A [Kellie Leitch] Tweet Stirs Up Canada’s Immigration Debate – The New York Times

Why does it take the NYT to report this? How did the Canadian media (to my knowledge) miss this important background:

Mr. Rafia and his wife, Raghda Aldndal, were the subject of a sensitive and probing documentary about Canada’s Syrian refugees, produced by two Australian filmmakers last year. The film, “Canada’s Open House,” gives an unusual opportunity to look more deeply into the case.

Canada’s Open House Video by SBS Dateline

Dawn Burke, chairwoman of the group that sponsored the Rafia family in the small town of Chipman, New Brunswick, said she used interpreters multiple times to explain Canadian laws, including those against domestic violence, to Mr. Rafia.

The larger issue that the case illustrates, said one of the filmmakers, Amos Roberts, is the difficulty that many older refugees, particularly men, face in adapting to new lives in a foreign culture. More than 40,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Canada, almost half of them sponsored privately by ordinary citizens like Ms. Burke.

“To expect new immigrants, especially refugees, to adapt within a year or two is mind-boggling,” said Professor Hamza, the interpreter.

“You feel like a stranger,” Mr. Rafia said in the documentary, which was made shortly after the family’s arrival. “Guantánamo Bay is a prison on an island. It’s the same here.”

The couple’s arranged marriage was already troubled in Syria, and Mr. Rafia admitted early on that he had beaten his wife in the past, Ms. Burke said.

“We made it very clear that he was not allowed to hit his wife,” she added.

The family eventually moved to Fredericton, a city where they would be closer to a Syrian community and jobs were more plentiful. But the marriage did not improve and on May 18, Ms. Aldndal showed up at a Fredericton hospital with injuries from a beating. Mr. Rafia was arrested and pleaded guilty on May 26.

Right-leaning media picked up the story, accusing Canadian liberals of welcoming wolves in sheep’s clothing.

But few who understand the case see it as an indictment of Canada’s multicultural immigration policies or its progressive refugee outreach. “It’s not a legacy. It’s an exception,” Ms. Burke said, referring to the line that Ms. Leitch posted.

Mr. Roberts, the filmmaker, said it was “horrifying to see this one incident become a useful bit of propaganda” for anti-immigration forces.

Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program

Deservedly so. Sun columnist and former Conservative ministerial staffer Candice Malcolm, the originator of the line (The real legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program), merits the same:

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is facing new criticism after she issued a tweet portraying the legacy of the Liberals’ Syrian refugee program as a lone domestic violence case involving a Syrian refugee in Fredericton.

Social media erupted after Ms. Leitch tweeted Sunday: “A battered wife and a bloodied hockey stick. That’s the legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program,” quoting and including a link to a Toronto Sun column about a Syrian refugee in Fredericton who beat his wife with a hockey stick. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ms. Leitch’s tweet is as disgraceful as domestic violence itself.

“It’s [domestic violence] clearly something that we abhor and we condemn. What Ms. Leitch is doing is equally reprehensible because she’s tying in a problem that exists everywhere – both in refugee communities and in … our society. This is a problem that many societies grapple with. She’s tying that in with our refugee policy,” Ms. Hussen said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Monday.

The column, written by Candice Malcolm last Friday, attempts to make the case for Ms. Leitch’s Canadian values test, saying it would have “gone a long way” in the case of Mohamad Rafia, who told the court he didn’t know it was against Canadian law to beat his wife. The Syrian refugee, who arrived in Canada 14 months ago, was sentenced to one year probation, according to a report by The Daily Gleaner on June 8.

Ms. Leitch’s proposed “Canadian values test” was a key part of her recent Conservative leadership campaign. The test would make newcomers go through face-to-face interviews with trained immigration officers to screen for Canadian values such as freedom, tolerance and generosity.

Ms. Leitch lost last month’s Conservative leadership vote, dropping off the ballot at the ninth of thirteen rounds with 7.95 per cent of the vote. Andrew Scheer won the race and now leads the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, where Ms. Leitch sits on his front bench.

When contacted by The Globe Monday, Ms. Leitch’s phone line went dead. Follow-up calls were not answered.

