You probably read the headlines after the November Presidential Election. The Canadian Government’s website for immigration, refugee and citizenship applications crashed due to a flood of Americans wanting to jump north of the border because of Trump’s victory. Turns out that the site was having issues before the election because of the deadline for ‘electronic travel authorizations’, a document needed to fly into Canada, this happened on the same day.
Donald Trump has been one of the most polarizing presidents in recent American history. His call for dramatic changes to American immigration laws has caught the attention of many people around the world.
In a recent Congress speech, President Trump cited the Canadian immigration process (along with Australia) as being a model system. During the speech, Trump argued that the American immigration system should show preference towards candidates with the greatest chance to succeed in their chosen career.
“Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially,” Trump said. “Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.”
In Canada, we base our immigration process on a points system. Applicants are awarded points based on their skill set, work experience, education and language skills. The more points the applicant gets, the more likely they are to receive Canadian citizenship.
Immigration is a very decisive issue in the United States. Many Americans are genuinely frustrated at the idea of foreign workers taking their jobs. There may be some truth to this notion, but there’s also a lot of misinformation out there.
The birth rate in most developed nations is actually well below replacement level. This would require 2,100 births for every 1,000 women for the United States to have enough future workers. The American economy will require the skills of international workers to fill this need. Will some American workers have more competition with expat workers applying for a similar job, sure, but overall it’s needed for the betterment of the American economy.
Here in Canada, birthrates only represent one-third of our population growth. We actively encourage immigration in order to keep up with the job demand created both by new job growth and by people leaving the workforce to retire.
Immigrant workers living in both Canada and the United States have made huge contributions to the growth of each country’s economy. It’s estimated that half of American’s start-ups worth over $1 billion were founded by an immigrant or by their children.
Encouraging immigration makes for a growing and diverse economy. Immigration creates both innovation and jobs for everyone. Canada’s points-based system allows us the ability to award visas to those who will have the greatest positive impact on our economy, a similar system in the United States should have the same effect.
There will some critical decisions made in the United States regarding immigration and the policies surrounding it. President Trump and other American policymakers should take a lesson from their neighbours north for inspiration.