Immigration consultant hoping to see debate on illegal immigration in Canada
President Barack Obama’s executive order to give partial amnesty to about 4.5 million illegal immigrants with family members born in the United States, with many conditions and regulations attached, has wakened the question of what to do regarding Canada’s undocumented aliens.
While the U.S. has about 13 million undocumented immigrants, Canada has about 75,000. (The estimates range from 50,000 to over 100,000.)
The political divide and the poisonous debate about immigration in America is alien to Canada’s political culture. Most Canadians are fair-minded when it comes to immigration issues. But when it is related to the undocumented people who disobey rules, overstay illegally or enter Canada without proper papers, they are looked upon with utmost disrespect and suspicion.
People who jump the regular queue are not generally welcomed in Canada. It is, as Professor Peter Showler said, “a very high Canadian value” to oppose this kind of behaviour, regardless of the unfairness of current rules or circumstances.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently commissioned a poll about the issue and found that nearly two-thirds of Canadians had unfavourable opinions on the undocumented immigrants in Canada. They prefer them deported over granting them special status.
The next federal elections in 2015 should be an opportunity for Canadians to ask questions, debate these issues and demand answers regarding the about 75,000 undocumented people living underground in fear of government agencies and in fear of the daylight.
Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, immigration consultant, ICCRC, Ottawa
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