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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

New Canadian Law Attempts to Block Bogus Refugees

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Canada is preparing to implement the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
later this year.* The law is ostensibly designed to protect Canada's
refugee law by weeding out false asylum claimants.* The provisions of
the new law include the following:

- The immigration minister would have the
power to designate which countries are safe without a committee
including human rights experts.

- Rejected refugee claimants from "safe"
countries would no longer be able to appeal the decision to the
Immigration and Refugee Board (the administrative body that reviews
asylum claims).

- Claimants from countries on the safe
country list would have limited appeals rights and limited ability to
apply for compassionate or humanitarian relief.

The law seems primarily targeted at the Roma (a/k/a Gypsies) who have been coming to Canada from Hungary in large numbers and requesting asylum.* According to the Canadian Immigration Minister, "almost 95 percent of Hungarian asylum claims [are] abandoned, withdrawn or rejected."* The Minister states
that "Countries whose nationals have an acceptance rate of 25% or less,
or where 60% or more of claimants from a country have abandoned or
withdrawn their claims ... would be subject to designation" as a safe
country, thus making it more difficult for them to successfully claim

Under the new Canadian law, Mexico is "safe."

My first question about this new law is whether it is necessary.
*Under the current system, people who can return safely will presumably
have their cases denied anyway. *The new law is designed to streamline
the system to allow people from certain countries to be deported more
quickly.* Also, if people from "safe" countries know that their claims
will likely be denied, they may decide not to seek asylum in Canada in
the first place.* Proponents of the law claim that all this will save
government resources.* But I wonder how many people will actually be
dissuaded from coming and-for those who do seek asylum-how much money
the government will actually save under the new, streamlined system.*
Currently, 95% of asylum claimants from Hungary are unsuccessful, yet
Hungarians keep coming to Canada.* If the current (very high) denial
rate does not dissuade people from coming, how will the new law?*
Further, those who seek asylum from "safe" countries are still entitled
to certain procedures and benefits.* It is unclear how much the Canadian
government will save by marginally reducing the protections available
to such asylum seekers.

Assuming the law is needed, how effective will it be? *The idea of
determining in advance whether a country is safe seems antithetical to
international refugee law. *Someone once said that no country is safe
for everyone all the time. *If 95% of Roma claims are denied, what type
of harm do the remaining 5% face?* Also, just because a country has a
low overall denial rate for asylum claims does not mean that it is
safe.* To cite an example from our side of the border, the denial rate
for Mexicans is quite high (about 98%),
but certain people from Mexico-journalists and human rights
activists-face real danger there.* Another example-while the overall
asylum grant rate for Jamaicans is low, the grant for Jamaicans claiming
asylum based on sexual orientation is relatively high.* My point is
that designating a country "safe" just because the overall grant rate is
low will likely result in legitimate asylum seekers being rejected and
returned to face persecution.*

Despite these (and other) doubts, the Protecting Canada's Immigration
System Act will go into effect shortly.* We will then start to get a
clearer idea of whether the law will save resources and how it will
affect asylum seekers.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 02:00 PM by JDzubow

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