Asked about Ms. Leitch’s tweet, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said she would not speak on behalf of her colleague.

“I’m not going to speak on behalf of one member of our party. I’m going to speak on behalf of the record of our former government and the very positive and assertive position that we’ve taken as a party since the last election on a Conservative vision for helping the world’s most vulnerable, including refugees.”

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan accused Ms. Leitch of “fear mongering.”

“Kellie Leitch continues to spout divisive dog-whistle rhetoric even after her own party rejected her and her ideas,” Ms. Kwan said.

Source: Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program – The Globe and Mail

Asylum claim wait times could hit over 11 years: federal analysis

Appears problem will likely get worse before it gets better (current number of IRB vacancies is 39):

An increase in asylum claims in Canada could eventually mean a staggering 11-year wait for a hearing and $2.97 billion in federal social supports for claimants in the meantime, an internal government analysis has concluded.

The Immigration and Refugee Board is already trying to whittle down its current backlog, but received no new money in the latest federal budget.

With 2017 application numbers expected to far exceed earlier projections, the board simply can’t keep up, says the memo, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The Immigration Department memorandum was drawn up this spring amid a flood of people illegally crossing into Canada from the U.S. to claim asylum, dominating headlines and raising pointed House of Commons questions about the integrity of Canada’s borders and immigration system.

The department was asked to explore estimated backlogs at the Immigration and Refugee Board and the associated wait times under different scenarios, following a meeting about the U.S. border-crosser issue in March.

Since January, at least 2,700 people have been intercepted by the RCMP between legal border points; most went on to file claims. The memo does not directly address the impact of the border crossers, though certain sections were redacted.

But those numbers are only part of the mix.

Asylum claims have been steadily rising since 2015; that year, there were 16,115, and in 2016 there were 23,895. As of April this year, the last month for which data is publicly available, there were already 12,040 claims in the system.

The memo projects that claim levels will hit 36,000 this year and could continue to increase after that.

“This scenario best reflects current concerns around increased volumes of claimants observed to date in 2017, and takes into account overall increases in asylum intake from 2015 to 2016,” it says.

The memo goes on to say that by the end of 2021, the new system inventory would grow to approximately 192,700 claims, equivalent to 133 months’ worth of output from the board, or a wait time of approximately 11 years.

The social support costs for claimants were $600 a month each in 2016-17, the memo said. At that claim volume, those costs could climb to $2.97 billion from 2017 through 2021.

The other two scenarios examined were what would happen if intake for 2017 remained at the originally projected number of 28,000 claims, or what would happen if there was 36,000 claims with no growth after that.

In the first scenario, wait times would be between four to five years; in the second, around six years.

The IRB has been sounding the alarm for months over its ability to keep pace with the rising numbers.

They cite a number of factors, including dozens of vacancies for decision-maker positions and also a legislative regime that requires hearings to be scheduled within certain timelines.

A backlog has arisen, the note explains, because hearings need to be scheduled as soon as the claims are filed, and the board simply can’t keep up with the pace.

The time required to actually make a decision on the claims has remained relatively stable at about five months; the challenge is getting them heard in the first place.

The board has tried to deal with the backlog on its own by, among other things, redeploying half its capacity to address backlogged claims. Repeated pleas for more money, however, have only been met by the immigration minister’s insistence that the board find ways to be more efficient.

That might not be enough, says the analysis.

“The rate of backlog growth presented in these scenarios could be mitigated in part by these efficiencies, but not avoided altogether,” the note said.

Last Friday, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced a wide-ranging review of the IRB, bringing in a former deputy minister in the department to study the system and report back by the summer of 2018.

“Canada’s asylum system must strike a balance between providing protection to those fleeing persecution and ensuring that the system is not misused by those who do not need Canada’s protection,” he said.

A budget for the program has not been established, but a spokesperson for the department said it will be paid for by them and the IRB.

Source: Asylum claim wait times could hit over 11 years: federal analysis – The Globe and Mail

Australia: Coalition’s test likely to disadvantage those who need citizenship most | The Guardian

As the Australian government proceeds with its changes, the same issues raised by refugee advocates as in C-24:

Citizenship applicants will need to demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency if the government’s proposed changes to the Australian citizenship test go ahead.

