Immigration has long been a part of Canadian and United States history. Comparing the immigration policies of both countries gives insight into how they view the importance of having such regulations. Differences between Canada and the Unites States exist with respect to how immigration regulations affect relations between the two countries. Immigrants don’t just come from Mexico in to the United States as many believe. There is a flow of immigration between Canada and the United States, which means there must be peaceful relations as well. Immigrants in North America can enjoy rights of citizenship, and therefore have easier access to becoming a citizen. Since Canada and the United States share similar policies, their view on foreign policy have similarities, but also some differences. Part of their view of immigration comes from the North American Free Trade Agreement. In order to understand the political aspects of both Canada and the United States, one has to understand how each country views NAFTA. This being understood, citizenship and immigration within the two countries go hand in hand. It is wise to analyze the benefits of an immigrant’s rights and accessibility to becoming a citizen. While both countries don’t just let anyone cross the border, Canada has a less developed foreign policy. With the increasing demand to regulate the policies regarding immigrants in the United States and Canada, both countries set standards for those immigrants becoming citizens. At the same time, the process to becoming a citizen shows a more tolerant attitude toward foreign policy on the part of Canadians, while the United States is stricter. The United States has long since been known as a “free” country. For those who are only immigrants though, all of the freedom has to be earned by becoming a citizen. Yet, an immigrant cannot just move to the United States and immediately become a citizen. Majority of the time, immigrants reside as legal alien residents for many years. To be a legal immigrant first though, there is still a process. Immigration is managed by the Visa Office, which is part of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs of the Department of State, the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Boyd, 1976). The Visa Office handles the issuing of Visas. The Department of Labor provides information needed to be certified to work. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare “provides selected social security information on aliens to the Immigration and Naturalization Service” (Boyd, 1976). All of these departments are necessary for the social control of aliens, or immigrants. Since regulation for immigration has always been necessary. In 1965, the United States created the Immigration and Nationality Act (Boyd, 1976). This Act “contains regulations on numerical limitations, labor certifications, and a preference system for visas” (Boyd, 1976). It regulates how many people can gain immigration rights to the United States, who is required to be labor certified, and who can gain access to become a legal resident of the United States. The Act serves as a regulatory mandate for all incoming aliens. Though the Unites States 1965 Immigration Act regulates immigration, there are current regulations that stand in place too. In addition to the requirements specified in the Act, immigrants coming to the United States must “already have a job offer to be admitted” (Torrey, 2008). Without a job already lined up, the only other reason a person can be admitted into the United States is under family reunification. This is the most common way immigrants enter the country. The majority of immigrants already have family in the country. The United States regulates immigration to control who enters the country, and so does Canada. Yet, Canada has a slightly different policy on immigration. The Department of Manpower and Immigration, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Department of Labor and National Employment all contribute to immigration regulations (Boyd, 1976). Canada views immigration as an economic stimulation. The Department of Manpower and Immigration looks to people coming from other countries to fulfill their need for workers. Unlike the United States, Canada instituted the 1967 Canadian immigration amendments to its immigration policy. The purpose of the amendments is “designed both to recruit desired manpower and to insure flexibility in the recruitment process” (Boyd, 1976). Canada focuses more on helping immigrants gain access to their country rather than keeping people out. The same Act still holds true today for current Canadian immigration regulations. Some amendments were added, though. “Amendments to the Canadian Immigration Act established a universal point system, which shifted immigration towards more non-European countries (Torrey, 2008). Since this Act centers around economics, many immigrants are drawn Canada. Economic immigrants do not have a job already lined up like they would in the United States, just useful skills (Torrey, 2008). Canada’s immigration regulations are more appealing to many. While many immigrants feel attracted to Canada because of its job market, the United States still seems a symbol of freedom as well. Due to the various regulations of immigration policies and how they are managed, this affects each country’s economy. These factors ultimately affect the migration between the two countries. There has been increased migration from the United States to Canada (Boyd, 1976). People can see Canada has more to offer in its economy than the United States. The 1965 United States Immigration Act can largely be blamed for a decline in migration and immigration to the United States (Boyd, 1976). It restricts a lot of immigrants from having the life they want. Canada experiences a population gain coming not just from other countries, but the United States as well. The United States is seeing a decrease. A restrictive immigration policy can largely affect the population of a country. Since Canada is more inviting, it is more attractive and has more opportunities for work. The rising opportunities in Canada even appeal to United States citizens, not just the immigrants living there. With more people migrating in and out of Canada and the United States, and with changing times, the immigration policies are changing. Canadian migration to the United States increased as a result of the 1965 United States Immigration Act. The United States now sees the need to change its policy. So, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill