The term “asylum-seeker” means someone who wants to be classified as a “refugee”. For simplicity's sake, an asylum-seeker can be described as a “pre-refugee”.
HOW TO END THE ASYLUM-SEEKER FREE-FOR-ALL
In trying to end a 20-year asylum-seeker / refugee free-for-all, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney should take a look at some of the reasons why this free-for-all has occurred. James Bissett, former Executive Director of Canada's immigration service, has said that over 700,000 asylum seekers have arrived since 1989. In the last two years alone, 70,000 have applied for asylum.
One reason for the high numbers has been weak border control legislation. This leaves Canada open to widespread fraud such as small and large scale people smuggling. In thinking of ways to counter-punch, Mr. Kenney should consider Australia's announcement last week that it will immediately suspend the processing of any new asylum-seeker applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Australia took this legitimate action in response to the recent arrival in its waters of thousands of Sri Lankans and Afghans. In the view of even United Nations officials, these migrants have been organized by people smugglers and are exploiting international sympathy for these two countries. In addition, the UN may re-classify Sri Lanka and declare Tamils to be in less danger now than they were during the civil war there. Australia hopes its move and its efforts to disrupt financial transactions of people smugglers will send a message that people smugglers can't guarantee that asylum-seekers will get refugee status in Australia.
Mr. Kenney should be aware that people smugglers have obviously declared both Canada and Australia easy targets. This has been the case in Australia particularly since late 2007 when its current government took office. Most Canadians know that many Sri Lankans now living in Canada are here because they have grossly abused Canada's asylum-seeker system. Events in Australia are very closely related to events in Canada. A number of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers who had entered Australian waters last fall were flown to Canada as a result of agreements between Indonesia, Australia and Canada. Around the same time, another 76 Sri Lankans sailed into Victoria, B.C., were held there for a few months, and have since been released into different parts of Canada, for reasons as dubious as those given for those that were flown from Australia.
Clearly, Mr. Kenney has to deal firmly with people-smuggling. There will be obstacles, but new legislation to allow suspension of new asylum-seeker applications has to be one measure to be considered.
A second reason why the free-for-all has happened is that many Canadians who might speak out (and thus change Canadian policy) are confused about the asylum-seeker and immigration issue. One counter-punch Mr. Kenney can throw is to clarify for the public that there are two kinds of asylum-seekers. When Canada and all other countries signed the U.N. Convention, the two kinds were clearly identified. One kind were those whose home country's political climate was seen to be a permanent danger. In this case, the endangered people were to be given permanent status in countries like Canada. However, the other kind were those whose home country's political situation was seen to present a temporary danger. These people were to be given temporary status in countries like Canada. When the danger had passed, these people were expected to return to their home country.
Asylum-Seeker/Refugee advocates in Canada do not like to admit that two official and different kinds of status exist. To them, anyone who has been granted status should have a right to stay in Canada permanently. Clearly, when the relevant people arrive, they have to be told they will not receive permanent resident status because their stay is temporary.
A third reason for the free-for-all is that the immigration industry, our sycophantic CBC and other media have encouraged the notion that criticism of the asylum-seeker or general immigration issue is forbidden. This has resulted in society-wide intimidation of anyone who finds fault with immigration policy. A counter-punch that Immigration Minister Kenney should deliver is an official statement from him and the Prime Minister that criticism is warranted and that the intimidation has to end. Kenney's counterparts in other countries have done this. In any society that says it believes in free speech, such an action should have been performed years ago. But the blunt truth is that despite the society-wide intimidation in Canada, federal politicians have never spoken up about this matter. In fact, some politicians have encouraged the intimidation by using it themselves to hide their own cowardice. If they had possessed some backbone, they would have admitted that the sheer cumulative effect of continuous large numbers of asylum applicants and the subsequent large number of people they sponsor through the Family Class is transforming Canada against its will.
The need for such a statement is even more necessary now. Canada's chattering classes have recently had a field day cheer-leading Stats Canada predictions that Canada's population will be around 30% visible minority by 2031. But that will occur only if present immigration levels and asylum-seeker policies continue. Canadians have never been asked whether they wanted 30% of their population to be visible minority. Mr. Kenney knows that the clear goal of the 700,000+ asylum-seeker applicants since 1989 was to establish themselves as the proverbial “foot-in-the-door”. The majority of the 700,000+ got the help of immigration lawyers, consultants and advocates to concoct stories which would elicit sympathy from immigration judges and which would gain most of them refugee status. Some of the 700,000+ were legitimate claimants, but most took advantage of a system which was many times more tolerant than the system in almost all other countries is. In effect, asylum-seekers established a parallel immigration system. The Department of Immigration has not revealed how many Family Class immigrants these illegitimate asylum-seekers sponsored, but it has to be a very significant proportion of the more than 5 million people who have entered Canada since 1990.
Clearly, intimidation is a poison in any society.
A fourth and very much related reason for the asylum-seeker free-for-all is that Canada has not had a quick method of dealing with many asylum-seekers. One method should be a list of safe countries from which Canada will not accept asylum applications. Mr. Kenney has already announced this in vague terms. Sensible people would agree with him that it is ridiculous to be accepting asylum seekers from Europe, the U.S. and many other countries. It is equally ridiculous to be accepting Mexican asylum-seekers who say they are fleeing drug wars. Mexico is a huge country and many areas of it are completely free of drug crimes. Legitimately-fearful Mexicans can go there. Many other countries whose citizens Canada now allows to apply for asylum are like Mexico. In previous years, Canada's immigration industry sabotaged efforts to compose such a list, and it is trying to do so again. It is clear that Mr. Kenney has to stand firm and to make the list.
The sky has limits. And so does Canada—contrary to what the immigration industry, our fawning CBC and other media and their followers tell us. A safe country list will help reduce asylum applications. If this measure is inadequate, Canada should declare limits on the number of asylum-seeker applications it will accept in any year. Clearly, the number has to be reduced significantly.
Lastly, the asylum-seeker free-for-all has occurred because the U.N. definition of an asylum-seeker / refugee has been broadened far beyond its original post-World War II meaning. Mr. Kenney has recently met with Mr. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and discussed the problems that Canada has had with asylum-seekers and the changes that Canada is thinking of introducing. Mr. Guterres has told him that Canada risks rejecting people who may be victims of genital mutilation, forced marriage, or discrimination based on sexual orientation. Mr. Kenney and immigration officials in other countries have to make it clear to the U.N. that the broadening of the definition of an asylum-seeker to include these groups and others such as people saying they are fleeing spousal abuse and, wildest of all, ridicule because they are fat has the potential to overwhelm Canada and other countries who have signed the U.N agreement. It is virtually certain that these categories were never intended in the original definition of an asylum-seeker. Clearly, the definition has to be re-examined and limitations have to be placed on it.