What do we do with refugees to this country? “Lock and load,” said the Toronto Sun.
Almost unnoticed in the foofaraw attending the “What Harper Thinks Is Good For Canada” omnibus Bill C-38, the Conservatives realized another part of their agenda this past Monday—a slow lock and load of their own.
Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which seeks to deport so-called “bogus” refugees quicker and crack down on human-smugglers and illegal arrivals, cleared the House of Commons on Monday in a vote of 159 to 132, split along party lines.
…Under the new bill, the minister alone will be able to create a “safe” list of democratic countries that are unlikely to produce refugees. Claimants from those countries will have their applications fast-tracked, they’ll have no right to appeal to the new Refugee Appeal Division, nor will they be able to apply to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds while their refugee claim is pending.
It’s intended to deal with a huge spike in European claims — largely claims from Hungarian Roma who, according to the government, regularly fail to show up to hearings, have a high withdrawal and abandonment rate and also tend to be rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board as non-bona-fide asylum claimants.
This goes hand-in-hand with another little-noticed government measure—denying health care to refugees awaiting processing.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s distaste for the Roma has been well-known for some time:
Prior to mid-2010, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which is composed of citizens named by the government, tended to rule favourably on Roma refugee cases.
Then, in the spring of 2010, Kenney publicly stated that his government did not believe that people coming from “democratic, EU countries,” including Hungary, could, as a rule, be considered legitimate refugees. And, he added, the government was very concerned about the high number of people coming from Europe claiming refugee status in Canada.
The Minister’s statement seemed to put a chill on the IRB, which turned sharply, and has since then rejected almost all Roma claims.
History repeats itself—and not always, it seems, as farce.