Manipulating the Odds on the Baby Lottery

YOU CAN’T WIN if you don’t play the game.

The Trump administration has a zero tolerance approach to unlawful immigrants. Children have been separated from their families, sent to shelters; their parents incarcerated in federal jails. 

Here at home, even the most compassionate are asking legitimate questions about Canada’s capacity to welcome destitute refugees and asylum-seekers.

And there’s another story in play: affluent foreign nationals, mostly from China, are coming to Canada just long enough to give birth. Why? To gain Canadian citizenship for their child. It’s modern-day queue-jumping.

And it’s a double-standard. God help you if you’re seeking asylum. For the international elite: there’s tolerance, and an utter abuse of Canadian hospitality.

Birth Houses — as advertised — by British Columbia-based tourism businesses are targeted at affluent parents-to-be in China. After delivering their babies on Canadian soil, new mothers return to China with their child; an infant with a Maple Leaf brand; an infant entitled to Canada’s healthcare, post secondary education, and even seniors services; an infant endowed with the right to sponsor their parents and other family members to acquire Canadian residency once they come of age.

A baby born in Canada, has a bundle of rights that are the envy of the world; in 2018, Canada stands alone in offering such a feathered nest for babies born here. 

Citizenship is a very old concept. Jus soli is a Latin term, it means law of the soil. The place where you are born is the place where you acquire citizenship. 

Babies born in the U.S.A. and Mexico also have jus soli birthrights. But those rights, in America, come with an obligation. Americans tax their citizens based on citizenship, not residency. Wherever a baby born on American soil may choose to live, if that individual claims American citizenship, the IRS will be expecting a cut. 

People move around in today’s world. And the affluent, especially those living in politically wobbly places, can to some degree choose the soil on which their progeny will be born.

Many countries with high GDPs have modernized their citizenship laws to end the practice of birth tourism. Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, and a growing list of countries have chosen to moderate jus soli citizenship rights. 

This isn’t a partisan political issue in Canada. All we need is a simple modernization to determine who gets to be Canadian and who doesn’t. 

Canada can’t afford to be blind to abuses of our hospitality by privileged elites seeking to hedge their political bets. Absent change, we sustain a bizarre polarity in our immigration and citizenship policy.

Donna Kennedy-Glans, June 17, 2018

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