Friday, February 25, 2011

Canada welcomes genuine refugees

Canada will welcome 50 Montagnard refugees who had fled persecution in Vietnam, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Wednesday.

Montagnard hill tribespeople, who come from Vietnam’s Central Highlands, face reprisals in Vietnam because they fought beside the Americans and the Republic of Vietnam. This group fled in 2006 and crossed the border into Cambodia but had to be rushed to Canada because the refugee centre there is closing.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the group was under risk of return to Vietnam. Kenney said he was pleased to welcome the Montagnard to settle in Quebec City. “Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, more than half a million Vietnamese fled Vietnam. Thanks to the outpouring of support from Canadians, we welcomed more than 60,000 refugees in two years from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia under the Private Sponsorship Program,” he said in a statement.

Kenney said Ottawa was committed to refugee protection and that the government had increased refugee settlement by 20 percent. He also took the opportunity to raise the issue of human smuggling, which he said is compromising the refugee system.

The Conservatives have introduced Bill C-49 to crackdown on fake refugees, but critics say it goes too far and blurs the lines between refugees and immigrants. Amnesty International takes exception with the bill’s mandatory detention provision which will see arrivals automatically detained if they come on ship that has been labelled as part of human smuggling event under the legislation.

Liberal Immigration critic Justin Trudeau says the Conservatives are using events like the arrival of the MV Ocean Lady, which brought Tamil refugee claimants into Canada, to create fear over fake refugees so they can get support for their legislation.

The government says the ship’s arrival was a human smuggling event and C-49 will take away the incentive for human smugglers to do something similar in the future. Kenney says the bill is needed to protect the integrity of the system and maintain popular support for immigration.


Most illegal immigrants arriving in Australia by boat win legal residency eventually

Nearly every asylum-seeker who arrived in Australian waters during the past three years was granted refugee status, according to figures released under Freedom of Information laws and reported on by The Australian.

According to the report, the figures show that the Immigration Department approved fully 94 per cent of all refugee claims from people arriving by boat between October 2008 and December 22 last year.

Compared with other forms of refugee claims, those seeking asylum by boat had a significantly higher success rate. The Immigration Department approved only 39 per cent of visa requests for non-boat asylum-seekers in the first half of the current financial year. In 2009-10, the department refused 49 per cent of non-boat asylum seekers, and rejected 55 per cent the year before.

Opposition politicians argue that overseas refugee smugglers are keenly aware of the success rate of those arriving by boat, and said the figures will only further contribute to the problem. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said refugee claims are processed independently of how they arrived in Australia.


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