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Immigration

DACA termination an opportunity for Canadian immigration

Canada could benefit from the potential end of a U.S. program protecting individuals who immigrated illegally as children, Toronto immigration lawyer Matthew Jeffery tells AdvocateDaily.com.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program in September. The regime doles out work permits to high school graduates or military personnel under the age of 31 who arrived in the country illegally while still minors.

The Canadian Press reports that although 1.7 million people are estimated to qualify for the program, only about 800,000 have enrolled. Trump’s announcement delayed DACA’s termination by six months in order to give lawmakers a chance to fix the program legislatively.  

“Unless Congress is able to come up with a fix, that’s 800,000 people stuck in limbo. They are going to be highly tempted to make a move somewhere else, with Canada one potential option,” says Jeffery, who operates the immigration-focused Matthew Jeffery Barrister & Solicitor office in Toronto. “I think this should be seen as a big opportunity for Canada to take at least some of these people in.”

Jeffery explains that individuals covered by DACA have typically grown up in the U.S., and speak fluent English.

“They share pretty much same the same culture as Canadians, and many of them are college educated or have good working experience,” he says. “This is a golden opportunity to take on a group of hard-working immigrants who can arrive in Canada and hit the ground running in terms of having all the necessary qualities to succeed here.”

The CP story says Canada’s federal government has already begun studying the potential impact of DACA’s cancellation north of the border, and an internal analysis obtained by the news service suggests a partially positive reaction.  

"For Canada, a sizable portion (of the) DACA-eligible population could be considered more through the lens of economic immigration as opposed to humanitarian protection," the analysis notes.

However, the report also suggests it would be hard to absorb a large number due to existing immigration levels.

"The ability for Canada to receive large numbers of DACA-eligible persons would be modest, at best," the report continues.

Jeffery says the federal government should consider lifting restrictions that may bar DACA candidates from applying for residency here.  

“The government has the ability to set up a program to address this situation and take advantage of an opportunity to welcome what I think would be an excellent group of new immigrants,” he says.

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