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Canada cracking down on false refugee claims

Canada cracking down on false refugee claims


High Commissioner for the OECS to Canada, Brendon Browne, has welcomed new legislation in Canada which seeks to overhaul Canada’s refugee and asylum system.{{more}}

On March 30, 2010, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, presented new legislation to “ensure that people in need get quick protection while false claimants are sent home quickly.”

Kenny said: “We plan to proceed with legislation to impose tougher penalties on people who break our laws or provide fraudulent advice seeking to exploit applicants for immigration to Canada.” “By regulating consultants in this country we will crack down on ghost consultants as well as others who advise immigrants to make false declarations.”

Measures laid out in the Bill include a new Refugee Appeal Division; designation of safe countries; and the addition of an Assisted Voluntary Returns Program (AVR). The AVR will be introduced as a four year pilot program and will, among other things, provide counselling and education on claimants’ rights and obligations, provide each participant with a plane ticket to their country of origin, provide funding (max. of $2,000) to service providers in the country of origin to facilitate reintegration through, for example, education or employment assistance. The program will target individuals from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

The new law is also intended to result in a determination within 60 days, and the Canada Border Services Agency is expected to employ over 100 new officers to its staff in order to pursue the timely removal of failed asylum claimants who have exhausted all legal avenues. The objective is to remove failed asylum claimants within 12 months following a final negative decision. It is felt that quick removals would help discourage individuals from using the asylum system to try to jump the immigration queue to enter Canada. According to Minister Kenney, “This balanced reform would both increase support for refugees in need of protection and discourage many of the unfounded asylum claims that burden our system.” It is estimated that one refugee claimant cost the Canadian tax payer approximately $100,000 CDN per year.

High Commissioner Browne since the inception of his tenure as High Commissioner of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to Canada has challenged Canada’s refugee system. Browne, who met with the Refugee Board three times and also with Minister Kent, pointed out that Canada’s refugee laws are too liberal and that unregulated consultants prey on innocent immigrants. In the process the reputation and image of some Caribbean countries are tarnished unfairly, Browne said. Upon reading the steps being proposed to reform the refugee system, High Commissioner Browne welcomed the news and believes that these are steps in the right direction.