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Israelis Worry About Dual Canadian Citizenship Under New Immigration Law

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Thousands of miles away from Canada’s parliament, concerns are being raised that a new Canadian immigration law could negatively affect the dual citizenship for some Israeli citizens.

In the wake of the introduction of Bill C-24, arguably the largest overhaul of Canadian immigration law in decades, some experts in Israel and Canada are voicing concern that the new law could result in making it more difficult for Israelis to hold dual Israeli/Canadian citizenships.

Like citizens from many nations across the world, some Israelis hold dual citizenship from their native land as well as Canada. As a result, any change to Canadian immigration law altering the rules for dual citizenship raises concern among those holding two passports.

Speaking to Israeli media, Toronto-based immigration attorney David Garson said aspects of the new Canadian immigration bill “seem a bit unconstitutional”. The new bill addresses concerns about possible international criminals holding dual Canadian citizenship, and states that Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) can revoke the dual citizenship of any nationals “who were members of an armed force or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.”

For its part, the Canadian Bar Association has also expressed concern about aspects of the new immigration law. The legal association submitted a written note to the government expressing its concern about the clause in the new legislation that requires potential citizens to show “intent” to live in Canada, as well as the expansion of powers for revocation of dual citizenship.

However, even those questioning the additional powers the new law gives the Canadian government doubt that many Israelis would—at least initially—be negatively impacted. Still, there is concern that the law would open a door to making dual citizenship more difficult—a trend that runs counter to Canada’s welcoming immigration history.

Canadian journalist Lisa Goldman, who immigrated to Israel and now holds dual citizenship, expressed concern that that the new immigration law “seems to imply that (for foreign born Canadians) dual citizenship is conditional…it’s a reactionary law that runs contrary to the ethos of a country built on immigration.”

Yet the law is not without its defenders. Prominent Canadian immigration and human rights attorney David Matas submitted an opinion to Parliament on behalf of the Canadian B’nai Brith human rights organization in support of the new revocation powers.

In that submission, Matas praised the new legislation for giving the government a new tool to revoke the dual citizenship of “international criminal fugitives in Canada”, including former Nazi war criminals. Matas argued that under the previous law, the government’s legal team could win revocation of dual citizenship in court, but that decision was then subject to executive branch political approval.

Under the new legislation, Matas said, the revocation of dual citizenship would be decided entirely by Canadian courts without any potential political input, thereby ensuring the revocation of Canadian citizenship for convicted international criminals.

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