False hopes

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Was it nec­es­sary or pru­dent for Mon­treal to de­clare it­self a sanc­tu­ary city this week? Does the mo­tion by city coun­cil present more prob­lems than so­lu­tions for non-sta­tus im­mi­grants?

Mon­treal joins other Cana­dian ci­ties that per­mit un­doc­u­mented refugees full ac­cess to lo­cal ser­vices re­gard­less of their sit­u­a­tion. It fol­lows the lead of Toronto, Hamil­ton, Lon­don and oth­ers.

The trend has reached At­lantic Canada. This week, Fred­er­ic­ton Mayor Mike O’Brien says he is con­sid­er­ing declar­ing the New Brunswick cap­i­tal a sanc­tu­ary city. New Brunswick­ers seem pre­pared to welcome those break­ing the law with open arms. A word of cau­tion.

In our rush to help, are we un­wit­tingly jeop­ar­diz­ing the se­cu­rity of im­mi­grants, slow­ing their path to cit­i­zen­ship, al­low­ing crim­i­nal el­e­ments to re­main in the coun­try and adding sub­stan­tial costs onto Cana­dian tax­pay­ers? The an­swer to these ques­tions is yes.

Our com­pas­sion for the down­trod­den is en­cour­ag­ing a trickle at our bor­ders to be­come a stream. It could be­come a flood. It will stretch our re­sources when we don’t have a plan to prop­erly deal with refugees we have now.

Refugees are head­ing north, seek­ing asy­lum be­cause they fear whole­sale roundup and de­por­ta­tion if they re­main in the U.S. fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s crack­down.

It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to shut the door on such hu­man mis­ery.

Since Novem­ber 2015, Canada wel­comed more than 25,000 Syr­ian refugees – an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion for a group flee­ing civil war and blood­shed. Few Cana­di­ans re­al­ize that over the past decade, this coun­try has opened its doors to more than 250,000 im­mi­grants and refugees a year. Ob­vi­ously not all are flee­ing for their lives. Many im­mi­grants are here be­cause they have a job and a place to live.

Refugees are here be­cause they are des­per­ate – flee­ing per­se­cu­tion due to war, re­li­gion or po­lit­i­cal opin­ion. Many are here il­le­gally; Mon­treal has 50,000 un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants now.

The city’s sanc­tu­ary mo­tion might ac­tu­ally back­fire. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is sen­si­tive and ac­com­mo­dat­ing to the plight of im­mi­grants and refugees, and most prov­inces feel the same way. Let’s co-op­er­ate in­stead of throw­ing up road­blocks.

Sanc­tu­ary ci­ties get in the way of gov­ern­ment sup­ports. They de­lay get­ting le­git­i­mate refugees on the path to cit­i­zen­ship. It’s an­other layer of bu­reau­cracy that refugees don’t need.

Il­le­gal im­mi­grants are be­com­ing a daily is­sue at Man­i­toba and Que­bec bor­der check­points. Me­dia cov­er­age of refugees walk­ing through snow­storms to reach Canada ham­mers home the mes­sage we have a grow­ing prob­lem.

We should pro­vide suc­cor to the op­pressed but cre­at­ing false sanc­tu­ar­ies only slows down the process to cit­i­zen­ship. Sanc­tu­ary mo­tions don’t help; they de­lay.

Canada has a won­der­ful brand around the world for in­clu­sion. Let’s build on it; don’t make mis­takes that might blow up and cause us harm in the fu­ture.

What we don’t need are mo­tions that de­lay deal­ing with refugees in an or­derly, le­gal fash­ion.

And what we re­ally don’t need are mo­tions that as­sist crim­i­nals try­ing to en­ter or re­main in this coun­try.

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