Afghan refugee sponsorship quota should be scrapped, urge feds supporters – National | Globalnews.ca

Advocacy group urges feds to remove limit on sponsorship applications for some Afghan refugees in Canada _ or at least stop counting rejected applications to it.

The government launched a new program last month to allow Canadian individuals and organizations to sponsor up to 3,000 Afghan refugees who do not have refugee status from the United Nations Refugee Agency or a foreign state.

It said it would accept sponsorship applications under the new program until October 17, 2023, or once it receives applications from 3,000 refugees, whichever comes first.

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Canadians helping Afghan refugees frustrated by private sponsorship programs

In a letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser last week, a volunteer with Northern Lights Canada, a nonprofit that helps Afghan refugees in Toronto, said the program’s new cap is “very detrimental” to the accommodations made for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada.

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“Minister Fraser, I urge you to reconsider the design of the Afghan special program,” Heather Finley wrote in her letter dated October 22.

“By increasing the applicant quota and removing rejected applications, you will give Afghans in Canada a more fair and equitable opportunity to sponsor their families to join them here.

Stephen Watt, co-founder of Northern Lights Canada, said the new program falls far short of meeting the needs of Afghan refugees and their families and friends in Canada.

“Just having 3,000 points in a crisis where millions of people have been displaced very recently. It’s insulting,” he said in an interview.

Nearly 109,000 Ukrainians arrived in Canada between January 1 and October 23 under special government programs to help an unlimited number of Ukrainians and their family members flee the war in Ukraine to Security.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has pledged to resettle a total of 40,000 Afghan refugees after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August last year, and less than 23,000 have arrived in Canada so far. here.

Click to play video: “NDP accuses Ottawa of losing 2,900 files of Afghans who helped Canada”

NDP accuses Ottawa of losing 2,900 files of Afghans who helped Canada

Immigration Department spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois said the program that brought Ukrainians to Canada uses the department’s existing temporary resident visa processes, networks and infrastructure to bring the as soon as possible.

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“It is not a program for refugees, unlike our refugee resettlement program in Afghanistan, since Ukrainians have indicated that they need temporary refuge,” she said.

“Many of them intend to return to their home countries when it is safe to do so.”

Dubois said the government has provided an additional 3,000 places for organizations wishing to sponsor Afghan refugees on top of the 3,000 places under the new special program.

“We are also processing existing and new private sponsorship applications for up to 7,000 Afghan refugees,” she said.

Watt said the new scheme’s application system crashed shortly after the government opened it at midnight on October 17 due to many people rushing to submit applications.

He said many are likely to end up being rejected for technical reasons, as the government has said it will only process the first 3,000 applicants and therefore sponsors need to fundraise and write their sponsorship applications quickly.

“It’s so disappointing,” he said.

“This announcement whether (nominations) are good or bad, we are always going to count them in the total. So what it did was create this condition where people were frantically rushing to prepare nominations.

Dubois confirmed that the government will count all completed applications towards the new program’s 3,000 limit and said the department is currently reviewing applications received to determine if it has reached that cap.

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Click to play the video:

Canada ‘stands firm’ on commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees: Trudeau

“We understand that some customers have experienced issues when submitting an application. No applications were lost as the files were automatically backed up,” Dubois said.

“Applications are reviewed on a first-in, first-out basis to determine completeness. We will continue to send acknowledgments for applications deemed complete and accepted for processing.

Watt said the government should remove the cap on the number of Afghan refugees who can be privately sponsored for a year to allow people to work on sponsorship applications – which he says can take months to prepare because the requirements are so strict and excessive.

“If you had a family of seven that can cost $70,000, you have to get together. You must line up all sponsorship documents. You have to write the request,” he said.

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“Fulfilling PDFs perfectly in perfect English when you’re a new Canadian, and having to take on the challenge of these applications which are very demanding even for people who are perfectly fluent in English and who have a great deal of computer skills.

Andrew Griffith, former director of the Federal Department of Immigration, said he was not aware of any government immigration or refugee program that counted rejected applications against the target other than the new special program for Afghan refugees.

Click to play the video:

Canada has admitted more than 12,600 Afghan refugees, with 2 more flights arriving ‘later this week’: Lalonde

He said many criticized the government for apparently prioritizing Ukrainian refugees over Afghan refugees.

“The situation for both groups of refugees is dire in many cases,” he said. “I’m not trying to apply value statements to this, but it highlights another divergence between the two refugee groups in my view.”

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Griffith said it’s true that Ukrainians officially come to Canada on temporary visas, but many of them may end up staying here.

“In reality, how many people accepted from Ukraine will come back?” he said. “I think most of them would probably like to go. I do not deny it. But it depends on the situation. »


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