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Introduction Definitions Of Forced Migration Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 3914 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Migration refers to the movement of people and in the context of this work the concern is international migration, which is the movement of people across international borders. International migration is complex and can involve a number of interacting variables both at the individual level and the structural level (Bloch 2002). It is a growing and large phenomenon influencing almost all countries as the source, destination or transit of migrants. Many migrants voluntarily move, searching for different lifestyles and better economic opportunities. Others, such as asylum seekers, refugees and trafficked people are forced to flee their homes due to persecution, repression or conflict. In addition, poor governance and poverty, development projects, degradation in environment and disasters are also increasingly large scale drivers of forced displacement. The people, communities and their families who are displaced within their own countries or across international borders broadly named “forced migrants” (WDR 2012).

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Migration Theories

There are various studies analyzing the reasons of forced migration. Some of them claim that the role of labour migration is crucial in the evolution of the national accumulation patterns into a global accumulation regime. In Accordance with this view the development of a large surplus population causes to structurally ‘forced migration’. The excess number of migrants is a significant product of the globalization of capital accumulation. The human resources transfer in huge numbers to immigration from emigration regions cannot be compensated for by financial terms. The existing optimism for migrant transfers renders the invisible but much more significant resource transfer (Faist et al. 2011).

This part reviews the development of migration theory and its current application for refugees and asylum seekers. The circumstances surrounding any migratory movement are unique and complex, which makes it difficult for any theory to generalize or predict refugee movements. Migration theories derive from a number of academic disciplines including sociology, geography, politics, law and economics. Three of the main approaches used in debates about migration are the neoclassical economic equilibrium perspective, the historical-structuralist approach and migration systems theory (Bloch 2002).

Neo-classical economic equilibrium perspective

A nineteenth-century English geographer, E. G. Ravenstein was inspired by the migration dynamics between Ireland, England and Scotland, and developed a set of laws to describe migration. In his first paper on migration, Ravenstein classified migrants as “local migrants”, “the short journey migrants”, “migration by stages”, “long-journey migrants” and “temporary migrants” with respect to migrants’ period of stay in the county that they had gone to. He also looked at certain patterns such as from which counties people had migrated and to where, and which gender had the most percentile in migration, etc. He concluded that migration was a phenomenon leaning from rural to urban where centres of industries were developed. In that sense, Ravenstein’s laws were characterized by an emphasis on economic conditions (Kawano 2006).

Neo-classical economic theories of migration can be traced back to the work of a geographer, Ravenstein, in the 1880s. Such theories argue that workers respond to wage differentials across space and move from low-wage to higher-wage localities. Ravenstein formulated a number of laws to explain migratory movements based predominately on an analysis of English Census data from 1871 and 1881. The main points of Ravenstein’s laws were (Faist 1997):

The majority of migrants go only a short distance.

The major direction is from agricultural areas to centres of commerce and industry.

Women tend to dominate short journey migrants while men are more likely to travel overseas.

Migration increases as industry and commerce develop and as transportation improves.

Migrants going long distances tend to go to one of the great centres of trade and industry.

The major causes of migration are economic.

Although Ravenstein tried to formulate a model to explain migratory movements, his propositions have been criticized because they neither tested actual movements empirically nor linked movements to factors outside those influencing the individual. The term push-pull is used because migration is seen as a combination of push and pull factors that result in the decision to migrate. Push factors are usually negative and include conflict, political instability and social inequality. Pull factors, those that attract people to a particular receiving country, include employment possibilities and freer communities in the country of destination (Kawano 2006: 17).

Historical-structuralist approach

The historical-structuralist approach had its origins in Marxist political economy that emphasizes the unequal distribution of economic and political power in the global economy. The function of migration is to mobilize cheap labour for capital. Thus the early push-pull thesis was superseded by more structural approaches that consider the role of capitalism and the state. The historical-structuralist approaches have been criticized. Such approaches also ignore the fact that not all migrants are workers and even when they are, they are various other things as well including members of ethnic and religious groups. Moreover, the migration process is not based solely on individual choice in response to market equilibrium. Instead policies exist, notably immigration controls that constrain individual choices. The massive number of internally displaced people (estimated by the UNHCR to be between 20 and 25 million) can be in part attributed to structural barriers. Moreover, the vast majority of the world’s refugees remain in their region of origin seeking refuge in a neighbouring country (Martiniello and Rath 2010: 22).

