New data show the number of people immigrating to Canada increased by 26% between 2015 and 2019, and is projected to rise higher as the country seeks to overcome the aging of its workforce – a serious problem in all Western nations. In the United States, legal immigration fell by 7% between FY 2016 and FY 2018, and is expected to decline even more sharply due to Trump administration policies.
Canada has announced plans to increase the number of immigrants it accepts each year. “To further ease the challenges of a shrinking labor force and an aging population, our new multi-year immigration levels plan sets out the highest levels of permanent residents that Canada will welcome in recent history,” according to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen. By 2021, Canada is expected to increase legal immigration to 350,000 a year, a rise of 78,165, or 29%, from the 2015 level of 271,835.
The big Canadian immigration news in 2019 was the number of Indians who became permanent residents in Canada increased from 39,340 in 2016 to 85,585 in 2019, a rise of more than 117%, according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data. “Canada is benefiting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from U.S. destinations, largely because of the challenges of obtaining and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable route to U.S. permanent residence,” said Peter Rekai, founder of the Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP, in an interview. (See here.)
In 2019, India was the leading country of citizenship for immigrants to Canada, with more than twice as many immigrants as China, which had 30,260 immigrants in 2019, in second place. Third was the Philippines, with 27,815 immigrants. Nigeria was fourth, with 12,595, and the United States had the fifth most immigrants to Canada, with 10,800.
Even though Trump officials have claimed an affinity for Canada’s immigration system, that is not the case when it comes to immigration levels. As a percentage of each country’s population, Canada admits approximately three times as many immigrants as America. Trump administration-supported bills in Congress would have reduced legal immigration to the U.S. by up to 50%.
A new U.S. Census report highlights the importance of immigration to America’s long-term prospects. “Higher international immigration over the next four decades would produce a faster growing, more diverse, and younger population for the United States,” concluded the Census report.
“We desperately need immigration to keep our country growing and prosperous,” according to William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer and author of several books examining Census data. “The reason we have a good growth rate in comparison to other developed countries in the world is because we’ve had robust immigration for the last 30 to 40 years.”
The numbers show the United States is headed in the opposite direction from Canada on immigration. Legal immigration to the U.S. fell by 7% between 2016 and 2018, illustrating the impact of Trump administration policies on legal immigration. The administration’s public charge rule, the travel ban and diminished refugee admissions are expected to reduce the annual level of legal immigration by a much greater amount, which will slow labor force growth in the United States and mean lower long-term economic growth for Americans.
It appears the debate about the difference between the U.S. and Canadian immigration systems is not about establishing a points system but whether to offer opportunity to more legal immigrants as in Canada or to face a decline and slower growth as in the United States.
The 2020 Presidential campaign season is now upon us and with it will come the usual shrill dialogue over immigration reform. Once again, immigrants will be the target of endless attacks. When all is said and done, nothing will be accomplished and the immigration quagmire will continue.
For more than two decades immigration policy has been a riddle in search of an answer for Washington lawmakers. But, is the problem really so incomprehensible that a solution cannot be found?
The obstacles are not insurmountable from a policy standpoint. The key question is whether the two major political parties can set aside the political value of this volatile issue long enough to reach a solution. Immigration is a wonderful tool for riling up the base of both parties and politicians use it every chance they get.
The American public is treated to the same spectacle during every election cycle. The Republicans accuse the Democrats of advocating open borders, giving away the store to immigrants and favoring them over United States citizens. The Democrats accuse the Republicans of being heartless monsters threatening to tear down the Statue of Liberty.
The history of immigration to the United States is of keen interest to me as a Latin American history professor at Kean University where most of my students are immigrants or the children of immigrants. My teaching coupled with my recent selection as a “Public Scholar” by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, with the mission of lecturing across the state on the subject, have reawakened my interest in offering a solution to the immigration stalemate. My proposal draws heavily from Congressional compromise agreements reached in the U.S. Senate in 2006 and 2013 but never voted on by the House of Representatives.
