Ottawa begins fast-tracking asylum claims from selected countries

While there are risks involved, there does appear to have been careful consideration in terms of the groups and circumstances subject to fast-tracking. And given the backlog and numbers, some form of triage is necessary to separate out more straightforward cases from more complex:

Overwhelmed by asylum claims from irregular migrants crossing the U.S. border, the Immigration and Refugee Board is fast-tracking “less complex” cases from selected countries.

On Tuesday, refugee judges began assessing claims under what is known as a file-review process — meaning a decision is made based on submissions from claimants — without a hearing — and a short-hearing process, where there are few disputable issues.

“These new instructions are examples of initiatives recently put in place to slow the growth of the inventory and wait times for claimants,” refugee board chairman Richard Wex told the Star. “By matching our efforts with the complexity of each claim, we are using our resources more effectively, which will result in more refugee claim decisions.”

The latest statistics show the board has more than 73,000 outstanding claims and the wait time for a hearing now hovers at around 24 months. Many of the claims are from asylum seekers who came through the U.S.-Canada border since late 2015 after U.S. President Donald Trump came into the office with a mandate to crack down on illegal migrants.

In December, the board started triaging the claims based on two newly created lists of countries and claims. In total, 25 refugee judges have been assigned to the new effort.

To qualify for the file-review process, a claimant must be from one of 14 countries: Afghanistan, Burundi, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen.

However, not every claim from these countries will be automatically expedited.

For instance, only those Saudi Arabian claims alleging persecution based on gender or religious sect can be assessed without a hearing. For asylum seekers from Libya, claims must involve corruption, extortion, kidnapping or threat of kidnapping by militias.

Only some claims from 11 countries are recommended for short hearings: sexual orientation persecution in the Bahamas, Barbados, Iran, Russia, Rwanda and Venezuela; fleeing criminality and corruption in Nigeria, Peru, Saint Vincent and St. Lucia; and threats in Djibouti due to one’s political opinion and activism.

According to the refugee board, these countries and claims were selected for faster processing because they have an acceptance rate of 80 per cent or higher and the type of risks the asylum seekers face are generally well documented.

Officials said a failed claimant under the file-review process is entitled to a full hearing by a refugee judge.

Source: Ottawa begins fast-tracking asylum claims from selected countriesThe Immigration and Refugee Board now fast-tracks “less complex” asylum claims by reviewing evidence without a full hearing as backlog climbs to 74,000 cases with wait times of up to 24 months.

In contrast to the neutral reporting, a typical example of over the top conservative commentary rather than a measured discussion of the risks involved.

The Conservatives also introduced streamlined and tighter processes under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act with mixed success (Former Tory government’s refugee reforms get failing grade | The Star:

The Trudeau government is fast-tracking the approval process for asylum claimants coming from the world’s most violent and dangerous societies.

As I first reported in April 2017, the government was looking at ways to rubber stamp claimants to address the massive backlog of asylum applications that has accumulated in recent years.

This week, they finally rolled out their new controversial process.

Under the new system, individuals from select countries will be accepted as refugees without ever having to present their case in person or appear before an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) judge.

Instead, they’ll be waved through based on what they call a “file review” — a paper application often filled out by a trained immigration lawyer or consultant.

The government justifies these changes by saying the new rules only affect “less complex” cases — in essence, cases dealing with people coming from refugee-producing countries.

The problem is that refugee-producing countries can also be terrorist-producing countries.

According to a notice posted by the IRB, the new rubber stamp program will apply to “all claims” from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Burundi and Eritrea.

Other countries whose citizens are now eligible for fast-tracked acceptance into Canada include Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, Turkey and Egypt.

These changes come just weeks after we learned that a person considered a “national security concern” was admitted to Canada and granted permanent residency.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said this was “entirely unacceptable” and the CBSA president said it was the result of “a series of failures.”

Skipping IRB interviews will only make Canada more vulnerable.

The new fast-tracked system was designed to address the backlog of over 64,000 applications that has grown alongside the dramatic spike in asylum applications and the ongoing crisis of illegal border crossers circumventing Canada’s immigration and border laws.

In 2017, 50,390 migrants entered Canada legally and illegally to make refugee claims. That number jumped to 55,695 last year.

The Trudeau government has done little to stop the record surge in asylum claimants. In fact, there’s ample evidence that the feds are helping to facilitate illegal border crossers.

Just look at Roxham Road — home to 95% of all illegal crossings.

The feds built a land-bridge to make it easier for migrants to enter Canada illegally. They set up a makeshift border station to start processing asylum claims, and they began to offer shuttle bus services to bring migrants to Montreal and Toronto — where they’re given access to government-funded housing, healthcare and other taxpayer-funded services.

