Refugees and immigration likely to be key election issues

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Sabrina Almeida

Canadians are unhappy with the federal government’s immigration policies. Not because they are anti-immigrants… but fed up with how our generosity is being exploited. The loudest voices are recent immigrants who came in “fair and square”. But when you’re competing for jobs, housing and government services with scammers, compassion and tolerance fly out the window.

Even ‘white’ Canadians who didn’t care either way or were afraid to speak for the fear of being branded bigots, are now breaking their silence. They have good reason to. Distinctly outnumbered by newcomers in immigrant-dominated cities like Brampton and Mississauga, for instance, many are fleeing to smaller towns in Ontario and other parts of the country. Negative experiences and a total erosion of mainstream Canadian culture, not far right ideology or racial bias is responsible for this displacement.

Perhaps the only ones gung-ho about letting in newcomers are their families… and immigration consultants. It is after all a lucrative business as majority of hopefuls use agents’ services! While some are simply intimidated by the process, others are typically looking for loopholes which consultants are happy to provide.

The crackdown on nefarious agents is long overdue. But in reality, for every one that may be apprehended, many will go undetected. The racket is so huge.

We understand that immigrants are key to growing Canada’s population and economy. That’s how we came here!!! But immigration and refugee scams which have become the order of the day and are being flouted in our faces have created the huge backlash. From students to asylum seekers and those applying through supposedly regular channels, fraud is rampant. The only ones blissfully unaware of what’s happening (or happy to look the other way) seems to be the immigration department. Several Canadians believe that immigration is a cash grab for the government which explains their reluctance to slow it down.

Family reunification has been an election issue for many years now with the Liberals being favoured for their open-door approach. However, the mind-boggling number of illegal border crossings, foreign students flouting rules and practically anyone being accepted through the other streams might turn the tide against them.

While in previous elections candidates pandered to ethnic vote banks by promising to increase immigration quotas, today this might not work. For instance, elderly parents brought here under the family reunification scheme have put a huge strain on the healthcare system. One of the main attractions, our so-called ‘free healthcare’ has the biggest price tag. An overburdened system and the consequent long wait times and reduction of services is eroding the patience of tax-paying Canadians. So, Andrew Scheer may very well find favour thanks to his recent promise to end illegal border crossings and overhaul the immigration system.

Numerous polls show growing disapproval of the increasing number of newcomers we accept each year. Canadians don’t see how the economy can support all these immigrants given the dwindling job opportunities, unaffordable housing and overstretched healthcare system. Prospects are also brought here on false hope. Teachers, for instance, are a high-demand category, but where are the jobs?

Hence Scheer’s proposal to adjust immigration numbers each year based on the situation and secure our borders might just put him in the prime minister’s seat.

As humanitarians plead with Canadians not to let immigration and border issues divide them, social and economic realities might be the deciding factor. The concentration in a few provinces and cities and the struggle to accommodate all the newcomers is not a healthy picture.

Between the federal Liberals increasing the deficit in a bid to placate voters and the provincial Conservatives slashing spending to balance books, Canadians are taking the hit. It seems quite irresponsible to invite more and more people in while expecting us to share dwindling services that our tax dollars are paying for.

So yes, proposed refugee and immigration policies will impact voters’ decisions! -CINEWS

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