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Community Group Outraged at Kenney’s Proposed Refugee Reforms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

By No One Is Illegal-Vancouver - March 30th, 2010

Community Group Outraged at Kenney’s Proposed Refugee Reforms
http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=1825

March 30, 2010, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories – The refugee rights and migrant justice organization No One Is Illegal is outraged at [Citizenship and Immigration] Minister [Jason] Kenney’s proposed refugee reforms. These reforms create two streams of refugees, download financial and social support of 2,000 refugees to private organizations, and drastically limit avenues such as the Humanitarian and Compassionate Claim and Pre-Removal Risk Assessment available to refugee claimants.

According to Alex Mah of No One Is Illegal, “What Kenney is calling an overhaul of the system is a dismantling of refugee protection. What use is a token Refugee Appeal Division if it will not apply to refugees from so-called safe countries of origin? Ironically, Kenney is saying he wants to avoid a two-tier immigration system, but is himself creating a racist two-tier refugee system based on nationality.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has warned that the refugee system must focus on individual cases rather than the claimant’s country of origin.

The growing difficulty asylum seekers are facing in Canada is evident through a series of fundamental shifts under Kenney. According to figures obtained by the Canadian Press, deportations from Canada have skyrocketed 50% over the last decade, with approximately 13,000 deportations annually. With the Conservatives in power since 2005, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s 2009 annual report the number of refugees who had their asylum claims approved dropped by 56% over the past four years. The 2009 report also revealed a decreasing “target” of 11,000 people in the number of accepted asylum seekers and sponsored family members.

“Expediency and efficiency are bureaucratic terms to cover for the violent reality of immigrant and refugee exclusion. Contrary to Kenney’s fear-mongering and what he would like the public to believe, deportation is a daily business for Canada and a daily experience for refugees,” further states Mah.

Over the past year, Kenney appointed a known anti-gay activist to the Immigration and Refugee Board, cut funding to community groups for their involvement in pro-Palestinian efforts, barred British MP George Galloway from entering Canada because of his opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan, instituted immediate visa requirements for Czechs and Mexicans, oversaw unprecedented immigration raids in workplaces and women's shelters in Ontario, and deliberately removed references to [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered] rights from a newly revised study guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship.

Kenney has also made inflammatory comments about getting tough on immigrants and “fake” refugee claimants. He is currently the subject of a Federal Court inquiry on whether such public statements have interfered with the independence of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Earlier this month, Habtom Kibraeb, an Eritrean refugee, committed suicide in Halifax from fear of a pending deportation. In December 2008, a 24-year-old woman was deported to Mexico, where she was murdered months later. She had applied for asylum in Canada twice. This tragedy occurred while Kenney was imposing visa requirements on Mexicans, claiming they were bogus.

“This whole system is corrupt, oppressive, inhumane, and arbitrary. While people are dying, Kenney is concerned about becoming Canada’s next prime minister,” states Mariana Payet of No One Is Illegal.

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