Remember about four years ago when rusted-out ships began arriving off Canada?s West coast carrying human cargo ? several hundred migrants from Asia? The federal government defended its refugee processes and policies even as Canadian taxpayers watched it spend millions of dollars providing accommodations to the illegal entrants and granting them all refugee hearings ? jumping the queue over thousands of legitimate refugee claimants.
At the time, many Canadians were convinced that our refugee system had gone off the rails. Certainly, we are a people proud to offer shelter to those who have suffered legitimate persecution, torture and unbearable hardship. But we don?t want to be viewed as the international ?suckers? for a hard luck story!
Yet it turns out that the federal Liberals are more than a little gullible in their approach to refugees. A study released this week by the Fraser Institute, aptly titled Canada?s Dysfunctional Refugee Determination System, found that Canada is the easiest place in the world to secure refugee status. We accepted 61 percent of refugee claimants throughout the 1990s. That?s staggering when you consider that no other major country made it near a 50 percent acceptance rate and that most European countries accept just 10 percent of claimants.
More alarmingly, the study showed that even those who fail to secure refugee status often end up as permanent residents and even citizens! That?s because the refugee system is so bogged down in bureaucracy and so backlogged that many bogus refugees have several years to find other creative ways to remain in Canada. The backlog is in large part due to the fact that, unlike most other countries, we allow all claimants into the refugee process, even when it?s blatantly obvious they have no legitimate claim as refugees.
Also, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) happens to be a comfortable and lucrative landing for political appointees, all possessing the same Liberal soft-touch but little experience and background in the field of immigration.
Unlike other countries, Canada also offers refugees awaiting their hearings the opportunity to obtain generous social benefits and take jobs that get them into the regular immigration process ? jumping the line ahead of others who follow rules and procedures by applying in their native countries to immigrate to Canada. In the months and years of waiting for their claim to be heard, if a refugee claimant has a child, that child is given automatic citizenship. Then, reluctant to break up the family, the parents and other family members are likely to be allowed to remain in Canada as well.
A dysfunctional refugee system puts at risk our ability as a country to offer refuge to legitimate refugees whose very lives are in danger. It also throws into disarray any kind of federal immigration strategy or process.
If Prime Minister Paul Martin really wants to make a good first-impression, he should eliminate political patronage at the IRB, staffing the board with professionals based on merit, and implement refugee policies that demonstrate to human smugglers and fraudulent refugees that Canada is not ?an easy mark? for a con job.