Tag Archives: James Bissett

Refugees–If you take them, they will come and keep on coming

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Refugees–If you take them, they will come and keep on coming
Attention Fellow Canadian 
The author of this bulletin is James Bissett, one of Canada’s top experts on immigration and refugee policy. He is a former Canadian ambassador and was head of the entire Canadian Immigration Service from 1985 -1990. He strongly opposes Trudeau’s open border proclamation and he also strongly opposes immigration lawyers’ and other immigration lobby demands that Canada must abandon its safe Third Country Agreement with the US. He offers advice on what Canada has to do to stop the illegal migrant inflow at the Quebec–New York border.
By James Bissett
If you take them they will come. This reality explains the uneasy truth about mass migratory and refugee movements. What might be seen at first as a humanitarian gesture to help resolve a refugee crisis often mutates into an uncontrolled and unmanageable migratory flow of people seeking a better life- and if you keep taking them they will keep coming.
This is not a new revelation and it explains why the United States after initially welcoming thousands of Cubans and Haitians as refugees in the 1970s and 1980s realized the flow had to be stopped and did so by interdicting ships carrying the refugees and sending them back to their homelands. For a number of years now Australia, after receiving large numbers of asylum seekers has essentially stopped the flow by intercepting ships and preventing their cargo from landing.

In 1986, there were more refugees leaving Vietnam than there had been in the immediate years following the fall of Saigon in 1975. The large numbers had created an international crisis and serious backlash in the countries of first asylum. In 1989, under the auspices of the United Nations, it was decided to stop the flow and send back those who were unable to meet the UN Convention definition of “refugee.” This repatriation programme effectively ended the movement.
The practice of resettling refugees in countries enjoying a high standard of living has proven to lead to more arrivals, to encourage human trafficking, and to result in unacceptable high costs and potential hostility towards the newcomers. It was for these reasons that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has accepted that “third country resettlement” is not the preferred solution to a refugee crisis.
Prevention, containment, and local resettlement are the favoured options.
There are other reasons why providing protection in the first country of asylum is the first option and why it is assumed that refugees fleeing persecution should seek protection in the first “safe” country entered. Offering protection and care in a neighbouring country makes it easier and faster for the refugees to return home when stability is returned to their own country. However, the primary reason is that the costs are dramatically lower than resettlement in a more distant country.
It takes from $25,000 – $40,000 to settle a refugee in a third country, whereas the costs of protecting and caring for a refugee in a camp are a fraction of that amount. Accepting 10,000 government refugees will cost Canada close to $300 million dollars. Obviously, this amount would be much more effectively used by donating it to the UNHCR to help that agency care for the 60 million people under its jurisdiction – our contribution so far this year (2017) to the UNHCR’s annual budget has been a minimal 64 million dollars.
We should also be aware that the vast majority of the people now flowing into Europe had already found protection in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt. Their onward journey to reach Germany or Sweden is not to find protection from persecution or violence but to enjoy a better standard of living. This is not to condemn these unfortunate victims of a brutal civil war but to be aware that a mass migration of this kind can quickly get out of control and create chaos and instability in the receiving countries.
The current flow of many thousands of refugees from the violence in the Middle East and from hunger and famine in Africa is surely only the beginning of a massive population shift from the poor countries of the world to the more prosperous nations of the west. In the long term it may prove to be impossible to stop this population transformation but a quick end must be found to end the current crisis and this cannot be done allowing people to cross international borders with impunity and demand to have passage to their country of choice.
Territorial integrity and the sovereignty of borders have been the twin principles of international law since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648. They are enshrined in the United Nations Charter and have formed the very framework of our global security system. The current mass influx of close to a million migrants into the European Union so far this year poses a direct threat to these principles and, if not curtailed and managed, threatens the very basis of western civilization.
Although this is an immediate problem for Europe, it needs an international effort under the auspices of the UNHCR to resolve it. The staff and budget of the UNHCR must be urgently supplemented. The countries of first asylum must be provided with the financial means of protecting and caring for refugees and humanitarian cases. People arriving by sea should be intercepted and safely escorted back to where they came from. Refugees who are in a safe country should be prevented from attempting to cross borders without proper documentation. These measures have proven successful in the past in dealing with refugee crises and in managing mass migrations of people. However, the first step is to stop the flow – because if you take them they will come and if you keep taking them they will keep coming.


