I have been involved in immigration for 18 years — first as a senior provincial official, and more recently, through my own licensed business. The recent increase in asylum seekers coming across the border is causing significant concern for me, my staff and my clients.
The processing time for business immigrants has increased by about 30 per cent under the current Liberal government and is rising. The promised reduction in family-class processing times has not materialized in the slightest and there are seemingly endless delays.
Our practice has roughly 200 clients at any one time, comprising students, business immigrants, family-category and skilled workers. We have a business immigrant from Iran, who is now in his sixth year of waiting; we have Filipino parents who applied five years ago; we have a skilled worker — who is now in the fourth year of waiting. Private refugees regularly have to wait half a decade, but more often than not, they are not accepted at all. Where is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s compassion for these people?
My staff and my clients watch each week as new numbers are announced of dozens illegally crossing the border near Emerson. We hear about how they are processed within 60 days of their applications being made — and that, even if they fail to be approved as refugees, most are still allowed to remain, and as long as they arrived illegally, they are not being sent back to the United States or to their home country.
Ninety-seven per cent of our immigrants and refugees are processed by officers in visa posts and centres. These officers do their work diligently, ensuring that all documents are included, all security and criminal checks are done. If there is a document missing, they will be refused. Processing takes years under almost any category.
The other three per cent who claim asylum in Canada are treated differently. They are processed in 60 days. Many toss away their identity documents as they cross the border, making it more difficult to determine who they are, where they have been or how they entered the U.S. Legal applicants must have perfect documents for identity, education, taxation, bank accounts, passports, etc. One missing document or wrong checkmark and they can — and will — be refused.
Unlike all the rest of the applicants, these in-Canada applicants are not approved by officers, but are adjudicated by politically appointed tribunals, some of whom have no background in either immigration or security. The tight time frames mean there is no chance full screening can be undertaken for these applicants. If applying normally, it is up to the applicant to prepare all the documents and come up with the supporting information such as police checks. Alternatively, if one enters Canada illegally, the onus is on the government to determine whether one has a criminal record or poses a security threat.
Much has been made of the travel ban being attempted by the current U.S. president, but not a single mainstream news outlet in Canada has reported that we have had an effective travel ban on Somalian tourists, workers and students for at least six years. Yet when Somalians cross the border illegally, they are processed within 60 days. The normal processing time for refugees in this part of the world is 12 to 24 months if they are applying from refugee camps (the UNHCR has already vetted them). For U.S. asylum seekers, the processing time is at least 18 months. These times are not arbitrary, but are the length of time it takes to investigate security and criminality.
I am contacted by people from around the world asking me for help in getting them to Canada illegally. Despite offers of tens of thousands of dollars per person, I always refuse. They know that the approval rate is around 65 per cent if they can get to Canada illegally, compared with the U.S., for which it is only 18 per cent. They also know that for those who are refused, around half are allowed to stay using other processes. Obviously, others have no qualms about accepting the money for helping these people cross illegally, and regularly provide this kind of service to those entering Canada. The press laps it up, celebrating these illegal entrants as heroes, and all the while my law-abiding clients wait and wait and wait.
Canada can take only a certain number of newcomers every year — and can properly process only 250,000 to 300,000 per year. To give those entering illegally such advantages over others is a huge slap on the face for the 97 per cent who believe they should follow the rules and obey the laws. I have no doubt which ones I want to help build our country in the future.