The Trudeau government has repeatedly created incentives and encouraged people to come to Canada to make asylum claims. And now, to deal with the backlog that they themselves created, they’re waving through asylum claimants from violent, dangerous and unstable parts of the world.

Rather than carefully and methodically reviewing cases presented by asylum claimants, the government is now skipping important steps and rushing through the process.

But without so much as a short interview with an immigration judge, how can we be sure that the individuals are fleeing violence and are not part of the violence?

The Trudeau government haphazardly opened our borders and invited the world’s migrants to come to Canada. Now, the government is quietly chipping away at the safeguards that were designed to keep Canadians safe.

Source: MALCOLM: Feds roll out fast-tracking for asylum claimants from dangerous countries

KHATTAB: We Need to Make Room for People to Change

Khattab responds to earlier columns by Candace Malcolm (Controversial Islamic groups receive Canada Summer Jobs Grants):

In a series of columns published by the SUN this past spring, Candice Malcolm not only made several erroneous claims about Muslim organizations receiving funding from the federal government for Canada’s Summer Jobs grant, but she also did something more deplorable that I feel needs to be talked about.

Like many individuals in these divisive times, she erased the space we must afford people who are willing to change their problematic views.

I have come to terms with and apologized for misinformed and insensitive comments I made about members of the LGBTQ2S community in 2012.

Since that time, I have made concerted and humble efforts to learn more about my unconscious biases and unlearn the incorrect beliefs I had towards individuals who are different from me in the near past.

I have connected with LGBTQ2S people who have graciously been willing to spend time learning from one another about life, culture and faith.

I have started developing more critical awareness of where I get my information and actively seek out new viewpoints, even if I feel uncomfortable.

Through dialogue and actively seeking knowledge, I continue to stand by my faith’s definition of traditional marriage while accepting members of the LGTQ2S as my brothers and sisters in humanity.

This response isn’t about me though. It is about how I was afforded a place where I am able to become more aware and can continue the process of cultivating a more compassionate and accepting ethos.

I wouldn’t have been able to do these things without the space to be humbled and vulnerable about what I do not know.

Confronting deeply entrenched biases and prejudices, as well as understanding our complicity in the systems that cultivate them is a lifelong process – one to which I have made a commitment. It should be a lifelong process because those systems of disenfranchisement are all around us as long as they remain standing; they are immersive.

Malcolm did not leave space for discovery and change. In her articles about me, she purposely left out the years of work I have done and continue to do.

This sends a dangerous message to readers, particularly in politically polarized times. It tells people that if you have a change of heart or you mature in your understanding of society and culture, there are no second chances.

Now, more than ever, we need to give second chances to the remorseful.

As an Imam I live by the principles of my faith – including justice, equality, tolerance, freedoms and human rights – and I have dedicated many years to spreading knowledge, advancing dialogue and supporting families and youth.

Ultimately, people who persist in actively preaching hate speech ought to be unequivocally  condemned outright and/or prosecuted. But if someone accepts the consequences of their past words and actions, and shows they are willing to learn how they were wrong, we must as a society make room for  restorative justice.

It is the health and cohesion of our collective communities that hang in the balance. A place like Canada – while still having its own work to do – has afforded me the humility and vulnerability to admit I should have known better and strive to do better.

It is part of the ideals Canadians should continuously strive towards that makes me proud to live here.

Dr. Mustafa Khattab is a member of the Canadian Council of Imams and a Fulbright Interfaith Scholar. He’s currently the senior Imam of the Anatolia Islamic Centre, Mississauga, Canada.

Source: KHATTAB: We Need to Make Room for People to Change

M-103 weaponizes what a ‘phobia’ is: Candice Malcolm

If only the federal Conservatives and conservative media had as much sense as the Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown (“hate is hate”).

The definition issue is a ‘blue herring’ as there is the existing definition of the Runnymede Trust and the Canadian Heritage committee will no doubt develop a working definition (as was done for antisemitism):

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, defined by an excessive and irrational fear of an object or situation.

It’s a medical condition, and clinical psychologists study the impact of this persistent and often debilitating illness.

But what was once a scientific term of measurable phenomenon, has now been manipulated for political purposes.

First, it was used pejoratively to describe those who oppose gay marriage.

Some activists learned that calling their opponents “homophobic” was more effective than getting into the weeds of the historic definition of marriage — and why it ought to be expanded to include same-sex relationships.

The tactic was successful, and other groups began using the “phobia” card to stifle debate and paint their opponents as bigots.

Today’s “phobias” no longer describe an irrational fear or anxiety disorder, but a person with the wrong opinion about an issue.