Bissett: Immigration policy is out of control and needs an overhaul

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Bissett: Immigration policy is out of control and needs an overhaul

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A group of new Canadians takes the citizenship oath at Pier 21 immigration centre in Halifax on Saturday, July 1, 2017. How many newcomers should Canada admit?


The Trudeau government’s plan to bring in close to one million new immigrants within the next three years should be of serious concern to Canadians. Next year alone, the numbers are expected to reach 310,000 but to that total must be added approximately 900,000 temporary foreign workers and foreign students who will be living in Canada. Since most of the newcomers will be settling in three of our major cities, the pressure on infrastructure and local services will be extreme.

Canada’s current immigration policy is based on myths. All of our political parties, most of the news media, big business interests, the banks and land developers favour large-scale immigration and justify this on the grounds that immigration helps our economy, strengthens the labour force and alleviates our aging problem.

In fact, only about 15 to 17 per cent of the annual flow consists of immigrants selected because they have skills, education and experience. Because of the pressure to get high numbers, few of these workers are seen or interviewed by visa officers. The selection is done by a paper review. The remainder of the movement is made up of the spouses and children accompanying the workers, family members sponsored by relatives in Canada, immigrants selected by the provinces (who do not have to meet federal selection criteria ), refugees and humanitarian cases.

The truth is that the government has lost control of the immigration program by abandoning its traditional role of selecting our immigrants and controlling their numbers. Canadians have been brainwashed into believing we are doomed if we don’t keep immigration levels high. We are also told that our immigration policies are acknowledged to be the envy of the world. These arguments are wrong.

There is no evidence that immigration is essential for economic growth. The 1985 MacDonald Royal Commission Report concluded that immigration did not contribute to economic growth and, in fact, caused a decline in per capita income and real wages. In 1989, a two-year study by the Department of Health and Welfare supported the MacDonald report and stated there was no argument for increased population growth and that immigration was not the answer to the aging of the population. In 1991, the Economic Council of Canada reached the same conclusion.

A more recent study by Prof. Herbert Grubel of Simon Fraser University and economist Patrick Grady found that in the year 2002 alone, the costs in services and benefits received by the 2.5 million immigrants between 1990 and 2002 exceeded the taxes paid by these immigrants by $23 billion. It is not surprising that this study has received little media coverage in Canada.

Studies outside of Canada have come to the same conclusion about the economic value of immigration. In Britain, a report by the House of Lords in 2008 warned that the government’s plan to admit 190,000 immigrants per year would achieve little benefit and would seriously affect the availability of housing and the quality of public services. The report also criticized the government for misleading the people by justifying immigration levels when they provided no economic benefit, were not needed to fill labour shortages and did not help the state’s pension fund.

Perhaps the most insidious argument still being advanced by government and other advocates of mass immigration is the belief that we need immigration to provide the workers needed to replace our aging population. This argument is obviously flawed if, as in Canada, the immigration movement has a similar age structure as the receiving country; then, immigration does not help the aging problem – indeed it may well exacerbate it.

In 2009, a study by the C.D. Howe Institute found that to offset our declining birth rate and maintain the ratio of five taxpayers to support the benefits of one pensioner until 2050, our immigration levels would have to reach 165.4 million. And in that single year, 2050, the annual movement would have to be seven million immigrants. The study recommended that raising the retirement age to 67 would be much more effective.

Sadly, we have allowed our political parties to use and exploit immigration for political purposes – with all parties competing for the ethnic vote by calling for increasing numbers. This is a cynical approach, patronizing to immigrants and damaging to the country. It is time for comprehensive reform.

James Bissett is former head of Canada’s immigration service  (1985-1990).