Mexican refugees to face great hurdles entering Canada
By Russell Piffer
Mexico – in the throes of a violent drug war – has been added to a list of ‘safe’ countries whose residents will have a more difficult time claiming amnesty in Canada.
Seven other countries – including Israel outside the occupied territories – have been added to the list, whose residents face a fast-tracked process to prove they have genuine need for refugee status, the CBC reported Thursday.
The list, which was introduced in December, now includes 35 countries, mostly in the European Union.“Faster processing of asylum claims from generally safe countries is an essential feature of Canada’s new faster and fairer refugee system,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement.
“Our new system provides protection more quickly to genuine refugees, while removing individuals whose claims are rejected from the country faster,” Kenney said.
Claimants denied refugee status are unable to appeal before the Immigration and Refugee Board and can be deported much quicker than residents of countries not on the list, the CBC reported.
“The Canadian Council for Refugees is seriously concerned that the changes to the law create a two-tier system of refugee protection in Canada,” the Canadian Council for Refugees said in a statement on its website.
“It makes refugee protection in Canada dangerously vulnerable to political whims, rather than ensuring a fair and independent decision about who is a refugee.”
Kenney has reserved the right to add any country to the list provided he deems it democratic with an independent judiciary, CBC reported.
Mexico was the leading source of refugees in Canada in 2009, with over 9,000 claims, but only eight per cent were accepted, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.
The government implemented visa requirements for all travelers coming from Mexico in 2009 to ebb the tide of potential refugees.
According to the CBC, a government official said that might change, depending on how effectively the new measures stem the amount of Mexican refugee claims.
In a statement on its embassy in Canada website, Mexico said that it respects Canada’s immigration reform but reiterated its commitment to “the protection of the fundamental rights of immigrants, as well as asylum and refugee claimants.”
“The Government of Mexico takes note of this decision as a significant step in the implementation of Canadian immigration reform and trusts that this decision will contribute to achieving mutually satisfactory conditions for the elimination in the very near future of the visa requirement for Mexican nationals,” the statement said.