Archive for November 2015

5 Myths About Refugees

Disclaimer: At VANITY Blog, we encourage youth immigrants to speak up and express themselves. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of VANITY Blog as an organization. 

On November 13, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in and around Paris, France. Reports of Syrian passport being found near the dead body of one of the terrorists have caused many to attribute the cause of this terrorism to Europe's acceptance of 700,000 refugees and migrants this year. Even though there is a possibility that this passport might have been just forged since it has not even been verified by officials yet, a lot of Canadians are already expressing worry over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan of resettling 25,000 refugees, saying that taking in refugees would only mean taking in terrorists. This is a groundless myth. 

This post aims to dispel various myths about refugees by providing data and facts from credible sources.

1) "Refugees will take away our jobs"

Many local citizens disagree with taking in refugees because they believe that refugees will take their jobs, particularly the unskilled ones. This is actually a myth. Studies show that refugees actually play a big role not just in job creation, but in increasing the wages of locals as well. A study in 2014 shows that an increase in refugees in an area also increases the wages of people in that area. This may also be attributed to the likeliness of refugees to open businesses. Steve Jobs of Apple, Jerry Yang of Yahoo!, and Sergey Brin of Google are all refugees who have largely helped stimulate the economy of the United States. 

Source: Washington Post

2) "They are crowding our healthcare system and stealing our services"

Some people also think that refugees interfere with Canada's healthcare system and steal other governmental services from locals. In reality, there is highly restricited access to basic health care services for all refugees in Canada. In 2012, the federal government announced major cuts to the Interm Federal Health Program that drastically reduced refugee access to basic health care. Later that same year, the Federal Court of Canada ruled those changes to refugee health care as unconstitutional. The Government has appealed that decision and health care for refugees and migrants remains slim. 

Furthermore, in 2012 alone, 19 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices across the country were closed down by the federal government, limiting the services that refugees and immigrants can access.


3) “They come here and they don’t speak our language!”

The federal government, in 2012, ended their annual $22 million dollar agreement with the BC government. Vancouver Community College (VCC), which trains nearly half of the province’s 9,000 ESL students, won’t have enough money to continue its programs past 2015. Forcing them to fire 70 instructors. The provincial government will now have to pick up the cost for ESL education, like other provinces. Stalling the process of transition into the labour force for new immigrants.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, a staff who has worked at VCC for 33 years said, “A number of [ESL students] don’t really know where to go. We’ve had this huge program for so many years, filling all these different kinds of needs – English for work, for academic purposes, and literacy programs – and that’s just not going to be around.”

4) “It’s not our problem. Our government has done enough.”

There is this looming belief among those against taking in more refugees that the Canadian government has done enough to help. According to CIC, Canada took 23,286 refugees in 2013. In that same year, less developed and geographically smaller countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Lebanon took 30 times as many refugees as Canada did. Canada only ranked 33rd in refugees per capita in 2012, taking in 5 refugees per 1,000 people. Syria, Jordan, Chad, and Lebanon all took more than 20 refugees per 1,000 people. 

The newly elected Liberal government has stated that they would take 25,000 Syrian refugees. Before the Liberal government was elected, the plans of the federal government had been to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees within 12 months. 

5) "Refugees are terrorists!"

Many terrorist attacks this year--most especially the attacks in Paris this month that left the entire world dumbfounded--have led many Canadians to vocally raise their concerns about the security threat of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year. Many Canadians have even signed a petition to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel his plan of resettling 25,000 refugees. Although I think that their concern around security is valid, there is insufficient evidence to support that bringing in refugees would mean Canada will be more prone to terrorist attacks. In fact, data and experts say that resettling refugees may actually do the opposite and decrease threats to Canadian security:

  • *There is a three-level screening process that verifies the background and records of all refugees coming to Canada. First, refugees will be selected by the United Nations. Second, they will undergo an interview before they come to Canada. Third, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will conduct their own front-end security screening to ensure that the information they have match with those submitted by the United Nations. This rigorous process exponentially decreases the risk of dangerous terrorists coming in to Canada
  • *Terrorists attacks in Canada have been caused by local citizens. According to Global News, more than 263,000 refugees arrived in Canada between 2005 and 2014, but neither of the two terror-related attacks on Canadian soil last year were carried out by either refugees or immigrants; the attacks in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and on Parliament Hill were both carried out by Canadian-born young men.
  • *Delaying or cancelling our plans to resettle refugees may increase threat to national security. According to Anne Speckhard, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Security Studies at Georgetown University, terrorists become terrorists because of exposure and pressure to adhere to radical and extremist ideals. Hence, the longer we leave the refugees in despair in conflict zones, the more prone they become to radicalization.  This would only strengthen and solidify terrorist groups.

Man-made tragedies always generate public discussions that attempt to find out why they happen and figure out a solution to avoid that same tragedy happening again. Although I am a big supporter of utilizing social media as a venue for this public discussions, I am disappointed at how quickly some people have been using it to voice out their opinions without even looking at facts or thinking hard about the consequences of what they say. Hopefully this post serves as a reminder for everyone to avoid forming opinions without first looking at the facts.

(Editor's note: The graphics in this post were originally made for Check Your Head's Democracy Check Digital Media Campaign last month, and were made with the help of Katie and Rodney. Reuse and republication of these images were permitted by all the creators.)

- Sean
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