Homophobia, for example, is now defined as “a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality … often related to religious beliefs.”

At least homophobia has a common definition.

Other new phobias, such as “Islamophobia”, have no agreed upon definition.

The term “Islamophobia” was popularized in the 1990s by a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood that promotes Sharia law.

It was introduced to promote victimhood amongst Muslims.

A former adherent of this group, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, now rejects Islamist ideology and says this of Islamophobia: “This loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.”

The ultimate purpose was to advance the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission — to impose Sharia law — by silencing critics and stifling free debate.

Islamophobia is more than just a new buzzword.

Its origins are tied to organizations that advocate for Islamist theocracy and to countries that impose barbaric blasphemy laws against those who criticize Islam.

This didn’t stop our Parliament, led by Liberal MP Irqa Khalid, from passing a motion specifically condemning “Islamophobia” earlier this year.

Conservative MPs offered an olive branch, suggesting the motion remove the term “Islamophobia” and replace it with a universal condemnation of “all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination.”

The Liberals rejected this compromise.

The heritage committee is now studying ways to implement a “whole-of-government” approach to combatting this vague, politicized concept.

But Canada already has laws on the books covering a range of crimes that could be motivated by hatred and bigotry.

In fact, Canada has some of the English-speaking world’s most draconian rules prohibiting “hate speech” — another often vague and politicized concept.

Some hate speech laws are administered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which many see as Canada’s own version of a kangaroo court.

Canadians should be worried that M-103 may provide such bodies with more ammunition for their social justice crusades, and more power to stomp on our freedoms and impose penalties for “wrongthink”.

That’s the thing about M-103. At best, it’s sloppy and redundant grandstanding — a waste of time and resources.

At worst, it’s an exercise in the weaponization of words — a deliberate effort to stifle speech and carve out new immunity for Islamists trying to impose their religion on others.

Either way, most Canadians rightly reject this nonsense.

An Angus Reid poll found 42% of Canadians would have voted against M-103, with only 29% in support.

A mere 12% said it would be effective.

If only our Liberal government had as much common sense.

Source: M-103 weaponizes what a ‘phobia’ is | MALCOLM | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto S

Ahmed Hussen, my kind of Muslim | Tarek Fatah

Interesting to see the various sources of praise for the new Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on both sides of the political spectrum (Candace Malcolm, former Conservative communications assistant and Sun columnist tweeted her support and subsequently wrote a column Ahmed Hussen has shown courage and conviction).

Will be interesting to see how long this lasts as he makes policy decisions or implements existing one’s (i.e., C-6 repealing of the revocation and other provisions  of the previous government’s C-24):

On Jan. 10, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a decision that made ripples throughout the world.

From Singapore to India, to the BBC and beyond, the only news from Canada that made headlines was about Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-born refugee who arrived on our shores in 1993 and rose to become our Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

For spotting talent and lifting a backbencher into the Privy Council, I tip my hat to Trudeau.

For hundreds of thousands of African-Canadian boys and girls, Ahmed Hussen’s story is a beacon of hope.

(Readers should know Hussen is a close friend, though we disagree on much.)

He first came to my attention at the height of Ontario’s historic (and successful) fight rejecting the use of Sharia law in family law arbitration matters in 2004-2005.

On one side was the mosque establishment and many Islamic clerics who had set up quasi courts and appointed “Qazis” to invoke Islamic Sharia in settling family disputes.

Opposing them was a much smaller group of secular and liberal Muslims – including yours truly – for whom this was a do-or-die moment.

We knew how the UK had let this happen many years before, only to discover, too late, the Muslim community of Britain being held hostage by Islamic clerics.

At the time, Hussen was a Liberal staffer with ties to then Ontario cabinet minister George Smitherman.

Along with another Muslim staffer, Hussen helped us connect with Smitherman, where we made our case to ban Sharia courts in Ontario.

While Hussen supported our goals, he never crossed the line to help us more than what was appropriate, transparent and above board.

That same year, the Toronto Star listed Hussen as a “Person to Watch”.

People were already noticing the lanky lad from Regent Park, but I am not sure Hussen knew that at the time.

When asked by the Star if he had political ambitions, the future immigration minister said, “I don’t think I could handle the life of a politician . . . I don’t want to be front and centre.”

A community organizer in Regent Park, when the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) tried to pigeonhole Canadian-born kids of Somali ancestry as “Somali kids” in 2014, Hussen led the fight against this paternalistic orientalism, denouncing attempts by the board to segregate in the name of integration.

He told the TDSB: “Do you need to stigmatize and marginalize people to help them? … In the name of ‘help’ you can actually do a lot of damage if you don’t do it the right way.”

