Chaotic asylum system needs a major overhaul

“This situation is not sustainable, nor is it fair to the people who need Canada’s protection”admits Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.


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Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen makes an announcement on medical inadmissibility as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Serge Cormier, and Minister of Science, Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan look on, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

It seems our embattled immigration minister has finally seen the light. The headline in The National Post Friday said it all.

“Canada’s backlogged asylum system is ‘not sustainable,’ immigration minister says in leaked letter,” the headline reads. 

The sub-headline says exactly what many of us must be thinking: “The language is unusually strong for Ahmed Hussen, who speaks often about Canada’s ‘strict and efficient immigration and border-control system’.”

Yes, the language is strong. But maybe the minister has finally figured out that with 35,000 Canadians homeless each and every night in this country, it isn’t reasonable to believe that it will be easy to maintain a residential base for 40,000-plus refugees here already and hundreds of asylum seekers pouring across the border every day, aided and abetted by our national police force, the RCMP. And what’s worse, is officials in the places these asylum seekers wind up (Ontario and Quebec), are saying there’s no more room for them.

“Without changes to improve efficiency and productivity of the asylum process, wait times and backlogs will only continue to grow,” Hussen writes in the Aug. 14 letter, addressed to the Canadian Bar Association. “This situation is not sustainable, nor is it fair to the people who need Canada’s protection.”

But that’s where the sense of Hussen’s argument ends. He says the asylum system isn’t fair to the thousands of illegal immigrants pouring across our border. But where the system isn’t fair lies right inside this country, with 35,000 homeless Canadians crawling around hungry each and every night in the streets while the Trudeau government scrambles to find homes and legal loopholes to sustain its future asylum-seeker voting base.

Hussen suggests “changes to improve the efficiency and productivity of the asylum process.” How about shutting down the asylum process, securing the border and looking after the poor, suffering and homeless Canadians?

But come on, you know what’s going to happen here, don’t you? Instead of the federal government supporting the people it’s supposed to be supporting, it will pour more money into ensuring the tens of thousands of illegal border jumpers and refugees have better homes than the 35,000 Canadians sleeping in the street each night.

This kind of pandering to the illegals has to stop. Many of these border breakers, not only have better lives ahead of them than the tens of thousands of Canadians lying homeless in the streets each night. They also have better lives than many Canadian senior citizens and some of our working poor.

Let’s take a look at what a refugee receives from our government. The headlines in a CBC Montreal story read like this: “What refugee claimants receive from the government:

“Asylum seekers have access to health care, social assistance, education,” one of the CBC headlines in its Oct. 18, 2017 story reads. More of what they get is outlined in this CBC story.

Many Canadians can only dream about stuff like this.

“Asylum seekers must declare how much money they have at the border. Their financial status affects whether they get to stay in one of the temporary housing centres and for how long,” the story reads. “If agents determine that families don’t have a lot of money, they can typically stay in the centres until their first monthly social assistance cheque arrives, according to Paul Clarke, the executive director of Action Réfugiés Montreal.

“Newcomers usually have to wait between 21 and 35 days for a cheque, but Clarke says the increase in demand could cause delays.

“The Quebec government has enlisted a number of organizations to help asylum seekers find permanent places to live. Once they’ve found a place, however, they face further challenges.”

But let’s put those challenges aside for a moment. How about the challenges of Canada’s homeless, who now face further delays trying to find a place to live, because the refugees and illegal border breakers who are crashing our borders are overflowing the homeless shelters. Toronto was one of the first cities crying for government help. The feds came up with $11 million to help get the refugees out of college dorms and into housing earlier this year. Nobody helped the homeless Canadians still languishing in the streets.

Just this past January, Ombudsman Toronto launched a probe into complaints by homeless people who were incorrectly told there was no room for them at homeless shelters. 

Gee, does anybody know why there may not be room at homeless shelters in Toronto? Could it be that the foreign refugees Trudeau has brought to Canada have all the spaces? And not only do they have all the spaces in Toronto, but in other Canadian cities as well.

