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A Tale of Two Immigration Systems: Canada and the United States

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans. . . . The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of it continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities . . . German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans, or Italian-Americans. . . . The only [good] American is the man who is an American and nothing else.

—Theodore Roosevelt, Speech to the Knights of Columbus, New York City, 1915

Uniformity is neither desirable nor possible in a country the size of Canada. . . . There are few policies potentially more disastrous for Canada than to tell all Canadians that they must be alike. There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an “all-Canadian” boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate. A society which eulogizes the average citizen . . . breeds mediocrity.

—Pierre Trudeau, Speech to the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, Winnipeg, 1971

It is an understatement to say that Americans and Canadians do immigration differently. It is not only vastly different immigration policies and systems that separate the two countries, nor merely the facts of geography—as undeniably significant as it is to share a long border with a less developed neighbor—but there are also sharply divergent histories, cultures, values, principles, and assumptions that undergird and shape each country’s approach.

To start with, the impression conveyed by the above quotations from each country’s exemplary statesman is that one is a cohesive, tight-knit nation bound together by a strong conception of citizenship that transcends ethnic and communal divisions, while the other is a relatively atomized society in which differences between groups and individuals are accepted and even encouraged. America, it is often said, is a “melting pot” while Canada is a “mosaic.”

Yet a closer look at how the two countries’ immigration regimes actually function, and the reactions they elicit across the political spectrum, will reveal a somewhat different picture—one that would seem to contradict the words of both Roosevelt and Trudeau. One may well come away wondering: which is the more cohesive country and which the more divided?

Looking at all thirty-seven of its member states across the devel­oped world, the OECD has concluded that Canada “has not only the largest in terms of numbers, but also the most elaborate and longest-standing skilled labour migration system” while “it is widely per­ceived as a benchmark for other countries,” where “success is evidenced by good integration outcomes.”1 The OECD’s 2018 Main Indicators of Immigrant Integration show that Canada is ahead of the United States in a number of material indicators of immigrants’ success in fitting into their host country societies.2 Canada’s superior performance in these integration metrics seems even more impres­sive when considering that it absorbs about three times the number of newcomers per capita as the United States.3

These metrics include the percentage of highly educated among the immigrant population, a measure in which Canada actually leads the entire OECD (60 percent in Canada versus 40 percent in the United States), school performance of immigrant children as measured by mean PISA reading scores (Canada 539 versus U.S. 489), relative poverty rates of the immigrant population (Canada 27 percent versus U.S. 32 percent), overcrowding rates in immigrant households (Cana­da 2 percent versus U.S. 21 percent), percentage of settled immigrants with host-country nationality (Canada 90 percent versus U.S. 62 percent), and successful transitions from school to work as measured by the NEET rate among immigrants—i.e., those “neither in employ­ment, education, or training” (Canada 9 percent versus U.S. 14 percent). There is near parity between the two countries when it comes to the labor market participation of immigrants (Canada 72 percent versus U.S. 70 percent).

Moreover, public polling in the two countries suggests a relative calm and consensus in the way Canadians view the immigration issue, just as Americans seem to be more anxious and polarized. An Environics poll asking Canadian voters for their priority issues in the final days of the 2019 federal election campaign indicated that only 2 percent of respondents felt that immigration was the most urgent problem facing Canada, far behind the number of those who saw the environment (24 percent) and the economy (22 percent) as the most salient issues.4 By contrast, a similar NPR/Ipsos poll taken of American voters in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections showed that a full quarter of respondents felt that immigration was the issue they were most worried about, attesting to the much greater weight the issue carries in American politics.5

The available polling on attitudes according to political affiliation also speaks to the contrast between Canada and the United States. While there is disagreement among supporters of different Canadian parties as to the appropriate level of immigration at any given time, there is broad agreement that immigration is good for the economy not only among the center-left Liberal (90 percent) and New Demo­cratic (89 percent) parties but even among a clear majority of Conservatives (68 percent).6 This convergence is reflected in the his­torically stable policy consensus around Canada’s immigration and border control systems.

In the United States, majorities of Republicans and Democrats agree that immigrants are “an important part of the American identity” (81 percent of Democrats versus 52 percent of Republicans), but partisans cannot see eye to eye on almost any facet of the immigration issue relating to policy, such as building a wall (Democrats 16 percent versus Republicans 74 percent), deploying family separation as a deterrent for illegal border crossers (Democrats 11 percent versus Republicans 52 percent), deciding whether refugees and asylum seekers are making legitimate claims (Democrats 74 percent versus Republicans 26 percent),7 increasing deportations of illegal immigrants (Democrats 31 percent versus Republicans 83 percent), and establishing “a path to citizenship” (Democrats 82 percent versus Republicans 48 percent).8

Another relevant set of figures is the composition of immigrant intake on the basis of primary entry-purpose designations, namely those let in for economic as opposed to family reunification or humanitarian reasons. In Canada, the figures are greatly skewed in favor of economic-class immigrants who make up 60 percent of new entrants, versus 26 percent for family-class immigrants and 14 percent for refugees. In the United States, the bias is reversed in favor of family-class immigrants who make up 70 percent of immigrant intake plus 20 percent refugees, while a mere 10 percent fall under the economic designation.9 There are also far fewer illegal or unauthorized immigrants in Canada than in the United States10—a consequence of the latter’s more porous southern border, but also of the former’s more stringent and highly bureaucratized border security.

The world media may have marveled at Justin Trudeau’s humanitarian response to the uptick in unauthorized border crossers from the United States in 2017—when he tweeted that all “those fleeing persecution, terror [and] war” were welcome in Canada—but much less attention was paid to his government’s about-face one year later, when it began to prioritize the deportation of rejected asylum claim­ants under a newly appointed “Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.”11 Amnesty International expressed alarm over Trudeau’s “dramatic shift” toward a “more restrictive, conservative policy.”12 Yet even at the height of #WelcomeToCanada four years ago, the country ranked a mediocre 61st out of 136 countries in measures of “international openness,” according to the World Economic Forum, while the United States ranked 38th.13

Such policies have potent implications not just for how immigrants are perceived as contributors to society, but also for whether their very presence is accepted as legitimate or not. Needless to say, if the public is confident that the vast majority of immigrants have come in legally and that they are likely to become productive economic actors, the public will be more accepting of newcomers and less receptive to the arguments of anti-immigration populists.

A case in point was the 2019 Canadian federal election that saw the emergence of a Trump-style populist alternative in the form of Max­ime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. This breakaway from the mainstream Conservatives promoted a platform of libertarianism mixed with immigrant restrictionism, very much like what the Republican Party has been offering in the United States. The new party announced itself with attention-grabbing antics, most notably putting up billboards across a number of Canadian cities that read “Say No to Mass Immigration!”—to which Tareq Hadhad, a success­ful Syrian refugee entrepreneur, replied, “There is nothing called mass immigration in Canada. . . . The Canadian immigration system is renowned around the world.”14

The Canadian electorate was more inclined to agree with Hadhad; in the end, the upstart People’s Party gained a grand total of 1.6 percent of the popular vote. Its leader, Maxime Bernier, a former foreign minister once talked about as a potential future prime minis­ter, lost his own parliamentary seat. It was not so much that Canadians had strong feelings either for or against Bernier and his politically incorrect provocations. At the end of the day, they were simply unconvinced and uninterested. There was just not enough political oxygen for any of the highly charged debates around immigration that have become the norm in many Western democracies. The fun­damental contrast to the United States could not be starker: in 2016, the candidate who ran the hardest on keeping immigrants out went on, unlike poor Bernier, to win the biggest prize.

