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Immigration minister vows faster processing times for refugees

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Minister Ahmed Hussen claims issues to be fixed by 2019
By Michael Swan
TORONTO (CCN) 

 
Photo caption: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen.
 
The problem of long processing times for refugees to Canada will be fixed by 2019, promises Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen.
 
Hussen claims the problems are an overhang from the previous Conservative government and that processing times will shrink to less than 12 months. For refugees coming from some countries, like Ethiopia, it can about six years for a claim to be processed.
 
Hussen says his department is working closely with the Canadian Sponsorship Agreement Holders’ Association, which includes the Archdiocese of Vancouver, to speed up the bureaucratic application process for sponsors. The problem is a backlog of refugees left in limbo from previous years. 
“We inherited those backlogs from the previous government, which allowed those backlogs to balloon irresponsibly,” Hussen told The Catholic Register.
 
The minister promises Canada will take a big bite out of the mounting inventory of refugees who have been promised resettlement in Canada this year. The government has committed to bring in 25,000 government-sponsored refugees and another 16,000 under private sponsorships. Faith groups bring in the majority of the privately sponsored, with various Catholic agencies leading the charge.
 
Higher national targets aren’t solving the problem for local sponsorship agreement holders. The Diocese of London was recently told by the immigration ministry it would be allowed to submit 157 applications this year to sponsor refugees. However, the diocese already has 401 applications ready to submit and the year is only four months old.
 
A survey by Christian think tank Citizens for Public Justice reveals 97 per cent of sponsorship agreement holders are concerned about allocation limits set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
 
Sponsorship agreement holders also worry about the extraordinary effort that has gone into processing Syrian refugees. Since a photo of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach hit front pages around the world in 2015, the concern is that a two-tier refugee system has been created in Canada, where Syrians get prompt processing and refugees from other parts of the world languish.
 
In October 2016, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Bishop Doug Crosby wrote to then-Immigration Minister John McCallum to complain about the same problem.
 
Citizens for Public Justice executive director Joe Gunn said sponsors are waiting. “The sponsoring groups are ready to take more people and there’s no reason to wait six years, six-and-a-half years for people from Ethiopia.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 April 2017 14:14  

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