Reprieve for abused Mexican women
Federal Court tosses out refugee board decisions, giving families another chance at a life in Canada
Jun 25, 2008 04:30 AM
Lesley Ciarula Taylor
In a series of stunning decisions, the Federal Court of Canada has jumped to the defence of Mexican women trying to stay in Canada to escape violence and abuse.
Six rulings in the past six weeks tossed aside decisions by the Immigration and Refugee Board. In one case, the board had declared that a 17-year-old girl's kidnapping and rape by the Los Zetas drug gang was "horrific" but wasn't bad enough to meet the threshold of "atrocious and appalling."
All must now return to a different panel of the refugee board to have their case reheard for a final decision on whether they can stay.
Mexicans in the past few years have surged to the top of the list of people asking Canada for refugee protection, from 1,649 claims in 2001 to 7,062 last year. Many are middle-class people trying to escape extortion, kidnapping and violence by flourishing drug cartels that have spawned "the increasing Colombianization of Mexico," in the words of Judith Teichman, an author and professor of political science specializing in Latin America at the University of Toronto.
And some are just middle class economic migrants trying to game the weakest and the most easily abused refugee system in the industrialized world. Just because someone shows up at our border with a sob story doesn't mean what the person is saying is true.
But 89 per cent of claims are rejected, and the sticking point in almost every case is whether the person could get enough protection by Mexican authorities or could move to another part of the country.
That's called internal flight and if that option is open to those seeking asylum here in Canada then Canada as a nation is well within it's U.N. mandated right to force the refugee claimant to return to his or her homeland. This is something Canada should have done to many refugee communities, like Sri Lankans for instance, where internal flight is a viable option. This would curb abuse, causing those unethical enough to defraud a humanitarian system for personal gain to think twice.
"Unbearably high levels of violence against women continue to exist in Mexico," a UN report quoted by the court said. "Police corruption continues to be a major problem and many police officers are involved in kidnapping and extortion. Many believe that sexism and even violence against women are part of the social fabric."
Same thing can be said of Italy. Does this mean we should accept battered Italian women as refugees? Of course not.
They lost their refugee hearing because they lacked documents, but had fled without even suitcases. The Federal Court berated the board for its blinkered insensitivity. "Mexican authorities do not adequately protect women against violence and abuse," the court said.
Eyebrows should automatically raise when a refugee claimant lacks documents. If they lacked documents then how did they get to Canada in the first place? Fraud should immediately come to mind because the ditching of documents is one tactic used by those seeking to defraud the refugee system. Though it back fired for these Mexican women, the loss of proper documentation is a means to protect a refugee claimants story of persecution by making it harder to verify the identities of the would be refugee and thus all the more difficult to ascertain whether they are telling the truth or not.
I suspect judicial activism fueled by feminist ideology heavily influenced the acts of the federal court to toss out the refugee board decisions. But what irks me the most is that this is another case of non citizens rewriting our immigration and refugee laws via court challenges to satisfy their immigration desires. A major earlier example of this is the Singh decision of 1985. When Canada raised the score on its points system a few years ago would be immigrants sued the Canadian government over it forcing Ottawa to reduce the score to its previous level. If left leaning nationalists are upset over NAFTA provisions that allow corporations to sue governments then why are they silent when non-Canadian citizens sue the government to ensure relaxed laws and easy passage into Canada? To me its the same thing because it is a sovereignty issue. If foreign nationals can sue the country over immigration matters then we have lost control of our borders and have lost a piece of our sovereignty.
But more to the matter at hand. Should spousal abuse be grounds for a refugee claim? I say no. A member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada wrote to the Star with this to say:
Claimants before the Immigration and Refugee Board must establish that they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion.
It says nothing about gender and justly so. Spousal abuse is an unfortunate fact of life and if Canada accepts it as a legitimate case for a refugee claim then literally tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of women the world over can make a refugee claim. The reality is that internal flight is open to these women. Failing that then they can hide in any of the many Spanish speaking countries of South America like Argentina for instance. Otherwise they should have made their asylum claim in the first safe country which would be the United States. If they flew here directly then they would need documents to board a plane but the story tells us they have no documents.
I suspect these women are using the refugee system for immigration purposes and spousal abuse as their reason for asylum. Canada should nip this in the bud and deny these women asylum, again. Otherwise Canada can expect to see its refugee system flooded with similar claims.