To arrive at an immigration reform plan, it will be necessary to come to some realistic conclusions.
First, there is no way to deport the 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the nation. Even if one were inclined to do so, it would cost billions of dollars and tie down law enforcement on futile goose chases looking for people, most of whom are hard-working and contribute to our society.
Second, there is no way to hermetically seal our borders. A 2,000-mile wall will not do the job. Study after study shows that most folks who come to the United States fly in illegally and overstay their visas. Walls are enormously expensive to build and must be maintained over time. There is no example in history of a 2,000-mile wall keeping people out. If underlying economic issues are not addressed, people will swim around it, climb over it, or dig under it.
What will work?
I suggest four policy changes to address the current immigration crisis. Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living here in a law-abiding fashion. There is no reason for these folks to remain in the shadows any longer. They will not leave, and we don’t have the capacity or the sufficient moral decay to deport them all. Charge them the appropriate fees, and let us resolve this issue once and for all. This will be tough medicine for anti-immigrant foes to swallow.
Establish a comprehensive worker visa program so industries can apply for foreign workers to fill shortages in the labor force, particularly in the agricultural sector. A properly regulated program where workers come in for a set amount of time, are guaranteed safe working and living conditions, and then go back to their countries of origin, is very much in need. There should be generous provisions for those who may wish to resettle here. There are currently efforts to recruit highly trained professionals such as engineers, doctors and nurses, but there needs to be a place in our land for laborers who want to build a new life. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.”
We need to develop an economic development plan to assist the countries of Central America modeled on the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after the World War II. This is not some liberal humanitarian proposal, although there is nothing wrong with being humane. If we were to invest in those societies and raise their standards of living, the people there will be less likely to want to come here.
There needs to be some measures taken to insure this doesn’t happen again. This includes, among other things, the nationwide expansion of the federal E-Verify system to mandate that all employers check employee credentials against a national database to determine work eligibility. Additional border enforcement will also be required. This will be hard for pro-immigrant advocates and segments of the business community to accept.
So, as you listen to the political back and forth on immigration throughout this campaign season, do not believe those who tell you this problem cannot be solved. Do not believe those that argue for dramatic, one-sided solutions to the issue. There is the outline of a plan out there. It will take political will and compromise to achieve it.
No one is going to get everything they want. Until everyone recognizes this, there will be no solution.
Frank Argote-Freyre, Ph.D, is a history professor at Kean University. He is also a former congressional press secretary, an expert on U.S.-Cuba relations and was a member of the Electoral College during the 2012 presidential election.
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On Sunday, February 9, armed soldiers in full camouflage entered the Salvadoran legislature. They fanned out across the half-empty chambers, stationing themselves behind startled deputies and lining the hallways. Outside, snipers perched atop government buildings. President Nayib Bukele marched into the occupied chambers and took his seat in the Assembly President’s chair. “Now I think it’s quite clear who has control of the situation,” he said.
The chilling spectacle recalled the darkest days of Salvadoran military dictatorship, and marked a stark contrast to Bukele’s carefully cultivated image as a youthful, post-ideological reformer. The ease with which the so-called millennial president demolished the fragile institutional consensus of the 1992 Peace Accords that ended the 12-year civil war only confirmed what Bukele’s critics have long warned: The president is flirting with fascism.
The constitutional crisis began on February 6, following lawmaker’s reticence to approve a $109 million international loan requested by the Bukele administration for security equipment. Bukele, who campaigned on the slogan “There’s enough money when nobody steals,” claimed the funds were necessary for the implementation of “Phase Three” of the government’s “Territorial Control Plan” against gang violence.
