Border Services lists "X-Factors" Driving Irregular Migration - New Canadian Media
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The Canadian Border Services Agency states that COVID-19 travel restrictions are among the factors driving migration flow to Canada. Photo credit: Canadian Border Security Agency.

Border Services lists “X-Factors” Driving Irregular Migration

Current curbs on international travel, economic crises, the targeting of minority groups, organized crime and inhumane practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) in faraway places are among the factors that will continue to force migrants to put their lives at risk to reach Canadian shores.

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has identified several push scenarios in various countries that are expected to drive “irregular migration” to Canada, according to an internal report.

The push scenarios labelled as “X-Factors” are listed in an intelligence document from the Irregular Migration Intelligence Section of the CBSA and was obtained by Lexbase, an authoritative immigration newsletter authored by Vancouver lawyer Richard Kurland.

While the document looks at the X-factors that drove irregular migration patterns in 2020, the influences in the source countries are expected to be the same in 2021.

Immigration Canada and CBSA define “irregular migrants” as people who use illegal means to cross into Canada before applying as a refugee. An earlier report by CBSA, showed about 60,000 irregular migrants who entered Canada in 2019, claimed either political or religious persecution.

The X-Factor document listed COVID-19 as the main variable that will influence immigration flows to Canada depending on how long travel restrictions would remain in place.

Here are some of CBSA’s reasonings for the X-Factors in source countries that will likely drive irregular migration to Canada;

Strict restrictions

In 2019 the U.S. implemented several policies and agreements focused on limiting certain irregular migrants from entering the southern U.S. border. One of which was requiring irregular migrants to first seek asylum in countries they have passed through. 

The report states that restrictive policies act as a push factor, making the Canadian asylum system more attractive. 

“As it becomes harder for claimants to reach or stay in the U.S., both legally and irregularly, more claimants are likely to attempt to travel directly to Canada, leading to a rise in fraud in visa applications and use of fraudulent travel documents.” 

Economic crises

In November 2019, protests broke out in Iran after the government announced a price increase of petrol oil. The report states the price increase was thought to increase inflation and negatively impact economic growth. 

“This was in addition to an already deteriorating economy largely due to reinstated U.S. sanctions, primarily targeting Iranian oil exports. The protests were met with deadly force

by Iranian security forces killing hundreds of Iranian civilians over a period of a few days. Iranian cities populated with low income and working class families have continued to protest and are demanding the resignation of many top Iranian leaders,” states the report. “With the Iranian economy in crisis, and the loss of many employment prospects, many Iranians are also likely coming to Canada as economic migrants. In early 2020, Iran was a hotspot for the COVID-19 outbreak, which is anticipated to have further economic repercussions on the country.”

Religious and ethnic minorities targeted

The report cites discrimination targeting religious and ethnic minorities in many countries as a push factor for individuals to migrate. 

In China, much of their surveillance systems are located in the Xinjian region where many Muslim minorities, including the Uighurs, reside.

“China is reportedly developing and testing a new surveillance security system in Xinjiang, that taps into networks of neighbourhood informants, tracks individuals and analyzes their behaviour, attempts to anticipate potential protests, crime or violence, and recommends which Chinese state security forces should be deployed,” states the report. “The New York Times reports that this surveillance system is being hard-wired to monitor ethnic minorities in the region, while generally ignoring the majority Han Chinese.” 

Critics state that the increase of surveillance and monitoring citizens will likely lead to more repression of religious and ethnic minorities. 

In Pakistan, all non-mainstream Muslim minority groups, including Shia and Ahmadi Muslims are affected by blasphemy laws implemented in 2019. The law severely punishes and can result in the death penalty for anyone accused of insulting Islam. 

“Critics of the legal provisions argue that they provide a pretext for violence, arbitrary arrests, and persecution against religious minorities and that they are overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas. Some claimants in Canada specifically cited being accused of blasphemy as their reason for seeking refugee protection,” states the report.  

With the re-election of the government in India, the report states that implementing their vision of India as a state for Hindus continues, causing increased tension and division between the government and minority populations. 

“India’s Parliament passed a Citizenship Amendment bill that allows any Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian or Parsi immigrants who came to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan before 2015 to legally become a citizen. Human rights groups see omitting the Muslim population, residing primarily in northern Indian states, from this amendment as an anti-Muslim effort by the government, and that it may increase discrimination and attacks on the Muslim population in 2020.”

In Sri Lanka, the new President was known for his time as Defence Secretary leading the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009. 

“During that time, the president was accused of condoning rape and extrajudicial killings as well as deliberately targeting civilians and hospitals in Tamil communities, as victims states the police and military forces committing the abuses were directly under his command.” 

Tamil and Muslim minorities living in Sri Lanka fear that the new President may target minority populations. 

Organized crime and safety 

Mexico reported 34,123 murders in 2019, primarily due to violence from organized crime groups. The report cites the U.S. Congressional Research services stating that corruption in Mexico’s judicial and law enforcement systems allowed organized crime groups to thrive, while corruption neutralized government action against them.

“Further, according to Insight Crime, in 2019 the majority of crimes went unpunished due to systemic issues within judicial institutions and police. This likely decreases Mexican nationals confidence that state authorities are able to protect them leading to displacement.”

In Nigeria, intolerance for same-sex relationships is enforced by laws and policies criminalizing same-sex conduct, marriage, and organizations. Several Northern Nigerian states have adopted Islamic Sharia laws that criminalize sexual activities between people of the same sex and is punishable by death. 

Gender-based violence such as the practice of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) remains in Nigeria despite the 2015 federal law banning FGM.

“Nigeria continues to be a top source country for FGM cases worldwide, and was previously reported to account for approximately 10% of the global total of FGM cases. Cited in several claims as well, this will likely continue to be a prominent push factor for female Nigerian applicants,” states the report.

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A multiple-award winning journalist, Fabian Dawson is an internationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and media expert. His work over the last four decades spans the globe and he also serves as a consultant/strategic advisor to a variety of international companies. As deputy editor-in-chief of The Province, part of the Postmedia chain, Dawson led initiatives within a special publications group to provide directed content for a variety of organisations. He was named the 2019 recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at Jack Webster Awards. Dawson has been invited by the governments of India, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the United States to act as a media observer/advisor on a variety of Asian-Canada issues. Dawson, now operates FD Media, which specializes in harnessing editorial assets to revenue generating opportunities.

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