to extend the number of immigrants allowed into the country each year (Boyd, 1976). Requirements for labor force certification remain the same. This will help offset the decrease of migrants and immigrants. Canada also felt a need to make some changes to their immigration policy. “To qualify as an immigrant, anyone who is not entering as a sponsored immigrant must now meet one of three conditions” (Boyd, 1976). All three conditions refer to job vacancies. Canada’s foreign policy was not very developed in spite of increasing nationalism (Murray, 1977). Therefore, it was necessary to develop its policy to closely integrate with the United States (Murray, 1977). Changing immigration policies will only improve the quality of life each country has to offer. With changing immigration policies comes trends immigration. Since Canada expanded their immigration policy, they definitely receive many of North America’s immigrants. Immigration policy change influences transcontinental flow between Canada and the United States (Boyd, 1976). Transcontinental flow is not the only trend changing. Immigrants who came from different countries have a preference to which country they find more appealing. In Canada, an increase in Asian and African immigrants is seen (Boyd, 1976). The trends seen in Canada and the United States have become more similar over the years. For both countries, the percentage of European immigrants has declined (Boyd, 1976). Similarities between Canada and the United States adversely affect the immigration trends. The number of immigrants entering Canada is comparable to that of the United States (Boyd, 1976). As time goes on, Canada and the United States are experiencing similar trends in immigration. Since the United States and Canada see immigration trends that are alike, many might assume their view of immigration must be similar. That is far from true. Canada expresses a more lax attitude toward immigrants. Less is required of immigrants. An immigration program in Canada “authorized issuance of temporary work visas to ‘exotic dancers’” (Macklin, 2003). The government has faced much criticism and is accused of trafficking women for sexual exploitation (Macklin, 2003). In reality, though, this program gives women a chance to find a job as immigrants. Although an immigrant does not have to have a job when moving to Canada, eventually they will need one. A work visa allows the person(s) to remain in Canada for as long as the duration of the permit (Macklin, 2003). The better prospect an immigrant has for employment in Canada, the easier it will be to gain access to the country. Many citizens of Canada disagree with this way of issuing work visas to women. The government has policy options on the issue. It is possible “to preclude the lawful entry of women as exotic dancers for reason related to morality and crime control, while retaining the category on paper as a gesture of fidelity to the norms of the private market” (Macklin, 2003). Canada does not control or push women into this. Discretion must be exercised. Eliminating the exotic dancer visas, along with perfect border control, would hopefully prevent the trafficking of women (Macklin, 2003). This suggests having a policy of open borders. An open border would eliminate smugglers and the need to cross illegally. There may possibly be other policy options to ensure that Canada is still inviting to immigrants. Some policy options on immigration can be regulated by NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is important to understand the American opinion of NAFTA. “There has been an ongoing debate concerning the real domestic benefits or consequences of NAFTA” (Rankin, 2004). Americans believe NAFTA is a step in the right direction (Rankin, 2004). It regulates trade between Canada and the United States. The public supports trade between the United States and Canada. Canada places more emphasis on its identity and therefore welcomes people openly. Due to the peaceful relations that ensue between Canada and the United States, NAFTA keeps the peace. Immigration and Migration flow smoothly between the two countries. When there are immigrants coming to Canada and the United States, many of them want to become citizens. What many do not think about is the cost-benefit of giving immigrants the chance to become citizens. “The costs of American citizenship are comparatively small” (Bloemraad, 2006). Cost-benefit calculations determine the benefits of citizenship – “political rights, access to certain jobs, and protection against deportation” (Bloemraad, 2006). Although such calculations seem quite effective, it does not prevent immigrants from becoming citizens. Immigrants can be valuable to some social systems. Inclusion, as it is known, means the “form in which individuals are relevant for social systems and in which individuals respond to the inclusionary offers of social systems by exerting lay or professional roles” (Halfmann, 1998). Canada and the United States make it an aim to help immigrants become citizens. Immigrants in the United States and Canada have access to citizenship rights through naturalization (Kibreab, 2003). Both countries require different standards. Laws on immigration are adequate and simple to understand, even for immigrants (Easley, 2010). Canada requires basic French and three years of residency to apply for citizenship (Torrey, 2008). The United States requires basic English and five years of residency (Torrey, 2008). As stated before, in the United States, a job is required, whereas in Canada, an immigrant just has to have job skills. “Citizenship provides legal standing and rights from the state it signals belonging to a subjective nation” (Bloemraad, 2004). Immigrants come to the United States and Canada to seek a better life. With the opportunity to become a citizen, they can have the life they dream of. While Canada and the United States share a lot similarities, the changing times demand an increase in immigration regulation policies. Yet, the United States and Canada have different processes for immigrants becoming citizens. Canada’s attitude toward foreign policy is more tolerant while the United States has a stricter attitude. The understanding of both foreign policies can be seen through each country’s view of NAFTA and what their immigration policies. Although the United States and Canada share borders, they are far from alike, and their policies towards immigration and citizenship prove it.
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