For the first time in Salvadoran history, the president invoked Article 167 of the Constitution, which empowers the executive to convene the legislature in emergency situations. Bukele called an extraordinary legislative session for 3:00 PM on February 9 and invited the public to rally outside “to defend the country’s security and give our soldiers and police the conditions they deserve.” “If the deputies do not attend,” he tweeted, “they will be breaking with the constitutional order and the people will have the power to apply Article 87 of the Constitution,” which governs the people’s right to insurrection. If the legislators refused, Bukele claimed the power to dissolve the congress.
But the two largest parties in the Assembly, the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party and the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), rejected the president’s authority. Bukele, who campaigned to victory in 2019 against both parties after his 2017 expulsion from the FMLN, rallied his followers against the lawmakers as traitors to the nation and complicit with the gangs.
On Friday, February 7, Bukele sent a sobering message to the legislators, dispatching the National Civil Police and Armed Forces to their homes to strip the deputies of their government-assigned security detail. The next day, the Armed Forces announced their fealty to Bukele, declaring: “All our troops have sworn loyalty to the President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and we await his orders.” State security forces surrounded the legislature. They ousted Congress’s security guards and rebuffed members of the press who tried to gain access. Government workers began assembling a stage platform outside the legislature’s gates.
As opposition lawmakers and civil society groups raised international alarms, the notorious right-wing coup apologist and president of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, offered his support to Bukele: “I spoke with El Salvador’s Foreign Minister by phone. She expressed her administration’s respect for the constitution and institutionality, and reaffirmed President Bukele’s government’s commitment to security policies that have yielded positive results.”
On Sunday, hundreds gathered at the government center in downtown San Salvador. The president’s recently-formed New Ideas party mobilized attendees using government buses. Many of those present, clad in Bukele’s signature baby blue, were public employees. White canopies lined the street, under which state workers handed out bottled water. Vice President Félix Ulloa and members of the cabinet rallied with supporters.
Inside, only 28 of 84 legislators obeyed the president’s summons, not enough for a quorum. Deputies of the right-wing GANA party, which sponsored Bukele’s 2019 presidential bid after he failed to register New Ideas in time, presented themselves, as did three dissident ARENA legislators and members of smaller conservative parties. The FMLN, which was celebrating its 40th annual convention, was the only party to boycott the Sunday session entirely.
The mood in the chambers was congratulatory at first. But the Armed Forces’ sudden entrance appeared to distress the assembled representatives. After taking his seat in the occupied legislature, Bukele raised his hands to face in silent prayer. Then he stood and, military escort in toe, strode out of the building and onto the awaiting stage. “I asked God,” he told the rapt audience, “And God said to me, ‘Patience.’” He gave the legislators a week to approve the loan.
The reaction to the so-called “Bukelazo” was swift and resounding. Feminist groups rallied the following day, shouting the now-famous Chilean refrain: “¡El Estado opresor es un macho violador!” On Saturday, February 15, community organizations held a vigil for peace in downtown San Salvador.
Major Salvadoran social movement organizations, including the National Alliance Against Water Privatization and the Roundtable for Food Sovereignty, issued a joint statement: “The images of soldiers and police invading the chambers recall the dictatorial and repressive past that the president’s millennial democracy seeks to revise. The Bukelian performance included the flagrant violation of the secular state: The president spoke to God, surpassing even the Bolivian coup president Jeanine Áñez who carried the Bible into the presidential palace. […] As popular organizations, we condemn and denounce this serious setback in our national history, and we demand that it not remain impugn.” The groups called on the Attorney General’s Office and Supreme Court to take action and urged the legislature to take up longstanding measures of public interest beyond public safety that have been sidelined by right-wing parties, such as the enshrining of water as a public good and a human right, the de-privatization of the pension system, and progressive tax reform.
The FMLN filed suits with the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Office, and international bodies against the administration and called for the resignation of the heads of the PNC and Armed Forces. “We want to tell the president that we have already confronted thugs, with power and with guns. We are prepared to resist however necessary for democracy. We are prepared to fight against dictators,” declared FMLN General Secretary Oscar Ortiz.
