Ask and Tell: A Campaign In Defence of Marginalized Legal Canadians

February 22, 2006: Ask and Tell: A Campaign In Defence of Marginalized Legal Canadians

Press Release

A Toronto campaign to assist illegal immigrants has some important questions to answer.

The initiative, referred to as the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell” campaign, would require that police, and all other city employees, not “ask” the immigration status of anyone who reports a crime or looks for social services. Moreover, even if city employees do find out that a person is in Canada illegally, they are not to “tell” Citizenship and Immigration.

This campaign has some very serious implications for Canadians. Here are some specific arguments campaigners have used. Immigration Watch Canada provides a reality check:

(1) “The fear of detention and deportation is preventing Toronto residents without immigration status from accessing essential services such as housing, food banks, education, health care, and emergency services. 'Illegals', people without status, lead a marginalized underground existence which leaves them susceptible to exploitation and oppression.”

Reality Check: The idea that citizens of other countries should be eligible to access the same essential services that Canadian citizens are eligible for is a strange one indeed. Canada already has major problems looking after its own.

In fact, the reality of an inadequate income has driven some Canadians to homelessness and many others to general poverty and inadequate shelter. Canadians are told almost daily of the results of limited government revenues: waiting lists for health care, high post-secondary education fees, very limited spaces for seniors in long-term care facilities, the absence of a national child-care programme, etc. Many have to use food banks to survive. They are unhealthy and overuse health care and emergency services. They, too, lead a marginalized existence which leaves them open to exploitation and oppression.

An important question to ask is this: If Canada has trouble assisting its own citizens, can Canada afford to look after a continued inflow of unemployed or working poor who have arrived here from other countries? Obviously, this campaign is naive to suggest such a thing.

(Note: Canada itself has close to 2 million, officially and unofficially unemployed. Although DADT advocates say that Canada has 200,000 illegal immigrants, our last Minister of Immigration said the number could be as high as 600,000. Also, that Minister, who was a clear supporter of Canada's immigration industry, ironically has been quoted as saying that Canada cannot act as “the social security office for the rest of the world”. DADT advocates should take careful note.)

(2) “A DADT policy would improve the security and quality of life of thousands of people. It would also make a strong political statement in support of migrant workers in the current social and political climate of fear-mongering and anti-immigrant backlash.”

Reality Check: Yes, Canada could improve the quality and security of thousands of people: its own very large numbers of disadvantaged. Most Canadians are generous, but those who know was is going on see that their generosity has been grossly abused.

DADT advocates (and other organizations that have supported them) might do a real and long-lasting favour to Canada by researching the following question: How many homeless and working-poor Canadian citizens does the Toronto area have? Then, in the spirit of Mother Theresa, in whose image they like to dress themselves, they should not “travel to Calcutta” as they have done. Instead, they should do something for the hundreds of thousands of marginalized, legal Canadians who live around them and whom they have chosen to ignore for a supposedly “higher good”.

Unremittingly high immigration levels have left Canada in need of a major “immigration breather”. Reducing Canada's immigration intake and removing illegals would also make a strong political statement. Canada's immigration industry would see that its reign had ended and that the primary emphasis in future immigration policy would be on the needs of Canadians.

(3) “Variations of the policies similar to the one being proposed in Toronto have been adopted in 28 cities in the U.S. For some cities, the impetus has been budgetary…. Other cities have adopted DADT policies for progressive political reasons.”

Reality Check: Policies such as these in U.S. cities have compounded the illegal immigrant problem rather than solved it. The U.S. is currently estimated to have between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants, many of them from Mexico. Illegal immigration has increased in the U.S., in part because of the lack of a co-ordinated municipal/state/federal government effort to deal with it. In addition, a solution to illegal immigration has been muddied by a transfer of sympathy from American poor to America's illegal immigrants.

DADT advocates have an important question to answer: Is it “progressive” to put the interests of people who have violated Canadian immigration law, taken jobs from Canadians, used existing amenities, and not paid their share, ahead of the interests of Canadians?

(4) “Illegal workers make a significant contribution to the Canadian economy. Jim Murphy of the Greater Toronto Home Builders Association put it bluntly, 'If we didn't have them, we wouldn't be able to build houses.' ”

Reality Check: As U.S. immigration experts have frequently said, immigration policy has resulted in an annual transfer of $200 Billion from workers to employers. To put the matter bluntly, illegal and legal immigration makes a significant contribution to the bank accounts of a large number of American (and Canadian) employers. But it is not good for American (or Canadian) workers.

(5) “Despite well-publicized, regular crackdowns on illegals, the Canadian state has neither the wherewithal nor the inclination to stop their (Illegals') entry into Canada.”

Reality Check: This is the most brazen of the claims of this group. Canada has three oceans and its climate in its favour in the illegal immigration battle. Most illegals do not come across our border with the U.S. Our four natural barriers are a large part of Canada's wherewithall to resist illegal immigration.

Regarding the issue of Canada's inclination: Other law-breakers (from high and low social levels) have found devious ways to cheat Canadian law. Canadians do not expect our law enforcement to lie down and play dead for those cheaters. Similarly, Canadians do not expect our law enforcement to lie down and play dead—as the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” campaigners are advocating—for illegal immigrant cheaters.

The “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” campaign raises three broader questions:

(A) Is this campaign really an amnesty campaign? If so, Canadians have to examine the effects of past amnesty campaigns. For example, in the 1980's, announcements of “administrative reviews” (a code word for amnesties) sent a clear signal to potential refugee claimants that Canada's refugee system could be abused.

The result was a huge increase in refugee claimants. From 1989 on, well over 500,000 people applied for refugee status in Canada. The vast majority of these people were not refugees at all. Many of those who were rejected went into hiding. But for extremely dubious reasons, a very large percentage of all claimants were accepted. Those who were accepted used their new status to begin the “chain migration” process.

Literally hundreds of thousands of those who have entered Canada under the “Family Class” category in the past 15 years can trace their current status back to “refugee claimants” who cheated Canada's refugee claimant process. This process, which began with cheating, continues on a large scale today–with abuse.

In summary, amnesties for immigration system abusers encourage abuse from others. The illegals that the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” campaign are protecting are immigration system cheaters.

(B) What does a policy of rewarding illegals say to legal immigrants who have gone to extensive effort to comply with Canadian immigration regulations? Obviously, it tells them they should not have bothered to obey Canadian law and it undermines their respect for other Canadian law.

(C) What message does this campaign send to government employees who are responsible for enforcing Canada's immigration rules? Clearly, it tells them that their work is unimportant, and that they will receive begrudging, if any, co-operation from Toronto's municipal government.

It also says that it is perfectly all right for Toronto city employees and many other Canadians to undermine the enforcement work that employees in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration have been entrusted to do.

In conclusion, the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” campaign is a shallow, iconoclastic attempt to subvert the broader well-being of Canadians. It should be seen as such.

Like past false refugee claimants, illegals are now being portrayed as victims. The real victims are Canadians. Like the refugee claimant issue, the magnitude of the illegals' issue is being underestimated: the illegals' issue may already involve 600,000 and can potentially involve several million.

Canada already has a legal immigration programme which is being extensively abused. Canada does not need an illegal immigration programme to inflict further abuse on the country.

The answer to the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” campaign should be straight-forward: Ask and Tell.

And for the sake of Canada and several million marginalized Canadians, the more often, the better.


Note: See the Immigration Watch Canada web site for a copy of the “Don't Ask. Don't Tell.” official statement.