Applicants will be required to reach the equivalent of Band 6 proficiency of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

To achieve Band 6, applicants must correctly answer 30 out of 40 questions in the reading paper, 23 out of 40 in the listening paper and the writing paper rewards language used “accurately and appropriately”. If a candidate’s writing has “frequent” inaccuracies in grammar and spelling, they cannot achieve Band 6.

Success in IELTS requires proficiency in both the English language and also understanding how to take – and pass – a test. The proposed changes will then make it harder for people with fragmented educational backgrounds to become citizens, such as many refugees.

How do the tests now work?

The current citizenship test consists of 20 multiple choice questions in English that ask about Australia’s political system, history and citizen responsibilities.

While the test does not require demonstration of English proficiency per se, it acts as an indirect assessment of language.

For example, the question “Which official symbol of Australia identifies commonwealth property?” demonstrates the level of linguistic complexity required.

The IELTS test is commonly taken for immigration purposes as a requirement for certain visa categories; however, the designer of the IELTS argues that it was never designed for this purpose. Researchers have argued that the growing strength of English as the language of politics and economics has resulted in its widespread use for immigration purposes.

Impact of proposed changes

English is undoubtedly important for participation in society but deciding citizenship based on a high-stakes language test could further marginalise community members, such as people with refugee backgrounds who have the greatest need for citizenship yet lack the formal educational background to navigate such tests.

The Refugee Council of Australia argues that adults with refugee backgrounds will be hardest hit by the proposed language test.

Data shows that refugees are both more likely to apply for citizenship and twice as likely as other migrant groups to have to retake the test.

Mismatched proficiency expectations

The adult migrant English program, where many adult refugees access English learning upon arrival, expects only a “functional” level of language proficiency.

For many adult refugees – who have minimal first language literacy, fragmented educational experiences and limited opportunities to gain feedback on their written English – “competency” may be prohibitive to gaining citizenship. This is also more likely to impact refugee women, who are less likely to have had formal schooling and more likely to assume caring duties.

Bar too high?

The challenges faced in resettlement, such as pressures of work and financial responsibilities to extended family, often combine to make learning a language difficult and, by extension, prevent refugees from completing the citizenship test.

Similar patterns are evident with the IELTS. Nearly half of Arabic speakers who took the IELTS in 2015 scored lower than Band 6.

There are a number of questions to clarify regarding the proposed language proficiency test:

  • Will those dealing with trauma-related experiences gain exemption from a high-stakes, time-pressured examination?
  • What support will be provided to help applicants study for the test?
  • Will financially disadvantaged members of the community be expected to pay for classes and materials to prepare for the citizenship test?
  • The IELTS test costs $330, with no subsidies available. Will the IELTS-based citizenship/language test attract similar fees?

There are also questions about the fairness of requiring applicants to demonstrate a specific type and level of English under examination conditions that is not required of all citizens. Those born in Australia are not required to pass an academic test of language to retain their citizenship.

Recognising diversity of experiences

There are a few things the government should consider before introducing a language test:

1. Community consultation is essential. Input from community/migrant groups, educators and language assessment specialists will ensure that the test functions as a valid evaluation of progression towards English language proficiency. The government is now calling for submissionsrelated to the new citizenship test.

2. Design the test to value different forms and varieties of English that demonstrate progression in learning rather than adherence to prescriptive standards.

3. Provide educational opportunities that build on existing linguistic strengths that help people to prepare for the test.

Equating a particular type of language proficiency with a commitment to Australian citizenship is a complex and ideologically loaded notion. The government must engage in careful consideration before potentially further disadvantaging those most in need of citizenship.

Source: Coalition’s test likely to disadvantage those who need citizenship most | Sally Baker and Rachel Burke | Australia news | The Guardian

ICYMI: The real tragedy of Mavis Otuteye’s death: it didn’t have to happen

Jason Markusoff argues that the safe-third country agreement should not be blamed for Otuteye’s death along with the need for better and more consistent information:

It isn’t clear if Otuteye was actually seeking to make a refugee claim once she encountered authorities in Manitoba; nor are the grounds she might have cited in seeking protection from persecution back home in Ghana. Most migrants crossing into Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia on foot aren’t seeking temporary visits, nor would they normally be granted them–they bid for refugee status, and if they lose, they face deportation to their home countries.