Outcry sprang from within the ranks of Bukele’s coalition as well. “Militarizing the chambers was not necessary. We came in good faith,” a representative of the GANA party told the press outside the legislature Sunday. Key backers of the administration balked. The top representatives of Salvadoran capital issued a stern rebuke, concerned that Bukele’s actions “sent a signal that you should think twice before coming to invest in El Salvador.” “I do not approve of the presence of the Armed Forces in the legislature,” the U.S. Ambassador warned.
The Attorney General opened investigations into the incident. And on Monday, February 10, the Supreme Court announced it had accepted a suit of unconstitutionality against the administration. The magistrates issued an injunction invalidating any extraordinary legislative session and ordering the president to “abstain from using the Armed Forces in activities contrary to those constitutionally established and from putting at risk the republican, democratic, and representative form of government, the pluralist political system, and in particular the separation of powers.” The injunction also ordered the Minister of Defense and Director of the National Civil Police “not to exercise functions and activities other than those constitutionally and legally mandated.”
In response to the injunction, Bukele tweeted: “We will fight this. With the help of God, the people, our Armed Forces, and our National Civil Police. No matter how many resolutions they issue. We know they will try to protect the system. We are ready to give everything, even this position, which just like life itself, is only borrowed.” But his administration scrambled to contain the damage. The office of the presidency issued a statement entitled “Bukele calls for calm in the face of the demand for insurrection,” and in a subsequent communique committed to respecting the Court’s mandate.
As international outcry swelled, including denunciations from U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and leading members of the Progressive Caucus, the administration continued to revise its version of the events. In a February 15 op-ed in the Miami Herald, Bukele wrote: “My administration was deeply concerned about a popular uprising of frustrated Salvadorans mobilized against the National Assembly. This is why we asked the military to be present, should violence erupt as tens of thousands of Salvadorans gathered outside the National Assembly calling for the removal of its members.”
In the op-ed, Bukele doubled down on his law and order rhetoric, writing that the leadership of the “pro-Maduro FMLN” and “the right-wing death-squad sponsor ARENA” parties is “actively engaged with terrorist groups in El Salvador,” citing a recent investigation implicating ARENA politician Norman Quijano in deal-making with gangs. Bukele claimed his security strategy was responsible for the reduction in the official murder rate under his tenure, and that without the loan, “our law enforcement and military officials will be left vulnerable to the terrorist organizations financed by members of the National Assembly.”
The cynicism of Bukele’s spin is hard to overstate. Bukele’s repressive anti-gang policing plan is no innovation—his strategy is a continuation of the very same U.S.-backed zero-tolerance strategy that has dominated Salvadoran security policy for decades. Indeed, these measures have only escalated the violence over time, radicalizing and fortifying the gangs while criminalizing poor Salvadoran youth. Analysts have raised serious questions about the official homicide figures, pointing to a rise in disappearances and extrajudicial killings by state security forces. Others, like researcher Janette Aguilar, suggest that Bukele, who negotiated with gangs as Mayor of San Salvador, is employing the same tactics today.
A Turning Point
Bukele appears to have overplayed his hand, alarming human rights defenders and oligarchic elites alike. The administration hastened to minimize the offense, but Bukele’s dictatorial disposition has been laid bare.
Whatever its outcome, the crisis, calculatingly contrived by the president, marks the radicalization of his project. Bukele campaigned as a Silicon Valley-style disrupter, positioning himself against a corrupt political class encumbered by outdated ideological divisions and pledging to mobilize international investment to catapult El Salvador into the 21st century. Rapidly, however, he assembled all the signifiers of the ascendant fascist right. By exalting and politicizing the Armed Forces, conflating any opposition with “terrorist” criminal gangs, and embracing evangelical Christian fundamentalists, Bukele is aligning himself and his base with the region’s most reactionary forces.