Immigration Envy

To be sure, American politicians and commentators often appear to suffer from Canadian “immigration envy,” since invocations of Cana­da are fre­quent. But these invocations often say more about the ones invoking the Canadian system than about the Canadian system itself.

It has become a trope among “Rooseveltian” immigration hard­liners in the United States, for example, to claim to want their country to move in the direction of a “Canadian-style” system. Everyone from Trump administration officials like Stephen Miller15 and Jeff Sessions16 to Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, the sponsors of the restrictionist raise Act,17 has said something to this effect. Of course, their references to Canada are references to the famous “points system” that selects potential immigrants on the basis of criteria like skills, education, and language proficiency, rather than to the policy of official multiculturalism. As Trump himself has said: “I think we should have merit-based immigration like they have in Canada . . . so we have people coming in that have a good track record.”18

The points system and official multiculturalism are, however, part and parcel of the same comprehensive immigration and integration systems that were instituted under the progressive Liberal governments of Pierre Trudeau and his predecessor as prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, both of whom happened to be cosmopolitan intellectuals of the kind that today would be tarred and feathered by the same restrictionist Right as “globalist elites.”

One wonders as well what these laissez-faire Republicans would make of the extra layers of bureaucracy and regulation over businesses’ hiring practices that are required to make the Canadian system work as well as it does. In all probability, these elements of the Canadian bureaucracy work to deter illegal immigration far more efficiently than a symbolic border wall or a new round of ICE raids.

On the other end of the political spectrum, many on the liberal center and left are quick to praise Canada’s ethnic diversity, which is captured in census figures from 2016: more than one-fifth of the country’s population is foreign-born (21.9 percent) while about the same proportion belongs to nonwhite “visible minorities” (22.3 percent). The top three source countries for immigration are India (8.9 percent), China (8.6 percent), and the Philippines (7.8 percent), followed by the United Kingdom (6.6 percent), the United States (3.4 percent), and Italy (3.1 percent).19

At the level of symbolic representation, the country’s diversity and its successful record of civic integration are personified in numerous prominent figures: Harjit Sajjan, an immigrant from the Punjab, a decorated combat veteran of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and a turban-wearing Sikh who serves as Trudeau’s defense minister; Leslyn Lewis, a Jamaican-Canadian lawyer and Conservative candi­date who finished a strong third in her party’s recent leadership race thanks to major support from rural and social conservative constituencies; and Dr. Theresa Tam, the Hong Kong–born pediatrician who, as chief public health officer, has played a leading role in Ottawa’s response to Covid-19 and is Canada’s answer to Dr. Fauci.

The New York Times has written admiringly and perhaps also enviously of Canada’s achievements in an article entitled “Canada’s Secret to Resisting the West’s Populist Wave”: “there is one country where populists have largely failed to break through . . . its centrist liberal establishment is popular. Not only have the politics of white backlash failed, but immigration and racial diversity are sources of national pride.”20

This side of the political spectrum seems to have some ideological blinkers of its own, however: ignoring how such enlightened attitudes about diversity are able to coexist with a highly selective immigration system that has been casually denounced as having racist implications in publications like Vox21 and the Guardian.22

Another aspect of the Canadian system that American liberals and leftists are likely to flinch at is its tight control on labor market access: Canada has put in place elaborate measures such as “Labour Market Impact Assessments” and effective equivalents to mandatory E-Verify that arguably render illegal labor prohibitive, at least relative to the situation in the United States. Proposals to create the same tight labor market conditions in the United States through mandating E-Verify have been (once again) denounced as racist by left-wing outlets like Current Affairs,23 though they are loathe to admit that their opposition is shared by the business-friendly free market Right24 and by President Trump himself.25 (He would have run out of dishwashers and gardeners at his hotels and golf courses if he had abided by such a policy as a businessman.)

These same voices on the left are also likely to admire Canada’s much more expansive welfare state, but rarely stop to consider how Canadians have been able to balance generous welfare provisions with high levels of ethnic diversity. In other countries, particularly in Europe, similar situations have led to the so-called progressive’s di­lemma—the impossibility of having both high immigration and a welfare state—which Canada has by all accounts managed to avoid.26

In sum, how can it be that the American Right and Left, so utterly polarized on the immigration issue, both claim to want to emulate the same country, albeit for different reasons? The simple answer is that each side sees only what it wants to see, emphasizing those aspects of Canada’s system that align with their ideological predispositions, while excluding the others.

The Right is driven by crude notions of border security and sterile bluster about “getting tough on illegals,” even as the libertarian business interests that fund it thrive on cheap imported labor and the maintenance of unregulated labor markets—a contradiction embodied perfectly by Donald Trump. The Left, on the other hand, dogmatically celebrates diversity to the point of embracing the previously fringe position of open borders without considering how such a policy would negatively impact working-class wages or how it might put pressure on the welfare state—arguments inevitably dismissed as ignorant or “racist.” The most vocal elements of the Right and the Left are like the blind men grasping at different parts of an elephant. No one has bothered to offer to either side an honest description of the whole.

It would thus be helpful to American policymakers to have a comparative and thoroughgoing look at how the Canadian system developed historically and how it operates currently—one that goes beyond the intentionally incomplete views of Right and Left. The truth about the Canadian system is likely to be equally discomfiting, even disturbing, to both sides. This is because the general acceptance of immigration in Canada, along with its celebrated ethnic and cultural diversity, is largely conditional on the selective nature of the points system, reliable border security, and tight regulations on labor market access. All these in turn rest on an ingrained capacity for responsive and realistic policymaking as implemented through an extensive and authoritative bureaucracy.

The Covid Scramble

Before looking more closely at the Canadian system, there is one more thing to ponder: the United States under Donald Trump ac­quired the reputation of a country that is preternaturally suspicious of outsiders and increasingly insulated by walls, rhetorical or otherwise, from the global movement of migrants as well as contemporary globalization more generally. Canada under Justin Trudeau has acquired the opposite reputation: a place that is tolerant and welcoming, perhaps even too permissive. But what if the reverse were true?

There is nothing like a serious emergency to reveal a government’s true colors, and the headlines from Politico after the outbreak of Covid-19 early last year seem to scramble the common stereotypes:

Trudeau: Canada to deny entry to all nonresidents: There are also exceptions for airline crews, diplomats and immediate family mem­bers of Canadians (March 16).

Trump considers increasing visas for foreign investors: Immigration hardliners oppose expanding a program offering visas to foreign investors—including from China, which is under fire for its early handling of coronavirus (March 18).

Canada turns inward as pandemic surges within and beyond its borders: Trudeau was long the anti-Trump when it came to borders. . . . But in the age of the coronavirus, it’s Canada first (March 25).