Canadians concerned about the global and Canadian rise of Islamism and jihad should be reassured they have an ally in Hussen.

Here is what he told the U.S. Committee on Homeland Security hearings in Washington in July 2007, in criticizing the idea of treating terrorism only as a criminal offence:

“The strategy of Canadian officials as they confront this phenomenon in my community has been to view this serious matter only through the prism of law enforcement … There has not been a parallel attempt to counter the toxic, anti-Western narrative that creates a culture of victimhood in the minds of members of our community.”

Hussen is already showing his mettle. On Monday, he told CBC News he was committed to bringing non-Muslim Yazidi refugees, victims of ISIS, to Canada, a group that has been largely excluded so far.

Source: Ahmed Hussen, my kind of Muslim | Fatah | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Sun

Trudeau’s citizenship policies are about scoring votes | Malcolm

Standard simplistic analysis by Malcolm.

While her general points are valid re importance of language, the language requirements are only being relaxed for 55-64 year olds, about 6-8 percent of those tested, and the government is not changing the requirement for the knowledge test or interview to be conducted in an official language. One can disagree with this change but the sky is not falling.

And, as both media articles and C-6 hearing testimony to date attest, there was and is pressure to relax these ongoing requirements, so any ‘pandering’ (or responding to constituents)  was limited:

Beyond economics, newcomers who learn our language will integrate better in Canadian society. Language skills help newcomers make new friends and adjust to life in Canada. In a Statistics Canada research study, 96% of immigrants said learning English was important or very important to life in Canada.

Perhaps most compelling of all, a new government report found that speaking English or French in Canada has significant health implications.

A recent Statistics Canada report found that newcomers with poor English or French skills were three times more likely to report ill health than newcomers with strong language skills. This decline in health is particularly widespread amongst older immigrants.

The report found that “limited official language proficiency was strongly associated with a transition to poor health among male and female immigrants who had earlier reported good health.”

People who were healthy when they arrived in Canada became sick, just because they didn’t learn our language.

Yet, the Trudeau government is eliminating the requirement for newcomers to learn English, particularly for older immigrants who are more likely to get sick without language skills.

When newcomers arrive in Canada, they need encouragement to begin the integration process. The language requirement for citizenship is a great incentive. It urges newcomers to take a language training course – funded by the taxpayers and free of charge to newcomers – and start communicating in English in their every day lives.

When the government drops that incentive, it allows newcomers to retreat into their own ethnic communities. It becomes a barrier and stops them from branching out.

This is bad for Canada, but it’s also bad for the individual newcomers. It makes them more isolated, more sick, and less wealthy.

So why is the Trudeau government ignoring the facts, overlooking the data, and snubbing the experts on this topic?

The answer is simple. Politics.

Trudeau is catering to the demands of special interest groups who want quick and easy access to Canadian citizenship. They are rushing to turn newly arriving immigrants into voting citizens, and “reducing the barriers” to citizenship simply to earn votes and lifelong political allegiances.

Source: Trudeau’s citizenship policies are about scoring votes | Malcolm | Columnists |

Terrorist scumbag doesn’t deserve citizenship | Candace Malcolm | Toronto Sun

Expressed more simply but using the same strand of arguments as in John Ibbitson’s Dual nationals convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying don’t deserve to keep Canadian citizenship:

Now, the Liberal government is not only saying this man can stay in Canada, but they are also honouring him with citizenship.

Does the Trudeau government plan to send a citizenship judge into Amara’s prison cell to host a citizenship ceremony? Will he be asked to utter the oath of citizenship, and pledge allegiance to Canada and the Queen? Maybe Trudeau will show up for a selfie.

This is an absolute mockery of our citizenship. This scumbag does not deserve the privilege of being Canadian.

And yet, the Trudeau government is going out of its way to grant citizenship to a person who, judging by his actions, has a hatred for Canadians. We are bestowing the privilege and honour of Canadian citizenship upon a radicalized self-confessed Islamic terrorist who conspired to wage war against Canada.

Immigration minister John McCallum justified the move by saying, “Canadian citizens are equal under the law.”

That’s just not the case. In Canada, much like every other Western country, a person convicted of an indictable offence loses many of the rights and privileges that come along with citizenship. Serious criminals are no longer equal under the law.

Amara committed the modern day equivalent of high treason. He should not be treated equally to law-abiding Canadian citizens.

When Amara is released from prison, we should be showing him the door, not handing him Canadian citizenship papers.

Source: Terrorist scumbag doesn’t deserve citizenship | Malcolm | Columnists | Opinion |