Respect Your Elders
Apparently “respect your elders” is a proverb that officials at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have never heard.
While Canadian citizens and permanent residents have little problem gaining status for their spouses and children, there is an increasing backlog of parents and grandparents hoping to reunite with their family members. A 2005 promise by the Liberals to triple the number of parental and grandparent sponsorships from 6,000 to 18, 000 a year hides the fact that this number is in fact lower than pre-2002 levels. This is simply not high enough, as years of limiting sponsorships to 6,000 a year has contributed to a crippling 100,000 person waitlist.
But the worst part may not be the limits CIC is placing on parental sponsorship, but the opaque way it is doing so. Because CIC does not reveal the processing times for its various immigration offices around the world, a Freedom of Information Act request was filed to obtain the wait times from these immigration offices. This request discovered a backlog of parent’s and grandparent’s sponsorship applications that may, like at the Hong Kong office, take 9 years to clear.
Yet these backlogs are not uniform around the world. Parents migrating from the US and processed at the Buffalo office will gain permanent residency much faster than offices in New Delhi, Beijing, and elsewhere in Asia. Because processing times are a direct result of the number of immigration agents CIC places at a given office, the question is: who is making these decisions?
The Canadian government has been about as transparent as a puddle of mud when it comes to explaining how each office is prioritized. Why should parents from Asia have to wait longer than parents from the US, if both are sponsored by Canadian citizens or permanent residents? It seems that officials in CIC have decided to do some social engineering, without making the process accountable to Canadians. A parent is a parent is a parent, no matter the country they come from, and if the Canadian government believes otherwise, they should explain to the public why this is so.
The lack of transparency by the government on this issue seems tied to their unwillingness to prioritize parents and grandparents the way they do spouses and children. As CIC discriminates against one type of immigration application, immigration officials should remember that reunited families make for stable citizens. By forcing the government to be transparent on this issue, we may also force them to explain why there are over 100,000 parents and grandparents waiting to reunite with their families in Canada. After that, it will be much harder to continue leaving mom and dad out in the cold.
Blog written by David Cohen on Friday, June 16, 2006