Jim Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: At last the government of Canada has made a commitment to start processing Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This no doubt comes as a response to mounting international and domestic pressure for Canada to do something after initially dragging their feet on the issue:
The Conservative government had said in January it would bring in 10,000 refugees over three years. But Alexander promised that these latest moves will see them resettled by September 2016…
While visa officers will continue perform security checks and screen refugees for health issues, they will now be able to presume those fleeing conflict meet the definition of a refugee.
“They will no longer need a document confirming their status as UN convention refugees,” said Alexander.
Eliminating the role of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in determining who is a refugee was long overdue. Past experience has shown that this is just another bureaucratic road block for any refugee claimant.
CUTTING THE RED TAPE
Designating any Syrian or Iraqi outside their country of nationality as a candidate for refugee status should now speed up the process. However, this raises an important question: Does the government have the organizational wherewithal and the staff to start moving people from the Middle East to Canada without bureaucratic delay?
I believe that we will probably still be disappointed in the response of the Canadian government to address this crisis. The Minister of Immigration has already raised the issue of medical and security clearances, which from my experience means lengthy delays if there is no will to move quickly.
From 1975 onward Canada accepted tens of thousands of “boat people” from South East Asia because we had the infrastructure in place and the willpower to do the job. I am skeptical, but hopeful, that we can achieve those same results today.