Child detention in the Canadian immigration system

Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 242 children were detained annually for immigration reasons in Canada, according to the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto. Worth noting here that the numbers are actually higher and do not include children who are not in detention themselves, but who accompany a parent who is detained.

This week, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) responded and issued a News Release, opening with these statements (links and emphasis added):

“As part of the Government of Canada’s work to create a better, fairer immigration detention system, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today issued Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the treatment of minors in Canada’s immigration detention system. This direction is in addition to improvements currently being made to the system.

The key objective of the Ministerial Direction is to – as much as humanly possible – keep children out of detention, and keep families together. The Ministerial Direction makes it clear that the Best Interests of the Child must be given primary consideration”.

Best Interests of the Child, or BIOC, is language from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a party. It means that the BIOC must be “a primary consideration in all state actions concerning children”.

In addition to the Ministerial Direction, CBSA also released:

A critical responses from the field comes from the Canadian Council for Refugees. Read The CCR welcomes government directives to reduce detention of children, but more needs to be done.

Resources:

Kobina: Locked Up, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canada Keeps Kids in Detention, a resource page of the Canadian Council for Refugees CCR Youth Network

Nov 6, 2017 CBC report

Canada’s Detention of Children, Human Rights Watch

Ten years of immigrantchildren.ca

immigrantchildren.ca was founded on November 3, 2007. Ten years ago today. Initially a project of the now defunct Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth, since 2008 it’s been a personal passion of mine. I like to gather and share information and the blog has been a great outlet for me. I hope it’s been useful for you.

Over 10 years, immigrantchildren.ca has shared fun items, engaged in policy discussions, shared calls for papers and conference announcements, posted resources, raised issues and proposed ideas.

The 10 most popular posts:

  1. bzzzspeak ~ how children around the world interpret animal sounds
  2. A re-post of Barbara Kay’s column on the Burka Barbie
  3. Santa Claus gets Canadian citizenship
  4. 10th anniversary of Baker v. Canada
  5. Interculturalism is the new multiculturalism
  6. The Drummond Commission missed opportunities to address immigrant children and families
  7. Top 10 moments for immigrant and refugee children in 2015
  8. Refugee, Aboriginal, Francophone, Multicultural = The Celebration days of summer
  9. Policy advice for the #cdnimm Minister
  10. Books for children on immigration and refugees

A big thank you to everyone who participates on and offline and especially to the five people who have shared so generously their time and insight on immigrant children and youth through my recent ‘Four questions for …’ interview series.

What’s next? I’ll keep you all posted! And, I invite you to share what you’d like to see. Leave a comment here or tweet at me.

Thanks!

Exile

“Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the un-healable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.

“And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement.”

Edward Said, Reflections on Exile

Here’s to never forgetting home

“Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the manicurist who had to leave her family to come here, painting the nails, scrubbing the feet of strangers. Here’s to the janitors who don’t understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their family smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and India who gossip amongst themselves. Here is to them waking up at 4am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfer. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.”

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

The Star: #cdnimm children face financial barriers to citizenship

Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter for the Toronto Star, reports on  recent changes to the citizenship act that allow children, 18 years and younger, to apply for citizenship apart from their parent(s). However the fee is over $500. Previous policy saw parents applying on behalf of their children at a fee closer to $100.

Andrew Griffith‘s take:

“It was likely driven by somebody thinking bureaucratically without thinking about the policy’s intent to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently.

“That’s a lot of money, particularly for this vulnerable population. The government has removed the legal barrier to citizenship for them but has now set up a new financial barrier. Theoretically, more young people could become citizens. In practice, they will find it a lot harder.”

Read the entire story here.

Discounting immigrant families: Neoliberalism & the framing of Canadian immigration policy change

As part of part of the SSHRC project, Immigration Trajectories of Immigrant Families, the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement has released the paper Discounting Immigrant Families: Neoliberalism and the Framing of Canadian Immigration Policy Change.

From the abstract:

“This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework to assist in understanding how the immigrant family is impacted by recent changes to immigration policy in Canada. We contend that neoliberalism, broadly defined, is a helpful lens through which to comprehend some of the specific policies as well as discursive outcomes which have real effects on immigrant families. Based on our findings from an in-depth literature review, our goal is to identify and summarize the recent changes to the Canadian policy environment and to develop a critical conceptual framework through which to understand policy change in relation to families and immigrants”.

The too-brief discussion of the “ideal immigrant” and the “ideal immigrant family” in the paper is provocative, or at least could be. Children, as part of an immigrant family, are social policy orphans. There is little attention devoted to immigrant children, both from the academic/research community and the federal/provincial government departments responsible for citizenship and immigration. The RCIS papers lack of depth on this issue fails to answer the first research question posed in the SSHRC project, i.e., How do all members of the family facilitate or impede the integration of immigrants? The paper briefly touches on the federal policy changes to the definition of dependent children from 22 and under to 19 and under, for children arriving under the economic class and/or family sponsorship. This is an important issue to highlight. Immigrant children, from birth to age eight, are also an important group to address. A federal policy response is warranted. Children in this age group are ripe for shaping, so to speak. It is odd that given the federal governments focus on integration, they are not developing programs, supports and services that promote acculturation. And why isn’t the academic/research community delving deeper?

Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network seeks submissions from youth

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Youth Network is developing a guide whereby newcomer youth can share their experiences and provide useful insights for youth who are just arriving in Canada.The purpose of this alternative guide is to:

Provide an introductory resource that is primarily led by youth and that is specifically directed towards a youth audience.
Create a space for newcomer youth to voice their different experiences in Canada and to facilitate the sharing of useful tips on accessing information.
Connect experiences faced by Indigenous and newcomer youth across the country.
The CCR Youth Network would like to invite youth with immigrant and refugee experiences to contribute to this guide for youth arriving in Canada, by sharing your own stories and views on:

~Adjusting to life in Canada.
~Finding out about different ways of navigating the system in Canada and in different provinces (e.g. finding a school, finding out how to move around and where/who to ask for help in different situations).
~Services, organizations, groups and/or individuals that supported you the most when you arrived to Canada and in what ways.
~Resources you found most useful to learn about how things worked and to meet new people (e.g. community resources, after-school programs, employment, financial and/or legal resources, among others).
~The things that marked your experience the most, both before and after coming to Canada.
~The advice you would like to be able to give to yourself at the time you arrived in Canada.

Criteria for submitting your experiences:
The CCR is looking for stories that speak to refugee and immigrant youth’s experiences in different formats and media and that can be useful in some way for youth who are arriving in Canada. Formats and media may include but are not limited to:
~Poems
~Short recordings/videos
~Short stories
~Illustrations
~Photographs
… and more…

The CCR also welcomes any input about useful resources: for example, you could give us a list of the top 5-10 resources that were most useful to you when you arrived in Canada.

Languages:
All stories can be submitted in English or French. If you would like to submit a story that reflects on your life experiences before and after arriving in Canada, you may also send it in your first language. If you choose to do so, please send an English or French version as well.

Stories may be published anonymously if desired. If you wish to remain anonymous please indicate this in your email and the CCR will not publish your name. Stories must respect the CCR’s anti-oppression policy.

How to submit:
Send your submission by email to yn@ccrweb.ca by May 31, 2014. Submissions sent after that deadline may still be considered.
For more information, please contact the CCR by email.
The CCR strongly encourages submissions from people of colour, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer people.

Source: Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR)
Posted: May 7, 2014 at 12:51 on SettlementAtWork.org

6th ‘On New Shores’ conference: Immigrant and ethnic minority families ~ Bridging across cultural boundaries

For the 6th time, the University of Guelph is hosting an ‘On New Shores’ conference (search immigrantchildren.ca for information about previous ONS conferences). This year’s theme is Immigrant and ethnic minority families: Bridging across cultural boundaries. The conference will be held in Toronto from October 23 – 24, 2014.

From the call for proposals:

The goal of this conference is to bring together various stakeholders (researchers, community and governmental providers) to collectively examine and discuss issues of children, youth, and families in the context of culture and immigration. Whether individuals and families are new to a country and/or belong to a visible minority group, they share many experiences and challenges.
What lessons can be shared? How can we synergize our efforts to develop more culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate research strategies or programs and services in our respective communities? Discussions of organizational stresses and the strategies used to deal with these issues will also be addressed. Researchers from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, social work, education) are welcomed. Community service providers and governmental agencies are encouraged to present work on research, effective programs, social issues, and challenges.
UPDATE: Proposal submission deadline is March 15, 2014. All proposals must be submitted to Dr. Susan S. Chuang by email (schuang@uoguelph.ca), and must be accompanied by a submission form.

Now we are six

immigrantchildren.ca turns six this month. Of course we are reminded of the wonderful A.A. Milne poem and book “Now We Are Six“:

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Top 10 Canadian immigration stories in 2012

2012 was an exceptionally busy year in the Canadian immigration system. Building on last year’s “Top 10 Canadian Immigration Stories of 2011,” Z Sonia Worotynec, Gregory Johannson, Bonnie Mah and Marco Campana present a similar top 10 list for 2012. For each story, we’ve provided a brief introduction, some background and related links and resources.

This year’s overarching theme: while 2011 was the year of consultations, 2012 was a year of change. It brought an explosive number of changes and proposed changes to the ways that Canada selects and treats immigrants, refugees and citizens as well as how we talk about immigrants and refugees. Multiple announcements and re-announcements from the Minister’s office made it challenging to figure out what changes had been made, what had been proposed only, and when changes or proposed changes would take effect.

1. Selection of Economic Class Immigrants
2012 brought big changes to the way economic-class immigrants to Canada are selected. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), often considered the backbone of Canada’s economic immigration, was the target of many of the proposed changes.

2. Refugee Reform
2012 witnessed the most significant reforms to refugee policy in Canada in at least a decade, encompassing legislative and policy changes. The most substantive reforms were passed in Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

3. Facilitating Temporary Residence and Two-Step Immigration
The trend towards temporary resident growth continued in 2012. In particular, a number of changes made it easier for employers to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada.

4. Conditional Permanent Residence
The government enacted a two-year period of conditional permanent residence on sponsored spouses. This could mark a precedent for a new, longer road to permanent status for future Canadians.

5. Focus on Security
The government took various steps in 2012 that can be seen as extending its “law and order” agenda to the immigration and refugee system.

6. Community Response to Immigration and Refugee Reform
Alongside political debate over Bill C-31 (and its predecessors), a more dynamic dialogue has taken place between community members, groups, the media and politicians. The increasing salience of this debate on both sides of the political spectrum is important for all Canadians.

7. Culture Clash?
The niqab has been a hot button political issue in Canada for some time. According to the CBC, the wearing of the niqab has “divided Canadians and even the Muslim-Canadian community, which debates whether the niqab has any religious significance under Islam.”

8. Public Discourse and Immigration
Immigration jumped to the fore of public discourse in 2012. It was a year when information and discourse about immigration was as exceptionally high as it was polarized.

9. Increased Selectivity in Who Becomes a Refugee
In public and political discourse, 2012 marked a departure from the concept of political neutrality in refugee claims. We saw significant politicization of refugeehood, and more common acceptance of the concept that the political realm should have a stake in who receives protection.

10. Citizenship Changes
2012 saw significant changes and proposed changes to Canadian citizenship.

For details on these top ten stories, visit the Maytree blog.