Feds expected to tighten refugee rules

Filed under: Headlines,Immigration News |

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are expected to announce further changes to Canada’s immigration system.

CBC News reports Immigration Minister Jason Kenney plans to announce legislation this week to further strengthen barriers against what the government considers to be “bogus” refugee claimants coming from countries where they face no real risk or persecution.

Among other things, it’s expected the legislation, if passed, would block an appeal route for refugee claimants coming from countries the government has designated as “safe,” and eliminate a committee of experts which was to advise the government on which countries to place on that list.

The move comes as Canada copes with a massive spike in refugee applications from Hungary. Figures recently obtained by Postmedia News suggest 4,409 Hungarians applied for refugee status in 2011 compared with just 2,300 a year earlier. In 2009 there were 2,440 applications for asylum.

According to 2009 and 2010 figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Canada is by far the top destination for Hungarian asylum seekers.

Belgium was the next highest destination, at 188 applications. The United States received 47 claims, while Norway and France each received 33.

The Canadian government has taken a hard line on Roma asylum applications in recent years.

A spike in Roma asylum claimants from Czech Republic two years ago — 95 Czech Roma landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in a single night — prompted the government to impose a visa requirement on Czech citizens and led Kenney to label most Czech Roma claims as “bogus.”

In 2010, Kenney told the House of Commons that some Roma asylum-seekers are “coached to come to Canada, make a false asylum claim, and then register for provincial welfare benefits.”

Since Kenney’s public questioning of the veracity of the Czech asylum claims, the Immigration and Refugee Board has taken a much harder line on Roma applicants.

It approved just two per cent of Czech Republic refugee claims in 2010 and five per cent in the first nine months of 2011. It has been equally hard on claims from Hungarian nationals, approving two per cent in 2010 and seven per cent in the first nine months of last year.

-Vancouver Sun

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