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Immigration

Canada should welcome skilled 'Dreamers'

Canada should invite those facing deportation from the United States following the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to immigrate here, Toronto immigration lawyer Matthew Jeffery tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“America’s loss could be Canada’s gain because these people, by and large, are skilled workers, many with post-secondary education,” says Jeffery, who operates the immigration-focused Matthew Jeffery Barrister & Solicitor office in Toronto.

The DACA program was created in 2012 under former U.S. president Barack Obama. "Those who reside in the U.S. under the program are often called ‘Dreamers’ after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM)," reports the CBC.

The program — designed for individuals brought to the U.S. as children by parents who were undocumented immigrants — shielded Dreamers from deportation and gave them work permits.

“Dreamers are allowed to live in the U.S. providing they graduate from school and have no criminal record, but DACA has been under attack recently from U.S. President Donald Trump,” the article states.

“Over Easter weekend, Trump announced there will not be a deal on legalizing the status of ‘Dreamers,’ declaring the U.S.-Mexico border is becoming more dangerous,” it continues.

The article estimates that 800,000 young people who migrated to the U.S. illegally with their parents are now living there under the DACA program, and “face deportation to home countries they may now have little connection with.”

Jeffery says that with English-speaking skills and similar work experience to Canadians, there’s an opportunity to attract many potentially worthy candidates to come north of the border.

One solution is to invite DACA registrants in the U.S. to apply to come to Canada under the Express Entry Program, he says, adding it would be an enhanced application awarding extra points to each candidate.

“The Express Entry Program brings about 100,000 people a year into the country,” he says.

The points-based system requires candidates to obtain about 450 points out of 1,000 to be selected to immigrate to Canada. Points are awarded for factors such as age, education, English or French language ability, and skilled work experience. Those with the highest number of points will be selected by the immigration authorities and issued an invitation to apply for permanent residence, Jeffery notes.

"It's a skilled worker system so candidates with more work experience and education than others, of course, get more points," he says. "In order to encourage DACA candidates from the U.S. to apply under the Express Entry, the government could award a bonus 50 points on humanitarian grounds. This would give them a better chance of being invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada, provided that they already score well on the other factors." 

Jeffery says it could be a simple solution to a massive humanitarian crisis. "There is no need to create a special program — the government need only award some bonus points under the Express Entry on public policy grounds."

"These people are being deported back to countries they know almost nothing about because they came to the U.S. as children," Jeffery says. "It's unfair and cruel, and I think most Canadians would agree that admitting those Dreamers who can make a positive contribution to our country would be a just and worthy venture."

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