A Refugee Law Office Weighs in on the Issue

In July 2013, former immigration minister Jason Kenney vowed to resettle 1,300 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of the following year (1,100 were to be resettled by the private sector, while the government vowed to look after 200). The promise stemmed from one of the world’s biggest refugee crises (there are now 3.8 million Syrian refugees, making them the largest refugee population in the world and an estimated 11 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes since the county erupted in civil war in March 2011) and a plead from the United Nations for Canada’s assistance. Though immigration lawyers in Canada and almost every refugee law office took the promise with good faith, by November 2014 (one month away from the promised deadline) less than 500 refugees had been settled, a fact that generated much criticism from the public. It was not until March 2015 that the 2013 promise was finally met.

One of the explanations the Citizenship and Immigration department gave for the 2013 refugee resettlement delay was insufficient funding (according to the department the refugee resettlement assistance program’s budget is $54.9 million). As a result, many immigration lawyers in Canada and refugee law offices alike were surprised when, in January of this year, the government and new immigration minister, Chris Alexander, extended the promise to include 10,000 refugees over the next three years (the current promised date falls at the end of 2017). Of the 10,000 refugees, the government has promised to sponsor 40 percent while the remaining 60 percent will be taken care of by the private sector.

It’s been eight months since the government’s commitment and the answer every refugee law office wants to know is how much of this new quota has been met. Though the media and immigration lawyers in Canada have asked for a public answer, the government has stated they will only release the numbers to those who file a request for access to the information and pay a fee.

The government’s apparent lack of transparency on this issue, especially right on the heels of the delayed 2013 commitment, has immigration lawyers, refugee law offices and the public demanding answers. Several big media sources, who believe the public has a right to this updated information, have already spoken out on the subject.

For more information and advice on refugee resettlement in Canada, book a consultation with an experienced refugee law office today.

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