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Vincentians urged to stop making false claims for refugee status in Canada


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has once again warned Vincentians against making unqualified applications for refugee status in Canada.

According to Gonsalves, the practice, if continued, could put the entire country at a disadvantage, pointing out that he has documented evidence that there have been instances of stories being fabricated.

“That has to stop,” the prime minister said, adding that people will eventually begin, over time, to realize that it was a nasty practice.

Gonsalves was, on Sunday, responding to an article which appeared in the Toronto Star on Saturday, November 12, which indicated that this country is among the world’s top ten countries from which refugee claims in Canada are being made.

This country was compared to countries such as Hungary, China, Colombia, Mexico and Namibia, based on information contained in the article.

It went on to state that 710 Vincentians sought asylum in Canada in 2010, up from 179 in 2001, and that over the past decade, there were more than 4,500 Vincentians filing refugee claims in Canada.

The article went on to indicate that the majority of Vincentians flocking to Canada are women.

“It turns out the vacationer’s idyll, with its turquoise waters and verdant hills, is one of the world’s worst places to be a woman,” the article stated.

But while admitting that domestic violence has been an issue here, Gonsalves said that we needed to be careful that the issue was not underplayed or exaggerated.

This country’s consul general in Canada Steve Phillips was quoted in the article saying that shady immigration consultants have “duped” many Vincentians into making false claims and that those claiming domestic violence were in fact running from financial difficulty.

“There are no political, religious or social conditions in St Vincent that justify Vincentians applying for refugee status,” the article quoted Phillips as saying.

Gonsalves shared similar views, saying that there were also lawyers here who facilitate persons by fabricating stories.

He went on to explain that in most instances, persons filing for refugee status are put on welfare and are given the opportunity to work, but that the money received usually went to lawyers or other persons with whom the claimants were living.

According to the prime minister, his government has indicated to the Canadian authorities that the generosity of their liberal system was “part and parcel” of the problem.

But the Canadians are set in their laws and are not willing to change, Gonsalves said.

“What would change, if Vincentians continue to make these false claims, we have said it before, the whole country will suffer because Canada will do an imposition and they will require visas which they do not do at the moment,” Gonsalves lamented.

The Canadian authorities have sent independent intercessors and other diplomatic persons here and according to Gonsalves, they are satisfied that there are adequate state systems for protection of persons who are subjected to any domestic violence.

Gonsalves urged persons to migrate in a “sensible, legal way.”

“Overstaying your time and applying for refugee status, you are eventually going to be sent home. Only a few persons get through,” he said.

Furthermore, Gonsalves contended that it was not a good thing for people to go there and exaggerate what was going on here. (DD)