Immigration? Canada points the way
Psst! All that gaggle of Republican presidential aspirants looking for “solutions” to the thorny immigration issues:
Not for the first time, why not look to Canada? Our northern neighbor has had an immigration procedure as fouled up as ours, even if it does have more recent immigrants than any other country except Australia. But as of January, it turned to the practical task of sorting out that vast world out there that wants to come to North America. It is using a sieve for the qualified, rather than those standing longest in line. It has already brought in or tapped temporary residents who though unemployed were facing the end of their working visas. It will still use family reunification but it is setting out more detailed criteria.
But the new “Express Entry “takes a passive, paper-driven first-in-line system,: Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, told the Financial Times, “and replaces it with a proactive, recruitment-driven pool of talented people…”
It has also switched away from China, the Philippines and India and back to giving Ireland, Britain and Germany more preference, profiting, Ottawa hopes on a period when the U.S. seems less welcoming. [The Canadians rubbed salt in the wound in 2013 when they set up a billboard in Sillicon Valley “H-1B problems? Pivot to Canada”, anticipating their new program.] It’s true the U.S. already authorizes 85,000 high-skilled workers entry annually. But American industry sources say that is far short of demand and some high-skilled multinational companies are already speculating Canada’s new green card may attract industry as well as skilled workers..
The new Canadian system dumps first-come, first-served and substitutes a rolling criteria based on demands for skilled workers. It will match perspective immigrants much faster with labor demand using a digital data bank. The data will include complete personal and work records and score applicants. If all goes well, Ottawa expects to bring in 280,000 permanent residents this year with two-thirds of them “economic immigrants”.
Critics claim the proposed system isn’t all that transparent, at least as to how the final decision-making is going to be done. There are complaints, too, that it discriminates against low-skill immigrants and will abandon some of the much touted effort to achieve diversity. But even Premier Philippe Couillard, in always argumentative Quebec, which strives for francophone migrants as its own native population dwindles at a rapid rate, has announced that his province plans to welcome more immigrants through ”the economic classes”.