A [Kellie Leitch] Tweet Stirs Up Canada’s Immigration Debate – The New York Times

Why does it take the NYT to report this? How did the Canadian media (to my knowledge) miss this important background:

Mr. Rafia and his wife, Raghda Aldndal, were the subject of a sensitive and probing documentary about Canada’s Syrian refugees, produced by two Australian filmmakers last year. The film, “Canada’s Open House,” gives an unusual opportunity to look more deeply into the case.

Canada’s Open House Video by SBS Dateline

Dawn Burke, chairwoman of the group that sponsored the Rafia family in the small town of Chipman, New Brunswick, said she used interpreters multiple times to explain Canadian laws, including those against domestic violence, to Mr. Rafia.

The larger issue that the case illustrates, said one of the filmmakers, Amos Roberts, is the difficulty that many older refugees, particularly men, face in adapting to new lives in a foreign culture. More than 40,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Canada, almost half of them sponsored privately by ordinary citizens like Ms. Burke.

“To expect new immigrants, especially refugees, to adapt within a year or two is mind-boggling,” said Professor Hamza, the interpreter.

“You feel like a stranger,” Mr. Rafia said in the documentary, which was made shortly after the family’s arrival. “Guantánamo Bay is a prison on an island. It’s the same here.”

The couple’s arranged marriage was already troubled in Syria, and Mr. Rafia admitted early on that he had beaten his wife in the past, Ms. Burke said.

“We made it very clear that he was not allowed to hit his wife,” she added.

The family eventually moved to Fredericton, a city where they would be closer to a Syrian community and jobs were more plentiful. But the marriage did not improve and on May 18, Ms. Aldndal showed up at a Fredericton hospital with injuries from a beating. Mr. Rafia was arrested and pleaded guilty on May 26.

Right-leaning media picked up the story, accusing Canadian liberals of welcoming wolves in sheep’s clothing.

But few who understand the case see it as an indictment of Canada’s multicultural immigration policies or its progressive refugee outreach. “It’s not a legacy. It’s an exception,” Ms. Burke said, referring to the line that Ms. Leitch posted.

Mr. Roberts, the filmmaker, said it was “horrifying to see this one incident become a useful bit of propaganda” for anti-immigration forces.

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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