Saturday, April 24, 2010

Amnesty

It seems many countries are struggling with ideas on how to deal with their current illegal immigrants. I was reading a british forum at digitalspy.co.uk and if you go through the various posts, you can see the very difficult back-and-forth discussions. I believe the forum starts out in regards to a Daily Express (UK) piece on the Liberal Democrat leader and a supposed comment he may or may not have made a couple years ago, but the thread gets heavily into amnesty for illegals topics and I thought it was important to share.

I have no idea what should be done. This is an increasingly mutlifaceted issue with no clear single answer. What some are proposing in the UK (LibDem) apparently is to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for 10 years. On the surface that seems alright. I mean, they have been living in the country for at least a decade, might have children going to school, have a home and a job, etc. It takes years and a lot of public money to put them through a deportation attempt... so maybe it would be a good idea. [point to note: in the forum there is info showing that a 14 yr guideline already exists, so will 10 years make that much difference, if that is the case??]

But then you have to think - how do you find out who has been here 10 years? What if they had no children, did not get any sort of aide, cannot prove they have been there 10 years? Do you keep 10 years worth of rent receipts, or utility bills, phone bills, etc? That would leave a lot of people who HAVE been there for 10 years but don't have enough proof out in the rain. Would they then be taking up public money by appealing their deportations? What do they do with people who have not been there 10 years? What is the mystery date to count back by 10 years? The day it goes in as law? Or is it going to keep cycling where everytime someone hits their tenure (lol), they can apply for amnesty?

I am not criticizing the plan because I don't have an answer either. I am merely bringing up questions to ask and trying to find the answers. As we are learning more and more, you can't just listen to a politician and not THINK about what he/she is saying. I see in that digitalspy forum a lot of questions being asked, but not being answered yet. The same pretty much goes for any type of immigration reform or regulations - it's expensive and there is no easy answer. But for so many people to be saying that one idea is far better than another but not answering the questions fully, what does that tell you?

This same issue is going on in the US and Canada and many many other countries. Millions of illegal immigrants who use the services but do not contribute via taxes, etc. Something should be done about that because we have a hard enough time trying to fund all our programs as it is. Maybe granting them all amnesty would at least help that - although it's more probable that the majority would be low income and therefore still be using the system without contributing - but perhaps more would be able to go for higher paying jobs and be paying taxes too eventually. Who knows... but then you would have to man the flood gates for the influx of people trying to get in.

Or there is the issue of 'why should we close our borders'? Do we have the right to stand guard and say 'no more'? I say yes, to a point, because for one thing you really should have enough housing for all residents and in my city, the vacancy rate is fairly low except in $400,000 + homes waiting for buyers. Unlikely that's where people coming into Canada could live because of the cost - so yes we do have to watch how many people come in.

But in that forum, another issue being looked at was making sure the people applying for immigration status in the future would have to live in a region that could take them in -- how on earth are they going to enforce that? Let's say a family of 5 moves to England from Sudan but they end up moving to a different region than listed on their forms. If they are discovered after 8 years, are they getting kicked out? I think they would have a good Human Rights case - kids being in school, they had a legal sponsor, they had jobs, they paid taxes - but being booted cos they wanted to live near Oxford instead of near Northampton... so is that really going to work?

All of these measures appear to be flimsy bandages that aren't really going to help a whole lot. Again, I don't know what the answer is, it's a tough issue! But I do not think those measures answer what will happen to those who have lived in the UK for 9 years and 11 months, or those who have been there 5 years, those who have been there 25 years but moved a lot and didn't keep old documentation to show how long they lived there, etc. I don't think it answers how to stop it from happening more and more either.

One suggestion in the forum was the sponsorship thing, mentioning they could only sponsor an immigrant who would live in a certain region.

That smells rather like our Gun Registry to me - HELLO - if the immigrant has a sponsor, that means they are trying to do this legally. What about the people who take a plane, train, or boat and walk in and never walk back out? Meaning the people who try to go through the LEGAL channels are going to get the shaft and be told where they are allowed to live. Those who come in illegally will do as they always have done - find someone who likes to hire people for cash, find a donation center to get food and clothing from that does not ask questions (cos that would be rude and prejudice right?), find a church or other group who will help a family with their initial rent costs, find a flat to rent for cash, and off they go.

How will these new rules change anything? A few people will come forward to get their amnesty, but will it amount to anything? The public cost of finding these people, going through their registration, collecting evidence of 10 years, issuing National Insurance Cards, etc is going to be insanely high but will it really save much in the long run?

Another person suggested that this would bring a lot more illegals in, hoping to one day gain amnesty - while others said 'no, that won't be allowed to happen', but without really backing up HOW it won't happen. My god, how did all these people get into Britain in the first place? Why are so many still there, and how are they planning to stop THAT? Anyone coming into Britain and claiming to go visit their sister will have to be tagged electronically? Anyone claiming to be heading to London for a sight-seeing trip before heading home to another country will have an ankle-locator put on?

