On April 1, 2015, the Canadian government will launch a new industry. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will begin manufacturing “illegal immigrants.”
Four years ago, on April 1, 2011, the Conservative cabinet passed a regulation known as the “4-in, 4-out” rule, requiring all temporary foreign workers who have been in the country for four years or longer to leave, and remain outside Canada for at least four years. As of April 1, then, those still here will be classified as illegal.
In theory, a temporary foreign worker can apply to transition to permanent resident status within those four years in Canada, but in practice, those designated as “low wage” will generally not qualify for this. A few provinces including Manitoba and Alberta have used their limited scope of authority to nominate “low-wage” workers for permanent resident status, but the number of cases in which this has occurred are small.
So by April 1, 2015, all temporary foreign workers who arrived on or before April 1, 2011 are expected to leave the country. Some, however, are expected to remain living and working in Canada without legal status. We know this because that is what has happened from the mid-1940s to the present, in every country in the world that has run a mass guest-worker regime.
This is what any competent Citizenship and Immigration bureaucrat knew and probably told the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in 2006, when the government decided to dramatically expand and under-regulate the temporary foreign worker program, and again in 2011 when the government instituted the “4-in, 4-out” rule.
Temporary foreign workers overstay their visas and go underground for various reasons. Their families abroad may depend on their remittances to subsist. They may have been exploited by rapacious “recruiters” and/or unscrupulous employers. Returning home empty-handed and possibly indebted is not only stigmatizing, it can be dangerous.
Some workers may even have felt at home in Canada, gradually becoming potential members of the society where they live, work and pay taxes. Some Canadians may consider the government’s guest-worker regime to be misguided and believe it should not continue. But terminating it will not resolve the dilemma of those temporary foreign workers who are already here and who are the targets of the “4-in, 4-out” rule.
It is common knowledge that some sectors of the U.S. economy have become dependent on undocumented workers, of which there are an estimated 11 million. Some employers find them a desirable work force precisely because their deportability ensures that they will “work hard and work scared.” These employers are also known to wield their political influence accordingly.
Migrants without legal status are also easy targets for vilification. The slide from “illegal immigrant” to “criminal” in popular discourse is easy. A government that is looking to supplement the bogus refugee, the marriage fraudster and the foreign terrorist with a new category of bad immigrant and a new excuse to get tough on non-citizens might find it convenient to add “illegal immigrants” to the roster. The government’s role in illegalizing these migrants may escape notice.
On March 31, temporary foreign workers will go to bed as lawfully employed, hard-working, tax-paying residents of Canada, and wake up the next day as illegal immigrants.
Source: National Post
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
Illegal immigrants who are currently employed in Canada could be given temporary work permits by the Canadian government. Those who remain in good standing could apply for permanent residence after a period of 12 to 24 months.
Almost a quarter of Canada’s illegal immigrants could make use of such a scheme and bring in significant tax revenue. This could represent some $150 million in direct annual taxes and ER contributions in the first year alone. Plus, these individuals would eventually be able to sponsor their immediate family members and this would further increase income taxes, ER payroll taxes and HST consumption tax expenditures far beyond the income tax revenues.