Montréal,  20 nov. - 3 déc. 1999
Numéro 50
  (page 6)
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 by Ralph Maddocks
          The minute you open your mouth to comment on the recent attempted « immigration » of some six hundred former residents of Fujian province in China, the politically correct media drown you out with cries of « racism ». At least this is what happened to the director of the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee after his appearance on a Vancouver talk show.  
          When he was asked by reporters if his organization was racist he replied with a question. « How is it racist to insist that would-be immigrants or refugees apply through the proper channels and obey the law? » As far as I can tell he is still waiting for an answer.  
          Those of the politically correct mind-set should note that a great deal of the vociferous protestation came from Canada’s own Chinese community who denounced the newcomers as « queue-jumpers ». An astonishing 90 plus percent of the viewers at a Chinese language TV station wanting them to be sent back to China immediately. 
Waiting in the wing 
          The majority of this entire country’s citizenry is comprised of immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Most came here legally and most went through the intrusive and annoying process of applying, being interviewed, filling out forms, etc. Then, when found medically fit, they waited often several months for permission to take a boat or a plane to come to this country and become « New Canadians ». My own experience over forty years ago followed this path, and I recall waiting, along with some two thousand other immigrants, mainly Hungarian refugees, to be interviewed on board our vessel docked in St. John, New Brunswick; a vessel which had just survived nine days in a raging North Atlantic winter storm.  
          Immigration is a problem in many countries, especially in poor economic times when it is easy to claim that the immigrants are taking our jobs. The assumption underlying this claim presumably being that there are a finite number of jobs in any economy. Time after time, studies have shown that this is untrue; immigration is beneficial to a country. Most immigrants succeed in building better lives than the natives of that country do. Often it is because they are prepared to do things which the residents are not, and at lower wages. It is also because many of them create jobs due to their above-average ambition and entrepreneurial spirit. They also tend to save more, saving their money single-mindedly until they achieve their goal. 
          There has been an attempt to label these latest « illegal » Chinese immigrants not as refugees from persecution but as « economic » refugees. As if they were somehow different. The USA in particular is the result of a pretty sizeable influx of « economic » refugees over the years. This distinction is interesting since as a country we support free trade, and if we believe in the free movement of goods between countries then why do we not believe in the free movement of people? 
          There are some who would deport immediately any and all illegal immigrants, as the US and Australia do for example. In spite of the inferences contained in Emma Lazurus’ poem, the US doesn’t seem all that ready to follow her precepts any more. Others believe that we should not have any immigration laws or quotas at all and that anyone who arrives should be allowed to stay. These people claim that a country is not the property of a government or of a majority of its citizens. Others say that the Federal government should invoke the odious « Notwithstanding Clause » and overturn the judgements which have made keeping out the undesirable difficult to enforce.  
 « One may wonder, if the Chinese illegal immigrants who allegedly paid $ 30-40 000 to come here illegally, could not have afforded to come here legally. »
          While agreeing that people, especially refugees from persecution in their own countries, should be welcomed here I do not think that we can, nor should we, abandon some kind of screening process if only to avoid the arrival of disruptive elements. The government of any country, however limited its size or however liberal its outlook, ought not to avoid its fundamental responsibility to create a society in which its citizens can live reasonably free from the threat of theft, assault or murder or other kinds of bodily harm. 
The cost of illegal immigration 
          In recent years, in spite of our present screening system, we have admitted individuals from many different countries who were subsequently found to be involved with gangs. There are also examples of people coming here as refugees, being fed, sheltered and clothed at the taxpayers’ expense and then sometimes, after many months, deported; just to return again illegally and take up a life of crime again.  
          Illegal immigrants to countries such as Canada, Holland and England quickly find out how to get support from government with little or no cost to themselves. Under our laws, since the 1985 Supreme Court ruling that extended to those claiming refugee status the same rights and benefits as any Canadian citizen, we have been experiencing difficulties. As a result, the person who claims to be a refugee can be housed, fed, clothed and provided with legal aid at public expense. Many Canadians resent this, thinking that the rights of a refugee ought to be subordinate to those of the incumbent Canadian citizen. The greatest majority of immigrants who came here legally, got jobs and never got a cent from the Canadian government.  
          In the case of those who came a great number of years ago there was no government money to be had. The churches and private charities dealt with the problems of indigent immigrants. One may wonder too, if the Chinese illegal immigrants who allegedly paid $ 30-40 000 to come here illegally, could not have afforded to come here legally. An interesting snippet of information appeared last August when these Chinese immigrants first landed. According to a CBC report, the ICA (Inter-Cultural Association) in Victoria had started recruiting more personnel and translators a week before knowing that the illegal immigrants from Fujian would be released into the community. Perhaps the « C » really stands for clairvoyant.  
          Even a cursory reading of the press over recent years provides many examples of the way in which our immigration laws are broken and the sometimes baffling judicial pronouncements which ensue at subsequent hearings. We read of judgements such as that of the convicted pedophile from Guatemala who managed to convince a judge that « he can control his urges »; so he is allowed to stay in Canada. In stark contrast, that same day, a young Japanese woman was given 10 days to leave with her baby; this is a woman who has supported herself and saved $ 13 000 dollars in the process.  
          We read of 20 000 refugee claimants being deported after due process, which with appeals means at the very least an 18 month stay in Canada at the taxpayer’s expense. We read that it can cost taxpayers upwards of $ 50 000, per illegal refugee per year, while they are awaiting deportation because of a criminal record. This is a staggering sum of money, over 1 billion dollars in fact. An interesting contrast with a Canadian pensioner who, after a lifetime of subscribing to an Old Age Security pension, gets just over $ 5 000 a year; but then pensioners don’t have a group of dedicated lawyers to defend their interests. 
          When critics ask just what is the government doing about all this they are told that a review of the Immigration Act has been in progress for two years. After such a lengthy period of reflection it will be interesting no doubt to see what changes will be proposed and if they will be adopted. Will these changes meet the demands of our neighbours to the south who are much displeased by Canada acting as a conduit for the flow of illegal immigrants across their border? Will these changes expedite these interminable hearings thus reducing the cost to the long suffering taxpayers?  
          As they say, « Don’t hold your breath ». 
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