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How do we define family? In an attempt to police incoming migrants, the Harper government adopted a strict definition of family to limit access to citizenship for certain immigrants. Even when immigrants had no intention of sponsoring family members, their familial networks affected their entry to Canada, resulting in differentiated treatment of families living within and beyond Canadian borders.
Megan Gaucher analyzes the government’s assessment of sexual minority refugee claimants’ relationship history and common-law and married spousal sponsorship applications, and its crackdown on marriage fraud, concluding that this narrative of citizenship reinforces racialized, gendered, and sexualized assumptions about the “Canadian family.”
As many Western governments ponder more restrictive immigration policies, A Family Matter offers a timely examination of family formation as a factor in both granting and refusing citizenship. This important work proposes a course for re-evaluating how family is defined and for implementing more just assessments of immigrants and refugees.