Jason Kenney wants faster access for refugees

Proposed refugee law speeds process: Kenney
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | 12:58 PM ET Comments110Recommend42

CBC News

Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has introduced legislation that would give refugee claimants faster access to hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board and force the quicker removal of failed claimants from the country.

“Canada’s asylum system is broken,” Kenney said Tuesday in a formal announcement of the legislation.
A young Sudanese refugee waves Saskatchewan and Canadian flags during a visit by Governor General Michaëlle Jean and her husband to Regina in 2006. (Troy Fleece/Canadian Press)

“These changes would result in faster protection for those who need our help and quicker removals of those who do not,” Kenney said.

Currently, refugee claimants generally wait 19 months to have their claims heard by the IRB, which Kenney called “too long to wait.” Instead, under his proposed changes, refugee claimants would receive “fast and fair decisions on asylum claims” within 60 days only.

“That means faster production for bona fide refugees,” Kenney said.
Failed claimants get faster removal

Meanwhile, failed claimants would generally be removed within a year of their final IRB decision, compared with the 4½ years it can currently take for them to exhaust all recourses and be removed.

There are currently more than 15,000 failed asylum claimants ready to be removed from Canada and another 38,000 whose whereabouts are unknown and who are subject to an immigration warrant, according to Kenney’s ministry.

Many of them must be found, escorted and removed by the Canada Border Services Agency, which Kenney’s ministry describes as “a very costly and time-consuming process.”

The government estimates Canadian taxpayers pay $50,000 per failed claimant, mostly to cover provincial social service and health costs.
‘Our generosity is too often abused by false asylum claimants who come here and do not need our protection.’
—Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney

The reforms announced Tuesday would reduce that cost to $29,000, the government estimates, because they shorten the time that failed claimants remain in the country.

Kenney has also proposed creating a list of “safe countries of origin,” or “democratic countries with robust human rights records” that do not normally produce refugees.

Asylum seekers from these countries would continue to have access to hearings before the IRB, but would not have the right to appeal a negative decision.

Such a reform would presumably cut down on the number of false claimants who bog down the system, Kenney hopes.

“Our generosity is too often abused by false asylum claimants who come here and do not need our protection,” he said. “They’re misusing the asylum system to jump the queue rather than waiting their turn like everyone else.”

Kenney’s proposals, titled Bill C-11, will need parliamentary approval to become law.

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