As the initial reports rolled in about a Ghanaian dying during a foot journey to Canada, immigration experts quickly decried the safe country agreement as the culprit. It’s the same problem they’ve cited throughout this upswing in irregular border crossing. However, this case may not point so surely to the folly of the U.S.-Canada agreement, but rather the merits of its compassionate exemptions: if a migrant is looking to be reunited with family, he or she is granted safe passage into Canada.

It also highlights problems in how information flows to prospective refugees. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website explains this exemption to the safe country agreement. According to the National Post, Otuteye kept her border plans largely a secret, meaning few people in the woman’s orbit had the chance to help her identify her options. Often, immigrant communities rely on word of mouth or message boards to figure out how to traverse boundaries and reach safety. Immigration lawyers in Canada often get called, but are barred from offering counsel to would-be border-hoppers. Sometimes there is paranoia that a phone call to the wrong person can lead to an immigration officer’s roundup in the U.S.; this has become a bigger fear in the Trump era than before.

Perhaps, had the safe third country agreement never been in place, nobody would have felt the need to make their way into Canada by crossing ditches and fields, and nobody would have created a familiar path that Otuteye apparently felt compelled to follow. Even without this tragic case, there are good reasons experts cite to scrap the deal–the very risk of further deaths still exists among legitimate asylum-seekers, who genuinely have no alternative way of reaching Canada. But this tragic story does not, on its own, represent the straw that finally fells this problematic agreement.

Source: The real tragedy of Mavis Otuteye’s death: it didn’t have to happen – Macleans.ca

Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy

Two examples, one bad, one good:

It is an aging country with towns and villages emptying of their young, and a country where racism is never far below the surface. When it explodes, it is often tolerated.

It is also a country with tens of thousands of potential new citizens sitting on its doorstep. With a few exceptions, however, Italy is very reluctant to try to integrate them.

Sulley Muntari has been around. He’s 32 and has played for several top Italian teams as well as teams in Britain. He’s also played for Ghana’s national team 84 times.

He knows how the game is played in Italy, he knows the corrosive power of fans called “ultras” and their penchant for racist abuse. But in early May he snapped. He had appealed to the referee to do something about the unrelenting chants. The referee did nothing. So Muntari left the game.

Sulley Muntari — Italian soccer player

Sulley Muntari of Pescara remonstrates with football fans during a Serie A match April 30 in Cagliari, Italy. (Enrico Locci/Getty)

For this, the Italian soccer federation suspended him for a further game. It said the abuse was minor, coming from a minority of just 10 or 15 fans.

Meanwhile, in the mountains of the south, the town council of Sant’Alessio rents out eight apartments which house 35 migrants — an Iraqi Kurdish family, and people from Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

The town gets up to 45 euros ($70 Cdn) a day for each migrant from the national government to house, feed and help train them. There are vocational classes and legal and medical aid.

The mission began as humanitarian aid, Mayor Stephano Calabro said. “But there are significant economic benefits, too.”

The subsidies are helping to keep the town’s dying shops and services alive.

Most migrants aren’t so lucky. Over the years, people on the southern island of Lampedusa have worked heroically to rescue and welcome thousands of new arrivals who risked their lives in the sea crossing.

But now at least 170,000 migrants languish in makeshift government camps, waiting for months, even years, while their asylum requests work their way through the slow, tortuous, complicated bureaucratic process.

Source: Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy – World – CBC News

Précarité des jeunes migrants: Ottawa et Québec se font rassurants

Interesting discussion regarding young refugees and the degree to which settlement and related services are adequately meeting their needs:

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au Canada.

Réunies vendredi à l’occasion d’une soirée-bénéfice pour l’organisme et son nouveau partenariat avec le Haut-commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), la ministre fédérale du Développement international, Marie-Claude Bibeau, et la ministre provinciale de l’Immigration, Kathleen Weil, ont surtout imputé ces cas «qui tombent entre les mailles du filet» à des traumatismes vécus par certains demandeurs d’asile dans leur pays d’origine.

