The recent applications by AIDS Conference delegates for refugee status show that Canada needs to tighten its refugee screening system immediately in order to disqualify people from making fraudulent claims.
Close to 150 delegates who attended the recent international AIDS Conference in Toronto have claimed refugee status in Canada.
Like all refugee claimants, the AIDS conference delegates should have had to meet some minimum requirements before being allowed to enter Canada's very costly Refugee Determination Process. Since the U.N. Declaration on Refugees states that refugees are people who come from countries where the applicants had a well-founded fear of persecution, the persons should have had to prove they had come from an unsafe country.
It is unlikely that most of the recent applicants could have satisfied this minimum requirement because their countries of origin are not generally regarded as unsafe or repressive. Most of the refugee claimant delegates came from South Africa.
A screening programme would prevent fraudulent claimants from entering the Refugee Determination process. Screening is seen as the key to ending the profligate spending that has occurred for about 20 years in this process.
An Ontario radio station has reported that Canadian immigration lawyers and advocates were present at the Toronto Aids Conference to coach people in how to become Refugee Claimants. Critics of the current Refugee System say that this is one more example of immigration industry arrogance. They also say that this should be one more clear reason why Canada's Immigration Minister should keep a firm arm's length distance from these people on immigration policy and refuse to consider them as “stakeholders” since their clear intent is to profit from the Refugee Application process at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.
Canada's immigration industry has a history of promoting its financial interests and of sabotaging government efforts to protect Canada from fraudulent claims. Efforts to name a number of safe countries were made several years ago by Citizenship and Immigration, but Canada's immigration industry lobbied strongly and successfully against any such list of names unless Canada had the approval of the countries named.
Such a list would have made most refugee claimants ineligible to make claims in Canada because most claimants had been in at least one “safe” country before arriving here. The latter practice is known as “Asylum Shopping”, that is, looking for the country that has the most generous benefits system. Most of the people who have made refugee claims in Canada over the past 15 years have come through safe European countries or the U.S.
Canada's immigration industry also lobbied to have the current “safe country” agreement Canada has with the U.S. nullified. The U.S. is the only country with which Canada has such an agreement. Until the implementation of that agreement with the U.S., about 35% of refugee claimants in Canada were entering Canada from the U.S. Most were citizens of countries other than the U.S.
The hiring of “Migration Integrity Officers” at foreign airports and the agreement Canada has with the U.S. (even with that agreement's faults) have been effective in reducing the number of refugee claimants using the U.S. to enter Canada. In 2001, Canada had a total of around 44,000 people making refugee claims.Currently, claims have been reduced to around 20,000+.
Canada's immigration industry has long been criticized for its hypocrisy on the refugee issue. Largely as a result of pressure from immigration/refugee lawyers and advocates, and for supposedly humanitarian reasons, Canada spends enormous sums on people who are questionable refugees. In contrast, it spends a pittance on genuine refugees.
Estimates by senior civil servants have put the cost of running Canada's refugee system at between $2 to $4 Billion per year. According to the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, Canada's contribution to the UNHCR has ranged between $16 Million and $31 Million over the past six years. It may approach $40 million in 2006. The total UNHCR yearly expenditure on all refugees in the world is around $1+ Billion.
Critics have repeatedly said that the amount spent on questionable refugees is a far greater scandal than the Sponsorship Scandal which received enormous media attention. Since 1989, well over 500,000 people have applied for refugee status in Canada. Well over half of the applicants were granted refugee status—far in excess of the approval rate in Europe. In Norway, for example, the approval rate was 2% in 2001.
In Canada's quasi-judicial system, refugees have been able to appeal decisions repeatedly. One notorious case, which started in 1989, has gone through 30 appeals, cost over $3 Million, and is still in progress.
Although some failed claimants have been removed from Canada, most have gone into hiding and remain as illegal immigrants. Currently, Canada has outstanding deportation orders for around 50,000 people.
Over the past 15 years, most refugee claimants have come from the countries which send Canada its largest number of immigrants: China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the last few years, Canada has seen large numbers of refugee applicants from Colombia and Mexico. One web site run by successful refugee claimants actively recruits refugee claimants from Colombia.
Most refugee claimants are male. A small number of refugee claimants are genuine, but, in the opinion of most experts, most are using Canada's Refugee System as an alternative and easier immigration door into Canada.
If refugee claimants are granted Refugee and Permanent Resident status, they are eligible to bring in relatives under Canada's Family Class Programme. Critics have long seen the Refugee Class as the proverbial foot in the door. It is estimated that well over a million people have been sponsored by refugee claimants. More control of Canada's refugee system would almost certainly result in fewer applications to admit relatives under the Family Class category.
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