Canada has tightened security measures since 9/11, including signing the Smart Border Declaration with the United States, which provides for increased intelligence sharing and security measures, among other things. The number of Canadian agents along the U.S.-Canada border has increased and new surveillance and truck cargo scanning systems have been installed. In June 2006, Canadian immigration officials announced a field trial of a face and fingerprint biometric screening system at selected ports of entry and immigration offices. In addition, Canada now deploys immigration officers overseas to identify undocumented travelers, or those with fraudulent documents, and stop them from traveling to Canada to seek asylum. Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reports this program stopped more than 6,000 individuals from entering the country in 2004.
Like the United States, Canada is one of a handful of countries where immigration has traditionally been a major shaping factor in society and culture. With its small population and vast tracts of unsettled land, Canada’s immigration policy was initially fueled by a desire for expansion, with most immigrants settling in rural, frontier areas. In the early twentieth century, Canada began to control the flow of immigrants, adopting policies that excluded applicants whose ethnic origins were not European. However, by 1976 new laws removed ethnic criteria, and Canada became a destination for immigrants from a wide variety of countries, which it remains today. The 2006 UN Report on International Migration and Development (PDF) ranked Canada seventh among twenty-eight countries that currently host 75 percent of all international migrants.
The changes deal with earlier problems by requiring that applicants prove in advance that their credentials are recognised in Canada and by obliging employers to show in advance that no eligible Canadian is available for the job. The new scheme lowers Canada’s age targets: applicants in their 20s get maximum points for age. Canada’s new dream immigrant is younger, more polyglot, has already worked longer in Canada than the older version and, unlike him or her, has a job offer. One former minister praises the Conservatives for transforming the immigration department into a giant manpower agency.