Refugee board set to finally hear ‘legacy’ asylum claims

To note – these kinds of backlogs should not happen:

The Immigration and Refugee Board is finally taking action to process asylum claims languishing in the system under pre-2012 rules, some of which have been waiting to be heard for more than six years.

There are about 5,500 so-called “legacy” claims filed before December 15, 2012, when the former Conservative government overhauled the asylum system by introducing statutory timelines to hear new claims and expedite removals of failed claimants — leaving the old cases on the back burner.

All legacy claimants are being asked to immediately contact the board and make any needed updates to their applications, so the board can start scheduling their hearings for September. Those who are ready have been asked to fill out an “intention to proceed form” online.

“We understand how difficult it is for the people to have been waiting for a minimum of four years in the legacy backlog,” said Mario Dion, chair of the refugee board. “Their lives and well-being are at stake and we are committed to start scheduling these cases as soon as possible.”

This spring the board launched a legacy task force and dedicated $3 million yearly to address the legacy backlog by hiring more than 20 retired refugee judges to focus on these drawn-out cases, the majority of them filed in 2011 and 2012. It also released a YouTube video to advertise the effort.

Although most post-2012 claims are generally heard by adjudicators within 60 days, the board is facing tremendous pressure at its refugee protection tribunal with a backlog of pending asylum claims that is expected to exceed 37,000 by the end of the year, partially due to the surge in claims at border entry points from the United States since President Donald Trump was elected.

For years, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have called on the federal government to introduce some form of amnesty to legacy claimants to allow them to move on with their lives, but the plea has been ignored.

They said the longer people wait for a refugee hearing, the less chance they have of being accepted as refugees as memories fade and country conditions change with the processing delay.

“Fairness requires that we give them the opportunity to regularize their status in Canada without delay,” said Loly Rico, chair of the refugee council.

Source: Refugee board set to finally hear ‘legacy’ asylum claims | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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