The Comment

Priorities: deportation or immigration?

TORONTO  – We are entering a pre-election period. There is never a better indicator than when issues revolving around the proverbial ‘political whipping boy’ are trotted out for public debate. As per the main estimates for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC), 2024-25, plan is focused on permanent residents’ admissions targets of 485,000 in 2024 and stabilizing at 500,000 thereafter.

Let us “follow the money” and see where that takes us. Whether one agrees with it or not, the Federal budget plan for all of government financial expenditures rose to a historical high of $442.1 Billion.

It is a different picture in Immigration. Total budgetary expenditures in 2022-23 for the IRCC were $5.21Billion (figures rounded); the Estimates for 2023-24 to date climbed to $6.32 Billion. For 2024- 25, the Estimates are for $ 4.2 Billion. Whether one compares this figure to last year’s total or for the previous year’s, it is a substantial reduction in resources dedicated to achieving goals in Immigration and the socio-economic objectives expected of it.

The Prime Minister seemed to concede that point and to introduce a new theme on the matter on Thursday last week, in Winnipeg. He alerted everyone to the fact that the Minister for IRCC was in the process of developing a plan he would present to Parliament next month – June, just before the House recesses for the summer. It involves “re-assessing” some people who are already here – but do not ‘fit the plan’. Who and how many?

If that is the case, we would have to deport them. The Main Estimates, in respect of IRCC, speak of “Immigration [as] a defining feature of Canada. It has contributed, and continues to contribute, to Canada’s economy and society in long-standing, meaningful ways… everyone who lives in Canada is an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant… immigration has created the Canada we all enjoy today, immigration is central to our future.” (emphasis added)

It does not speak to deportation, who or how “undesirables” may have infiltrated our society. However, the Minister, who in recent past has said the Department is a mess, has already mandated attention to the International Student Visa program.

The Main Estimates announce that a “reform of the International Student Program is under way to strengthen program integrity and address student vulnerability and unethical recruitment… [and that] complementing the reform is a two-year intake cap on international student permit applications to stabilize new growth.”

Think of the direct, self-inflicted, condemnations inherent in the bolded text. How will those ‘torts’ be addressed? Canadians may have to wait for the Minister’s plan in June. For now, IRCC will reduce spending on its priorities by $97, 250, 042 this year, by a further $103,125, 479, in 2025-26 and by $116, 896, 479 in 2026-27 and after.

It seems to this humble servant of the King that ‘abuses’ in the system or the sought after ‘objectives’ of the demographic goals of IRCC will suffocate on the vine. They will be replaced by calls for total Amnesty or severe Deportation Plans.

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