Mayor appeals to Ottawa for help as city faces social services crunch
Doug Schmidt and Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2007
With city shelters full and a surge of further refugee claimants expected to flood into Windsor, Mayor Eddie Francis is pleading for financial help from Ottawa.
"When there is a possibility of adding thousands to the local social assistance system as a result of refugee claimants crossing the border into Windsor, we will become overwhelmed and our current resources will not suffice," Francis said in a letter sent Wednesday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Over the past three weeks, 45 families and 31 individuals -- approximately 200 people -- entered Canada at the Detroit River crossings and applied in Windsor for shelter and social assistance after filing refugee claims with the Canada Border Services Agency. Municipal agencies dealing with the sudden influx of mainly Mexican refugee applicants are renting hotel rooms and bracing for predicted thousands more to come.
"I don't believe that Windsor's residents and taxpayers should have to foot the bill for U.S. immigration policy," Francis told The Star. He was referring to the suspected source of the problem -- a recent crackdown on illegal immigrants in economically struggling regions of the U.S. South.
With the bulk of the latest arrivals being long-time Mexican illegals dislodged from their homes and workplaces in southwestern Florida, fingers are being pointed at unscrupulous outfits charging money and then directing desperate individuals and their families toward the Windsor border crossing.
"The fact someone wants to come here for better economic opportunity or a better quality of life ... that's no basis for a successful refugee claim," said Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) spokesman Charles Hawkins.
The Canadian Council for Refugees, a non-profit organization which helps refugees, has also issued a warning about the scams and has asked the federal government to intervene.
But a group operating out of Naples, Fla., vowed to continue sending the so-called economic refugees to Windsor.
"They ask, 'Is Canada an option?' and I say, 'Yes, it is an option,'" Jacques Sinjuste of the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center said in a phone interview Wednesday. For a US$300 "donation" (most of those interviewed in Windsor claim they paid US$400), JHCC staff download forms off the Internet, help applicants fill them out and give directions on how to get to the Canadian border.
Read it all here.
Canada signed a safe third country agreement with the U.S. concerning refugees. If we enforce it then these immigrants just wasted their time and money. They will, and should, be sent back to the United States to make their refugee claim. We should not reward them for their actions. These are not real refugees. They are economic migrants many of whom broke U.S. immigration laws. If Canada rewards them by granting them asylum and eventual citizenship then we can expect a literal flooding of our refugee system by Mexicans much like Canada experienced with Sri Lankan Tamils and Somalis in the 1990s.
Mexico has jumped to the top spot on Canada's top ten refugee producing countries and now you can see why. Canada should award asylum to legitimate refugees but the fact is most refugees to Canada are not refugees at all. They are economic migrants abusing the most relaxed and the most trusting refugee system in the world and it is financially taxing for Canadian taxpayers.
I sympathize for their economic plight but their problems are not Canada's to solve. Canada has its own poverty issues to deal with and much of it is generated by an out of control immigration system. The economic poverty of Mexicans is Mexico's responsibility. The thing is illegal Mexican immigration into the U.S. and Canada is how the Mexican government is handling the issue. It is outsourcing this responsibility so to speak to the U.S. and Canada. Should we be complicit and co-operate? If we do then Mexico will do nothing about it and Mexico’s social problems will be ours.