Freeland mum on whether Hong Kong asylum seekers will be granted refuge as bigger wave predicted

Hard to see why these claims would not be accepted by the IRB:

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, asked about dozens of asylum claims made by Hong Kong protesters in Canada, praised the rich contribution immigrants from this former British colony have made to this country but declined to indicate whether Ottawa would grant the applicants refuge.

Ms. Freeland told media Monday that while she can’t comment on specific asylum claims, which she said need to be adjudicated “very carefully and very thoughtfully,” Canadians agree that migrants from Hong Kong have been a boon for this country.

“Canada has benefited hugely from the immigration of people from Hong Kong to Canada. They contribute tremendously to our society and I think all of us are very glad that so many people from Hong Kong have chosen to make their home and their lives here,” Ms. Freeland said.

As the Globe and Mail first reported Monday, 46 Hong Kong citizens – many of whom took part in the massive demonstrations that began last year as China tightened its grip on the Asian city – are seeking asylum in Canada, citing harassment and brutality at the hands of police and fear of unjust prosecution.

This may only be the start of a bigger wave of asylum seekers, experts say.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian diplomat, and Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer and immigration policy analyst with extensive experience in dealing with Asian migration, both say these cases are likely the beginning of a surge in refugee claims from Hong Kong as political turmoil there continues.

The 46 would-be refugees from Hong Kong applied for asylum claims between Jan 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. The claims, which are all pending, were received at airports, Canada Border Security Agency bureaus and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada offices (IRCC) across the country. Many of those claiming asylum in Canada face charges in Hong Kong in connection with the protests.

Wenran Jiang, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, said Canada should proceed cautiously. “If Ottawa officially encourages and offers political asylum to protesters in Hong Kong, even [if] some of them clearly broke the law by being violent, Beijing is likely to interpret such a move as interfering in China’s domestic affairs, leading to adding more chill to an already cold-bilateral relationship.”

Canada’s relations within China deteriorated significantly in late 2018 after Ottawa arrested a Chinese high-tech executive on a U.S. extradition request and Beijing, in what was widely seen as retaliation, locked up two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, who sits on the House of Commons Canada-China committee, said there are valid reasons for granting asylum to pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong. He said he hopes Canada doesn’t turn away these claimants for fear of offending China.

“The adjudication of asylum claims is an independent process and certainly determination should never be influenced by politics or fears of political retaliation,” he said. “We should absolutely be accepting asylum claims on their merit and … based on what I have heard about these claims there is a strong case to be made for their merit given the human rights abuses that we know of in Hong Kong.”

Mr. Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, agrees that Beijing would be displeased if Canada were to grant asylum to Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates, but he also says they merit refuge.

“Given what is happening in Hong Kong and the fact that China is encroaching more and more on the rights of Hong Kong citizens …. clearly these people have a legitimate [reason] to think that their rights will not be respected,” he said.

Mr. Saint-Jacques said he expects there will be a large influx of people coming from Hong Kong in the months ahead, including many of the 300,000 residents of the Asian city who hold Canadian passports.

“I think these people would make a good contribution [to Canada] but the big dilemma for the federal government is that this is happening at the time when we need China’s goodwill to supply medical equipment we are desperate for,” he said.

Mr. Kurland said he thinks the 46 asylum claims may be the beginning of a rise in refugee applicants from Hong Kong.

“There may be legs to this,” he said. “Planning for a sudden climb in Hong Kong refugee claim numbers is prudent.”

Today, as many as 500,000 Canadians of Hong Kong descent live in Canada, according to Hong Kong Watch.

Source: Freeland mum on whether Hong Kong asylum seekers will be granted refuge as bigger wave predicted

Barr Packs Board of Immigration Appeals with Judges Who Denied Asylum Claims at ‘High Rates’

The power of appointments (in Canada, Sean Rehaag has done comparable analysis of IRB board members Refugee approval rates reflect subjectivity of decision-makers, prof says – Montreal – CBC News):

The Trump Administration is making significant moves in an apparent effort to reduce the number of successful migrant applications for asylum at the border. Rather than a ban, which the Trump Administration has explored, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has promoted six immigrations judges to the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) — all of whom have “high rates” of denying asylum claims, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday.

According to the report, the six appointees who were sworn in on Friday will comprise more than 25-percent of the 21-member BIA. In case you are unfamiliar with what this board is for and how powerful it is, don’t worry, the Department of Justice has got you covered [all emphases ours]: 

“The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. It is authorized up to 21 Board Members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman who share responsibility for BIA management. The BIA is located at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Generally, the BIA does not conduct courtroom proceedings – it decides appeals by conducting a “paper review” of cases. On rare occasions, however, the BIA hears oral arguments of appealed cases, predominately at headquarters.

The BIA has been given nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions rendered by immigration judges and by district directors of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a wide variety of proceedings in which the Government of the United States is one party and the other party is an alien, a citizen, or a business firm.

BIA decisions are binding on all DHS officers and immigration judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. Most BIA decisions are subject to judicial review in the federal courts. The majority of appeals reaching the BIA involve orders of removal and applications for relief from removal. Other cases before the BIA include the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States, petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws, and motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previously rendered.”

“Prior to the new rule, the Attorney General’s own decisions were binding on all of DHS, but the BIA’s decisions weren’t binding on the entire system unless a majority of Board members voted to publish them. Currently, this happens about 30 times a year. By giving the Attorney General unilateral power to designate BIA decisions as precedent with the stroke of a pen, the regulation destabilizes the fair checks and balances in the court process.”

The names of the promoted judges: William Cassidy, Earle Wilson, Keith Hunsucker, Deborah Goodwin, Stephanie Gorman, Stuart Couch.

Cassidy and Wilson respectively rejected 95.8-percent and and 98.1-percent of asylum claims between 2013 and 2018; the national denial average was 57.6 percent, the Chronicle reported. (Both of them have inspired complaints of unfairness.) With the national average in mind, consider the other rejection rates added to the board: Hunsucker, 81.6-percent; Goodwin, 89.4-percent; Gorman, 86.9-percent; Couch, 92.1%. These percentages came from data tracked by Syracuse University — data the DOJ claimed it doesn’t track and can’t verify when responding to the Chronicle story.

“DOJ doesn’t track asylum approval and denial rates for individual immigration judges, and (Syracuse) uses its own methodologies in interpreting the data it receives, resulting in conclusions that we cannot verify,” a DOJ spokesperson said. “Collectively these judges … have nearly 120 years of immigration law (experience) through multiple administrations. Advocates that attack their integrity and professionalism only undermine the entire system.”

Source: Barr Packs Board of Immigration Appeals with Judges Who Denied Asylum Claims at ‘High Rates’