Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 3 #2, 2 May 2008
Contents
 

The Canadian Council for Refugees denounced the blind application of an inflexible immigration rule that is keeping children separated from their parents. Regulation 117(9)(d) excludes family members, barring them from sponsorship, if they were not examined by an immigration officer when the sponsor immigrated to Canada.  The CCR is calling for the elimination of Regulation 117(9)(d).

The CCR released a series of profiles of families separated by Regulation 117(9)(d), several of them refugees.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that Regulation 117(9)(d) is cancelled, there is some good news.  Thanks to the CCR’s publication of these profiles, Citizenship and Immigration Canada was quick to take action in at least one of the profiled cases.  Akino was accepted on humanitarian grounds and has recently travelled from Sri Lanka to Vancouver to be reunited with his mother and brothers!

We encourage you to use these profiles in your local campaigning efforts and share them with your Member of Parliament so that Regulation 117(9)(d) is repealed and there are more happy endings like Akino’s.

See the backgrounder including the case profiles at:

http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/famexcluprofilsEN.pdf

For the press release from 7 April, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/media/pressreleases/7april08.htm

For media profiles of the cases, see:
‘Law keeping Saskatoon woman from daughter in Pakistan’, The Saskatoon Leader-Post, 8 April 2008: http://tinyurl.com/3k55no

‘The call that filled a place in the heart’, The Vancouver Sun, 17 April 2008: http://tinyurl.com/4surpu (this article tells Akino’s story)

‘Mother gains last hope appeal: Kids’ case one of many threatened by changes’, The Toronto Star, 22 April 2008: http://www.thestar.com/article/416886

The CCR has expressed concern over the recent proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) included in the government’s budget bill, Bill C-50.  The key changes include the following:

  1. Currently the law says (at section 11) that an officer “shall” issue a visa if the applicant meets the requirements of the Act.  This is changed in the bill to say an officer “may” issue a visa if the applicant meets the requirements of the Act.
  2. Currently the law says (at section 25) that the Minister “shall” examine an application for humanitarian and compassionate consideration (H&C).  This is changed in the bill to “may” examine the application if the applicant is outside Canada.
  3. The bill gives the power to the Minister to issue instructions for the processing of applications from economic and Family Class immigrants and of H&C applicants outside Canada. The instructions could establish categories of applications to be processed, determine the order in which the applications should be processed, fix a limit on the number to be processed, and provide rules for repeat applications.
  4. The bill empowers the government to retain, return or otherwise dispose of applications that, following the instructions, are not processed.  This only applies to applications subject to instructions, ie. economic immigrants, Family Class immigrants and H&C applicants outside Canada.

The government says that it is not their intention to use the instructions to slow down or thwart family reunification. However, as we know, governments are not prevented from doing things just because they or their predecessor said it was not their intention to do it. CIC explains that the bill gives such wide powers to issue instructions in order to have "flexibility".

The CCR has developed a number of resources outlining concerns over the proposed amendments, frequently asked questions about the changes, as well as a letter that organizations can use to write to the Prime Minister.  These can be found on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50faq.htm

A reminder to register for the CCR Spring Consultation 'Our Past, Our Future: Our Children’, 22-24 May 2008 in Winnipeg before May 2nd (this Friday!) to benefit from early registration fees.  Please note that payment must be RECEIVED on or before this date to benefit from the reduced rate.

Accommodation Reminder: If you will be attending the CCR Consultation in Winnipeg and are planning to stay at the hotel, please book your room by Monday 5 May to ensure access to reserved rooms and negotiated rates. Rooms have been reserved at the Radisson Winnipeg Downtown at the negotiated daily rate of:

$107 + tax/night for a single or double occupancy room (2 double beds).

Information about the hotel is available online at: www.radisson.com/winnipeg.ca

To book a room, call 1-800-339-5238 and say you are with the Canadian Council for Refugees conference.  You can also make your reservation by email at: reserv@radisson.shawbiz.ca

Information on registration rates, conference sessions (including updated information on the workshop sessions that will be held) and other important details are available on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm

About the CCR Spring Consultation ‘Our Past, Our Future: Our Children’:

From 22-24 May 2008, people from across Canada will be gathering in Winnipeg to discuss refugee and immigrant issues at the Canadian Council for Refugees 2008 Spring Consultation on the theme: Our Past, Our Future: Our Children

Several consultation sessions will highlight the “best interests of the child”.  Since 2002, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires decision-makers to taken into account the best interests of the child.  But is this happening? What improvements need to be made?