As early as 2015, there were screams about Syrian refugees taking beds from Canada’s homeless.

Charlie Burrell of Moncton, N.B.,  who founded The Humanity Project in 2014 as a group to give comfort and housing to the poor was saying back in 2015, he understood the world was watching the Syrian refugee situation.

“We need to help these people and bring them here, but we also need to help our own and one shouldn’t take precedence over the other,” he said.

But maybe one is taking precedence over the other now. A story from  Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter for The Toronto Star, outlined it all in a Feb. 2, 2017 story

“Since the beginning of the fall, the peak season for refugee arrivals, Toronto’s already strained refugee shelter system has been dealing with what some operators call an unprecedented bed shortage,” the story read. “Some operators are even referring callers to shelters in Hamilton.

“The system is expected to be further strained with more asylum seekers anticipated to arrive via the United States after the Trump administration’s recent executive order to limit immigration and refugees that is widely viewed by the immigrant communities there as xenophobic,” the story continued.

And this was February of 2017! Can you imagine how the situation has deteriorated since then.

The Government of Ontario came up with a homelessness strategy but just this past April. Janet Mason, a fellow at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance, wrote an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail with this headline: “Ontario’s cities need a new approach to homelessness”.

That story begins: “As spring begins in earnest, it’s essential for Ontario’s policy makers at the provincial and municipal level to develop a clear strategy to avoid the type of homelessness crisis that we witnessed this winter. We cannot govern by emergency. The province requires a long-term, evidence-based solution to expand access to affordable housing and ultimately to solve homelessness.”  

A story in the United Kingdom publication, The Week, on Sept. 8 of 2017 had this headline: “Syria’s civil war is over and Assad has won, says the UN”.

So why are the refugees still here? And why are 35,000 Canadians still lying homeless in the streets? And then there’s the asylum seekers from Haiti and elsewhere just waltzing across the Canadian border putting further strain on the system. Why are they still getting in?

It’s no surprise our immigration minister has now figured out the backlogged asylum seeker system isn’t sustainable. But what’s he going to do about it? He can’t send them all home. There’s an election coming up Oct. 21, 2019. And with Justin Trudeau under attack from Canadians, the Prime Minister is going to need the refugee and asylum seeker voters he obtained when he rigged up the Citizenship Act with changes to help him win by getting his purchased Syrian refugees and illegal border jumpers from Haiti and elsewhere to the polls in 2019. So they can’t go home until they vote, now can they?

But Hussen says the asylum seeker system isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t.

Sergio Karas, an immigration lawyer and analyst, called Hussen’s letter “an admission of failure … by the Liberal government,” and said the existing system wasn’t designed to accommodate the current volume of asylum claims.

“I honestly do not understand how it is that the federal government can look the people of Canada in the eye and say that the system works,” he said. “Because the system has collapsed.”

A report released in June suggested major changes were needed to the asylum seeker program.

“While the department has carefully analyzed the findings and recommendations of the report, it would be premature to speculate on any future changes to the asylum system,” Hussen writes in the letter.

Karas aid the existing system wasn’t designed to accommodate the current volume of asylum claims.

The solution to this overloaded asylum seeker program is so simple it’s staring the government in the face. Close the border to all asylum claims. End the third safe country agreement and send the asylum seekers home. The war is over. The good guys lost.

But instead of doing that, our federal government, desperate for re-election and future support in elections from those people not born in this country, will continue to welcome in tens of thousands of refugees and any asylum seeker bold enough to walk across our border. Our government will also continue to ignore the 35,000 homeless Canadians in our streets each night. And Trudeau and his foreign supporters will continue to tally its immigrant votes. It may not be “sustainable.” But Trudeau and his government’s supporters don’t care. The system — sustainable or not — has to stay because it may just be the only way the Trudeau government can stay in power past 2019!


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Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired writer, who worked 35 years in print and broadcast journalism before retiring. He also served in the press operations crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

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