La ministre Weil dresse un portrait élogieux de la prise en charge des nouveaux arrivants par le gouvernement, puis par le milieu communautaire et la société civile.

En entrevue avec La Presse canadienne, Marie-Claude Bibeau a pour sa part tenu à souligner qu’avec quelque 46 700 réfugiés réinstallés l’an dernier, le Canada n’en accueille qu’un nombre «relativement modeste».

«J’ai été au Liban et en Jordanie où, dans certaines villes, la population a doublé, a-t-elle illustré. Vous imaginez la pression que ça vient mettre sur les services publics?»

Au-delà de la compassion, l’aide humanitaire relève d’un «enjeu de paix et de sécurité mondiale», a avancé la ministre, dont les propres parents avaient accueilli une famille de Vietnamiens à l’époque de la vague de «boat people».

Mme Bibeau rétorque en outre à ceux qui remettent en question l’utilité de l’aide humanitaire que celle-ci permet d’éviter que des conflits prennent de l’ampleur et exacerbent la crise des migrants.

La ministre Weil renchérit qu’il s’agit d’un enjeu qu’il faut approcher «en amont comme en aval».

Quant aux sans-papiers – qu’elle aborde comme un dossier totalement distinct -, Mme Weil assure qu’on ne leur bloque pas totalement l’accès aux réseaux de la santé et de l’éducation.

«Mais c’est un peu normal qu’il y ait des gens qui tombent entre deux chaises», croit-elle.

«Arriver en tant que réfugié dans un nouveau pays est toujours une gageure», fait valoir Jean-Nicolas Beuze, de HCR Canada.

Si certains parviennent à tirer profit des services sociaux ou bénéficient déjà d’un réseau de proches, d’autres se heurtent à la barrière de la langue et parfois à un puissant choc culturel, a-t-il poursuivi.

M. Beuze souligne également la précarité économique de bon nombre de réfugiés, tandis que, globalement, la moitié d’entre eux sont en fait des mineurs.

«Les gens arrivent sans un sou en poche, surtout quand ils se sont déplacés à travers le monde. Ils ont souvent dépensé toutes leurs économies», a ajouté M. Beuze.

Le représentant de HCR au Canada félicite lui aussi le gouvernement québécois pour son système qu’il juge «très solidaire vis-à-vis les nouveaux arrivants».

Dans le cadre du partenariat avec Dans la rue, l’agence onusienne combinera son expertise au soutien psychosocial apporté par l’organisme qui vient en aide aux jeunes en situation d’itinérance ou de précarité. Cette association entre «un organisme qui oeuvre au coin de la rue et un autre, à l’autre bout du monde», dans les mots de Julien Nepveu-Villeneuve, de l’Association du jeune Montréal, vise à améliorer les interventions auprès des nouveaux arrivants, comme les cinquante jeunes qui ont fait appel à Dans la rue l’an dernier seulement.

La directrice générale de Dans la rue, Cécile Arbaud, fait état de la grande complexité des cas de certains jeunes qui ne parlent parfois ni français ni anglais, et qui ne sont pas dotés des papiers d’identité nécessaires pour avoir droit à l’aide sociale ou trouver un logement.

Former Tory government’s refugee reforms get failing grade

Good evidence-based analysis but would have been helpful to have the pre-changes data as well:

Five years after Ottawa rolled out controversial reforms to build a “faster and fairer” asylum system, also meant to boot out failed refugees quickly, the verdict is in.

Despite the highly-touted changes made by the former Conservative government in 2012, the revamped refugee system has failed to hear claims within tight statutory processing timelines or get rid of the backlog, reports a new study released by the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

“The aim of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act was to make the system faster, fairer and more cost effective,” said Ryerson University criminology professor Idil Atak, who co-wrote the review with colleague Graham Hudson at Ryerson and University of Ottawa professor Delphine Nakache.

“But the new system is not faster. It is not fairer. It is not more cost-effective.”