I have lived in and traveled to the UK many times since 1992. I went through all the legal channels when moving over there in 1996 but I did nothing at all besides 'show up' when I moved to Germany in 1992. I was able to work on a british army base in fact, even though I had no national insurance number, etc. I was quite shocked actually - I worked in the newspaper shop, helped out in the canteen sometimes, and then I eventually worked in a play school for British army children (officers and soldiers) with absolutely no paperwork. Plus I was Canadian so it was pretty obvious I was not a brit lol. It seems to me that it's pretty easy to just show up and get a job if I was able to do it personally!

In 1996 when moving to England, I decided I better do things the right way in case I got in trouble (I was only 19 when I first moved and I didn't even put thought to how I might have been in kaka lol)...I sent my passport and marriage certificates etc to the british consulate in Ottawa, waited about 8 weeks, and got it back with a stamp in it saying I had the 'Right To Abode' and then details about being allowed to also work legally in Great Britain. When I got to England, I sent my passport to the National Insurance place and got a number back fairly quickly. I still have the card in fact lol. But I originally arrived at Heathrow only to discover that I had to go down a different corridor than everyone else, despite my Right To Abode stamp, and get a Tuberculosis xray! No one knew what had happened to me, they were waiting at baggage claim an hour past everyone else leaving, and my suitcases were there all lonely and cold.. meanwhile I was disrobed in a little medical center upstairs, and then waiting for the all-clear. I cannot remember how much it cost me to get the Right To Abode stuff done, but it was relatively painless at the time.

It just surprised me that I was able to work for the British Army, no less, right on their base and going through their gates with guns pointed at me, without having a national insurance card or anything to say I had a right to live there, never showed my marriage certificate, etc.

Anyway it's just strange, don't you think? The people who go through the legal channels to try to get into another country are the ones who end up feeling the brunt of most of these changes. Some good will come, but it's certainly no where near answering the big questions. And a lot of bad will continue.

Yeah I know, this was unbearably long so if you made it through, you win a pat on the back from yourself. But it really is not an easy issue that can be covered with one liners and statements made with apparent thought process or debate behind it.

2 comments:

  1. The word illegal says it all. If it's an illegal act then why the big uproar. Throw them out. Let them go back home and work to correct the abuses that drove them from their own countries. Why should legitimate immigrants be forced to wait while these queue jumpers freeload on the taxpayer.

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  2. It's still pretty difficult to just simply 'send them back' because many have had children here so those children were born on Canadian soil. That poses some problems right then and there.

    I have met a lot of families through work that came here from Sudan, Bosnia, and Croatia. Some of their stories and photos are just horrifying - but they came here legally and all worked to get their previous jobs certified here or take more schooling and became anything from nurses to real estate agents. It was tough but they did it.

    I do get very frustrated at what those who go through the legal channels are put through while others simply walk in and absorb themselves and never go home. I ordered an immigration package when my ex bf (from England) was thinking of moving here. It was UNREAL. I was soooo confused going through that mumbo jumbo, I don't know who anyone could understand it.

    He did not plan on coming here until he had found a job to transfer to, a home already in place, etc but I still had to be his sponsor to the tune of over $1500. A good chunk of the fees were not refundable because they were called 'filing fees', several hundred dollars. So I'm glad we split up before starting any of that crazy business! I still have the package downstairs, from 2006 I believe, and it's thick and crazy. If I was someone trying to immigrate to Canada, I think I would jump in a row boat after reading that crud!

    My son was born in England but I was born in Canada. When I moved here with him, one person would tell me that he could automatically be considered a Canadian and get a Can passport because here, citizenship is derived from the mother. But the next person I spoke to told me I had to completely revoke his British Citizenship in order to get him a Canadian passport. Yet another told me I had to pay $300 and file some weird paperwork to get it. Another told me the Canada has NO 'dual citizenship' agreements with ANY other country.

    I had to tell that guy that I was looking at the Canadian customs and immigration website right at that moment and was looking at a specific list of countries Canada DOES allow dual citizenship with. His reply was: "Really?". Yeah. Really, bud.

    And then a person told me that I could just simply send in both our birth certificates and pay the normal $50ish fee for a child's passport....

    All of those agents were at the Customs and Immigration help line.

    Needless to say, I still haven't gotten around to doing his Canadian passport and just kept his british one going instead. He is considered a Permanent Resident but I still haven't got his $50 card for that yet... He used to be considered a Landed Immigrant. I got mad on the phone one day and told a customs rep that I should have just floated in here on a boat and would have had things handed to me on a platter. She was less than impressed with my remark, but I was frustrated.

    So if things get even more complicated, how is that going to make people jump at the chance of declaring their illegal status in Canada or Britain or anywhere else? They may want to continue hiding.

    Throwing people out, women children elderly, is not going to be an exciting idea either. It might sound tempting at times, but in effect the countries would be sending people to their deaths or into great poverty - landing at an airport with no home, no employment, no food. I know many did that when they came HERE, but it's a different story in many home countries.

    There are also a lot of illegals though that come from countries who are not third world or war torn. We have a lot of british, german, american, etc illegals too. Half the time I don't blame them due to the trials of attempting to go through the legal channels. That's why I say there is no easy answer, but the new ideas cropping up seem to be scarier than the old!

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*Disclaimer

These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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