Spike in Canada refugee claims shows 'systemic abuse,' Kenney charges
'An abuse of Canada's generosity'
Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2009
UNITED NATIONS -- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke Tuesday of "wide-scale and almost systematic abuse" of Canada's refugee system after a United Nations report showed a 30% increase in the number of people seeking refugee or asylum status in Canada.
Much of the increase comes from a major rise in the numbers of Mexicans, Haitians and Colombians claiming they'll face persecution if Canada sends them back to their respective countries, the UN says.
That's the typical line. They all say that much like when a car thief is caught breaking in to a car and his excuse is invariably that the car is his but he lost the keys. Sooner or later the story may be true but probability and common sense tells us that more often than not the story is a lie. This, I have come to feel, is the case for many in-land refugee claims.
But the world body also says the United States saw a three per cent drop in the number of people asking for asylum in that country last year.
Overall, the percentage increase for Canada is almost three times the average for 51 countries studied in Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries 2008 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Got that? As Canada experienced a 30% increase in asylum claims the United States experienced a 3% drop. I guess it's because we are more understanding and civil then those red necked and racist Americans, right? Or is it because everyone in the world knows how stupid and gullible we Canadians really are? The same UN study notes that for Canada "the percentage increase...is almost three times the average for 51 countries". Why is that? Do these other 51 countries know something we don't? Why the remarkable discrepancy? As I said before, everyone in the world knows that if you're going to make a refugee claim Canada is the place to do it.
One difference between the U.S. and Canada is that the States operates a detention system in which applicants can be effectively jailed pending review of their cases, while applicants in Canada are often eligible to apply for a temporary work permit.
"It discourages people from making a claim if they have to stay in jail," said David Matas, a refugee lawyer in Winnipeg.
I support the detention of refugees until their identities can be verified and their cases heard and if you truly are fleeing for your life then such a hassle would be worth it in the long run. That being said, the process should be quick. For fake refugees this would be considered an inconvenience coupled with a heightened prospect of detection followed by assured deportation and thus a deterrent. Right now many "refugees" disappear and don't show up for their hearings.
"Canada has witnessed a steady increase in new asylum seekers in the past years, and in 2008 was the second largest recipient of applications," says the report's commentary. "On average, every 10th application in the industrialized world was made in Canada."
The board's case-approval rate for the past several years has varied between 42% and 46%, but rejected applicants have a slew appeals and other options available to them.
"People . . . whose initial claims are rejected are able to stay in Canada, sometimes for several years, making serial appeals," Mr. Kenney said. "In some cases, it would seem their objective is to stay long enough that they can make a compelling case that it would be uncompassionate for them to be deported."
"That would suggest wide scale and almost systematic abuse," Kenney said.
He spoke of a "broad political consensus" that Canada's inland refugee system was "broken."
Critics of Canada's refugee determination system have been saying that for decades going as far back as 1985 with the passing of the Singh decision claiming correctly, as it turns out, that the refugee system would be vulnerable to abuse. If Jason Kenney wants to look for solutions to the problem he should revisit the Singh decision.
It's nice to see Mr. Kenney is waking up to this problem. Now if he will only admit that Canada accepts too many immigrants and reduce the country's intake. Will it happen or is that wishful thinking?
Be sure to visit the National Post and read the comments.