Refugee Rights Day

Tuesday April 4th is Refugee Rights Day in Canada. Canada’s reputation as a refugee receiving country is at an all-time high. Our private sponsorship program is particularly admired, but there’s room for improvement – especially around family re-unification.

To welcome a refugee family and then to effectively close the door on their refugee relatives is not much of a welcome. They end up more alienated and alone than ever and struggle to think of Canada as “home”. There are many families in Atlantic Canada we would like to help but we are very limited by the number of applications we can submit.

In the last two years, the CBAC has applied for about 500 refugees to come to Atlantic Canada. 303 arrived in 2016 alone. Most of these were refugees recommended to us by the government and matched with a sponsorship group.

The newcomers are now asking us to sponsor their refugee relatives. We also now know of other specific refugees, including at risk Christians, who we would like to help bring here. However, while there is no limit on “matched” sponsorships, we and other Sponsorship Agreement Holders, are very limited on the number of “named” sponsorships we can submit.

Our allocation for 2017 is 48 spaces. That’s 48 individuals, not families. These spaces are already assigned and we have waiting lists for 2018 and 2019. Once an application is submitted, you can wait years for the arrival. One of our Fredericton churches has been waiting 6 years for a refugee out of Kenya. A Moncton church recently submitted an application for the 16 year-old daughter of a family who arrived last year. She is living in Africa with neighbours and is very vulnerable. However, there is no guarantee that her case won’t also take years.

Around April 4 the Canadian Council for Refugees, sponsorship organizations, and concerned citizens are calling on our government to prioritize family re-unification and fast track applications.

Could you write to your MP about this? THANK YOU!!

Here’s more information about the campaign: http://ccrweb.ca/en/family-reunification

Here’s a list of MPs. Clicking on the name gives you their email and constituency address. http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members?view=List.

Here’s a sample letter (which can be sent postage free to Ottawa):

Mr./Ms. [Name], MP
(add Hon. before the name and PC, MP after if your MP is or was a cabinet member)
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear ________________________________ ,

Thank you for serving our constituency. April 4 is Refugee Rights Day. While I am thankful that Canada is a world leader in refugee protection and resettlement, there is an area of our refugee program that needs your attention, namely Family Re-unification.

  • We applaud recent IRCC efforts to speed up processing for Family Class applications, but all families are equal. Therefore, I ask for…
  • the same standard short processing times for spouses and children in all categories and regions, especially for refugees, who have not willingly left family, and especially in Africa, where wait times are untenable.
  • firm measures ensuring expedited processing for children at risk.
  • family re-unification to be a governing priority of all refugee streams (Government, Blended and Privately Sponsored) and that more spaces be allocated to Sponsorship Agreement Holders for family reunification. (Family-linked sponsorships are extremely successful and cost-effective.)
  • the repeal of the Excluded Family Member rule (Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations 117(9)(d)). Cases of suspected fraud can be addressed through misrepresentation provisions.

On behalf of former refugees who are now in Canada and on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, I thank you for attention and intervention on these matters.

Thank you again for representing our constituency.

Sincerely,

________________________________ (your name)



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