In his June 2019 inauguration speech, Bukele claimed to have “turned the page on the postwar.” On January 16, his administration became the first not to commemorate the anniversary of the UN-negotiated Peace Accords that demilitarized the state and established a fraught neoliberal democracy in El Salvador. The events of February 9 confirmed in the most frightening terms Bukele’s contempt for that struggle—both its modest achievements and many unmet demands.
Polling shortly before the crisis showed that six months into his term, Bukele remained broadly popular. His consolidation of power comes—not coincidentally—as the electoral Left is at its weakest in decades. El Salvador’s social movements and dissidents face the formidable task of cultivating a mass opposition to the president’s agenda where little exists. As Bukele challenges the key tenets of the peace accords, though, the stakes for the country’s nascent postwar democracy have never been higher.
Hilary Goodfriend is a doctoral student in Latin American Studies at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City. She is a member of the NACLA editorial board.
Cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex remains confident that it has identified and fixed an error that caused a number of erroneous trades on the platform earlier this week. On Feb. 12, Poloniex made a decision to reverse all trades that took place during an 11-minute period due to a software error. The bug caused trades to be executed and accounted for inaccurately.
The platform’s automated audit system picked up the affected trades and halted all withdrawals. Following that, the Poloniex team effectively reversed every trade that had been executed as a result of the bug.
The main reason for the reversal, which copped criticism from all corners of the cryptocurrency community, was due to the sheer number of trades that were affected by the software error. Cointelegraph reached out to Poloniex for an official comment on the situation as well as the users to find out how they were affected.
Trade reversal a “last resort”
Arianne Daniel, a product marketing manager at Poloniex, told Cointelegraph that the exchange was able to identify and correct the issue that had caused the error once the platform had shut down for maintenance. While all the trades during the affected period were completely reversed, Daniel explained that none of the affected traders lost any funds or holdings:
“No customers lost funds as a result of the error. As the error only occurred for customers who placed or executed an order with a clientorderid set during the 11 minutes before we placed our site into maintenance mode, only a very small percentage of our daily active traders were affected by the issue.”
The exchange maintains that it had explored all possible options to rectify the trading errors caused by the bug, and it had to turn to a “last resort” by reversing trades. According to Daniel:
“We understand how serious it is to reverse trades and view it as a last resort. Unfortunately, we had to turn to this for the first time, as the error affected too many trades to correct manually.”
It is difficult to ascertain what the best course of action would have been in a scenario like this in comparison with other cryptocurrencies exchanges. Poloniex deemed the reversal to be the most appropriate course, and Daniel says Poloniex’s existing security systems served its purpose:
“Our priority is to safeguard customers’ funds and provide the best experience possible. We have many best practices in place to act on this priority, including the audit that identified the issue and automatically froze withdrawals within two minutes of its beginning.”
This type of scenario is almost unheard of in conventional trading circles, and the cryptocurrency space is no different. Nevertheless, Poloniex appeared to act both swiftly and openly in the course of action it chose to take. Investment specialist and market analyst Mati Greenspan told Cointelegraph that the circumstances of the event seem to have necessitated Poloniex’s actions:
“It’s certainly unconventional. I’ve never seen a platform have to resort to reversing trades before, and this definitely speaks to the severity of the error.”
The reversal of trades may have seemed to be an unorthodox solution to the error on Poloniex’s platform, but Greenspan played down the talk of the move setting a dangerous precedent for other trading platforms to follow, saying: “It seems like this was a difficult decision for Poloniex to take, and I applaud them for their transparency in the way they resolved the issue.”
Greenspan believes that complex technical errors need to be met with forward-thinking solutions. With that in mind, the analyst believes that any solution that serves the best interests of clients is difficult to criticize:
“In the technical world that we live in and specifically in the field of online trading, things happen. Bugs and errors are a fact of life and oftentimes, trades can be affected. The difference between good platforms and bad ones is the way that they handle it.”
In October 2019, Poloniex broke away from mobile payment giant Circle in order to better serve a global user base of traders. Circle had bought Poloniex for $400 million in February 2018.