USA immigration could take on a similar look to Canada immigration under Donald Trump after the US president cited the Canadian system during a major speech to Congress.
Trump wants to introduce what he called a ‘merit-based’ immigration system similar to the Canada Express Entry model, which awards points to candidates and selects them via periodic draws.
He made the comments in his first Congressional address, during which he made a clear attempt to strike a more presidential tone after weeks of turmoil since his inauguration.
Trump’s broad vision for USA immigration comes after his attempt to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries using an executive order.
The US courts ultimately scuppered the original order, but a new one is promised soon by the controversial president.
His speech to Congress explained how he intends to change the US system.
“Nations around the world – like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system,” he said. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.
“Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.”
Canada Express Entry selects candidates for Canada immigration based on factors including work experience, education and language.
Each candidate is awarded a score and placed in a pool. Draws are then made and invitations issued to all candidates above a certain score, which changes with each Canada Express Entry draw.
The Trump team’s interest is focused on the idea of using points to select candidates for USA immigration – a narrow part of a wide-ranging Canada immigration system.
There is also a key and fundamental difference between the countries – America’s border with Mexico.
Canada is insulated in that it only has a direct border with the U.S., from where the motivation to cross illegally is historically minimal, although growing since Trump came to power.
The equilibrium of the relationship between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico looks set to change as Trump takes aim at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he describes as ‘the worst trade deal ever signed’.
All these factors play in to Canada’s positive attitude towards welcoming immigrants, and the role they play in helping the Canadian economy grow.
Trump has promised to crack down on USA immigration, and introduce aggressive screening of Muslims wanting to enter the country. At one time during his election campaign he spoke of requiring all Muslims to sign a register.
New federal Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland believes Canada has assumed the mantel of world leader on positive attitudes towards immigration and international trade following the election of Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
She recently told the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: “The complexity of the international situation presents enormous possibilities for Canada. I believe we are the best-placed country in the world to emerge from this complexity.
“Out of all industrialized countries, Canada is the only one to go up against this tendency. Canada is defending an open society and saying: ‘We are open to immigration … we are open to trade.’”
Freeland is keen to promote the message that Canada is open for business to the global economy, the opposite of the rhetoric coming out of its major competing nations.
There are fears Canada could be under threat from Trump’s plan to either tear up or make wholesale changes to NAFTA.
Trump has been significantly more negative towards Mexico, once again reiterating his plan to build a wall will be put into action during his speech to Congress.
In terms of immigration, there is a feeling Canada could benefit from bringing in skilled workers no longer welcome in the U.S. and the U.K.
Traditionally Canada has struggled to hold on to its bright young people, with an estimated 350,000 of them lured to Silicon Valley or other parts of America.
They could be about to be forced to beat a retreat back home, and Canada is waiting with open arms to welcome them.
Conservative estimates suggest Canada will have 182,000 vacancies in the technology sector by 2019. The growing sector is driving the economy, with 71,000 companies employing 5.6 per cent of the workforce and responsible for 7 per cent of the country’s output.
More people are employed in technology than a combination of oil and gas, mining and forestry – a startling indication the Canadian economy is undergoing a significant transition, meaning it needs workers with the right expertise.
The British Columbia city of Victoria is growing as a technology hub, but companies are spread all over Canada looking for the right kind of people to help them grow. There are jobs everywhere for those with the required qualifications.
The message is simple: If the U.S. and the U.K. no longer want these skilled workers, Canada is ready to take them.
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