GOLDSTEIN: Immigration minister admits asylum system in crisis

For more than a month, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has been accusing critics who say our asylum system for border crossers is in crisis of engaging in “misleading, divisive, and dangerous” political rhetoric.

Well, as it turns out, he conceded there’s a crisis in an Aug. 14 letter to the Canadian Bar Association.

In the correspondence to Barbara Jo Caruso, chair of the immigration law section of the CBA, obtained by the National Post, Hussen acknowledged the number of asylum seekers is rising “far beyond” what the system can handle.

He called the situation “not sustainable” and that “without changes to improve efficiency and productivity of the asylum process, wait times and backlogs will only continue to grow.”

That flies in the face of a July 17 column Hussen penned for the Toronto Star headlined “Canada’s border control system is working, Ahmed Hussen writes.”

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In it, Hussen accused federal and Ontario “Conservative politicians” of “peddling false information to stoke fear when it comes to those seeking asylum in Canada.”

Insisting Canada has a “strict and efficient immigration and border-control system,” Hussen said it was “time for the misleading, divisive, and dangerous political rhetoric to end, and to set the record straight.”

Hussen used similar rhetoric emerging from a July 13 meeting with provincial immigration ministers, where the Ontario government demanded $200 million from Ottawa to pay for the costs of housing asylum seekers.

He accused Ontario Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod, who is responsible for immigration, of being “not Canadian,” “divisive” and “fearmongering” for falsely suggesting border crossers are jumping the queue and that the system is in crisis.

On Saturday, MacLeod tweeted: “Given the leaked memo in today’s news from Ahmed Hussen, I’m going to leave this right here again. Throwing words like un Canadian and racist around to attack women who disagree (or is it agree ??) with him when he knows better is pretty low. Divisive politics by the Liberals.”

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Federal Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel, a frequent target of attack by the Liberals for warning the asylum system is in chaos, tweeted, “Well, well, well” in response to the revelation.

A spokesman for Hussen told the Post that in describing the current situation regarding asylum seekers as “far beyond” what the existing system can handle and “not sustainable”, the minister was referring to the backlog of claims that started under the previous Conservative government, and that the Trudeau government is allocating resources to address it.

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It’s true Canada’s refugee determination process has been struggling to keep up with demand for years.

But an independent review of the system ordered by the Trudeau government itself in 2017, and released in June, said the recent surge of border crossings has made the problem much worse.

As it reported:

“Today, the refugee determination system is at a crossroads. Once again it is dealing with a surge in claims that it is ill-equipped to manage, running the risk of creating a large backlog that, if not tackled promptly, may take years to bring to final resolution.

“This Independent Review was initiated due to lower than expected productivity at the Refugee Protection Division, which became apparent as intake increased in 2015 and 2016. Thus, the review was directed before the latest surge of claims began in earnest, adding additional urgency to the review work.

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“Not only have claims substantially increased in 2017, reaching almost 50,000 in the calendar year, but the surge has been dominated by illegal border crossings in an effort by claimants to avoid the provisions of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which would likely make many ineligible to file a refugee claim in Canada.”

Instead of calling its critics racists for accurately describing the current situation as a crisis, insisting instead it is merely a receding “challenge” because the number of asylum seekers has recently declined, the Trudeau government should acknowledge reality.

Now that even their own immigration minister, who has been publicly claiming the opposite, has admitted there’s a crisis.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies