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Bad News For Our Upstairs Neighbors, Eh?
It seems so obvious -- taking in immigrants because it's good for our country as opposed to good for them -- why haven't we done it before?

I'm not opposed to giving refuge to the few political prisoners who come our way -- and usually, I'd venture, they're the kind of immigrants who'd serve our society beyond the capacity of most people coming in. But, should we really be putting our tax dollars into giving refuge to people who will clean toilets and pick lettuce?

Kevin Steel writes for the Western Standard in Canada, worrying that the U.S. is about to adopt Canada's "immigration point system" -- meaning changing our immigration system from family-based to merit based:

Sean Fitzpatrick is very worried. He sees, just over the proverbial horizon, a big "brain drain" coming to Canada. The last time the brain drain captured the Canadian public's attention was just before the turn of the millennium, at the height of the Internet investment bubble. Canadians, caught up in the explosion of tech stocks, were treated daily to media discussions of how we were losing skilled workers to the United States. When the tech bubble burst in 2000, most of the brain drain discussion disappeared along with it. But with the U.S. playing by new rules, the drain Fitzpatrick foresees now is a little more real.

Fitzpatrick, president and founder of Talentmap, an Ottawa-based employee research and survey company, knows the Americans are on the verge of changing their immigration system from family-based to merit-based, and that the effect on Canada could be profound. Specifically, they are debating whether they should adopt the points system, where a prospective immigrant is awarded points for education and experience and qualified on that basis. Not only would the change make it easier for Canada's best and brightest to live and work in the gigantic American marketplace, it would make it easier for anyone in the world to work there. And the change will make it that much harder for Canada to attract talented immigrants to solve its own labour shortages. "I say this is a really big concern, one that we are underestimating," Fitzpatrick says.

...The irony here is that Canada stands to become a victim of its own success. The points system was developed here and implemented in 1967. Prior to that, prospective immigrants were chosen more on the basis of country of origin; people from England, Australia and even the U.S. were all given priority. At the time it was thought the system carried a whiff of racism, and was too arbitrary. Valerie Knowles, a Toronto-based writer and author of Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006, says for at least the first 20 years of the points-based system, it was very highly thought of and there was a great deal of confidence in it on the part of the administrators. "It did allow for some individual judgment, but it did do away with a lot of capriciousness and a certain degree of prejudice. That's why other countries have wanted to emulate it," says Knowles. However, it certainly isn't perfect. Knowles says in the last 20 years, the Canadian system has become somewhat complicated. Overall, though, Canada's immigration process is recognized internationally as a success. In 1989, Australia implemented a points system, and two years later New Zealand followed suit. Six years ago the United Kingdom did the same. Now many European countries are considering following Canada's lead.

The result, however, is that the Canadian advantage--through the innovation of its immigration system--has been slowly dwindling. Finn Poschmann, senior policy analyst for the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, calls the threat very real. "Canada has been a beneficiary--for decades now--of brain-dead U.S. immigration policy; their mechanism was tilted towards bringing [in] low-wage, low-skilled workers, and making it more difficult for economic migrants with skills to enter the U.S.," Poschmann says. Switching to the points system, he adds, is a big leap forward for them.

Bad news for Canada, great news for us. And even one of the biggest idiots on immigration, Mr. Gramnesty himself, Lindsay Graham, has come around to the merit-based notion -- surely, finger in the wind-style.

Posted by aalkon at August 29, 2007 10:54 AM

Comments

Good for all highly skilled workers around the world who now find it almost impossible to emigrate to USA without first getting a job there. But I feel USA should not fall into pitholes that Canada now are in. The drawbacks of Canadian point based skilled worker immigration can be summarised as:
1. There are almost a billion people waiting in the immigration queue. It takes more than 5 years for people from most filing stations around the world to land in Canada.
2. People who do not have English as their first language are facing an uphill task to integrate into Canadian society. Their credentials are not taken as Canadian equivalent, so they don't get the same job they did back home in their countries of origin, although Ottawa is going in the right direction to improve this situation. Hence a lot of doctors and engineers end up driving cabs.
3. People who emigrate find it difficult to get the first job, simply because they don.t have the "Canadian experience". The Governement of Canada should give focus on this area and canvas the Canadian companies to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society by removing this hurdle.

If the new US immigration system avoids these then it can overtake Canada in immigration

Posted by: Tom at August 29, 2007 10:44 PM

Don't you think knowing English should be important for immigrants, and there should be pressure to learn it? If you're my emergency room doctor, it's best if you don't need to communicate with me in Urdu.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 7:48 AM

I guess all the French speaking ones get channeled into Quebec? How does that work?

I thought that people that live in Canada as landed immigrants can sponsor all their relatives to come over. I've seen plenty of non-doctor and non-engineers who dont' speak any English, so how did they sneak past all these guidelines?

Posted by: Chrissy at August 30, 2007 10:21 AM

Technically, we have two official languages across the "whole" country so theoretically, if you speak French you could go anywhere. However, you'll find only a smattering of people who only speak French outside of Quebec and a fairly small percentage of bilingual folks. One of those 'lovely' leftovers from the late Mr. Trudeau. He was quite a character, but retarded in the policy area, in my opinion.

I don't get the not speaking English question...we don't require anyone to know the language before coming over which is why people who were doctors or engineers in their home country end up driving cabs. Like Amy said, who's going to hire a doctor that you can't talk to?

As for sponsoring families....I've got no experience about how it actually works, but the rules state you can sponsor your spouse, dependent children, parents, grandparents and orphaned relatives under the age of 18. You can't sponsor your adult cousins, brothers, sisters, neices, nephews, etc. However, you can sponsor one of these "other" relatives if you don't have any of these other family members and no other somehow related person living in Canada. Sounds like you get one freebie so to speak. Sponsoring requires a sponsorship agreement where you agree to financially support whoever you sponsor for 3-10 years if they can't do it themselves. Also, if you reneg on a sponsorship agreement (as either the sponsor or sponsoree) you aren't allowed to sponsor anyone else.

I'm no expert, but I don't think immigrants on welfare is our problem here...its that we bring in these highly skilled people who can't speak English so they are way underemployed.

For example, my son's best friend in grade 1 was from Turkey. His parents were in their late 40's and in Turkey he had been a social worker and she a teacher. They were decent, middle class people, but thought their son would have better opportunity here. The kid picked up English just fine in school and she did alright because she taught German so had some knack for language. However, her teaching credentials were no good here unless she took a couple years of school which they couldn't afford. He had a heck of a time picking up the language at 47. It was a catch-22. He couldn't get a job without English, yet without a job where he's integrated into day-to-day English conversation, picking up English was a bitch. Our government gave them enough to cover rent & food while they went to ESL courses, but how many of us really learn a language in class....you really learn it when you HAVE to use it. After 3 years of just scraping by, they headed back to Turkey. So not only did we pay to support them for that time, their inability to get a toehold here meant we lost any benefit of the skills they brought with them! And now their son is fully bilingual....you're welcome!

Posted by: moreta at August 31, 2007 7:57 AM

By "People who do not have English as their first language", I meant those who have English as their second language and are able to communicate in English well. Even such people face problems in getting job in Canada, also 'coz they lack the so called "Canadian experience". Most of these immigrants are under-employed (do not get the same job they did in their countries of origin) and a few end up driving cabs.

Posted by: Tom at September 1, 2007 12:40 AM

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