Trump gambles on immigrant workers during coronavirus: The president has angered his base by soliciting temporary foreign workers in an effort to stabilize the economy (April 2).

Trump’s immigration pause falls well short of full ban: Trump’s proclaimed immigration ban will exempt temporary foreign workers, the biggest source of immigration (April 21).

Which one here is the “nationalist” and which the “globalist”? It might be incredible to consider, but what if Trudeau’s Canada was firmly to the “right” (in a Rooseveltian sense) of Trump’s America when it came to the immigration policies actually practiced by the two governments—as opposed to the elaborate rhetoric and imagery promoted by the two leaders for their respective political purposes?

To be fair, both the United States and Canadian governments eventually converged on general travel restrictions, with exemptions for foreign workers deemed essential, including medical service providers and farmworkers.27 But the Canadian policy is undertaken within the framework of policies like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, a closely monitored and highly regulated preexisting scheme, under which authorities are well positioned to verify the legal status of foreign workers. This is far more than can be said for the situation in the United States, where even in the best of times employers and employees effectively cooperate to sustain illegal labor and to ensure that the law is not enforced or even enforceable.

These headlines also betray the differing instincts of the two governments acting under pressure amid a pandemic. The one moved to close its borders immediately—high-minded virtue signaling be damned—while the other was caught looking to hawk visas for wealthy foreign investors. These headlines may not tell the whole story, but they illuminate a deeper truth and beg a larger question: What if contrary to all the statements of Roosevelt, Trump, and the Trudeaus on this subject, it was the American system that allowed for perpetually porous borders and a consequently broken sense of nationhood, while it was the Canadian system that put a heavy premium on the cohesion of its people and the security of its frontiers?

Origins of the Canadian System

The origins of Canada’s modern immigration system may be traced to formative developments in the 1960s and ’70s. Prior to this time, Canada’s immigration policy favored attracting white European settlers to populate its growing cities and to farm the land in its fertile prairies. Preferably, they were to be from the mother country, Brit­ain, or ethnically similar northern European countries. If not, eastern and southern Europeans could also do, but Jews were looked down upon—as evidenced by the MS St. Louis incident of 1939 in which hundreds of Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution were unceremoniously turned away. At the bottom of the pecking order were nonwhites such as the Chinese who were let in to build the railroads but then subjected to an exclusionary head tax. Canada’s approach thus differed little from that of its fellow Dominion, Australia, whose government openly pursued a policy known as “White Australia.” Indeed, “White Canada” may just as well describe this phase of the country’s history.

Things changed in 1962 when the conservative government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker lifted race-based restrictions on the country’s immigration intake and declared skills to be the main criterion by which new immigrants would be accepted.28 A rambunctious populist out of the Saskatchewan hinterland who had been insulted for his German surname (he was called a “Hun” in an early campaign), Diefenbaker sincerely believed in the idea of a Canada that accorded equal rights and responsibilities to all citizens without discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, color, or creed. In his vision, Asian, black, and aboriginal Canadians were just as welcome to stand up and sing “God Save the Queen” as any white Canadian. But as enlightened as this color-blind traditionalism of Diefenbaker’s may have been, it already seemed antiquated and even a bit reactionary in the face of the sweeping tide of change that was to come after the Liberals won power in 1963 under Diefenbaker’s nemesis, the great diplomat Lester B. Pearson.

The Liberal government of this decade was concerned chiefly with upholding national unity by fashioning a new and modern pan-Canadian identity. The goal was to replace the increasingly outdated notion of Canada as the northern outpost of the British Empire (thus the new Maple Leaf Flag in 1965 to replace the colonial Red Ensign) and more pressingly to counteract the ascendant nationalist energies unleashed in Quebec’s French-speaking population by the Révolution tranquille (“Quiet Revolution”). The aim of that great awakening was encapsulated in its famous slogan, to make the Quebecois people Maîtres chez nous—or “masters in our own house.” This aspiration to self-determination would be realized, so the new generation of re­formers thought, by ridding the province of the servility and back­wardness associated with the Catholic Church and its faithful political ally, the authoritarian Union nationale. But most of all, it would be achieved by ending the two-centuries-long economic and cultural subjugation of the French by the English, a sentiment that threatened to spill over into outright separatism. (Charles de Gaulle would do his part to incite the separatist cause when, during a 1967 visit, he blurted out “Vive le Québec libre!” from the balcony of Montreal City Hall, sending the crowds below into a frenzy.)

In response to these developments, the Pearson government put together the 1963 Royal Commission on Biculturalism and Bilingualism in order to “recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races.”29 It was also in response to the Quebec crisis that Lester B. Pearson sought to increase French rep­resentation on his front bench by recruiting a cerebral and highly charismatic Montreal law professor named Pierre Trudeau to become his parliamentary secretary in 1965, then justice minister in 1967, before taking over as Liberal Party leader and prime minister amidst Beatles-like “Trudeaumania” in 1968.

In addition to internal English-French tensions, the perennial concern of Canadian elites—namely the preservation of the country’s very existence in the face of the ever-present specter of Americanization—should not be ignored. That fear is now frequently associated with the Liberal Party and the Left, but it was most thoughtfully articulated by Tory philosopher and diehard Diefenbaker supporter George Parkin Grant in his classic Lament for a Nation.

While Canada’s overlapping identity crises were playing out on the political stage, the policymakers and bureaucrats of the Pearson government were in the middle of working out among themselves how best to give concrete expression to the principle of nondiscriminatory, skills-based immigration laid down by the previous government (a remarkable example of the constructive institutional continuities shared by Canadian governments of differing political stripes with respect to the immigration file). The solution they came up with, as presented in the Immigration Regulations of 1967, was the estab­lishment of a points system to assess the admissibility of prospective immigrants.30

Under the novel system, applicants would be awarded a number of points in nine categories: education and training, personal character, occupational demand, occupational skill set, age of the applicant, prearranged employment, proficiency in English or French, presence of relatives in Canada, and employment opportunities in their chosen destination. Those applicants with a score of fifty points or more would be admitted as independent immigrants. These particular cate­gories would change over the years, but the precedent had been set of having objective standards tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the Canadian economy as well as being dedicated to finding those with the highest likelihood of integrating into Canadian society, all while maintaining a nondiscriminatory approach to racial and na­tional categories. Accordingly, the period after implementation of these regulations saw significant increases in immigration from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Meanwhile, Trudeau would spend the fall of 1970 putting down a violent insurrection launched by the terrorist Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), which had kidnapped a Quebec minister and a British diplomat (the former was murdered, the latter released). Civil liberties were suspended and soldiers called in to patrol the streets of major cities. The incident served to discredit violence in the eyes of the separatist camp.

