Immigration to Canada may seem like a dream for many foreigners, since it arguably provides many opportunities. However, immigration causes difficulties in regards to settlement and integration into the country. Certain groups of immigrants face particular struggles when they arrive in Canada and try to navigate new and different social systems. They face obstacles in that institutions such as the government do not fully support them with the potential issues they face. This essay will argue that the experiences of illegal immigrants, migrant women and the school-aged immigrant children are full of hardships in which the Canadian government has created problems that have prevented them from fully integrating into the country.
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In the chapter, Illegalized Migrants, Charity-Ann Hannan examines the particular struggles that illegal immigrants have had to face. It can be argued that illegal immigrants face an increased set of challenges than legal immigrants. In Canada, the majority of illegal immigrants obtain this status when they overstay their visa or permit (Hannan 144-145). Without legal documentation, this leads to a number of issues they cannot escape. They are not able to fend for themselves from other institutions that try to hurt them. They are marginalized, as they are able to be exploited by their employers and cannot access government services (Hanson, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 145). Immigration becomes a hardship since illegal immigrants are used for their work and no one wants does not help them. In fact, it seems that they are being punished for being illegal, when they could be trying to live better lives for themselves. The chapter gives a history of the migration of illegalized migrants which highlighted cases of Canada’s hesitance of bringing immigrants into the country. For example, in 1869, Canada passed its Immigration Act that did not allow criminals in the country (Makarenko, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 146), and employers hired immigrants to work for cheap with no chance for unionization (Avery, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 146-147). Without any way to come together and protect themselves, illegal immigrants arguably could not live good lives nor defend themselves from being exploited for their work. Immigration consisted of hard work without interests being fulfilled. The Chinese were specifically targeted as well. In 1885, the Chinese Immigration Act required them to pay an entrance fee, but British Columbia pushed the provincial government to deny entry, so the 1923 Immigration Act was passed to officially bar entry (Avery, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 147-148). By barring the Chinese from entering the country, the Canadian government demonstrated that it was opposed to immigration by certain groups of foreigners. By going after a specific ethnic community, this policy proves that immigration had a bad image because it was based on discriminatory practices. In 1967, Canada shifted the Immigration Act’s focus onto skills (Hannan 148), and the 1976 version created classes for immigrants to enter through (Avery 1995; Immigration Act 1976-1977, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 148), which was to create the image that Canada was making “a more fair and equitable immigration system,” (Hannan 150). However, the government also implemented the TFW program, where if they stay past their visas, they become illegal immigrants (Hennerbry, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 150). The Canadian government may have tried to improve their image in creating these legislations that encouraged immigration, but they also created legislation that could be believed to have continued their legacy of discrimination against immigrants. This has continued into recent times as well; the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Act restricted immigrant investors and sponsorship of family (Hannan 150). Immigrants continue to be restricted from being allowed into Canada, and this legislation portrays how the government is still prejudiced against immigration from specific categories. Temporary foreign workers of low skill work for four years and are forced back to their country of origin, but when the first period ended in 2015, it was predicted that there would be more illegal immigrants (Alboim and Kohl, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 150). This arguably caused the Canadian government’s efforts to restrict entry to the country to be undermined by having temporary migrants becoming illegal immigrants, since the text indicated there will be an increase of illegal immigrants due to policy (Hannan 156). Canada illustrates a negative attitude towards certain groups of immigrants, in which their policies demonstrate that they are not wanted. This image is also seen through the work of migrants. In the labour market, there is a secondary segment of work that has “low wages, few benefits, poor working conditions, high labour turnover, and little chance of advancement,” (Doeringer and Piore, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 153), which is where many migrants work in to address labour demand (Piore, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 153). This is seen with illegal immigrants, as they earn less then legalized migrants (Davila and Pagan; Mehta, Theodore, Mora and Wade; Phillips and Massey; Rivera-Batiz; Youn, Woods, Zhou and Hardigree, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 154). Illegal immigrants are in risk because they are put in a financially difficult position and do not have the resources to get out of it. They basically serve to work without any benefits, showing that Canadian immigration for this particular group possibly does not lead to any good outcomes. There are also other factors that divides them even more. Men earn higher wages than women (Cobb-Clark and Koussoduji 1999; Mehta et al. 2002; Rivera-Batiz 1999, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 154), as well as those who were employed in the manufacturing industry (Mehta et al. 2002, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 154). According to these examples, illegal immigration is based on division in which they have to fight for survival and rights. However, employers are the ones who benefit as illegal immigrants do not have protection so they cannot unionize (Morales, cited in Hannan 2015, p. 156), demonstrating that many illegal immigrants are to fend for themselves.
