In fact that is what some thought they were going to do. According to this CBC news report "some of the nearly 500 Tamil migrants who travelled to British Columbia inside a cramped cargo ship had no idea that once they finally set foot on Canadian soil they could be kept behind bars for weeks or even months." They had it in their heads that "they would be able to explore the country soon after they arrived thinking "the next day they [can] go and see Canada and enjoy". I wonder what gave them that idea?
There is much to gain by misrepresenting yourself as a refugee. Not only is a refugee allowed all the rights and privileges of a Canadian citizen via the Singh decision (except the right to vote) but also work permits, welfare payments, partial health and dental coverage, and subsidized housing. As a consequence the Tamil refugee tab will cost Canadian taxpayers millions especially those of us in Ontario particularly Toronto where most of the Tamil migrants will settle if not all of them. This is what prompted mayoral candidate Rob Ford to speak out against the federal government offloading the costs of its immigration program onto Toronto. Here's a list of welfare benefits that await a refugee claimant:
* Single person with no children -- $585 monthly
* Single person with one child 17 or under -- $913 monthly
* Single person with two kids 17 or under -- $961 monthly
* Single person with two dependent adults -- $1,303 monthly
* Couple with no children -- $1,010 monthly
* Couple with one kid 17 or under -- $1,058 monthly
* Couple with two children under 17 -- $1,112 monthly
* Couple with two dependent adults -- $1,400 monthly
Everyone in the world knows that if you are going to scam an asylum system Canada is the place to do it. Roy Green is a talk radio host on Winnipeg's CJOB 68. On his August 19, 2010 show he interviewed two guests. One was an immigrant from Mexico who came to Canada through the regular channel as a principal applicant. This gentleman speaks of an incident in Quebec when he was having diner with his wife and conversing in Spanish.
Two young Mexicans approached and a conversation began. Turns out the young couple were on their honeymoon and had declared themselves refugees here. Not because of any persecution in Mexico, but because they had researched the Canadian refugee system and knew that if on arrival in Canada they applied for refugee protection Canada would begin to pick up many of their expenses, provide free health benefits and access to social programs. At the end of the honeymoon (about three months) it was the plan of the young couple to return to Mexico and pick up their lives having just enjoyed a paid vacation in Canada (paid for by the Canadian taxpayer).
Camilo also points out that while no longer on the internet, not log ago a PDF document existed which instructed how to take advantage of the Canadian refugee system in order to obtain a year long vacation in Canada.
The other interviewee was a man residing in Toronto. He talks of his encounter with refugee claimants "and estimated only perhaps one in ten was a genuine refugee. He spoke on air about one individual who showed a Canadian IRB adjudicator a scar on his abdomen, claiming the scar was from torture in his native country. The judge signed off on the refugee claim. The individual then admitted to Ghassan that the scar was from an altercation in a personal dispute with another individual."
Showing scars is a tried and true trick in the book. This is what is going on right now in British Columbia. Some of the Tamil migrants are showing scars on their bodies that they hope will prove that they deserve asylum in Canada. Others are showing stumps on their bodies illustrating that they will mostly be on disability benefits and a drain on Canadian health care dollars. But my response to their scars and stumps is so what? How do we know the scar is from torture? How do we know that a lost limb is not the result of an accident or birth defect? But the real question is if they will face persecution if returned to Sri Lanka.
As I have said before and I will say again the answer is no. There are several reasons for not granting any Sri Lankan asylum in Canada. The first is the war is over. The second is the war is over. The third is the war is over. The rest I explain here, here, and here.
Besides, why are we granting asylum to a people who have displayed a propensity to routinely return to the land of their alleged persecution. Ezra Levant writes in this Toronto Sum commentary:
How bad is life back in Sri Lanka for Tamil refugees?
Are they tortured? Do they have a well-founded fear of persecution?
Are things so bloody bad over there that we have to let a boatload of them into Canada, just because they showed up?
That’s what we’re told by immigration lawyers, bleeding heart politicians and fashionable journalists who don’t believe Canada should have any borders at all.
But what about actual Tamil refugees here in Canada? How bad do they think life is back home?
As QMI’s investigative report shows, 71% of Tamil refugees here in Canada think things back in Sri Lanka are good enough that they’ve gone back home for a vacation.
Canadian immigration officials randomly surveyed 50 Tamils already here, who are trying to “sponsor” more people to come over, too. Of those would-be sponsors, 31 are refugees. And 22 of those admit to going back to Sri Lanka.
