Incentives matter in immigration, even when children are involved


(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

President Donald Trump made a splash this week with his decision to rescind DACA – the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA was a temporary measure, introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to provide short-term protection for illegal immigrants who came to the country before their sixteenth birthday.

It’s Congress’s job, not the President’s, to pass legislation. But when the Democrat’s failed to pass an amnesty bill, Obama stepped in with a fix that many experts said was unconstitutional.

This week, Trump announced that Congress had six months to turn DACA into a permanent law.

He didn’t revoke any visas or schedule any deportations. He simply called on Congress to do its job and pass new legislation to replace Obama’s temporary edict.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s decision was met with fierce criticism – protests, name-calling and all the hysteria that has become typical of a Trump policy announcement.

The outpouring of anger towards Trump, and support for these childhood arrivals, spilled across the Canadian border too.

An Ontario college announced a special scholarship for students affected by the DACA changes, and independent Liberal Senator Ratna Omidvar called on the Trudeau government to welcome 30,000 to 40,000 of these illegal immigrants into Canada.

But those looking for the moral high-ground compared to our American neighbours may be surprised to learn that Canada routinely deports children brought to the country illegally.

Recall last fall when the scandal broke that Minister Maryam Monsef was born in Iran, not Afghanistan as she had claimed. Monsef, who came to Canada as a child, revealed that her passport contained false information – drawing into question the possibility of citizenship fraud.

The punishment could have been severe: citizenship revocation and deportation without a trial. This happens all the time. When parents illegally bring children into Canada, those children get deported.

Why does Canada punish children for the crimes committed by parents? Because we apply and enforce the law equally.

Imagine two men who both come to Canada illegally, were both caught by CBSA and ordered to be deported. Should they be treated differently if one brought a child along?

In the eyes of the Canadian immigration system, the answer is no. The last thing we want is to create incentives for people to break the law – and to use children as their accessories.

Or think of the recent surge of asylum seekers from Haiti. Based on historical figures, more than half of those claims will be rejected and these migrants will be deported.

Would Canadian advocates for DACA support the idea that Haitian families automatically get to stay? If you bring kids along for the ride, you get special status and special treatment by the immigration system?

Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened south of the border.

Not surprisingly, after Obama signed his DACA law, scores of unaccompanied minors began showing up at the southern border. Orchestrated by human smugglers, upwards of 60,000 youngsters arrived illegally in 2014 alone.

Many of these children were...(READ MORE)