The emphasis of the historical-structuralist approach on the mobilization for capital neither explains the complexity of migration nor does it provide a theoretical basis for understanding refugee movements. More recently, a migration systems theory has emerged out of economic and structuralist theories that places emphasis on the interaction between a number of social, economic and political variables (Bloch 2002).

Migration systems approach

Migration systems theory applies to both transnational relations and social network theory. In terms of transnational relations, the links between the sending and the receiving countries, with historical links between the two countries, are of primary importance and provide the ‘historical-political’ factors for migration. Prior links between the sending and the receiving countries may take the form of trade links, cultural ties, political links and imperial-colonial relations. Transnationalism is not only concerned with the movement of people. It also includes engagement in economic, social, cultural and political activities across national borders (Faist et al. 2011). Such activities can take place on an individual basis or through institutional channels. The extent to which migrants engage in transnational activities will vary according to a number of factors, which include economic circumstances and the circumstances of the migration. In contrary, transnational activities become more selective when migration is a more personalized process, grounded on family and personal decisions (Steiner 2009). The key feature of the systems approach to migration is that it is concerned with the interaction between numbers of different elements that affect the migration.

The Case Study: Canada

In the Canadian case three levels of public policy affect the process of seeking refuge and settlement in Canada. First, there are the immigration laws that regulate the admission of voluntary as well as forced migrants. Secondly, there are refugee policies that regulate Canada’s humanitarian protection. Finally the settlement and integration policies which involve set of norms and regulations through which the Canadian State supports the migrants’ social and economic settlement and integration. For the Canadian government, the strategy of integration aims to support the rapid settlement, adaptation and integration of those newly arrived with the goal of their becoming, “contributing members of Canadian society”. Most agreements emphasize that integration is understood as a two way process that requires adjustments by both the newcomers and the receiving society (CIC 2012a).

Canada’s Migration Policy

Canada’s immigration policy has always been driven opportunistically as well as ideologically: on the one hand by the need to populate and develop a country of vast and challenging geographic scale; on the other, by the desire to reproduce European civilization (Sandercock et al. 2009). French-English dualism has complicated the relation between immigration, citizenship, and nationhood in Canada. Immigration has been related in complex ways to this dualism. Historically, dualism has not meant pluralism. Immigrants have been expected to assimilate to the French- or the English-speaking community. The large majority, even those settling in Quebec, have done the latter – a fact that sparked French resentment of immigration as an instrument of English domination. On the other hand, dualism may have engendered in recent years a greater sensitivity to the cultural identity of immigrants. A few years after becoming bilingual on the federal level, Canada adopted an official policy in support of multiculturalism. It is not clear what this means in practice. But it may encourage Canada’s increasingly diverse immigrants to naturalize quickly, without feeling that they must thereby abandon their cultural identity (Martiniello and Rath 2010: 227).

In 2010, Canada is estimated to be hosting over 7 million immigrants, who comprise more than 20 % of its overall population. The most crowded immigrants in Canada are originally from China, India, Italy and the United Kingdom. For a country in Northern American region, it is unusual that countries of origin of these top ranked immigrants are not in the American continent (World Bank 2008). With 1.3 million of its citizens living abroad in 2005, Canada is also a country of emigration with around 4 % of the total population. The major countries of destination are The USA, the United Kingdom and Australia (World Bank 2008).

Legal Developments for the rights of Forced migrants

The new Immigration Act of 1967 instituted a “points system” that ranked potential immigrants according to age, education, labour skills, language skills, and financial resources. The underlying economic rationality of Canadian immigration policy is readily apparent from this points system and from the make-up of immigrant categories. There are essentially three categories of immigrant: economic immigrants, family class immigrants, and refugees. Today, the majority of newcomers enter as economic immigrants (58% in 2000), followed by family class immigrants (27%) and refugees (13%) (Sandercock et al. 2009).