In Chapter 10, Leslie Nichols and Vappu Tyyskä write about the experiences of migrant women. In Canada’s colonized history, white female immigrants were portrayed as “co-settlers with their male counterparts,” (Nichols and Tyyskä 250). There was number of cases in Canadian history where women of colour were targeted in racialized discrimination. One case was black Caribbean women, who worked as domestics after British and Finnish domestics came between 1900-1930 (Das Gupta, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 251). They only had temporary contracts, and had to go back home, the opposite experience of European women (Nichols and Tyyskä 251). The blatant racism showed how non-white females never got a chance to prove their worth and to live a better life in a new country. The temporary contracts prove that there was a negative bias towards immigrant women because they did not want women of colour around for a long period of time; they were unwanted. In terms of economics, immigrant women continue to struggle. This can be seen through the way they entered into Canada as, ” during 201257.6% of women entered through the family class,” (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2012, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 253). It can be inferred from the statistics that many women do not have the financial resources to provide for themselves. This is also demonstrated with the facts that less than half of immigrant women were employed (Statistics Canada 2011, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 254), and the most recent arrivals earned a median income of $15, 590 (Statistics Canada 2013, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 255). Women could be financially struggling because there are no jobs that are stable for them, so they need to be reliant on others. For example, men are the breadwinners of the family (Nichols and Tyyskä, 255). They are also unable to learn necessary skills in order to live fully, such as not being able to attend language classes through the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada because childcare is limited to very young children (Pothier, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 256). It demonstrates that female immigrants are unable to get the skills needed because the government do not provide better alternatives/programs for them. They will remain financially dependent on others. Women also face challenges from within their families as well. With their spouses, if a woman becomes employed, the males would lose their breadwinner status and lose confidence (Ali and Kilbride, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 257), which causes them to become violent towards the family (Tyyskä 2005, 2008, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 257). When immigrant women do get jobs, it causes conflict with their spouses that can lead to a dangerous experience. This further causes them to become marginalized, and may deter them from finding work. Younger women face pressure to conform into cultural norms in terms of sex which they must pass on to their children (Handa; Tyyskä, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 261), and are encouraged into practices such as arranged marriage (Ghimire and Axinn, cited in Nichols and Tyyskä 2015, p. 261). Immigrant women are being suppressed by their families because they cannot integrate into Canadian norms, even if they want to, and lack the choice to make their own decisions. This may be due to patriarchal hierarchies in cultural groups (Nichols and Tyyskä 257). If males are dominant, then women lack the leadership to grow into their own person. This portrays an image of Canadian immigration where women are pushed into sexist roles, and cannot work to make better lives for themselves because the government and other factors continue to stop them.
In Chapter 11, Mehrunnisa Ahmad Ali examines child immigrants and their schooling. A variety of immigrant children of colour experienced challenges in terms of race when entering into Canada in its history. One example is when black migrants moved from the United States to Canada (Joshee and Johnson, cited in Ali 2015, p. 275), black children were segregated from their white peers in legislated separate schools due to parental fear of their influence (Ali 275). It shows that black children would not be able to settle into the country without being ostracized by their communities. Since the schools were legislated (Ali 275), this proves that the government did not consider the wellbeing of immigrant children of colour; they were presumably left to fend for themselves. Another example was when a law was passed forcing Aboriginals to attend school, leading to forcible removal to residential schools where their culture was taken away from them (Ali 276). Immigration for children would be tough and not welcome by many. It proves that the discrimination of immigrants in Canada was not limited by age. This segregation has continued on into present day, where immigrants move to areas with a common culture and/or affordable, and those in low-income areas send their children to schools where there are many immigrant children (Ali 277). Immigrants are separated from permanent residents due to their situations and lack of similarities. This portrays a divide between the two groups. Immigrant children tend to struggle more in school; since they do not have the grasp of English, they fall behind in class and are put into non-academic streams which lead to lower status jobs then post-secondary education (Ali 278). Immigrant children will grow up to struggle into their adulthood, showing that they will most likely end up in difficult situations. It shows that Canadian immigration for children will pose more challenges for their futures. The government does not help them as well, as there is a lack of funding for English as a Second Language Programs and provincial benefits that only last for a short period of time (Ali 278-279). The significance of this is that the government has not fully learned from history by not providing the resources necessary to help them settle into their new lives. Immigrant children stand to suffer from the lack of services and the government does not seem to support them. The schools do not seem to look at their experiences and lifestyles as well; for example, the curriculum focuses on Canadian heroes and not how they were immigrants (Ali 2009, cited in Ali 2015, p. 281). Immigrant children are also segregated between themselves. Those who live in areas with poverty and high crime go to schools that focus more on dropout rates then academic achievement, while those who come into the country fluent in English or French can enter school more easily, but can face bullying if they have an accent (Ali 285-286). Depending on the child’s circumstances, there is always a chance of failure.
