4.4 Is Citizenship the Crown of Integration?

4.4 Is Citizenship the Crown of Integration?


If a country is not
prepared to deport massively the people who are not citizens, then they must figure
out a way to integrate those immigrants in one way or another. Citizenship provides one way to do so in a manner that is both
respectful of previous backgrounds and the diverse skills that you bring, but also allows you to be
a member of the nation. If you look at Canada and
you look at immigrants who are eligible for naturalization, who have been living in the
country long enough to apply, 85% of them had become Canadian citizens, and this is an incredibly high percentage compared to almost all
other Western democracies. Part of this is because
of the social support for citizenship. It’s partly also because
of the symbolic language that promotes citizenship as a means and a way of becoming Canadian. It’s also because citizenship
is not seen as the end point, the crown after you have
done an integration pathway, so you sort of get a medal at the end, but it’s part and parcel of
that integration pathway. So, it’s a way station
on the way of becoming a full member of society. Now, this has important implications because, in Canada,
only citizens can vote, and so once you have high
numbers of immigrants who have high levels of citizenship, this can change elections, and particularly when you think of the big Canadian cities, especially
cities like Toronto and Vancouver where maybe
up to one in two people were born outside of the country. When there’s an election, politicians need to take into account what immigrants want and how they might be
perceived if they have very strong anti-immigrant discourse. And so in Canada, there’s
been this feedback loop that, as citizenship has been promoted and immigrants became citizens, it makes it much harder
for politicians to adopt a very crude or simplistic
anti-immigrant discourse. Now this doesn’t mean that
there aren’t all kinds of questions in Canada about the pace of immigrant integration, whether it’s getting too slow or whether immigrants are
adopting Canadian values. Debates that we see in Europe
around Muslim immigrants and concerns about religious accommodation also play out in Canada, and those religious accommodation debates have also had Sikhs and Jews as a focus, in terms of where are
the limits of tolerance in the Canadian perspective. So, these debates are in Canada just as much as they’re in Europe, but immigrants, because
they are active in politics, change the way that the politicians talk about immigration and have promoted a multicultural discourse. And this doesn’t mean
it’s because immigrants just support one party. One of the unique aspects of Canada is that you have immigrants
who have successfully run for office and are sitting
in the House of Commons, across the entire political spectrum, from Conservative to
Social Democratic parties, and even the Green party, where the leader of the Green
party is herself an immigrant from the United States. And that insertion of immigrant citizens into politics changes the country. Canada’s had a lot of success
with immigrant integration and including immigrants within the national membership and citizenship. This doesn’t mean that
everything is perfect in Canada, and I want to be very clear about that. There’s been research that
shows that if you send a resume for a job opening and the
resume’s exactly the same but you change the names on the resume, the name that is anglophone,
that sounds more British or English, is going to get a call back at a higher rate than
if the name was Chinese, Indian, or even Greek, and we know, based on research
on income and employment, that immigrants in Canada,
especially if they’re what Canadians call visible
minorities or non-white, they often will face a
penalty in the labor market, whereby their wages are
less than we might expect given their work experience
and their education. So, there are problems in Canada just like there are problems everywhere. One of the things that provides some basis on which immigrants
who face discrimination or face problems can make claims – they can say to other
people, this isn’t right. You shouldn’t treat us this way – is the fact that there are
these high levels of citizenship and the fact that Canada
has birthright citizenship. This is just like in the United States. So, in Canada and the United States, unlike any country in Europe, any child born in the country is automatically a citizen at birth with only very few
exceptions for diplomats or people serving another
government in some capacity. In Europe, just because
you’re born in a country does not mean that you’re
an automatic citizen. It usually comes with caveats. Your parents have had to live there for a particular amount of time or might even have to
be a citizen themselves. So, in Canada and in the United States, you have legal full inclusion
in the second generation. So, even if the first immigrant generation do not become citizens
or are somewhat isolated, the second generation are
full members of society, and because of that, the second generation can make claims on other people in a way that they can
challenge discrimination and prejudice, and perhaps, in a country like Germany, as birthright citizenship has increased and the grounds by which people can claim German citizenship have expanded we might see changes like
that into the future.

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