By the following year, the Trudeau government was ready to announce the solution it had settled on to resolve the country’s cultural divisions. The linguistic question had been addressed by the Official Languages Act of 1969 that declared English and French as the two official languages of the Canadian state following the recommendations of the 1963 Royal Commission. On the cultural question, however, the government took a different tack and chose to enact those recommendations of the commission that called for acknowledging the contributions of groups other than the English and French—in effect opting for multiculturalism instead of biculturalism. The result was the landmark Canadian Multiculturalism Policy of 1971 that sought to elevate ethnic minorities to a status of official recognition alongside the two dominant cultures.31

The term itself had first been uttered in Parliament by conservative Ukrainian-Canadian senator Paul Yuzyk in his 1963 maiden speech entitled “Canada: A Multicultural Nation.”32 The proactive role of Ukrainian-Canadians in advocating for this position is what led to Trudeau’s decision to deliver the above-quoted remarks to the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in Winnipeg the day after the policy had been officially announced in Ottawa.

From the prime minister’s perspective, there were pointed philo­sophical and political reasons for such a policy. Philosophically, Trudeau was in equal parts a fierce individualist and a committed cosmopolitan as well as an avowed opponent of nationalism in all its forms. His was an aggressively liberal position, possibly assumed in reaction to the fact that he had been a rather illiberal nationalist himself in his youth (like most of the French-Canadian elite who as a class had sympathized with Pétain’s France over Churchill’s Britain in World War II—the Gaullist flirtation was to come later). Trudeau saw multiculturalism as a way to diffuse and ultimately transcend the often rigid and uncompromising English-French dualism of Canadian history while subsuming both “founding races” in a multiethnic ma­trix and preventing the entrenchment of rival chauvinisms. Trudeau was resolved that Canada would not break apart under his watch, but neither would it become a dysfunctional, bifurcated North American Belgium. The policy of official multiculturalism was, despite what its name would suggest, conceived as a way to help make the country one.

Complementary to the lofty goal of maintaining Canada’s unity were baser political motives. The Trudeau Liberals stood to benefit from the electoral support of growing ethnic and immigrant constituencies in Ontario and elsewhere, just as opposition to the government was building up in Quebec and Western Canada. One could even say that as a unifying instrument, Trudeau’s program was remarkable for bringing together right-wing, Bible-thumping, anglophone populists in Alberta with left-wing, laïciste, francophone separatists in Quebec.

Thus, the outlines of what would become Canada’s signature ap­proach toward immigration and identity had been set. The points system would be the objective means through which prospective immigrants would be selected, even though much of Canada’s immi­gration intake remained family-based at that point. Meanwhile, multiculturalism would serve as the subjective interface through which Canadians from all backgrounds would interact at a cultural level with each other and with the state. Bilingualism would ensure that those interactions would be in either English or French.

After the establishment of this framework, Canada under the leadership of Trudeau and his successors would focus its energies on a series of dramatic constitutional battles: a Quebec independence ref­erendum in 1980; the “patriation” of the Canadian Constitution (that is, the severing of the vestigial link to the British Parliament and the belated achievement of full sovereignty for the Canadian state) in 1982 after high-stakes negotiations between the feuding federal and provincial governments; two more wrenching attempts at constitutional reform; and, as the climatic last act of the saga, a knife-edged second Quebec independence referendum in 1995 that nearly severed the country when it was revealed that 49.42 percent of the Quebec electorate (including a 60 percent majority of the francophone pop­ulation) had voted to secede from Canada.

These tumultuous events are important to note in relation to the immigration and integration questions because they resulted in the last addition to the national identity equation that new immigrants (and all Canadians) are expected to embrace, namely the element of constitutional patriotism embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau had insisted on including the Charter in the 1982 patriation package. A popular codified bill of rights that had hitherto been missing in the British-descended constitution of Cana­da, the Charter is unique among such documents in that it enshrines multiculturalism (and bilingualism) at the constitutional level, along­side freedoms of speech, association, conscience, and other conventional rights.

Not unlike the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, the Charter today occupies a central place in the popular understanding of Canadian national identity. Together with other national institutions like hockey, universal health care, and multiculturalism itself, it serves to distinguish Canadian identity from the British, French, and American poles against which Canadians have long struggled for a distinct conception of themselves.

Trudeau’s vision ended up resembling Diefenbaker’s in important respects. Setting aside the latter’s monarchist leanings, both prime ministers advocated a Canadian identity that superseded racial and cultural differences, in which Canadians of diverse origins would become coequal citizens through their common allegiance to a set of constitutional rights and the rule of law. Trudeau’s legacy was, in essence, a form of civic nationalism—though he never would have identified it as such due to his distaste for the word (a distaste shared by his son Justin).

Nationalists in Quebec, conservative-libertarian populists in the western prairies, and segments of aboriginal Canada would continue to voice dissent against the 1982 constitutional settlement defining Canada as a multicultural and bilingual society grounded in the liberal universalist values of the Charter. But it has come as close to a consensus view as a heterogenous country like Canada can have. An intrinsically malleable and synthetic civil religion, it is most conducive to the narrative of Canada as an outward-facing paragon of pluralism and tolerance.

At least in the high Cartesian realm of theory—the realm in which the philosopher-statesman Pierre Trudeau had always been most comfortable—Canada’s idea of itself had largely been settled by the mid-1990s. But on the practical side of things, that decade was only the beginning of a major policy shift that would arguably be more decisive in turning Canada into the functional high-immigration society that is today the envy of the other Western democracies.

The Chrétien Crunch

The early 1990s in Canada, as in other developed countries, were a difficult period of economic readjustment and fiscal retrenchment. A global recession, increased unemployment, and pressure on public finances contributed to a discernible hardening of attitudes toward immigration. It should be noted that while the 1967 regulations introduced a new economic stream of migrants admitted through the points system, family-based immigration still remained the dominant category (up to half of new intakes) over two decades later.33 Even as Canada’s elites prided themselves on the newly constitutionalized regime of multiculturalism, popular approval of the government’s immigration policies remained low. As the downturn took hold, voters only became more receptive to the anti-immigration arguments of populist forces,34 represented most visibly on the right by tendencies within the new western-based Reform Party of Preston Manning, but also by the ostensibly left-wing parties of the Quebec sovereignty movement, whose leader, Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau, bitterly assigned blame for his side’s narrow defeat in the 1995 independence referendum to “money and the ethnic vote.”

It was against this backdrop of deteriorating economic circumstances and destabilizing political polarization that the new Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, that most loyal of loyal Trudeau lieutenants, undertook nationwide consultations on immi­gration. These consultations revealed an underlying anxiety about the burden immigrants were felt to be imposing on social assistance programs, particularly family-class immigrants who were let in under sponsorship agreements.35 A study carried out by the federal govern­ment found that in 1993, 14 percent of Toronto immigrant households with sponsored family members were receiving social assistance at an estimated cost of $700 million a year.36 The consultations led to the conclusion that “public confidence in the administration of the family-class program has been shaken” and that, in effect, “the sponsorship agreement system [was] in tatters.”37 The Chrétien gov­ernment reacted swiftly to these findings by instituting significant changes in the direction of immigration policy.

