Aug. 2017: A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs migrants of their rights at an illegal border crossing in Quebec from the U.S. into Canada. PHOTO: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Canada’s refugee hearing board overwhelmed


This week Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)  admits it is being swamped by the increase in asylum claims.  It appears the Board has given up on trying to meet the regulations saying it must hear asylum claims within a specific time frame.

IRB Website : We will excel in everything we do and will deal simply, quickly and fairly with everyone. …. Our mission…is to resolve immigration and refugee cases efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law.

However, those goals on its website, now are in a contrast with Tuesday’s statement on its website  in which the IRB says that since January 2017, the backlog has been growing at a rate of approximately 2,100 cases per month, on average. The largest increase thus far, which was approximately 6,200 cases, occurred in September 2017.

Aug 2017:Asylum seekers step out of a tent to receive lunch near an illegal crossing point in Quebec from the U.S into Canada PHOTO: Graham Hughes/Canadian Press

Almost 50,000 refugee claims were filed in 2017, with about 18,000 coming from people who crossed illegally into Canada from the U.S.

The backlog has now reached about 43,000 cases with the IRB saying the waiting time for a hearing is almost 2 years.

In 2012 a new system was devised dividing claimants by their country of origin and attaching time limits of between 30 to 60 days depending on where the claim was filed and their country of origin. This meant that often new cases were prioritized over older ones thereby creating a longer delay for many cases.

Aug 2017: A family from Haiti haul their luggage towards the Canada-US border before crossing illegally into Quebec to claim asylum  PHOTO: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The problem is compounded by appeals of IRB decisions. Even as new claims mount on one end,  while appeals of decisions from Refugee Appeal Division and the Federal Court which must be heard,  are backing up on the other end adding to the already increasing backlog of older claims still waiting to be heard.

The IRB says it can no longer follow the set regulations and simply –with some exceptions such as in the case of minors, try to hear cases in the order in which they have been received.

With an excess backlog that began to build in 2014, the Liberal government promised changes but has yet to announce them.

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Categories: Immigration & Refugees, Politics, Society
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