Is It Time For An Amnesty?

November 28th, 2006

There are more than 200,000 undocumented individuals, more commonly known as illegal immigrants, currently residing in Canada.

Most have integrated in Canadian society and contribute to our economy by working at jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. The problem is that they did not play by the rules in getting to Canada or if they did enter legally, they have since overstayed the date by which they should have left.

What should be done with these individuals? More to the point, should they be granted some sort of amnesty and be “officially” allowed to remain in Canada?

These questions have no easy answers and they have been bandied about by successive Canadian governments for more than a decade. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the amnesty issue. Those in favour of amnesty contend that, for a host of reasons, it makes sense to regularize the status of these people and, in any event, we lack the resources to effectively remove them from Canada. Those opposed to amnesty retort that we make a mockery of the immigration processing system by rewarding individuals who chose to ignore its rules.

Both camps make valid points. While I respect the position of those against amnesty, I am in favour of Canada granting amnesty to undocumented individuals for the reasons that follow:

– Most undocumented individuals in Canada have been in the country for many years. It used to be relatively easy to enter Canada but that is no longer the case. In the last few years Canadian immigration authorities and border service personnel have become much more vigilant in preventing unauthorized individuals from entering the country. So we can expect that there will be fewer and fewer new undocumented people in Canada in the future. Now that our borders are less penetrable it makes sense to regularize the status of everyone within those borders.

– Many of the current undocumented people in Canada are former refugee seekers, whose claims were denied. They simply went “underground” rather than leave Canada. Perhaps, with good reason. The Canadian refugee determination process in horribly flawed. Safeguards were put in the enacting legislation that were meant to protect the system’s integrity but the government never implemented them. Within the last few months one Refugee Board member was convicted of accepting bribes and another has been charged by the RCMP with accepting sexual favours from a woman in return for “help” in her refugee claim. One can only imagine how many worthy asylum seekers had their claims rejected because they refused to pay bribes or provide sexual favours.

– There is already a shortage of workers in Canada. In the Toronto area alone, thousands of construction jobs are being filled by undocumented workers, who probably do not report their incomes to the taxing authorities. Remove them from their jobs and the economy will suffer. It makes more sense to “legitimize” them and at least begin collecting income tax from them. Yes, it would be better to replace undocumented workers with temporary foreign workers on Work Permits but Canada’s Foreign Worker Program is relatively slow and somewhat clumsy. Canadian employees, in general, are reluctant to jump through the required hoops to recruit foreign workers.

– Finally, provincial health and social services departments need to know how many people really live in their jurisdictions. From the hiring of teachers and law enforcement personnel, to the building of schools and hospitals – all of this is based on having an accurate head count.

For these reasons, I feel it is time to bring undocumented individuals in Canada into the system.

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5 Responses to “Is It Time For An Amnesty?”

  • On November 3rd, 2009, Anonymous said ...

    I came to Canada in 2002 from the UK where I worked for the Crown for 24 years. I am a retired Civil Servant and live here alone on my UK occupational Pension. (I do NOT work here) but I pay taxes on everything I buy. I own my own home and pay a mortgage, My credit rating is excellent, I'm in good health, I'm not a burden on the Canadian tax payer. I am not looking for anything for free, I just want the peace of mind of being able to call myself legal. Is that too much to ask? It's time to stand up and be counted I would welcome an amnesty because I've nothing to hide. Although I'm afraid I must remain anonymous at this time.

  • On December 25th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    I %100 agree, we are the 2nd biggest country, why do you want people who are working to make a better life out, just give them residency or work permita and give them opportunity of life. please do not forget Life, Liberty nad the pursuit of happiness.

  • On March 2nd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    As the government has more control on borders, should give a chance for those who remain in Canada at the end,we have integrated in one way or another to this society, most of us came here legally whatever was and the government would be doing justice allowing people being part of it.

  • On May 23rd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    its time the canadian government give amnesty , (1) canada is a big country with a big gap of againg population , who is going to pay the taxes ,take care of the older people .etc.. these people are willing to do they jobs what no body whant to do , so give them residency and start charging them taxes , if i were one of them ,i will safe all my money and papre to spent and inveast it in my country of orgin and i know this is what they are papering to do , so this will drain canada too . People should be screen before given resident here .Those who commit crime , should be remove , In canada we forgive child rapest , murder ..etc

  • On May 25th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    yes i agree canada ia a big country with a large ageing pupulation , so some one have to pay the taxes and they who are here with out status should be given status , because they physically strong and are willing to do the job that others do not whant to do , you cant expect some who arrive in canada with his/her masters and p.h.d to do these job , what those with out status are dowing . Those who came here with their masters and phd ..etc and are dowing these kind of add job alsways make criticism a lot about canada , so those who love what they are dowing give them a chance , rather that give it to some one with a masters and phd , who hate it .

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