The consultation is an excellent opportunity for all interested to exchange ideas on barriers faced by refugees and other newcomers before, at and after their arrival in Canada.  Register before 2 May to take advantage of the reduced registration rates.  Special considerations are also available for refugee and youth participants. Please help us to promote this Consultation by passing this invitation to people who might be interested in attending.

The Consultation program, registration forms, and Guide to the Consultation for first-time participants are now available at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm.

The Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) recently went public calling for appointments of refugee claims adjudicators to the IRB.  Statistics presented by the IRB indicate that the number of claims waiting to be heard has more than tripled since the Conservative government came to power.  This means that the waiting time to have their refugee claims heard is now around 16.5 months (up from 11.7 months less than 2 years ago).  During this same time, the number of claims has more than doubled to 42,300 from just over 20,000.  This number is expected to reach more than 62,000 by the end of the year if the number of IRB decision-makers does not change.

The CCR has highlighted the growing backlog of claims and called for the government to fill vacancies at the IRB, which cause hardships for refugees.

For recent media coverage of the lack of appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board, see:
‘Refugee backlog headed for record high as Tories slow to appoint adjudicators’, Canadian Press, 8 April 2008: http://tinyurl.com/5x3otj

‘Tories grilled over refugee board vacancies’, CBC News, 8 April 2008: http://tinyurl.com/3kj2jh

For CCR statements on the lack of appointments to the IRB and their impacts, see:

Canadian Refugee System made vulnerable by government inaction, CCR Media Release, 25 September 2007, http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/media/pressreleases/25sept07.htm

Groups dismayed over politicization of appointments to Immigration and Refugee Board, CCR Media Release, 27 February 2007, http://www.ccrweb.ca/releaseIRBfeb07.html

Government appointment failures hurt refugees, CCR Media Release, 21 September 2006, http://www.ccrweb.ca/releaseIRBapptsept06.html

e) CCR presents to Senate Committee on trafficking issues

In mid-April, the CCR appeared before the Senate Committee on Human Rights to comment on a bill that would offer protection to trafficked persons.  The appearance offered a great opportunity to present the CCR’s own Proposal for Legislative Amendment to Protect Trafficked Persons.  The CCR’s comments were well-received by the Senators.

For the text of the proposed Senate bill, S-218, see:
http://www2.parl.gc.ca/content/Senate/Bills/392/public/S-218/S-218_1/S-218_text-e.htm

For the CCR’s Proposal for Legislative Amendment to Protect Trafficked Persons and accompanying information, see the campaign website at: www.trafficking.ca

 

The CCR appeared before the Senate Committee on Human Rights in early April to express concern over proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act.  The amendments give citizenship to many ‘lost Canadians’, but also deny citizenship to children of Canadians born abroad to Canadian citizen parents who themselves are citizens by virtue of birth abroad. 

The CCR opposes this change particularly because it potentially creates statelessness.

For the CCR position on Bill C-37, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c-37.pdf

For media coverage on the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act, see: http://tinyurl.com/44un3g

- Bill C-50: Frequently Asked Questions, 10 reasons, letter to Prime Minister

The CCR has developed the following resources to explain the proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the CCR’s concerns:

10 Reasons to be Concerned about the Proposed Amendments: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50tenreasons.htm

Questions and Answers:
http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50faq.htm

The letter concerning Bill C-50, signed by the CCR, is available on our web site at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50letter.htm, along with a list of organizations that have signed this or a similar letter.  Let the CCR know if your organization should be added to the list by sending an email to jdench@ccrweb.ca

For the media release sent out by the CCR regarding the proposed changes in Bill C-50, see:
http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/media/pressreleases/17march08.htm

- Families Never to be United: Excluded family members

To bring attention to the human costs of Regulation 117(9)(d), or the ‘Excluded Family Member Rule’, the CCR has compiled profiles of families that have been affected by this rule. 

Regulation 117(9)(d) was introduced as part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in 2002.  It was intended to deter or penalize misrepresentation in cases of family reunification; however it has done this and much more.  As the profiles show, the Regulation has a disproportionate impact on children, in particular.  The profiles also show that turning to applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a government-recommended recourse, is not a solution for all families.

Profiles of families and children affected by Regulation 117(9)(d) are available on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/famexcluprofilsEN.pdf

We encourage you to meet with Members of Parliament and to share these cases with them.  The CCR is calling for the repeal of Regulation 117(9)(d) and for speedy family reunification to be made a government priority.


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