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Managing Risk, Pursuing Opportunities: Immigration, Citizenship, and Security in Canada

Sat, August 12, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 512H


This paper explores Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s dual approach to contemporary immigration: managing risk/pursuing opportunities. In CIC’s rhetoric there is a fundamental tension between, on one hand, the wealth generated through neoliberal policy and a globalized economy, and on the other, the proliferation of dangers such as global epidemics, economic crises, and organized crime. These risks, whether real or perceived, have become unbounded and deterritorialized such that these risks now could strike anyone at any time. I ask, how does the state reconcile these apparently opposing forces of economic free movement and national security? How is national security conceptualized? And how is citizenship implicated in this tension between security and globalization?
In this paper I argue that Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s operations (hereafter referred to as CIC) have been reorganized around identifying and managing risks through a diverse range of techniques while attempting to maximize economic profit. By looking at state structures with an emphasis on risk, we can also shed light on how citizenship is affected by risk. I support these claims with a critical discourse analysis of CIC’s Reports on Plans and Priorities from 1997-2015. By applying various risk techniques to the potential migrant population, CIC attempts to manage threats while reaping the rewards of globalization. In order to justify increasingly exclusionary immigration policy, CIC simultaneously engages in an effort to valourize citizenship: to raise its value and market it as a commodity.