Other governments in the developed world would likely have responded to such news by extending residency requirements for welfare benefits. But under Canada’s system, the federal government has no authority over access to social programs or health care, which falls under provincial jurisdiction.38 So the federal government inter­vened in an area where it did have clear control, namely admissions criteria. Ottawa soon announced that it would alter the composition of immigrant intake dramatically in favor of economic-class migrants: “The relationship between the main components of immigration will be shifted to focus more on those less likely to require public assistance. Over time, economic migrants will compromise a larger percentage of newcomers as compared to family immigration.”39 In the following years, family-class immigration declined precipitously, falling “like a stone” from 50 percent to 31 percent of total admissions by 1996.40 Studies throughout the rest of the 1990s and into the 2000s would find that not only did immigrants’ usage of social assistance drop, but immigrants had come to rely less on income transfers than native-born Canadians.41

In a 2010 address to the Canadian Political Science Association, Queen’s University immigration expert Keith Banting observed that “[these developments] made it difficult for critics to sustain a domi­nant political narrative of gloom about the economic and social costs of immigration.”42 Unlike other developed countries with high immi­gration intake and a substantial welfare state, Canada did not generate a “progressive’s dilemma” (which occurs when high levels of ethnic diversity have the effect of dissipating the social trust and economic solidarity required to legitimate a welfare state, thereby opening the way to the politics of both xenophobia and austerity). Instead, as Banting has pointed out, Canadian immigration and social policies worked in complementary ways to preempt the possibility of immi­grant overdependence on income transfers. This “dampened one of the dynamics that has led to [anti-immigration] backlash elsewhere”43 and has been shown to be concurrent with a major multiyear increase in Canadians’ support for immigration, reversing the trends of the early 1990s.44 For an illustration of this trend in relation to the shift toward economic-class immigrants and other economic factors like the unemployment rate, see the figure below.

In other words, it took the hard-nosed reforms of the Chrétien years to turn Canada into the robustly multicultural, pro-immigration society that the constitutional rhetoric of the Trudeau years had promised. Immigration policy would take many turns over the suc­ceeding years, but the predominance of points-based admission for economic-class migrants would remain unchanged as the bedrock of the Canadian system.

The high supply of skilled economic immigrants opened up by the points system has created its own set of unique problems, such as immigrant underemployment,45 a phenomenon best represented by the trope of the brain surgeon driving a taxi.46 This issue has arisen because, while Canada has excelled at attracting skilled immigrants from all over the world, it has often fallen short in integrating them into the high-skills job market due to the lack of bridge programs for assessing and transferring foreign credentials into acceptable Canadian credentials. This is a difficulty borne by immigrants themselves, who must either accept employment at lower rungs of the career ladder than what they had been used to in their home countries, or invest considerable time and resources in retraining and reeducation to meet Canadian standards. This is, of course, an issue that weighs more heavily on older immigrants than younger ones, and not at all on immigrant children who will have come up through Canadian schools and institutions by the time they look for work. In any event, it is a problem that policymakers need to fix. But, relative to the situations faced by other countries, it is a good problem to have, since it points to a glut of human capital in society that simply needs to be tapped into. The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that immigrants lose out on $12.6 billion a year due to this issue.47

The changes of the 1990s show how Canadian policymakers suc­cessfully countered the common perception of immigrants as a drain on public resources, while paving the way for the widespread public acceptance of immigration that persists to this day. Fears of immigrants abusing the welfare state are naturally more common among the social democratic countries of Europe, whereas arguments in the United States focus more on immigrants’ taking away jobs from deserving Americans. On both sides of the Atlantic, anti-immigration politicians are united in their emphasis on promoting law and order, protecting national borders, and accounting for the legal status of any and all who may cross their borders. From an American perspective, especially, it would be just as well to understand how Canada incorporates these concerns about labor market access and border security alongside the aforementioned imperative toward ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of newcomers—for all three of these con­cerns are faithfully reflected in the workings of the Canadian immigration regime.

Bureaucracy as Border Wall

To this end, it is useful to consider some of the major institutional innovations devised by policymakers to advance Canada’s long-standing immigration goals: namely, assuring a socially, economically, and politically viable immigration system that operates in har­mony with the interests and well-being of the existing population. In no particular order, these immigration policy innovations include:

(1) Express Entry: The contemporary incarnation of the points system, Express Entry was instituted in 2015.48 It is notable for its efficient and streamlined six-month processing time, and is marked by a shift from demand-driven to supply-driven selection criteria. It is based on a two-step process through which prospective immigrants with the requisite number of points are admitted into a pool of applicants, known as the Express Entry pool. From here, they are evaluated by a Comprehensive Ranking System that automatically rewards points to each applicant based on transparent preset criteria like language proficiency, education, and skill level. Every other week, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) pub­lishes a Ministerial Instruction which determines the number and “type” of candidates from the pool of applicants who will be granted the “Invitation to Apply” (ITA) for permanent residency; ITAs are then sent to the highest-ranking candidates from the Express Entry pool “in descending order until reaching the candidate(s) whose CRS-score is exactly at the pass mark for selection for this specific draw.”49 A key priority of Express Entry is to be able to incorporate changing economic conditions and political priorities into the decision-making calculus, which is reflected in the adaptability and adjustability of the system and the high level of discretion it affords policymakers.50

(2) Social Insurance Number Code of Practice: Canada’s version of mandatory E-Verify, the Code requires all employers to collect and verify a person’s Social Insurance Number (SIN), Canada’s equivalent to the U.S. Social Security number, within three days after employment begins.51 The employer must verify the validity of the SIN as well as the legal status of the employee if that person is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Employers are also required to report any suspicion of SIN fraud or misuse to the authorities as “it is an offence under the Income Tax Act for an employer to knowingly employ someone who is using a fraudulent SIN.”52 Employees also cannot apply for or receive a range of employment-related government benefits without a valid SIN. Unlike the situation of widespread Social Security fraud that warps the American system and frustrates enforcement, the Social Insurance Number Code of Practice is gen­erally met with high levels of compliance by employers and employees.

An argument can also be made that this ubiquitous practice is the single best safeguard Canada has against a large population of unauthorized immigrants, and that such a system would work far better if implemented in the United States than building a border wall. More than 50 percent of the unauthorized population in the United States, after all, came through visa overstays rather than illicit border crossings.53 If it is true that all Canada had to rely on for its orderly immigration system was its safe geographic position, then one could imagine a scenario where the same problem of visitors overstaying their visas would occur in Canada, as well. The SIN Code of Practice, however, prevents this by embedding detection mechanisms into the everyday workings of Canada’s labor market, making it far more difficult to live and work illegally than would be the case south of the border. Canada’s experience shows that mandatory E-Verify can work effectively so long as U.S. employers are made to comply.

