AS the tanim-bala saga continues at Philippine airports delaying departures of overseas workers, visitors and foreigners if grease money does not change hands, Europe and the world search for the silver bullet that should delay if not stop the entry of unwanted immigrants.
Immigration, especially the illegal, “insidious” character on the world stage, is seen by citizens and residents of the country of destination as economic vampires sucking the employment blood from the locals.
With tens of thousands of migrants seeking refuge from the proxy wars in Syria as a result of the bloodbath among competing tribes and ethnic groups, Europe started erecting barriers to stop the flow.
At the same time that the United Nations and a few European leaders expressed concern, sympathy and offered their two-Euro worth of recommendations, the flood of refugees reignited xenophobia.
Limping from a ravaging recession that witnessed billion euro bailouts and a Greek referendum that threatened to dismantle the union, Europe continues to search for the amulet that will stem – if not stop – the creature which in the annals of Harry Potter, represents “He who must not be named.”
But wait! What’s happening across the continent?
Across the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 6,618 kilometers away, the pro-immigration Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party won the Canadian national elections. Ironically, the former Immigration Minister Chris Alexander failed to win his seat as representative of Ajax riding (county), losing to Mark Holland. Without a mandate, the ex-immigration minister is now looking for a job.
Sacre bleu! Canadians are bucking the trend?
During the campaign, Trudeau pledged to double the number of applications for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents as part of a faster and easier family reunification program. The conservative government of Steven Harper capped the number of this category at 5,000, opening and shutting the quota valve when the “queue appears to shorten.”
In Europe, the UK Home Secretary Theresa May stoked the fires of immigration debate by confirming the current government’s policy of reducing migration numbers, including international students among those to be restricted in being granted permission for leave to enter (entry clearance) as well as permission for leave to remain (extension of stay).
Simply put, the number of foreign students, especially those from outside the European Union (potential applicants from Mainland China excluded) shall be drastically reduced and those who have been overstaying shall be deported first, then allowed to appeal their deportation later outside the UK.
Students are not the only ones feeling the heat from the barrel of a gun.
With the new immigration rules set into place by the Cameron government, setting a high entry level salary to recruit foreign workers and limiting their stay in the UK to six years, up to 30,000 overseas nurses face deportation from the UK, which would spark a staffing crisis in the National Health Service (NHS) say the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Knocking at the borders of UK and Europe are close to a million refugees and the crisis brought European ministers to an agreement to allocate tens of thousands each of the meandering migrants to EU members.
The agreement was sealed in Brussels “despite fierce opposition from some central and eastern states, which deepened the rift over Europe’s worst refugee crisis in decades.” Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia voted against the plan. Hungary accepted the decision while doubting its viability.
Meanwhile, west of Great Britain and far from the border battles, Ireland set regulations in place welcoming students and workers, especially those with skills that would keep Ireland’s economy the fastest growing in Europe.
While the UK officially announced the policy of restricting and reducing the number of non-EU students, Ireland has fine-tuned its study programs. Students taking up undergraduate studies in the UK can stay only up to five years. Ireland on the other hand, not only sets a seven-year maximum stay for the same class of students but also provides a career pathway that would allow graduates to take up employment with industries needing the skills from the academe.
The Irish Examiner reported on July 18, 2015 that “Ireland’s improving economy has led to skill shortages in a number of areas, mostly the IT sector along with engineering, science, and health.”
The shortage is further confirmed by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) in a list published in September showing the occupations that Ireland needs immediately and in the long-term.
For students who take up courses in the IT, healthcare, engineering fields, the prospects of part time work with industries while studying and being sponsored on employment permits after graduation, permanent residency becomes within reach in five years.
The DJEI’s Highly Skilled Occupations List uses the Standard Occupational Classification system which classifies workers into occupational categories. Applicants with specific skills required for certain occupations on the list may be immediately sponsored as opposed to general occupation in which employers must test the local job market before offering employment to foreign workers.
Some of the occupations on the list are chemical scientists, medical laboratory scientists in manufacturing (specifically food and beverages), electrical and electronic engineers in chip design, test or application engineering, other ICT professionals; health and social services managers and professionals including registered nurses, medical radiographers, vascular technologists, radiation therapists as well as those in the field of accounting and tax management, management consultants, sales, marketing and related associate professionals.
Be aware that employers may hire directly through POEA or licensed recruitment agencies. In both cases, the employer’s documents must be authenticated by the Philippine Labor Attache in Ireland.
Apparently, there is no single amulet, or bullet that can stop the migration monster. Ireland and Canada have shown that competent governance, creating conditions that help industry and academe to work in tandem instead of merely distributing conditional cash transfers are effective solutions.
Daang matuwid on the other hand, remains a snake-oil incantation.