This is nothing new and it isn't particular to Sri Lankan Tamils. But we do know that Sri Lanka's Tamils willing return to Sri Lanka with as much frequency as they are to claim persecution in Sri Lanka. Martin Collacott has written about this and so has Daniel Stoffman in his book Who Gets In? If actions speak louder than words then not only are Sri Lanka's Tamils telling us that Sri Lanka is a safe place to return to but they also condemn themselves to be liars.
The refugee system is also an avenue to citizenship turning asylum seekers into immigrants. And citizenship is the ultimate draw. Because Canada's asylum system is so generous we encourage and reward abuse of it. That being the case we are indeed helping the people smugglers. People smuggling is a two part process. The first part is getting the migrants to Canada's shores and onto Canadian territory. If the smugglers can do that then they have done their part. The second part is where our government, and in this case in concert with Canada's Sri Lankan Tamils, takes over. Indeed the smugglers are counting on it to the amount of more than $20 million. Were it not for a government bound by the Singh decision and an expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil community willing to chaperone their smuggled cargo through a lax asylum system (and possibly provide funds to pay the smugglers) I doubt these migrants would have taken the risky route of traveling the high seas. Not only are Canada's Sri Lankan Tamils providing legal advice to their migrant countrymen it's likely they will coach them on how to generate a successful refugee claim whether it is legitimate or not. With an historical success rate of 80% rate on average the odds are in their favour.
Sri Lanka's Tamils, both here and abroad, need these migrants in their propaganda war against the Sri Lankan government. Also, it keeps Canada's asylum system open for other Sri Lankan Tamils to use to immigrate. It also brings further legitimacy to the asylum claims of Canada's Sri Lankan Tamils. There is much to gain, and protect, by lying.
The real problem is not the bogus asylum seekers but the system that rewards them. As the National Post states in this editorial:
this is not really a Tamil issue or a Sri Lankan issue. The equivalent of two-and-a-half boatloads of asylum-seekers arrived here in the first six months of this year from Hungary — we just didn’t notice them because they didn’t all arrive at once on national television. We have commented before on the absurdity of this situation, but it bears repeating: The single largest source of refugee claimants to Canada — 1,125 people, which is 11% of the total and 45% more than the second-largest source, China — is Hungary, a full-freight member of the European Union. It’s a tremendous waste of resources. And it’s illogical to focus ire on Sri Lankan refugee claimants, who had an 85% success rate in the first six months of 2010, and ignore Hungarian claimants, who had a 99.5% rejection rate. Accusations of Tamil “queue-jumping” miss the point. There is no refugee “queue” for Sri Lankans. It’s literally first-come, first-served. If they “jumped the queue,” then so did every one of the 34,000 asylum-seekers who arrived in Canada last year.
If the government really wants to crack down on people abusing the system, as it says it does, most experts agree it will need to get around the Singh decision. Only then would any of the solutions proposed over the past two weeks be available to it. If that means using the notwithstanding clause, so be it — it’s there to be used. As yet the government has shown no sign of even considering it, and as such, its claims to be “getting tough” on the Tamils, or any other group of refugees, ring resoundingly false.
The vast majority of bogus asylum claims are made at the nation's airports and land crossings. These kinds of inland claims dwarf those made by people who arrive by sea. And it happens everyday, every year. There are over 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada and I don't think they all arrived by boat. The remedy is a two step solution. One is to revoke the Singh decision. The other is to refuse inland refugee claims. Refugees should only be allowed to come to Canada once their status has been determined. And since most refugees in need of real assistance are languishing in refugee camps they shouldn't be hard to find. They are too destitute to hop around the world on an airplane to asylum shop or pay smugglers up to $50,000 to ship them to another country. Anyone who does that should immediately invite suspicion.
UPDATE: I just came across this Toronto Sun article.
As Canadians are being asked to accept 492 Tamils as refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is in the process of returning thousands of refugees to Sri Lanka and winding down some operations in that country.
Citing improving conditions since the end of the civil war in May 2009, the UNHCR announced last week that it had helped 852 Tamil refugees return to Sri Lanka from India in the first six months of 2010. That six month tally surpasses the 823 people the UN agency assisted in returning home in all of 2009. The agency also reported more than 1,000 refugees returned to Sri Lanka from India on their own.
In eastern Sri Lanka the UNHCR announced in June that it would begin winding down operations aimed at assisting people that were living in camps inside Sri Lanka. The largest camp at the close of the war, the Menik Farm camp, held 228,000 people, now the UN agency only claims 35,000 residents.
If the UNHCR is returning Sri Lankan Tamils back to Sri Lanka citing "improving conditions" then why are we even bothering with the 492 who arrived off the coast of British Columbia and the 76 that preceded them? Will any of Canada's 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils voluntarily return as well? I doubt it very much since it wasn't about seeking asylum at all but rather about immigrating to Canada.