Lawyers group challenge Ottawa on immigration backlog move

A group of lawyers has signified their intention to challenge the move of the Conservative government to bump off 280,000 Federal Skilled Workers applicants from the immigration queue in order to minimize and expedite the huge immigration backlog plaguing the system.

In a drastic move announced earlier this year the government decided to return the money and application of applicants who submitted their forms on or before the February, 2008 cutoff.

This move according to Immigration minister Jason Kenney was necessary to minimize the backlog and to make the system more responsive for future applicants who will be given faster decisions that would be in response to the Canadian labor requirements. He claims that the government is confident that it is standing on sufficient legal grounds.

Critics of the move say that it is unfair and immoral to do this because it grossly undermines the expectation of most applicants in moving to Canada after so many years of waiting. They claim that the arbitrary move on the part of the minister sends the wrong message to applicants who patiently waited and followed the “rules” set forth by the government. A failure to live up to this rules based procedure will damage Canada’s credibility and will open the country to criticism that it does not know how to honor its word.

A survey of social media reactions tend to show that most Canadians have a firm belief that the government has the right to change immigration rules based on what is good for Canada and it does not have any legal or moral obligation to any immigration applicant beyond returning their application fees. Acquiring permanent residence status in Canada or Canadian citizenship is a privilege granted to a person who has complied with rules and regulations existing at the time they made their application and not a right that one can expect from the government. Rules and regulations that govern the immigration process should serve the interests of the government and its existing permanent residents /citizens it is prescriptive rather than prospective.

The immigration industry on the other hand claims that this move is tantamount to betraying the ideals of Canada in terms of fair play and justice.

With almost 40 complainants from Hong Kong and China joining the legal battle, this class action promises to be a bruising fight that will determine how far and how fast the government can tinker with a broken immigration system that is crying out for major reforms.

One can only hope that whatever the outcome maybe, it will be for the improvement of the immigration system without having to compromise the ideals that make Canada great and its citizens proud to be Canadians.

Tony Santiago
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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