Canada should keep birthright cit­i­zen­ship

PressReader - LStep Channel - Canada should keep birthright cit­i­zen­ship
There is a lot of talk about get­ting rid of birthright cit­i­zen­ship. U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced he will is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that would do away with au­to­matic cit­i­zen­ship for ba­bies born in the United States. Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada mem­bers passed a mo­tion that would end birthright cit­i­zen­ship un­less one par­ent is a cit­i­zen or per­ma­nent res­i­dent, should the party form gov­ern­ment. And Lib­eral MP Joe Peschisolido has spon­sored a pe­ti­tion to elim­i­nate birthright cit­i­zen­ship.In the U.S., the pres­i­dent can­not uni­lat­er­ally elim­i­nate a right in the 14th Amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion. In Canada, how­ever, birthright cit­i­zen­ship can be elim­i­nated by amend­ing or re­peal­ing parts of the Cit­i­zen­ship Act.The pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with end­ing birthright cit­i­zen­ship is tied to the ar­gu­ment that mi­grants are en­gag­ing in “birth tourism” and chal­leng­ing the in­tegrity of cit­i­zen­ship. But the facts say oth­er­wise.An­drew Grif­fith, a for­mer direc­tor gen­eral at Im­mi­gra­tion, Refugees and Cit­i­zen­ship Canada re­cently an­a­lyzed hos­pi­tal data and found that only 1.2 per cent of births can be at­trib­uted to moth­ers who re­side out­side of Canada.The low over­all lev­els sug­gest there is no busi­ness case for chang­ing Canada’s cit­i­zen­ship pol­icy. Elim­i­nat­ing or cre­at­ing a “grad­u­ated” birthright cit­i­zen­ship would be akin to an enor­mous ham­mer hit­ting a tiny nail.The elim­i­na­tion of birthright cit­i­zen­ship would af­fect not just mi­grants, but all of us. Ev­ery per­son born in Canada would need to ap­ply for cit­i­zen­ship. More tax dol­lars would be needed to process the ap­pli­ca­tions. Clerks would sud­denly have the power to make sub­stan­tive le­gal de­ter­mi­na­tions. Like any ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem, mis­takes would be made. Bad or wrong de­ci­sions would be chal­lenged in the courts at great ex­pense to both the state and peo­ple af­fected. Peo­ple would strug­gle with be­ing state­less in the in­terim.Do­ing away with birthright cit­i­zen­ship would in­crease the num­ber of state­less per­sons in Canada. Be­ing state­less has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tionsPeo­ple would strug­gle with be­ing state­less in the in­terim.such as dif­fi­culty ac­cess­ing ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment, health care, so­cial ser­vices and free­dom of move­ment. State­less per­sons would be sub­ject to ar­rest, de­ten­tion and po­ten­tial re­moval to places they may never have been be­fore. The pol­icy would cre­ate bar­ri­ers to im­por­tant rights that come with cit­i­zen­ship, in­clud­ing the right to vote.The elim­i­na­tion of birthright cit­i­zen­ship would have the great­est ef­fect on the most vul­ner­a­ble: the in­di­gent, those with men­tal ill­ness and chil­dren who are in pre­car­i­ous fam­ily sit­u­a­tions or are wards of the state. These are the peo­ple that may not have the ap­pro­pri­ate proof for ob­tain­ing cit­i­zen­ship. For ex­am­ple, par­ents (who are Cana­dian cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents) of per­sons seek­ing cit­i­zen­ship may have lost pa­per­work, may not want to co-op­er­ate, may not be in the coun­try or may find out they are not the bi­o­log­i­cal par­ent of that child.This one pol­icy would cre­ate an ex­pen­sive so­cial prob­lem for the state.The elim­i­na­tion of birthright cit­i­zen­ship is not an act to pre­serve or pro­tect the in­tegrity of cit­i­zen­ship. The pol­icy would be a di­vid­ing tool that would le­git­imize the ar­gu­ment that racial­ized per­sons are less de­serv­ing of cit­i­zen­ship, even though there is no ev­i­dence to show that chil­dren born of for­eign moth­ers do not stay in Canada and do not con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.The strip­ping and de­nial of cit­i­zen­ship else­where has en­cour­aged dis­crim­i­na­tion, per­se­cu­tion and vi­o­lence against state­less peo­ple. The geno­cide of Ro­hingya was pre­cip­i­tated by their be­ing de­nied cit­i­zen­ship in Myan­mar, a coun­try they called home for gen­er­a­tions.Canada is ob­li­gated un­der the Con­ven­tion on the Re­duc­tion of State­less­ness and the Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child not to cre­ate state­less­ness. My fa­ther was born state­less be­cause the state he was born into did not con­fer birthright cit­i­zen­ship. It af­fected his op­por­tu­nity for ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment, as well as his men­tal health. Be­ing a child of a pre­vi­ously state­less per­son, I am proof enough that wel­com­ing state­less peo­ple to Canada with the con­fer­ral of cit­i­zen­ship is the best way to build a na­tion.

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