Family immigration

US based Immigration Policy Center, the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council, has released a paper today on family immigration. Family Immigration: Repairing Our Broken Immigration System addresses the challenges, gaps and lays out what they see as “the key principles for family immigration within the context of  comprehensive immigration reform”. Some useful information for Canada to also consider. An excerpt from the introduction follows.

Principles for reform of the family immigration system:

  • Family unification must remain a fundamental pillar of U.S. immigration policy. Proposals that sacrifice family immigration for the sake of employment-based immigration create an unfair and erroneous dichotomy. Family immigrants work and contribute to the U.S. in many ways. Both the family-based and employment-based immigration systems can be fixed without sacrificing one for the other.
  • The current backlog of family-based immigrants must be cleared, and law-abiding families must be reunited in a humane and reasonable timeline. There are several possible options to clear the backlogs and promote family unification, including moving spouses and minor children into the “immediate relatives” category.
  • The spouses and minor children of legalized immigrants must be issued visas at the time of the primary applicant’s legalization. Including spouses and children in the legalization provisions will help to prevent future backlogs.
  • Unused and unclaimed family-based visas must be recaptured, and a mechanism to ensure that future unused visas are not wasted must be created. Congress authorizes a set number of visas to be made available annually. When these visas go unused, the problems with backlogs only worsen. Recapturing visas would not overstep the numerical limits set by Congress, but it would alleviate some of the consequences of visa oversubscription.
  • The numerical caps on family-based immigration must be revisited and brought in line with current realities. The last adjustments to the numerical caps were made in 1990.  These numbers must be reconsidered and brought up to 21st century requirements.
  • USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) must receive the resources necessary to resolve backlogged family immigration cases and ensure that processing backlogs do not reoccur. True reform means eliminating the circumstances that led to the problems in the first place.

European seminar on early child education and care: Services and promotion of social inclusion

ChildONEuropethe European Network of National Observatories on Childhood is hosting a forum on social inclusion/exclusion on Jan 28/10 in Italy. International governmental and NGOs will participate in this comparative analysis of the situation in the European Union, promoting the importance of fostering social inclusion and “fighting against the risk of social exclusion of socially disadvantaged children as well as migrant children…”.

For more info, see the ChildONEurope website.

Findings from the New Canadian Children & Youth Study: Public forum in Toronto

CERIS (Ontario Metropolis Centre) and Ryerson University present findings from the New Canadian Children and Youth Study on Fri. Jan 22/10 12noon to 2pm at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University. Dr. Morton Beiser will present. Moderated by Dr. Laura Simich, domain leader for health and well-being at CERIS. RSVP to, or by phone at 416.946.3110. More info: visit the CERIS webiste.

No right to dream: New research on undocumented migrants, UK

Commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the research project “No Right to Dream: Young Undocumented Migrants” will be conducted in three regions (London, North West and the Midlands).

From the brief: “The research will therefore focus on the voices of young undocumented migrants about which little is known and will explore and develop the key themes around lives and livelihoods including: experiences of employment; social networks; community involvement; links and obligations with friends and family in their country of origin; how being undocumented impacts on their lives and the longer term goals and aspirations of young undocumented migrants”.

For more information, including PDF briefs in English, Portuguese, Chinese, Kurdish, Turkish, Ukranian, Sbona, Ndeble at the Young Undocumented Migrants website.

Interviewing immigrant and refugee children

BRYCS – the US-based group – Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services has released a guide on best practices in interviewing newly-arrived immigrant or refugee children. The introduction to this guide says that in the US, agencies that receive any federal funding must provide “services of an equal quality to people who have Limited English Proficiency” (LEP) and “To provide equal quality services, it is vital to allow LEP children and families to use the language that they are most comfortable speaking”, meaning that federally funded agencies must provide bilingual interviewers or foreign language interpreters.

Does anyone know if Canada has any similar requirement? Should we?

Integrating immigrant children: What are the indicators?

I’m reading Immigration and integration in Canada in the twenty-first century, a McGill-Queen’s University and Metropolis publication edited by John Biles, Meyer Burstein and James Frideres (2008).

In the chapter Creating an Inclusive Society, author Frideres talks about the need for accurate tools and indicators to measure immigrant integration. In reviewing a list he has developed, I note that immigrant children are invisible.

Frideres lists 3 categories: structural, community and individual. I’ll list a few of his indicators in each category and, underneath each section, suggest a few in the same category that might be applicable to children. (NB “children” on this site means those from birth to age eight). Please jump on in and help me build a comprehensive list!


  • Quality of services immigrants receive (e.g., health care, education)
  • Role of media in portraying immigrants and migration
  • Use of social security, welfare and other social policy instruments
  • Systemic integration
  • Policies and programs that support fledgling immigrant communities and/or respond to their distinct needs and experiences (e.g., language programs)
  • Program evaluation (e.g., host programs).

Structural indicators for immigrant children: Quality of services fits for children too, I’d want to include, along with health care, early education, child care, recreation and community programs. And since children live in families, family support programs and services would also be specified, e.g., language instruction programs for parents with parallel programs for children: for the youngest, quality child care but for children 4 and up, programming can and should include language and settlement. These all fit in the indicator  “Policies and programs that support fledgling immigrant communities and/or respond to their distinct needs and experiences”. Immigrant and refugee children have very distinct needs and experiences apart from their parents and other adult family members. Early learning, child care, family resource and support programs can be evaluated with regard to their responsiveness to newcomer children and families.


  • Civic participation, including:
  • knowledge about civic processes
  • host community responsibility for promoting citizenship
  • host community providing opportunities for immigrants
  • Social climate of host community with regard to immigrants
  • Degree of coordination of federal policies and programs
  • Extent of partnership programs among various stakeholders.

Community integration for immigrant children: Just as immigrant children need to be understood in the context of their families, newcomer families must be understood in the context of their communities. Many of the above indicators would, again, fit for children, so degree of coordination of federal policies and programs (e.g., LINC programs and childminding programs), partnerships among various stakeholders (e.g., settlement workers in schools and library settlement partnerships). The indicator “social climate of host community” is important here. Are newcomer children welcomed in the neighbourhood park, local community centre, etc.? As for “civic engagement”, school-age children are capable of grasping some basics in this area and participate in community activities that can be framed as civic engagement, i.e., Girl Guides, 4H clubs, etc.


  • Number of associations in which the individual is involved (all types):
  • intensity of involvement
  • duration of involvement
  • Immigrant understanding of Canadian institutional structure
  • Host/immigrant community members feeling of security and belonging
  • Individual levels of prejudice/discrimination
  • Knowledge (formal and informal) of one of the official languages
  • Public (both immigrant and native-born) attitudes – general and specific
  • Number of contacts.

Individual integration of immigrant children: The above indicators clearly apply to adult integration but we can, for example, modify “understanding of Canadian institutional structure” to ability to navigate the school-yard, to understand expectations of the child’s new school setting, etc. Knowledge – and use – of an official language is also a fit for children.

Can you suggest other indicators that reflect how (well) immigrant children integrate?

Canadian Council for Refugees winter working group meetings

The Canadian Council for Refugees Winter Working Group meetings will be held in Toronto February 26-27/10. On Fri Feb 26/10, 2 working groups will address Overseas Protection and Sponsorship and Immigration and Settlement. On Sat Feb 27/10, the working group will be meeting on Inland Protection. All working group meetings will include discussion of family reunification. See the page for more information.

Folks who attend the CCR meetings rave about them. Have you ever been?