Immigration, according to those three groups’ experiences, is basically a hardship. From past to present, there have been numerous examples where migrants of those categories struggle to make it into their new lives. From the evidence, it can be determined that there needs to be more done in order to make immigrants more comfortable in Canada. If they cannot feel like they are part of a community and have access to resources that can help them know the country more, then it would be difficult for them to feel like they are at home. In Immigration Policy, Settlement Service, and Immigrant Mothers in Neoliberal Canada: A Feminist Analysis, Yidan Zhu describes that “not so many immigration settlement organizations provide parenting or mothering courses/workshops for mothers,” (148). Zhu proves that if certain resources are not provided, then one would infer that immigrants would never be able to learn important information that could help them live better. In all three cases, there has been a division between immigrants and Canadians in which it could almost be categorized as a segregation. This division has cause conflicts between the two groups. For example, Canadian teachers want immigrant parents to raise their children with Canadian values (Ali 2012, cited in Ali 2015, p. 283). There should be a push to immigrants and permanent residents to work together, such as a call for global citizen education (Richardson, cited in Ali 2015, p. 280). If not, these issues will continue, such as how immigrant children face alienation and no sense of belonging in Canada due to discrimination (Omidvar & Richmond, cited in Oxman-Martinez et al, p. 377). Immigrants should be able to feel like they are at home where they feel safe, instead of being separated from the rest of Canadians for being who they are. Finally, the Canadian government should be pushed in making more of an active effort in assuring immigrants of these groups are not marginalized. In all three cases, the government contributed in the mistreatment and/or obstacles they have faced. Both individuals and communities must push to make them realize that immigrants need help instead of constant battles that they do not have the power to face. For example, Zhu explains that while the state provides immigration resources for women, their own experiences of mothering are considered unimportant and the state is made to look responsible for them as the parents (152). There needs to be more communication between the government and immigrants with push from the numerous immigrant communities and other resources because if not, then there will continue to be misguided actions that hurt the community.
In conclusion, immigrants are blocked from reaching their full potential when they arrive in Canada. Illegal immigrants face exploitation, women are devalued and placed under sexist norms and children struggle to integrate into a school system that is not always welcoming. Meanwhile, the government continues to block any chance they have in succeeding in their new country, while outliers also affect their newfound status. Overall, there needs to be more change in order to allow these groups of immigrants to thrive in an unfamiliar world.
Ali, Mehrunnisa Ahmad. “The Schooling of Children of Immigrants”. Immigrant Experiences in North America: Understanding Settlement and Intergration, edited by Harald Bauder and John Shields, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2015, pp. 273-291.
Hannan, Charity-Ann. “Illegalized Migrants”. Immigrant Experiences in North America: Understanding Settlement and Intergration, edited by Harald Bauder and John Shields, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2015, pp. 144-163.
Nichols, Leslie and Tyyskä, Vappu. “Immigrant Women in Canada and the United States. Immigrant Experiences in North America: Understanding Settlement and Intergration, edited by Harald Bauder and John Shields, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2015, pp. 248-272.
Oxman-Martinez, Jacqueline, et al. “Perceived Ethnic Discrimination and Social Exclusion: Newcomer Immigrant Children in Canada.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 82.3 (2012): 376-88. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
Zhu, Yidan. “Immigration Policy, Settlement Service, and Immigrant Mothers in Neoliberal Canada: A Feminist Analysis.” Canadian Ethnic Studies, vol. 48, no. 2, 2016, pp. 143-156, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; Political Science Database; ProQuest Sociology Collection, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1815479346?accountid=13631.
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