To restore the asylum system’s “integrity,” then Immigration Minister Jason Kenney introduced substantive changes to the process, including truncated timelines in asylum claims’ processing. Those who claim asylum at a port of entry are given 15 days, not the 28 days that applied prior to that, to submit the form setting out the basis of their claim.

For most claimants, refugee hearings are supposed to be held no later than 60 days after the claim is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board, while those from the government-designated list of “safe” countries will be heard as quickly as within 30 days.

The government did respond to advocates’ demands by establishing a tribunal to hear appeals by applicants whose claims have been rejected.

However, it also introduced a one-year bar to prevent failed refugees from having a pre-removal risk assessment or applying permanent residence under humanitarian considerations to delay deportation.

The researchers examined the system’s performance against its policy goals. They did this based on government data from the refugee board, immigration department, border service officials and the RCMP, and on 47 interviews with officials from those agencies and others.

Despite the drop in the volume of asylum claims by half over the course of one year, from 20,427 in 2012 to 10,322 in 2013, only 55 per cent of the safe-country claims met the 30-day target, compared to seven out of 10 claims from non-safe countries.

According to the refugee board, 30 per cent of asylum hearings had to be rescheduled in 2015, mostly due to lack of time. One-third of the appeals at the refugee appeals tribunal also failed to deliver a decision within the 90-day limit; on average, appeals cases were finalized 44 days beyond the target.

“The administration’s priority was to schedule the initial (refugee) hearings for new asylum applications,” said the 50-page study. “As a result, secondary intake of claims, i.e. claims returned by the appeals tribunal or Federal court, remained unresolved for a period of time.”

There were more than 5,000 so-called “legacy cases,” which were filed before the new system came into effect in 2012, that were languishing in the system as of 2016, said Atak, adding that the refugee backlog has already reached the number that applied before the 2012 reform.

With a spike in the number of irregular land-border crossings via the United States, Canada this year has already received a total of 12,040 claims up to the end of April.

If the trend continues, it could reach 36,000 cases in 2017.

Refugee advocates have called on the government to do away with the two-tier system based on where claimants come from and the unrealistic timelines for hearings and appeals.

Mario Dion, the refugee board chair, has called on the Liberal government both for more resources and to ease the restrictive process.

The Tories established the one-year bar to pre-removal risk assessments and humanitarian consideration for failed refugees because of the target to kick them out of Canada within one year.

However, the study found only one-third of failed claimants were removed from Canada within 12 months due to many obstacles.

These include lack of co-operation by the home country, inability to locate the individuals and the person’s fitness to travel.

The reforms did not come cheap, said the study; the Tory government allocated a total of $324 million on implementation over five years.

The removal costs almost doubled to $43 million after the reforms, while the number of people deported from Canada dropped from 13,869 in 2012 to 7,852 in 2014, according to the latest data available to the researchers.

Source: Former Tory government’s refugee reforms get failing grade | Toronto Star

Liberals postpone indefinitely overhaul of asylum claim system

Interesting. An overhaul beyond the original campaign promise of an expert panel to determine which countries should be considered as safe would be complex by itself, not to mention the politics involved:

A Liberal election promise to overhaul the way asylum claims are handled has been postponed indefinitely despite rising numbers of people seeking refuge in Canada putting the system at risk, The Canadian Press has learned.

One of the options on the table, multiple sources have told The Canadian Press, is rejigging the historic Immigration and Refugee Board, and giving some of its authority over to the Immigration Department itself.

But those advocating for the government to do something before backlogs threaten the integrity of the system say they are running up against a Liberal government seeming to have lost interest in spending any more money or political capital to help asylum seekers.

The starting point is the designated country of origins system, which determines how fast asylum claims are heard based on where they are from – a system that should, in theory, help weed out unfounded claims faster.

Internal evaluations have shown that hasn’t quite worked, and the system has drawn the ire of refugee advocates for creating a two-tier approach that includes unworkable timelines for hearing cases and their appeals. Elements of the program have already been struck down by the Federal Court.

The Liberals had been on the cusp of doing away with it, going even farther than their original promise to use an expert panel to determine which countries belonged on that list.

But a planned January roll-out was postponed after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the subsequent Liberal cabinet shuffle that saw a replacement of the federal immigration minister.

