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Vincentains high on list of persons seeking asylum in Canada

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Despite yearly appeals by government officials for Vincentian nationals in Canada to desist from making applications to the Canadian refugee board, the number of Vincentians making claims continues unabated.{{more}}

In 2005, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) placed ninth on the top ten list of countries making referrals, with 417 applications, causing a stir within the SVG consulate in Toronto and Government officials here.

Last year, although SVG was not on the top ten list, 357 persons applied for refugee status; 17 less than 2006.

It appears that although less than 40 per cent of the of applicants are approved by this means, the trend seems to be continuing, and will do so, unless some steps are taken.

One Vincentian who applied but was refused, and has since returned home, said that the application was a means to an end.

The applicant, who asked not to be identified, said that although she was turned down at the final hearing, she was able to live a comfortable life while protected by the refugee act.

“When you apply for refugee, they give a temporary Social Insurance Number, work permit, and my kids could go to school without any problems.”

The mother of two who claimed spousal abuse on her application, said that with the legal documents, she was able to acquire a good paying job, and better living and lifestyle.

“I could make more money to support my family and relatives back home and get a good apartment, get a driver’s license and other things.”

She also stated that she paid taxes while under refugee protection.

The security of not being targeted by police and immigration officials is also one ‘advantage’ of refugee protection.

While acknowledging the notion that a refugee claim is not the best way to achieve landed status in Canada, she said the move is not bogus, and it is one of the fastest ways to have your papers processed.

She indicated that applying for refugee status is just a step; a person who applies can abandon their claim and seek other means once they get into the system.

“I know people who applied and got through,” she claimed.

“It all depends on if they believe your story at the hearing. If they believe you, they let you stay. If they don’t, you get turned down.”

Once a claim is rejected, an applicant can, among other things, appeal the decision, or reapply on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds (H&C).

Meanwhile, one official here indicated that the message issued by the Government remains constant: Refrain from making refugee claims!

He said that there are other means of acquiring legal status in Canada.

The official cited a number of avenues, including skilled labour application and education application.

Of the 357 claims made last year, 166 were finalized, with 45 (27 per cent) persons being accepted and 96 denied.

Ten of the claims were abandoned and 15 withdrawn. (JJ)

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