The Selfishness o f Western Countries


Our approach towards migration

If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that we want immigrants by “invitation only”.  We want them by “invitation only” because then we can cherry pick who we want.  If we deem that somebody is not acceptable, we simply do not invite him.  We want immigrants with degrees; who speak our language; who are not too old; who have money; who have good work experience and who, preferably, have a job offer in Canada.  Even with all of those “desirable” assets, we don’t want too many of those immigrants.

Why do we want those immigrants?  It’s simple.  It’s to fulfill an economic need.  As our population ages and our birth rate diminishes, immigration becomes increasingly important to sustain our elderly parents and grand-parents.  We also want immigrants because there is a labour shortage in most regions of Canada.  Those immigrants from the economic classes represent approximately 58% of all immigration to Canada.

We also invite people who have Canadian or Permanent Resident family members here in Canada.  Those people represent approximately 27% of all immigration to Canada.  We invite those ones because they strengthen family ties of people who are already residing here permanently.

As well, to show that we are charitable, we also invite refugees.  They represent approximately 9% of all immigration to Canada.

However, we do not want refugee claimants.  We did not invite them, but they come anyway.  They arrive at our airports and at our border with the United States.  We consider them as queue jumpers.  They do not have the desirable assets of the economic class immigrant nor do they have the family ties of the family class immigrant.  Therefore, we may believe they are in need and have nothing to offer.

Indeed, they are in need: they need our protection; they ask us to alleviate their suffering; they need our help.  These uninvited strangers disturb us.  They don’t fit in our neat economic plans for our country.  They knock at our doors with greater insistence and in greater numbers.  But we prefer to not open our doors.  They knock at our windows; we put up bars.

By doing so, we deprive ourselves of the many gifts they offer. When we open our doors, as we did to the Irish during the mid 19th century, families and communities benefit immensely.  When we shut our doors, as we did to the Jews during the 2nd World War, we impoverish ourselves.

It is time to tell it like it is: We are selfish.  Our Western societies of Europe and North America are selfish.  We only think of ourselves and to hell with the rest of the world.  For a very long time, we exploited (and still are exploiting) our neighbours in the Global South.  Our high living standards are partially due to this exploitation while there are still many people in developing nations who are destitute.  When they cry out for a decent life for themselves and their loved ones and even dare to knock at our doors, we treat them as freeloaders and sometimes even as criminals.

We must stop being hypocrites.  Let’s stop saying that the reasons we do not want refugee claimants are that they circumvent the legal immigration paths, that we have lost control of our borders, that it’s a crisis.  That is simply not the case; all the experts agree.  Let’s simply admit that it’s because of our selfishness.  When arriving in our Western countries, refugee claimants ask for our help.  We don’t want to give our help because we will have to invest time and money.  It is time to really look in the mirror and admit it:  We are selfish.

Norbert Piché is the Directeur national Service jésuite des réfugiés - Country Director Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada

  • Claire M
    Posted at 02:27h, 16 February Reply

    So true

  • Peter Chouinard
    Posted at 07:01h, 16 February Reply

    Anyone who reads this and has access to President Donald Trump’s inner circle or his Twitter feed should sent this along.
    Shame on us, Shame on him!!

  • Donna Zeolla
    Posted at 09:25h, 16 February Reply

    Amen. Send it to Individual #1. Enough is enough.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 09:35h, 16 February Reply

    Thank you Norbert!

  • Paul Baker
    Posted at 09:50h, 16 February Reply

    Norbert, thanks for the images of refugee claimants as not invited, queue jumpers and freeloaders, even criminals. They make their reality so very real and are a great help to any discussions we may have.

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