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Minister Hussen’s Two- Step on Undocumented Workers

Minister Hussen’s Two- Step on Undocumented Workers

TORONTO – The Government of Canada recently announced its three-year Immigration Plan. It proposes to grant “Permanent Residency status” to one million people who may wish to “become Canadians”, provided they file an acceptable application that attests to their ability to successfully integrate into our country.
 In 2017, for example, as illustrated in a telling graphic generated by our own Francesco Veronesi, April 9, 2018, the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship granted Permanent Residency status to 286,000 applicants.
Canada expects (hopes for?) another roughly 600, 000 over the next two years to fills the labour-market demands of an expanding economy. Maybe that number is too small.
From where will Canada “import” one million more applicants? Will we recruit, or will we simply wait to the “hordes” to apply? That is a public policy debate Mr. Veronesi’s reports on Immigration has been inviting for the last four years.
It is a tough debate, one that always involves discussions of “quality and quantity” – “exclusion versus inclusion”. One would be surprised at who is “excluded”; but that is a different article. For this one, it is important to note that some have already begun to state the obvious and to “push the envelope”.
There are one million “non-applicants” in our midst. Commonly called “undocumented workers” (UW), wryly baptized “ghost workers” by one employer in the construction industry, at a meeting I attended last Fall, these “non-applicants” are already integrated into our marketplace.
And yet, these UWs are beyond the ability of the policy-makers and “process designers” in the bureaucracy to fathom or control. 
Everyone knows the UWs are here. Several City Councils in the Golden Horseshoe have declared themselves “Sanctuary Cities” to prevent the federal government from removing them.
The one million number was made official by MP Peter Fonseca (Mississauga-Cooksville) and MP Sonia Sidhu (Brampton-South), co-chairs of the Liberal Caucus Immigration Committee, citing Departmental officials as the authoritative. 
It is a big number – three times the number of people who live in the entire city of Vaughan. Hard to miss. Harder to ignore. Imagine the humanitarian and logistical nightmare of removing the entire cities of Vaughan and Markham combined, if one were to “deport” the same number of people the government now says it wants to “import”. 
What an economic disaster waiting to happen. All for the sake of filling out the appropriate papers in the appropriate place according to criteria that make sense only to someone detached from the needs of the marketplace. Why not address the issue proactively instead?
In a letter dated April 9, 2018, The Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, wrote to Manuel Alexandre (Chair of the Undocumented Workers Committee) summarizing the issue as a [simple] question “of status grants and status resolution”.
His former colleague, John McCallum, then Minister for Immigration, in 2016, had authorized Caucus MPs Fonseca, Sidhu and others to work with Alexandre’s Committee to promote a “pilot project” as a means to achieving that end for “visa-overstays”.
There is nothing “pilot” or innovative about the idea, nor about the authority to engage in the development of a working “model” through which Canada will the grant Permanent Residency status to anyone – including UWs already here. The only real concerns have to do with security and criminality. 
Minister Goodale, a lawyer, is the Dean of Cabinet (only one other MP has a longer record of service in the House of Commons). He responded to Alexandre’s request for clarity by confirming that ”the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, (now Ahmed Hussen) has the “authority to grant permanent resident status from within Canada based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”
It was pretty clear to John McCallum. He told his colleagues to “get moving”. Minister Goodale further elaborates that his cabinet colleague has “legislated authority to create public policy categories for permanent applications to be processed from within Canada”. 
In other words, Mr. Alexandre, the promise the Minister for Immigration made regarding a pilot project, a model, a proposal, a category or in-Canada class for processing the applications of the people for whom you advocate is founded in fact and in law. From the moment the Minister publicizes intent (gives instructions), that is the “project”.
If the current Minister wants to reverse the commitment of his predecessor, it is his prerogative. But he cannot have his acolytes swallow themselves whole and now deny the program exists. It would end up aggravating the problem his predecessor was trying to solve. He could probably find justification, somehow. But, his reversal would end up unleashing “drive-by smears” and “character assassinations” against those who took the Minister’s prior commitments seriously and meticulously tried to put them into action.
Minister Hussen may want to focus on Refugees and on Deportation. In that event, Minister Goodale hints at a subtle suggestion: those who have been issued a removal order should know that both he and Minister Hussen have “the authority to stay removals”.
                                  ( …. continued)
 
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