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The Most Significant Variable Influencing Canadian Immigration Policy

633 words 3 page(s)

Immigration, although not a new occurrence has spiked in the last decades with more people in the move now than ever before. This has challenged many governments around the world. Forcing them into drafting specific immigration policies. Some authors argue that there are four factors that determine the immigration policies of states: “representative democracy, constitutionalism, nationhood and capitalism” (Hampshire, 2013), understanding these factors one can understand immigration policies of countries better. Most countries in the world enact policies that seek to maintain the same number of immigrants, with exception of some countries that seek to increase such number given its potential contribution to the economy and growth. These policies intend to address irregular migration, promote policies for labor integration and attract highly skilled workers (UN DESA, 2017), and may be determined by various factors including geographical, economic, or foreign policy.

Canadian immigration policy formation throughout the years has been influenced mostly by the twists and turns of the national economic policy, although there have been other factors that at times have influenced this policy making process (Troper 1993). Other factors that influenced the immigration policy making in Canada are issues of race and ethnicity, though very mildly and through certain periods of time depending on the waves of immigration and the factors that characterized that particular time (Troper 1993). Great economic changes, wars or attacks such as the one that occurred on September 11 of 2000 with no doubt play a significant role in the immigration policies of states, Canada is no different.

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Canada is considered to have one of the most open policies towards immigration and has been one of the more generous hosts, accepting hundred of thousands of immigrants and refugees every year. Canada’s immigration policy is structured on three min categories, the first of which as noted above, is the economic one. By far the largest number of immigrants are accepted under this category in Canada, which is done through a selection process based on points that rewards different categories such as education, language skills and job experience (Smick, 2006). The second category is family reunification, through which family members of individuals already residing in Canada can join their family. The third category is refugees which are admitted to Canada based on humanitarian need. The last two groups though significant, are smaller compared to the first category (Smick, 2006). Despite such categorization, it has been pointed out that one of the main factors in the immigration policies in Canada is the decision making itself. Such decision making is characterized by a wide margin of discretion, reserved for the administration staff in charge of deciding who gets to enter or stay in Canada. As such this creates a discrepancy between the policies and the implementation outcomes (Bouchard & Carroll 2002).

Though immigration has scaled in the last years, the Canadian immigration policies seem to have remained constant in two aspects, the policy remained opened to migrants, and was based on economic interests. The process and procedures on the other hand have varied throughout years. Canada remains one of the most open and friendly nations towards immigration and refugees and has worked into legalizing migration and setting up programs that would encourage people with certain categories of education and skillset to migrate to Canada. Thus, not only seeking a better life for themselves but also contributing to an economic growth in Canada.

  • Bouchard, G., & Carroll, B.W. (2002). Policy making and administrative discretion: The case of immigration in Canada. Canadian Public Administration / Administration Publique Du Canada Volume 45, No. Z (Summer/Btb), ~R.239-257
  • Hampshire, J. (2013). The Politics of Immigration: Contradictions of the Liberal State. Polity.
  • Troper, H. (1993). Canada’s immigration policy since 1945. International Journal XLVIII, 255-281.
  • United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). International Migration Policies: Data Booklet (ST/ESA/SER.A/395).