Refugee system reform at risk as asylum numbers keep climbing: report

Like any such major changes, takes time to assess the results. Overall, a fairly positive evaluation is my take, with recommendations more in the nature of incremental improvements (Evaluation of the In-Canada Asylum System Reforms).

But there appears to be little explanation for the reasons of the increase, only discussion of the possible effects of the increase:

Changes made to Canada’s refugee system in 2012 resulted in faster decisions on asylum claims, but an internal government study warns those improvements may now be at risk.

Several asylum targets weren’t met following the implementation of reforms, despite the fact the government had set aside money to cover twice as many claims as were ultimately received, the study found.

Now, the number of claims is on the rise again.

“If claim intake continues to increase, there is a risk that there may be further challenges meeting targets, that backlogs may grow, and the overall average claimant time in the system may increase,” said an internal evaluation of the reforms posted online by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The latest evaluation comes with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government poised to put additional pressure on the system by undoing another of the changes made by the previous Conservative government.

The primary goal of the changes had been to get claims decided faster, to ensure those in need of asylum were approved more quickly, and those who did not qualify were promptly deported.

The evaluation examined the implementation of two laws that — among other things — created timelines for certain steps in the process and limited avenues of appeal for claimants from certain countries.

Prior to that, however, the Tories also sought to cut off claims at the source by imposing visa restrictions on countries whose nationals were to blame much of the backlog.

One of those countries was Mexico: about 9,000 of 36,759 claims lodged in 2008 came from Mexicans. After visas were imposed in 2009, the number of Mexican claims fell to 1,199.

But this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and announce a plan to lift that visa requirement.

It will come despite objections from departmental officials who fear a new spike in claims and a precedent being set with regards to visas in place on other countries.

The evaluation doesn’t explicitly address the implications of a Mexican visa lift on the system. It was carried out prior to the Liberals winning the election.

But in general, it found, claims are already rising.

The year the reforms were introduced, 20,456 claims were lodged. In 2013, it was only 10,322. In 2014, 13,410 claims were filed, in 2015 over 16,000 and further increases are forecast in the next two years, the evaluation said.

The $259 million spent on the reform project means those seeking asylum now receive a decision on their file about five times faster than those who applied prior to 2012.

Despite that, targets for hearing dates and removals continue to be missed. Among them — the goal of getting 80 per cent of failed claimants out within 12 months of the decision. Just over half were actually removed.

In a formal response to the evaluation, both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency said they were working to plug the gaps.

“Successful delivery of a decentralized asylum system requires close co-operation between independent organizations, while remaining mindful that each organization is independent in delivering on specific decision-making targets,” the government wrote in its response.

“Despite efforts to ensure the smooth management of the asylum system, there are factors that are beyond the control of IRCC and other organizations, such as unpredictable intake and challenges in obtaining travel documents from recalcitrant countries.”

Source: Refugee system reform at risk as asylum numbers keep climbing: report – The Globe and Mail

Canada’s refugee acceptance rate up despite asylum restrictions | Toronto Star

Some of the initial comparative data on the impact of refugee reforms of 2012:

Canada received 20,223 refugee claims in 2012 but the number dropped to 10,356 in 2013 after the asylum reforms. The number of claims climbed last year to 13,652.

The main refugee source countries have remained steady, led by China and Pakistan, with Hungary, Colombia, Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Haiti next; their overall acceptance rate was at 67 per cent in 2014.

The Conservative government introduced the changes to the refugee system in 2012 to crack down on bogus refugee claims from democratic countries and reduce the then growing backlogs by expediting the process.

Processing of new asylum claims is down to three months from more than 20 months under the old system, with the backlog reduced by two-thirds to 9,877 claims — one-fifth of them in the system for more than three years — from the peak of 30,750 in 2012.

“I’m heartened that under the new system, Canada is still granting refugee protection to a significant number of claimants,” said Osgoode Hall Law School professor Sean Rehaag. “The overall figures challenge the government’s assertion that Canada is having its generosity abused by fraudulent claimants.”

Canada’s refugee acceptance rate up despite asylum restrictions | Toronto Star.

The attached table provides the details:

2014

2013

China

42%

34%

Pakistan

78%

72%

Hungary

35%

20%

Colombia

52%

38%

Syria

93%

90%

Nigeria

53%

35%

India

18%

15%

Korea (North)

0%

0%

Afghanistan

77%

71%

Haiti

41%

40%

Congo

43%

49%

Iraq

82%

63%

Sri Lanka

58%

51%

Croatia

11%

11%

Slovakia

52%

8%

Ukraine

59%

41%

Bangladesh

64%

39%

Iran

71%

75%

Egypt

86%

89%

Somalia

54%

59%