Responding to a United Nations report that showed a 30% increase in the number of people seeking refugee or asylum status in Canada, Jason Kenny wants to tighten up on the rules regarding immigrants seeking asylum.
Last year 35,000 immigrants applied for asylum in Canada, Approximately 44% of those applying were approved. The remaining 20,000 whose claims were rejected have the right to appeal and are then given temporary work visas. The appeal process can be extended for years.
Kenny believes that this is clearly an abuse of Canada's generosity and a violation of the integrity of our immigration system. He noted that the Immigration and Refugee Board rejects up to 90% of claims made by Mexicans and that would suggest wide scale and almost systematic abuse.
He has asked the immigration committee to begin a dialogue on ways we can reform the refugee system to make sure there is a fair process that complies with the principles of natural justice, but ensures that bogus claimants are shown the door, and quickly.
Kenny’s justification appears to be that the percentage increase for Canada is almost three times the average for 51 other Industrialized countries. The UN report also states that the United States saw a three per cent drop in the number of people asking for asylum in that country last year.
Meanwhile Amnesty International reports today that more than 300,000 people were detained by U.S. immigration officials last year. They include asylum seekers, torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, longtime legal permanent residents and parents of U.S. citizen children. That number is expected to grow to 400,000 this year.
In the US if you apply for asylum upon entry to the country you are immediately placed in a detention center. People detained at the border are not entitled to a review of their detention by an immigration judge.
However those who enter illegally and are then later apprehended inside the United States do have the right to appear before a judge and state their case.
Amnesty International estimates that there were about 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States as of January 2007. That number has since increased.
Kenny should tread more softly here and consider our proximity to Mexico and Latin America and the increasing number of applicants coming from those countries before he starts claiming that our system is broken.
Adding more resources to handle an increasing number of appeals make sense. Placing more roadblocks for immigrants to make those appeals does not.
As demonstrated in the US, the alternative to providing legal redress for asylum seekers will be an increase in the number of illegal immigrants and that is much larger problem that the 20,000 who are now here on temporary work visas, waiting for their day in court.
References: National Post on Kenny, Reuters on Amnesty International