With refugees worldwide today exceeding 50 million people, Canadians take pride in our programs, including one which has brought 40,000 Syrian refugees to our country since late 2015. Two of our former Governor Generals and Ahmed Hussein, our current immigration minister, were once refugees.
The new U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has noted about the post-2012 period, “We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict… Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue.”
While the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, the ultimate goal is to help find durable solutions that will allow them to rebuild their lives. For several million asylum seekers and a greater number of internally displaced people, such solutions are nowhere in sight.
If more residents of the world’s prosperous countries could imagine themselves in the situations of displaced Syrian children and women, or the Christian and Yazidi women captured by ISIS, raped, beaten, and sold in markets as slaves, we could better understand the experiences of many refugees. Similar large victimization is occurring in other nations as well. At present, more than 20 million residents of four African countries are facing famine.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi enslaved by ISIS in 2014, last week attacked the U.N’s failure to bring ISIS fighters to justice. In a searing speech in New York, Clooney stated on behalf of Yazidi victims, “Don’t let this be another Rwanda, where you regret doing too little too late”.
Canada’s Immigration Minister Hussein added independently, “We are at a point in history when many countries are making the choice to close their borders to people, to ideas, to new ways of thinking. Other countries have their sovereign right to do what they want with their policies. In Canada, we made a different choice.”
A study for the Institute for Research on Public Policy a few years ago found that majority support across Canada for high levels of immigration continues, undergirded by pride in multiculturalism and a conviction that newcomers benefit our economy. Canadians were, however, negative about illegals and have major concerns about youths and adults brainwashed by ISIS and others who seek to perpetrate terrorism globally.
Canada has for years favored immigrants with a good likelihood of contributing to our economy. One program measures the capabilities of applicants, who are required to obtain 67 out of 100 points in six categories: education, work experience, language, age, arranged employment, and adaptability. Many thousands of skilled newcomers have come under this program.
In his recent speech to Congress, President Donald Trump identified Canada’s immigration model as being worthy of adoption, saying he wants to switch from the “current system of lower-skilled immigration” to a “merit-based” system.
During most of the first two months of 2017 Canadians officials dealt with almost 4000 asylum seekers entering from the United States, compared with 2500 in the same period of 2016. Minister Hussein has noted that some of those arriving have “valid U.S. visas.”
Many Canadians think the arrival numbers will increase across our country, especially as the Trump administration seems determined to persist in making life more difficult for refugees and immigrants coming to the United States.
Canadian immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk notes:
The reason we have this backlog of illegal immigrants is due, in large measure, to our inability to make it easier for people to comply with Canadian immigration laws and harder for people who do not comply with Canadian immigration laws. The process today for obtaining a work permit in Canada is not easy and therefore unintentionally punishes those who seek to come legally while rewarding those who come illegally.
Both Canada and the United States are nations comprised of Indigenous Peoples, immigrants and refugees. Neither country should be turning its back on this reality in a period of international turmoil. In fact, many nationals who came to Canada before 2001 would not be deemed admissible by today’s focus on economic immigrants. Bearing this in mind could help Canadians understand that the so-called illegals are, for the most part just like we were—newcomers without the financial or educational resources to be considered economic immigrants.
David Kilgour, a lawyer by profession, served in Canada’s House of Commons for almost 27 years. In Jean Chretien’s Cabinet, he was secretary of state (Africa and Latin America) and secretary of state (Asia-Pacific). He is the author of several books and co-author with David Matas of “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.