(3) Temporary Foreign Worker Program: To the extent that there is a specific labor shortage that can only be met with temporary foreign labor, Canada has the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and related programs, which often make onerous bureaucratic de­mands on employers looking to hire outside of Canada. Under the TFWP, employers must first file for a “Labour Market Impact Assessment” (LMIA) at a cost of CAD$1,000 per application to demonstrate that they have exhausted their search for Canadian applicants, with notable distinctions for low- and high-wage labor streams.54 For instance, “a cap applies to limit the number of low-wage [temporary foreign workers or TFWs] hired by the same employer at a particular location to a maximum of 10% of the total staff.”55 Employers also cannot “hire TFWs in certain low-wage occupations requiring little or no education, in the accommodation and food services sectors, or in the retail trade industries, when the unemployment rate in the economic region in question is 6% or higher.”56 For the high-wage labor stream, employers are required to produce a transition plan, “outlining steps employers will take to transition to a domestic workforce.”57 Not only that but, since 2017, employers looking to hire TFWs in the low-wage stream must (with some exceptions) “demonstrate that they have made efforts to recruit from two or more underrepresented groups that face barriers to employment (i.e., Indigenous people, vulnerable youth, persons with disabilities and [permanent resident] newcomers).”58

These stricter requirements were introduced after 2014 in response to complaints that businesses were both taking away jobs from Canadians and abusing their temporary foreign workers. Significantly, from a U.S. perspective, the charges were advanced by left-wing parties in opposition to the then-Conservative government, which had been accused of being too lenient on and accommodating of the questionable hiring practices of corporations like McDonald’s and the Royal Bank of Canada.59 In particular, the left-wing New Democratic Party, then serving as the official opposition in Parliament, put for­ward the following motion: “That, in the opinion of the House, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been open to abuse result­ing in the firing of qualified Canadian workers, lower wages and the exploitation of temporary foreign workers and therefore the government should . . . impose an immediate moratorium.”60 The Liberal spokesman on immigration echoed the concern, saying “When Cana­dians fear their jobs are being taken away by foreigners . . . at a time of relatively high unemployment, when people are looking for their jobs or their kids are. It’s something everyone directly relates to.”61

Under pressure from the Left, the Conservative labor minister, Jason Kenney, duly implemented the above reforms tightening the conditions and controls in the TFWP.62 Again, from an American perspective, what is striking is that the left-wing parties did what left-wing parties traditionally do—they fought for the material interests of the country’s workers, and there were none of the accusations of nativism and racism against foreign workers that have become an all too common refrain among certain segments of the U.S. Left. These reforms may not have eliminated all the imperfections of the TFWP but, at the very least, they demonstrated how a country can actively exert a measure of control and regulation over migrant labor flows and correct course in this area once the political will is present.

As to what effect a heavily guarded labor market may have on workers’ wages, a look at the data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will show that “between 2000 and 2017, real wages increased in Canada but decreased in the United States.”63 In particular, the real median hourly wage for Canadian male and female workers without a bachelor’s degree increased by 4.2 percent and 9.3 percent respectively. This is in contrast to the United States, where the real median hourly wage for American workers without a bachelor’s degree fell by 5.5 percent for the males in this category and rose by only 1.1 percent for the females.

More detailed comparative studies are called for in order to develop a fuller understanding of the reasons for these divergent levels of wage growth in Canada and the United States, as well as to determine the precise causal relationship this has with the differences in the two countries’ approaches to labor market security. There is no final word yet on the matter. But in light of the radical degree of this difference, it is not unreasonable to infer that at least some of this wage disparity may be explained by Canada’s enforcement of tight controls on labor market access on the one hand and, on the other, the inability of the United States to do the same. So much of the populist political instability that has roiled the United States (and that has so far been missing in Canada) has been attributed to the disaffection of these kinds of working-class voters—a demographic that Trump has cele­brated as “the forgotten Americans” or, quite simply, as “the poorly educated.” U.S. leaders and policymakers who are invested in ad­dressing the root causes of populist anger can no longer afford to ignore or minimize such questions around the adverse effects of uncontrolled immigration on wage growth and labor market insecurity.

(4) Family Sponsorship “Undertakings”: Canada’s family sponsorship system is carried out through unique contractual arrangements known as “undertakings.” The undertaking is established between the federal government and the family sponsor, in which the sponsor is charged with financial responsibility for the family-class immigrant.64 The rules and conditions that govern an undertaking are explicit, somewhat onerous, and set in stone: the sponsor’s financial responsibility remains even in cases such divorce or separation (i.e., if the sponsored person is a spouse of the sponsor), financial setbacks on the part of the sponsored person (like unemployment or debt), and even after the sponsored person becomes a citizen. Among the obligations of the sponsor are to reimburse the government for any amount of social assistance paid to the sponsored person.65 The length of time of an undertaking varies according to such factors as age and family relationship. Spouses, common law, and conjugal partners are the sponsor’s responsibility for three years; dependent child under twenty-two, ten years or until the person reaches twenty-five; dependent child older than twenty-two, three years; parent or grand­parent, twenty years; and other relatives, ten years.66 This system aims to ensure that family‑class immigrants are not dependent on the state and that the burden of their immediate economic well-being is placed squarely on the sponsor. This is especially the case for aged family-class immigrants, as the length of the undertaking indicates.

(5) Private Refugee Sponsorship: Refugees differ from economic and family-class immigrants in that they are not voluntary migrants. Most refugees admitted to Canada are either government sponsored refugees (GARs) referred by the UN Refugee Agency to the Cana­dian government, or privately sponsored refugees (PSRs). It is the programs in place to facilitate the resettlement of the latter category that have attracted the most attention from around the globe.67 Like the family sponsorship undertakings, Canadian refugee policy allows the government to transfer the burden of resettlement to private actors through formal contractual arrangements and understandings lasting twelve months, often with detailed stipulations as to the financial costs that a sponsor will be expected to incur.68 These can be individual sponsors who may join with four others in arrangements known as “Groups of Five” to assume joint responsibility over sup­porting a single refugee; there are also organizational sponsors known as “Sponsorship Agreement Holders,” like civic associations, non­profits, churches, and other religious institutions.69

The popular groundswell of support among Canadians for re­settling twenty-five thousand Syrian refugees in late 2015 had to do with the fact that Canadians themselves, at the individual and community levels, were willing and able to play an active part as private sponsors in welcoming and integrating these refugees under the terms set by long-standing government policies going back to the 1970s, when Canadians were similarly moved by the plight of Viet­namese boat people. Privately sponsored refugees have been shown to have greater economic success than their government-sponsored counterparts—another reason why this policy enjoys strong support.70 Canada has endeavored to promote the practice on the world stage through the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, which the United States can learn from as it currently has no comparable individual-level private refugee sponsorship program,71 and there is only a limited, preset list of resettlement agencies drawn from civil society.72

(6) Flexible Federalism: As one of the world’s most decentralized federations, Canada has unique arrangements that allow for immigration policy to be shared between the federal government and the various provincial/territorial governments. The most notable example is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and its equivalents in Quebec, which enable provinces and territories to attract immigrants in line with the specific labor market needs and priorities of their particular jurisdiction.73 A provincial government can negotiate agree­ments with the responsible federal department, IRCC, to allocate slots for its own provincial nominee stream within the larger Express Entry system that prospective immigrants with the sought-after skills can then apply to.

