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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