"Privatization" of refugees
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally met Syrian refugees at the airport
Despite the rise in anti-immigrant attitudes in most Western countries, thousands and thousands of Canadians are demanding that the government in Ottawa accept more refugees.
Moreover, people are willing to pay for it from their own pocket - not through taxes, but quite literally. The fact is that the process of receiving refugees in Canada was partially privatized, and this was done almost 40 years ago.
It all started with the fall of Saigon.
North Vietnamese tank enters the territory of the palace of the President of South VietnamThe government of South Vietnam fell under the onslaught of the forces of northerners, and the country was reunited under the rule of the Communist Party: arrests, ethnic cleansing, "reeducation" camps and other repression began in the occupied territories.
The new system did not appeal to quite a few residents of the south of Vietnam, and they began to flee the country - mainly by sea.
This is how "people on boats" (boat people) appeared: between 1975 and 1995, about two million people fled from Vietnam on fragile boats overloaded to the limit.Boats sank in the open sea, they were attacked by pirates, and the surviving migrants settled in refugee camps in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Two million people fled on similar boats from Vietnam
Horrific scenes of the exodus did not leave the TV screens.
It is worth recalling that this happened in those years when many more politicians and voters remembered the Second World War, the Holocaust - and massive flows of refugees from Europe.
And the world was horrified. Almost all countries of the world, from America to Argentina, from Iceland to Israel, from China to Canada, began to accept Vietnamese emigrants.
The Canadian government has pledged to accept 60 thousand Vietnamese refugees. And suddenly faced with a problem.
The fact is that the Canadian refugee reception infrastructure that existed at that time was designed for a maximum of several thousand people a year - and by no means tens of thousands. The country was unable to fulfill its own promise. And then the government in Ottawa turned to citizens for help.
The program of "privatization" of the reception of refugees was accepted by the father of the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, then Prime Minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau
Thus, a program of private sponsorship of refugees was created, which is still in operation.Any group of five people (including any associations, cultural centers, church parishes, etc.) could collect the amount of money needed to provide assistance to immigrants during their first year in the country, and ask the government find them a suitable refugee - or the whole family.
Canadian authorities select refugees abroad: asylum seekers are thoroughly checked by the immigration service, the royal gendarmerie and other special services. The whole process takes about a year - only after this can migrants get to Canada.
Citizens sponsoring admission can express their preferences: someone wants to bring relatives or former neighbors, someone prefers immigrants from the same ethnic or religious group. So, among the Syrian refugees who have already arrived in Canada, there are many ethnic Armenians - they are sponsored by local Armenian communities (whose ancestors, by the way, are themselves mostly from Lebanon and Syria). LGBT associations are sponsoring gay refugees from countries such as Iran, for example, where the death penalty is threatened.
Of the 60,000 Vietnamese refugees taken by Canada 40 years ago, about half were sponsored by private citizens from different parts of the country.Convinced that the program is working, the federal government of Canada left it in force, and since then only private citizens have brought into the country more than 200,000 internally displaced people from all possible countries.
In Canada, refugees are accepted as future citizens, and not as strangers
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the program has expanded significantly, and now the problem is the lack of refugees.
The process of checking refugees abroad takes time, government departments and special services are working slowly, and now hundreds and hundreds of groups eager to help the refugees sit and wait until finally they can do it.
That is why in Canada, voices are becoming louder, calling for the admission of migrants from Syria to the country, who have been banned from entering the United States by Donald Trump. The refugee screening process used by America is one of the most stringent and lasts an average of two years.
Canadian voters, churches, synagogues and mosques indicate that thousands of these refugees have already been thoroughly checked and are asking the authorities to give them the opportunity to sponsor these people.
Such "privatization" has several advantages at once.First, the country can accept more refugees - while voters feel that they are personally involved in controlling the migration process. Secondly, refugees are faster and easier to integrate into the local society, as they have extensive and close ties from day one. And thirdly, the government saves budget money.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In such conditions, people have been living for years
To sponsor the reception, a group of citizens must raise enough money to help newcomers for the whole year. On average, we are talking about about 10 thousand (American) dollars per refugee - or 20 thousand per family of four.
"Sponsors" find new arrivals for housing, meet them at the airport, bring them to a new home, find furniture, utensils, clothes, help them enroll in English or French courses, help them find work, and so on.
The result is obvious: after three years in the country, unemployment among "private" refugees is significantly lower than among those who received similar assistance from the government. In addition, "private traders" have a better command of the language and are more integrated into the local community.
In 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Kekmbridge attended the ceremony of receiving Canadian citizenship by immigrants.
In part, this reflects a purely local approach to immigrants: both the government of the country and most ordinary Canadians treat newcomers not as incomprehensible newcomers, but as future citizens and already present neighbors. In addition, Canada, like many other Western countries, is experiencing a demographic crisis: the population continues to grow old, and in many sectors of the economy there is already a shortage of workers.
Almost everyone in Canada is aware of the close connection between migration and economic growth, and the provinces compete with each other, trying to attract as many immigrants as possible, including refugees. The federal government sets only an annual quota for the number of people arriving in the country.
Canadian Minister of Immigration and Refugees Ahmed Housen himself is a refugee from Somalia. He spent the first few years of his life in a refugee camp.
During the 2015 election campaign, all three major political parties also competed in promising to accept more refugees.The then ruling Conservative Party promised to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees within three years. The new democratic party intended to receive 10 thousand in one year. The Liberal Party, in turn, vowed to accept 25 thousand by the end of the year.
Having come to power, the Liberal Party fulfilled its promise - not only by January 1, but by mid-February.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally met Syrian refugees at the airport.
The Canadian private refugee reception program will soon be 40 years old. Now, as the number of refugees in the world continues to grow, other countries are also interested in it. The governments of Australia, Great Britain and even Argentina expressed their interest, but so far have not taken any concrete measures.
The Canadian program has been noticed by many in the USA. The parishes of many churches, mosques and synagogues, where they wanted to help the refugees, realizing that they could hardly do this in America, are now raising money and sending them to their fellow believers in Canada - so that they can save human lives by inviting the refugees to their homes. And Canada remains an example of how to mobilize civil society to help those in need, how to better integrate the refugees themselves and save budget money.