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act-2001

In 1997 Canada established the classes of “country of asylum” and “source country.” The country of asylum class applies to those persons who are outside of their country or origin or residence. The source country class, through which the great majority of Colombians have arrived, applies to those who are still in their country of citizenship. The Canadian government determines the countries designated as a “source country” of refugees based on an evaluation of the situation in the country6. At the moment six countries are so designated: Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sierra Leona and Sudan. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act formalized the category of source country. Under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), a person inside Canada can claim status as a convention refugee or status as a person who needs humanitarian protection. Convention refugees are persons who are outside of their country of nationality or residence and cannot or do not want to return to that country because they have a well founded fear of persecution. A protected person is one who would face possible torture, a risk to their life, or suffer cruel and inhuman punishment if they were returned to their country of nationality or residence (Alcala et al. 2008).

In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives power the Federal Minister to arrange agreements with the provinces for implementation of immigration programmes and policies to improve the coordination. For instance, in 2007, the Toronto City Council negotiated a proposal with the federal governments and provincial, in which the three dimensions of government agreed to collaborate on programme, policy and research development concerned with settlement and immigration issues influencing the city. Through a comparative review of how Canadian cities respond to international migration, subsequent steps have been explained which include adopting and formulating formal settlement and immigration policies. There are establishing advisory bodies to advise elected officials; formulating and disseminating vision statements, particularly to attract public support; developing strategic plans; and creating administrative structures. (IOM 2010:95).

Canadian residents are, by law, equal (independent of whether or not they are citizens). The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects and guarantees the right of all Canadian residents to freedom of conscience, thought, assembly, association, and particularly mobility such as entering, staying and leaving Canada, and establishing residence in any of its provinces. It also establishes equal status, rights and privileges for each of the two official languages, English and French (Justice Laws 2012).

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Multiculturalism is a cultural policy of the state which erects the socio-cultural diversity of Canadian civil society as one of its primary emblems and seeks to promote equality of rights, respect for fundamental liberties, and the social and political participation of individuals from across the diverse histories and cultures that make up Canadian society (Justice Laws 2012). The Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that the charter should be interpreted and applied in such a way as to preserve and realize Canadians’ multicultural heritage (Alcala et al. 2008).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

CIC deals with immigration, refugees, asylum, integration and citizenship policies. Its sovereignty contains the admission of visitors and immigrants to the country; protecting, resettling and providing a safe housing to refugees; and supporting newcomers to integrate and to adapt in Canadian society. The role of CIC is not only limited to policymaking, but also it deals with implementation at each level of the immigration services. However, the border management issues are the only area related to migration that is out of CIC’s responsibility. Border management is mandated by the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA). (IOM 2010: 89).

Canada received almost 24 700 refugees in 2010, half through government resettlement programmes and private sponsors. These included 4.000 Iraqi and 1.400 Bhutanese refugees. The remaining refugees were successful asylum seekers, mainly from Colombia, Haiti, and Sri Lanka (OECD 2012).

The Live-In Care-giver Programme (LCP)

There are several labour oriented unique migration programs implemented by Canadian governments. One of the most comprehensive of these programs is the LCP which started in 1992 by replacing the Foreign Domestic Worker Programme. It is a variation of the economic class programme to enable the workers to find a work in Canada even if they are not able to meet the qualifications of refugee status, family sponsorship or the immigration points system. The major reason of this programme was to provide care givers to people who are in need of care at their homes. The number of care givers in Canadian population was not sufficient and it is expected to become more necessary while the population was ageing (IOM 2010). To work as a live-in care giver and to be selected by CIC, there are several requirements identified by CIC including (CIC 2012b):

• The employer should provide letter for job confirmation from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) which outlining an opinion about the labour necessities in market situation for a live-in care giver;

• The employer should sign a contract with the employee;

• An equivalent degree of secondary school education with Canadian system;

• At least one year of full-time paid work experience with the same employer or at least six months of recognized formal full-time training in a field related to the job, within the three years preceding the application;

• Good knowledge of Canada’s two official languages French or English;

• Before entering Canada, migrant should have a work permit.

Although these types of labour oriented migration is not established for facilitating residency for migrant care givers, in some situations it can be resulted with permanent residency. The working conditions for LCP providers have recently facilitated with transitions to permanent residence and also enhance protections for live-in caregivers from potential discriminations and abuses. The evolved form of LCP programme holds a clear potential to better address the needs of clients and migrants (Sandercock et al. 2009).

Forced Migrants in the Canadian Community

Once refugees arrive in Canada, immigrant service agencies are responsible for providing welcome, information and settlement services to GARs. Refugees under this program receive economic support from the federal government during their first year in Canada, and in special needs cases for up to 24 months. The program functions under the responsibility of the federal government, and its services include reception at the airport, temporary housing and orientation on life in Canada, in the native language of the refugee. These services are to be provided during the first six weeks of the refugees’ arrival in Canada, and at the end of that time it is expected that he or she will have a social insurance number, assistance for finding permanent housing, a health insurance card, be registered for the child tax benefit, have a bank account and have received a general health check-up at a local community clinic. Refugees are also eligible for English classes (CIC 2012a).

Welcoming and Settlement Programs

The Canadian immigration policy goal of “successful integration” of immigrants is primarily channelled into the funding of welcoming and language learning programs, which operate with variations across the provinces. In each of these areas the Ministry in charge of immigration issues in each province contracts with service agencies to carry out the programs according to pre-established policies and procedures. Under these programs, immigrant and refugee service agencies receive funds for the provision of orientation services, information, and referrals to other services. These programs offer orientation on a variety of aspects of life in Canada (housing, citizenship, education, employment, health, transportation, etc.), and seek to familiarize new immigrants with how the Canadian system functions and existing community resources, as well as aiding them to connect with resources, programs and institutions that can assist their “integration and adjustment” process, as well as knowledge of existing laws and resources (Alcala et al. 2008).

In 2010, Canada has upgraded its integration programme funding to a “Modernized Approach”, uniting separate programmes for settlement programming. Newcomer services are covered by a single funding agreement, simplifying the administrative process for immigrant-serving organisations, and allowing them to tailor their offerings to suit newcomers’ needs. Since introduction, the use of settlement services by newcomers has increased by 8% (OECD 2012).


The concept of “employment success” as it relates to recent immigrants is measured by four dependent variables: (1) whether or not immigrants have received a job match with their intended occupations at any point since arriving in Canada; (2) the rate at which an immigrant obtains employment in his or her intended occupation; (3) immigrants’ incomes since immigrating to Canada; and (4) immigrants’ occupational prestige scores since immigrating to Canada (Alcala et al. 2008).

Canada is becoming an important source of remittances although there is not a significant data available on remittances from Canada, a research by Statistics Canada (2010) exhibited that nearly 30 % of new arrivals remitted an average of USD 1,350 per year. There are specifically designated categories of economic immigrants to fill lower-level service positions, the best known of which offers entry to caregivers or domestic workers under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). These workers often work for wages below the statutory minimum in exchange for the opportunity of gaining permanent resident status (leading to citizenship) after 24 months employment (Sandercock et al. 2009). Immigrants arriving in Canada often come with professional credentials and training, skill sets relevant to Canada’s labour market, and a willingness to work in occupational sectors for which Canada is seeking workers.


The Canadian government has considered the learning one of the two official languages as a central strategy in the immigrant integration policy. That is to say, it is seen as a mechanism for facilitating the “successful integration” of the immigrant not just because he or she learns to speak one of the official languages, but because during that learning, citizenship values are promoted and immigrants are familiarized with Canada’s social, geographical and cultural aspects. Therefore since the 90s English and French classes have emphasized language learning for integration (Alcala et al. 2008).

Free language learning programs are developed with federal and provincial funds and in cooperation with Community Colleges, School Boards, and immigrant service organizations, and in Quebec also with universities. The programs are aimed at new adult immigrants and include convention refugees, but do not cover refugee claimants. In most provinces this program is known as Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC), which includes both English and French instruction (CIC 2010).



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