Leave it to the Tories to present immigration legislation that makes it more difficult for refugees to get a fair shake. In response to the two boatloads of Tamil refugee claimants that arrived in B.C. earlier in the year, the Tories are proposing "get tough" legislation that would:
- Expose people who innocently assist refugees to prosecution for human smuggling if they were “reckless” when they provided help.
-Apply to any group of two or more claimants who arrive together, be it by land, sea or air. Any such group can be designated by the minister as an “irregular arrival.” If the government chooses, the vast majority of refugees who come to Canada can be designated and subject to all of the sanctions of the law.
- Deem claimants who are designated as part of an irregular arrival are subject to immediate and mandatory detention without any possibility of review for 12 months. No exceptions are made for women or children, although the minister has the discretion to allow release in “exceptional circumstances.”
- Cause designated claimants to lose many of the rights available to them under the UN refugee convention.
- Eliminate the right of designated refugees to get travel documents for five years.
- Prevent designated claimants from applying for permanent residence for five years.
- Deny designated claimants the right to apply to be reunited with their families during the five-year period and for years after.
- Greatly expands the power of the government to detain non-citizens.
- Require that a person be detained while the minister investigates a suspicion that they might have committed a criminal offence outside of Canada.
- Eliminate the right of appeal against some adverse decisions made by the Immigration and Refugee Board.
The Tory proposal is nothing short of draconian. It is designed to close the door to Canadian immigration, especially to the most needy of the world's peoples. In my opinion, it is not only anti-immigrant: it's anti-Canadian.
Please contact your Member of Parliament and protest this devastating proposal.
Read the Star editorial article by Lorne Waldman which details the proposed legislation
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