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May 2000, Volume 7, Number 5

Canada: New Law

The proposed Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would impose fines of up to C$1 million and life in prison for traffickers who are involved in the smuggling of ten or more migrants, speed up the consideration of asylum applications and detain some asylum applicants. For more information:

Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan said, "Closing the back door to those who would abuse the system will allow us to open the front door even wider -- both to genuine refugees and to the immigrants Canada will need to grow and prosper in the future." Caplan said that she wants to achieve the Liberal Party's election campaign promise to increase the annual intake of immigrants to one percent of the Canada's population -- about 300,000; in recent years, 200,000 to 225,000 immigrants arrived.

Caplan traveled to China in April 2000, and said that Canada would expedite the return of illegal migrants to China and launch a campaign to warn young Chinese about the dangers of "putting their futures in the hands of snakeheads." China believes that Canada encourages illegal migration by considering asylum claims from all those who arrive. Of the 599 illegal Chinese immigrants caught in 1999 attempting to enter Canada on boats, 11 were granted refugee status by April 2000, 356 remain in detention centers and about 100 cases still have to be finalized—23 were returned to China.

China announced a four-point program to discourage illegal emigration, including education, increased police patrols, severe punishment for smugglers, and more jobs for young people. In Changle, China has begun to announce the capture of migrants leaving for North America, reporting that several hundred were detained as they tried to leave coastal fishing villages, presumably to link up with smuggling ships. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has an officer in Beijing to combat human smuggling, organized crime and international fraud. An estimated 100,000 Chinese leave the country illegally each year; 80,000 are believed to be from a few counties in Fujian province.

Some 200 US citizens applied for asylum in Canada between 1995 and 1999; one American was granted asylum. A Black couple claiming FBI harassment had their asylum application rejected; they are appealing the decision.

Immigration. The C.D. Howe Institute released a report that argues that Canada is losing its best and brightest scientists and engineers to the US, and replacing them with immigrants who "have found it difficult to settle into their declared occupational fields in Canada." For more information:

A second report published jointly by the federal Industry and Human Resources Departments, "International Migration of Skilled Workers: Facts and Figures," concluded that many Canadian professionals and managers are obtaining "temporary" work visas in the US, then staying for long periods. In 1997, some 5,000 Canadian professionals and managers emigrated, while 16,450 went to the US with NAFTA TN visas.

There were several studies of the overall economic impacts of immigration released in April 2000. McGill University professor Jack Jedwab noted that, between 1991 and 1996, immigration accounted for more than half of Canada's population growth and 70 percent of its labor-force growth. If fertility remains at current levels, annual immigration of 210,000 for the next 25 years will result in a population of 36 million in 2026; 270,000 immigrants a year will increase the population to 39 million by 2026. Canada currently has 30 million residents, including 17 percent foreign born.

However, University of Toronto professor Jeffrey Reitz released a study that suggests the economic value of immigration may be overrated, since many new immigrants are having a difficult time breaking into the knowledge-based economy and are suffering in low-paying jobs. Reitz concluded that: "the persistent trend toward declining immigrant earnings threatens the place of immigration as one of the keys to Canada's economic success." In 1981, immigrants in Canada less than five years earned 80 percent of what native-born Canadians earned; in 1996, new immigrants earned 60 percent of what the average Canadian earned, $C20,603 compared to $C33,387.

Human Resources Development Canada in 1997 allowed foreign women to work in Canada as "burlesque entertainers" in strip clubs, and this decision reportedly led to traffickers bringing sex workers from Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union into Canada. Once they arrive, traffickers normally take the women's passports and control their movements. Criminal charges were brought against 300 club owners and sex workers in a year-long investigation in the Toronto area.

Andrew Duffy, "New immigrants are faring worse than previous generations, study discovers," Southam News, April 27, 2000.