For instance, in 2019, the government of Alberta, under the leadership of conservative premier Jason Kenney, pledged to use Alberta’s allocation under the PNP to induce immigrants with skilled and entrepreneurial backgrounds to settle in rural towns with declin­ing populations and help revitalize struggling local economies.74 Other regions that have seen historically low levels of immigration, like the provinces of Atlantic Canada, have also relied on the PNP and a similar scheme, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, to boost their share of skilled newcomers.75

Whereas economic factors dominate the provincial nominee con­siderations of most jurisdictions, the province of Quebec has the additional imperative to preserve its distinct linguistic and cultural heritage. In place of a conventional PNP, it has its own suite of equivalent programs that require demonstrable proficiency in the French language.76 The right-wing nationalist government of Premier François Legault sought to take further advantage Quebec’s autonomy when it campaigned in 2018 on not only reducing immigration but also instituting a controversial “values test” that immigrants to Quebec needed to pass before being allowed to settle there.77

Many anticipated an ideological confrontation between Legault and Trudeau, but what transpired instead was an entente between Ottawa and Quebec whereby the former reaffirmed the latter’s right to set immigration rules within the parameters of preexisting agree­ments78—a testament to the flexibility of Canadian federalism and the generous policy space it grants to the provinces and territories. U.S. policymakers interested in similarly utilizing the input of state and local governments for managing the flow of immigration can use Canada’s experience as a model.

(7) The Bureaucratic Wall: As this exposition of the Canadian immigration policy regime indicates, the country relies heavily on bureaucracy to manage immigration and, in effect, to police its boundaries. It makes sense to say that, while it has no physical border wall, Canada has something more subtle and effective in place: a system of restrictive visa application processes that result in high refusal rates, or what an article in the Atlantic has referred to as a “bureaucratic wall.”79 For instance, in 2012, Canada turned down 18 percent of the one million plus foreign visa applicants who expressed a wish to enter Canada; 2017 saw that number rise to two million, just as the percentage of rejected applications also jumped to 26 percent before rising again to 30 percent at the start of 2018.80

Recent years have also seen a steady rise in rejection rates for student visa applications. It is interesting to note as well that about 75 percent of those who applied for visas from places like Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria were rejected.81 Most tellingly, the Trudeau government’s 2015–16 Syrian refugee policy, which was lauded around the world, was limited to accepting intact families or lone women and children: unaccompanied single men were excluded due to security concerns (some of these men would go to Europe instead).

It is arguably this foundation of highly bureaucratized border security, selectivity, and discretion that ties together all the other elements of Canada’s system, without which all the other policies lose much of their efficacy. (After all, what good are the discriminating criteria of the points system if unauthorized migrants can just bypass it by crossing the border and settling in the country illegally?) The confidence that Canadians place in their immigration and refugee system thus begins to wither away as well once this wall is breached, as demonstrated by the events of 2017.

The 2017 Turning Point

The year 2017 saw the beginning of an uptick in unauthorized border crossers from the United States, enabled by a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement, which produced about fifty thousand new asylum claimants (twenty thousand of whom arrived through a single border crossing at Roxham Road on the New York–Quebec border).82 These arrivals represented the single greatest breach in both the security of Canada’s physical borders and in the integrity of its bureaucratic wall. The result was to overwhelm Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board with thousands of new claims, 50 percent of which have yet to be processed as of 2020.83

After 2017, nearly three in four Canadians polled professed strong reservations about the security risks that unlawful and uncontrolled border crossings would entail; just as many expressed the opinion that it was simply “not fair.”84 The Trudeau government may be faulted for encouraging this surge through its ill-advised messaging to refu­gees looking to flee their home countries as well as Donald Trump’s America, but the government can also be credited with recognizing its mistake, which it has since been trying to reverse. Facing up to the administrative (and political) unsustainability of its initial stance, it has executed an about-face and doubled down on efforts to stop migration flows by instituting the abovementioned border security measures that Amnesty International saw fit to criticize, even going so far as to entertain novel proposals like employing artificial intelli­gence algorithms to speed through the backlog.85

These irregular border crossings were not a major election issue in the 2019 campaign. It appears the governing Liberals did just enough to prevent them from becoming one, while the Covid-19 pandemic strongly reinforced the imperative for Canada to secure its borders. But in terms of what a new and stable status quo might look like once the crisis has passed, much will depend on how the Canadian govern­ment reacts to a recent court ruling invalidating the provisions of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States as unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.86

Based on the assumption that the United States, particularly under Trump, was no longer a “safe third country,” due both to its perceived inhumane detention practices and the possibility of refoule­ment of asylum claimants (sending them back to their home countries), the court ruling tasked Ottawa with crafting a new policy response since it could no longer send asylum claimants back to the human-rights-abusing jurisdiction south of the border.87 The Trudeau government has rightly appealed this decision and, as of the time of this writing, it looks as if a final verdict may still be years away.88 The election of a new American administration could very well help Ottawa’s case if it can show that the most abject abuses associated with the previous administration no longer hold and that the United States is once again a “safe country.”

Whatever the exact shape of the eventual settlement, there are roughly two potential outcomes: one is that Canada regains its right to send refugees back to the United States, gets the breathing room it needs to address its administrative backlog, and the country’s immi­gration and refugee system returns to balance and normalcy. The other possibility is that Canada loses this right and is exposed to the same unregulated migrant and refugee flows as most other Western countries; the system will become overwhelmed, public sentiment will turn against immigration, xenophobic reactionary populism will gain a foothold, and Canada will go the way of the United States and Europe with its extreme levels of polarization over immigration.

Even if one is not a Canadian and, indeed, even if one is an American, there is still reason to hope for the former outcome, since it would mean that Canada can resume its position as the model im­migration society that other nations, the United States most of all, could learn from and try to emulate: a singular experiment that proves that it is possible for a country to achieve the unlikely feat of combin­ing secure borders and a highly regulated immigration system, on the one hand, with the values and principles of a liberal and pluralistic society on the other. As Inspector Baltej Singh, the first turban-wear­ing Sikh officer of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, put it: “Can­ada is, I believe, a petri dish for this world . . . we are a test sample. And how we do as a country is going to be judged globally.” Or as Marshall McLuhan once said, Canada is best positioned to be an “Ann Landers to the world.”

Indeed, despite the wildly divergent paths that the American and Canadian systems have taken, Canada offers a model for how the United States can build a more functional and sustainable immigration policy regime.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume V, Number 1 (Spring 2021): 183–212.
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated, “More than 60 percent of the unauthorized population in the United States, after all, came through visa overstays rather than illicit border crossings.” It was updated on April 24, 2021, to reflect the correct percentage (50 percent).

Notes
The author would like to thank Keith Banting, Andrew Griffith, and Arthur Sweetman for their comments and advice. Any errors, however, are solely the author’s own.

1 OECD, “Canada Has the Most Comprehensive and Elaborate Migration System, But Some Challenges Remain,” August 13, 2019.

2 OECD, “Settling in 2018: Main Indicators of Immigrant Integration,” December 2018.

3 Douglas Todd, “Canada vs U.S. on Immigration: Five Differences, Five Similarities,” Vancouver Sun, June 1, 2019.

4 Michelle Carbert, “Canadians Continue to Support Immigration,” Globe and Mail, November 5, 2019.

5NPR/Ipsos Poll: American Views on Immigration Policy,” NPR Media Relations, July 16, 2018.

6 Carber.

7 NPR Media Relations.

8Polling Update: Americans Continue to Resist Negative Messages about Immigrants, but Partisan Differences Continue to Grow,” National Immigration Forum, September 2020.

