great changes were on the horizon. It was the end of March 1789. The Estates General had been summoned by King Louis XVI, and the forty “Immortals” of the Académie française gathered in an “secret extraordinary session” to decide what steps to take with respect to the historic assembly that would soon begin.


In the eyes of the Perpetual Secretary, Jean-François Marmontel (1723-1799), their very honor as academicians was at stake, for the silence they had kept up to that point had been interpreted “as a guilty lack of concern, or as humiliating incompetence.”

The Postcolonialist

Read Full Article, along with the full interview with Dany Laferrière

 

Published in Arts & Culture

by Alice Musabende in Ottawa and Jacky Habib in Toronto

Diaspora populations are increasingly being seen as “bridge builders” between host countries and the nations they come from, particularly amid crisis situations as with the recent earthquake in Haiti.

With more and more countries – both in the global North (developed) and South (developing) – acknowledging the value of these migrant communities, several of them have appointed Cabinet-level ministers to specifically tap into this human resource and make economic and trade linkages. As with the 2010 devastating Haiti earthquake, diaspora populations are invariably in the forefront of relief efforts, serving as humanitarian ambassadors for their homelands.

Against this backdrop, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized the world’s first-ever Diaspora Ministerial Conference in Geneva (June 18-19), attended by delegates from 114 countries, including Canada, and 55 ministers and high-level government representation. Canada was represented at the conference by officials in Canada’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the officials who attended the conference did not make any presentations and were there to learn about opportunities to engage diaspora communities in other countries.

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs said the government works with diaspora groups to support trade and development efforts and to better inform our foreign policy. "Diaspora groups have supported Canada's reconstruction work in places like Haiti and helped provide an informed perspective on developments in countries such as Iran and Syria. We will continue to work with diaspora communities in Canada in the pursuit of our foreign, trade and development objectives."

Also attending was Jonathan Crush, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) chair in global migration and development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and a global development studies professor at Queen's University. New Canadian Media was unable to reach Crush in advance of this writing.

According to Peter Schatzer, IOM’s executive coordinator for the conference, the “overwhelming” participation is sign enough that both sending and receiving countries realize the potential of tapping into diaspora networks. Speaking to NCM by telephone (hear the interview mp3 files below) from Florence, Italy, the IOM official said both sides stand to benefit. Host nations such as Canada, France, Britain, the U.S. and Australia see how diaspora groups can help maintain good relations with countries in the global South. For countries of origin, the challenge is to provide incentives that will encourage these migrants to invest in their home countries – such as tax incentives and protections to ensure their investments don’t end up in a sinkhole.

Win-win

The conference provided an opportunity for IOM Member and Observer States to meet with non-governmental organizations, academics, migrants and partners in the private sector to share perspectives on migration-related issues. The focus of discussions was ways to engage diasporas in issues related to development such as poverty reduction and economic growth.

The IOM states that over the last 10 years, a growing number of governments have established bodies and institutions responsible for engaging diasporas. In Canada, this responsibility is managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, whose mission is to develop policies that reach out to all Canadians to increase intercultural understanding.

The conference topic is timely as the United Nation’s approaches its 2015 deadline of accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals. The goals set targets for reducing poverty and maternal mortality, achieving universal primary education and other measures that increase development and improve life for the world’s most at-risk people. With the deadline in sight and much progress to be made, the UN is interested in exploring the role migration will play in the development climate post-2015.

During the conference, attendees learned about various government policies and initiatives and shared case studies and best practices. The discussions and information provided recommendations for IOM to help improve the body’s ability to respond to the needs of both governments and diaspora.

Among the sessions were “Diasporas and States” and “Diasporas and Development,” the later of which addressed topics such as encouraging investment of diaspora capital, skills/knowledge transfer and the role of government in providing incentives for engagement.

Diasporas and Crises

The “Diasporas and Crisis” session aimed to explore the potential of engaging diasporas during and after crisis situations. Discussion included frameworks for ensuring diaspora involvement during a crisis and out-of-country voting in post-crisis situations.

In a background paper (link: http://www.iom.int/files/live/sites/iom/files/What-We-Do/idm/workshops/IDM-2013-Diaspora-Ministerial-Conference/Background-Paper-2013-Diaspora-Ministerial-Conference-EN.pdf) published by the IOM, the organization outlines the potential of diasporas as resources in terms of human, social, economic and cultural capital. The paper also outlines recommendations for governments and those working with diasporas on how to engage these groups and empower them for development.

It insists that familiarizing oneself with diaspora communities alone is not enough. “Knowledge about diasporas is not sufficient to foster collaboration; the foundation of effective engagement strategies is trust‐building.” This challenge is one that IOM issues to governing bodies, non-governmental organizations and others working with migrant communities.

“Diaspora communities are distinctive in that they possess a personal attachment to both their countries of origin with whom they remain engaged, as well as to the countries in which they live,” the paper states. Because of this, it concludes that diasporas create links between countries and strengthen cultural, political and economic ties. – New Canadian Media

Additional resources –
IOM’s website on diaspora - http://www.iom.int/cms/idmdmc

THE DIASPORA HANDBOOK: Developing a Road Map for Engaging Diasporas in Development: A Handbook for Policymakers and Practitioners in Home and Host Countries - http://www.migrationpolicy.org/bookstore/thediasporahandbook.php

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This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in International
Friday, 22 February 2013 15:00

Give a child in Haiti a bed

By Jasminee Sahoye Most of us believe that a child needs a nice cosy bed to sleep on. The reality is that many people in developing countries, especially children, are…

 

The Caribbean Camera

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Published in Other Regions

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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