Then in March, as the issue of illegal border crossers dominated global headlines and Question Period, plans to repeal the designated-country-of-origin scheme were scrapped again, sources said.

They haven’t been rescheduled, even as the IRB itself has been among those saying the system needs to go as a way to ease the pressure.

“It would simplify our life from a case management point of view,” chairperson Mario Dion said in an interview with The Canadian Press in March.

“I don’t have a political view.”

The Liberals do, observers said.

When they came into power and moved to make good on a promise to resettle 25,000 Syrians, the government believed it had broad public support for refugees, said immigration lawyer and refugee advocate Lorne Waldman.

Things have changed.

“The concern at the centre is that support has dissipated significantly because of a series of factors, the most important one being the emergence of Donald Trump,” he said.

“And I think the concern is amplified by the Conservative leadership race where you have many of the candidates taking a very anti-immigrant posturing in their campaign.”

Source: Liberals postpone indefinitely overhaul of asylum claim system – Macleans.ca

Réfugiés syriens: l’impact sur la minorité francophone au Canada a été ignoré

In the context of the push to meet the target and deadline, understandable oversight:

Le gouvernement fédéral n’a pas tenu compte de l’impact de la réinstallation des réfugiés syriens sur les communautés francophones en situation minoritaire, reproche le Commissariat aux langues officielles (CLO).

La commissaire par intérim, Ghislaine Saikaley, conclut que le ministère de l’Immigration, des réfugiés et de la citoyenneté (MIRC) a contrevenu à certaines de ses obligations en matière de bilinguisme en réinstallant au pays ces milliers de migrants qui ont fui la guerre civile.

Car tout au long du processus, le ministère «n’a jamais cherché à connaître» les besoins des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire, tranche la commissaire dans un rapport d’enquête préliminaire de 12 pages obtenu par La Presse canadienne.

Or, en vertu de la Loi sur les langues officielles, qui a un statut quasi-constitutionnel, le fédéral «a l’obligation de prendre des mesures positives de façon proactive» afin d’appuyer ces communautés et d’agir de façon à ne pas nuire à leur «développement» et leur «épanouissement», est-il écrit.

Des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire ont bien tenté d’ouvrir leurs portes à certains de ces réfugiés syriens parrainés par le gouvernement, et dont «approximativement 95 % ne parlaient ni français ni anglais à leur arrivée au Canada».

Mais ce fut en vain. «Sur les 39 propositions reçues à l’hiver 2016, huit ont été soumises par des organismes d’établissement francophones, mais aucune de celles-ci n’a été retenue», a noté la commissaire Saikaley.

Pour le porte-parole du Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) en matière de langues officielles, François Choquette, «c’est une occasion manquée, une occasion ratée». Car c’est par l’immigration que passe – à tout le moins en partie – la survie des communautés francophones minoritaires.

Même son de cloche du côté de la présidente de la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA), Sylviane Lanthier, qui rappelle que le gouvernement fédéral a souvent raté la cible de 4,4 % en matière d’immigration francophone hors Québec.

«Les communautés ont peu bénéficié de l’immigration, a-t-elle souligné en entrevue téléphonique. C’est important que le gouvernement fédéral maximise les effets positifs potentiels de l’accueil des réfugiés dans nos communautés.»

Car la vitalité de ces milieux «repose beaucoup, et de plus en plus, sur l’accueil et l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, y compris des réfugiés qui se réinstallent au Canada», a fait valoir Mme Lanthier.

Les représentants du MIRC ont bien plaidé auprès du CLO qu’il y avait urgence d’agir en raison de la promesse du gouvernement libéral d’accueillir 25 000 réfugiés en l’espace de deux mois et demi, mais cet argument n’a pas convaincu le chien de garde du bilinguisme au pays.

«À cet égard, je tiens à souligner que les mécanismes pour tenir compte des besoins des (communautés linguistiques minoritaires) auraient déjà dû être en place au moment où l’initiative de réinstallation des réfugiés syriens a été annoncée», est-il écrit dans le rapport du CLO.

Source: Réfugiés syriens: l’impact sur la minorité francophone au Canada a été ignoré | Mélanie Marquis | National