9 Kareem El-Assal and Shelby Thevenot, “Coronavirus: While U.S. Bans Immigrants, Canada Welcomes Them,” CIC News, May 19, 2020.

10 Todd.

11 Anna Mehler Paperny, “Canada’s Trudeau, Facing Criticism, Appoints Border Security Minister,” Reuters, July 18, 2018.

12 Michelle Carbert, “Trudeau Government’s Tougher Line on Asylum Seekers a ‘Dramatic Shift’ in Policy, Says Amnesty International,” Globe and Mail, April 29, 2019.

13The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017,” World Economic Forum, April 2017, 120.

14 Graeme Benjamn, “‘Very Hurtful to See,’ Peace by Chocolate Founder Says of Anti-Immigration Billboard in Halifax,” Global News, August 24, 2019.

15 Alexander Panetta, “Canada’s Immigration Policy Inspired Donald Trump’s New Plan: White House,” Global News, August 2, 2017.

16 CTVNews.ca Staff, “Jeff Sessions Says U.S. ‘Should Be Like Canada’ on Immigration,” CTV News, January 18, 2018.

17 John Ibbitson, “Trump’s Proposed Immigration Act Mimics Canada’s System—But Don’t Be Fooled,” Globe and Mail, August 9, 2017.

18 Matt Kwong, “Trump Wants an Immigration System ‘Like They Have in Canada,’” CBC.ca, April 30, 2019.

19Focus on Geography Series, 2016 Census—Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity,” Statistics Canada, April 2019.

20 Amanda Taub, “Canada’s Secret to Resisting the West’s Populist Wave,” New York Times, June 27, 2017.

21 Alexia Fernández Campbell, “How Trump’s New Immigration Plan Could Hurt the Economy,” Vox, May 20, 2019.

22 Justin Gest, “Points-Based Immigration Was Meant to Reduce Racial Bias. It Doesn’t,” Guardian, January 19, 2018.

23 Brianna Rennix and Nathan J. Robinson, “Responding to ‘The Left Case against Open Borders,’” Current Affairs, November 29, 2018.

24 Alex Nowraseth, “Why E‐​Verify Is Failing,” Cato Institite, October 29, 2019.

25 Seung Min Kim, “In Fox News interview, Trump Expresses Concern about E-Verify,” Washington Post, May 19, 2019.

26 Keith Banting, “Is There a Progressive’s Dilemma in Canada?: Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Welfare State: Presidential Address to the Canadian Political Science Association, Montreal, June 2, 2010,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 43, no. 4 (December 2010): 799.

27 Anita Kumar, “Trump’s Immigration Pause Falls Well Short of Full Ban,” Politico, April 21, 2020. “Temporary Foreign Workers Exempt from Some COVID-19 Travel Restrictions,” Global News, March 19, 2020.

28Immigration Regulations, Order-in-Council PC 1962-86, 1962,” Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Retrieved November 2020.

29 Robert Fulford, “Can These Two Mean Really Figure Out Canada?,” Maclean’s, May 16, 1964.

30Immigration Regulations, Order-in Council PC 1967-1616, 1967,” Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, retrieved November 2020.

31Canadian Multiculturalism Policy, 1971,“ Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

32 Paul Yuzyk, “Canada: A Multicultural Nation,” Canadian Slavonic Papers 7 (1965): 23–31.

33 Banting, 807.

34 Banting, 807.

35 Banting, 807.

36Into the 21st Century: A Strategy for Immigration and Citizenship,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1994, 39.

37 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1994, 11.

38 Banting, 807.

39 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1994, 62.

40 Banting, 807.

41 Banting, 807–8.

42 Banting, 808.

43 Banting, 807–8.

44 Keith Banting and Stuart Soroka, “A Distinctive Culture?: The Sources of Public Support for Immigration in Canada, 1980–2019,” Canadian Journal of Political Science (2020): 6, Figure 2.

45 Banting, 808.

46 David Parkinson, “Open the Doors,” Globe and Mail, February 17, 2017.

47450,000 Immigrants Per Year Could Boost Canada’s Economy If Newcomers Have Better Job Outcomes,” Conference Board of Canada, October 2017.

48Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Canada 2019,” OECD, August 2019, 66.

49 OECD, August 2019, 71.

50 OECD, August 2019, 67, 71.

51The Social Insurance Number Code of Practice Section 3—Employers’ Responsibilities,” Employment and Social Development Canada, March 2020.

52 Employment and Social Development Canada, March 2020.

53 Richard Gonzales, “For 7th Consecutive Year, Visa Overstays Exceeded Illegal Border Crossings,” NPR, January 16, 2019.

54 OECD, August 2019, 129.

55 OECD, August 2019, 130.

56 OECD, August 2019, 130.

57 OECD, August 2019, 130.

58 OECD, August 2019, 131.

59 The Canadian Press, “Jason Kenney on Hot Seat as Controversy Rages over Temporary Foreign Workers,” CBC.ca, Apr 29, 2014.

60 The Canadian Press.

61 The Canadian Press.

62 OECD, August 2019, 125.

63A Canada-U.S. Comparison of Employment and Wages,” Statistics Canada, June 4, 2018.

64Help Centre—How Long Am I Financially Responsible for the Family Member or Relative I Sponsor?,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, January 2020.

65Applications under Family Classes: Assessing the Sponsor,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, June 2020.

66 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, January 2020.

67 Sabine El-Chidiac, “The Success of the Privately Sponsored Refugee System,” Policy Options, July 20, 2018.

68How Canada’s Refugee System Works,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, November 2019.

69 Citizenship and Immigration Canada, November 2019.

70 Lisa Kaida, Feng Hou, and Max Stick, “The Long-Term Economic Outcomes of Refugee Private Sponsorship,” Statistics Canada—Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series no. 433 (January 2020).

71 Vasudha Talla, “Issue Brief: Private Sponsorship of Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Guiding Principles and Recommendations,” Human Rights First, October 17, 2016.

72US Resettlement Partners,” UN Refugee Agency—USA, 2020.

73How the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Works,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, March 2020.

74 James Keller, “Jason Kenney Promises to Bring Immigrants to Rural Alberta,” Globe and Mail, February 25, 2019.

75 David Parkinson, “Island of Boom,” Globe and Mail, January 19, 2018.

76   “Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers: About the Process,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada, November 2018.

77 Billy Curry, “Trudeau Offers to Work with Legault on a Temporary Reduction in Immigration Levels,” Globe and Mail, January 17, 2019.

78 Curry.

79 Tony Keller, “Canada Has Its Own Ways of Keeping Out Unwanted Immigrants,” Atlantic, July 12, 2018.

80 Keller.

81 Keller.

82 Keller.

83Irregular Border Crosser Statistics,” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, September 2020.

84Canadians Prioritize Border Security over Aid to Those Crossing Illegally,” Angus Reid Institute, April 2017.

85 Roxana Akhmetova, “How AI Is Being Used in Canada’s Immigration Decision-Making,” compas, April 2, 2020.

86 Jim Bronskill, “Ottawa to Appeal Federal Court Ruling on Canada-U.S. Refugee Pact,” Globe and Mail, August 21, 2020.

87 Bronskill.

88 Bronskill.


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