Recent efforts by the Canadian government to “crack down” on refused refugee claimants and hasten the processing times could result in more asylum-seekers heading to the United States, according to some analysts.
New regulations are set to take effect this summer, when the Conservative government will implement changes to the current refugee system. Such changes include a 90-day limit for a first hearing, 120-day periods for appeals and stricter enforcement of removal orders.
The impact is expected to be felt not only in the Canadian system, but also in the U.S., as many experts predict that those new swift denials will then turn toward the southern border, seeking status elsewhere.
Traditionally the U.S. has been seen as being less sympathetic to asylum-seekers than Canada, resulting in a 2004 law being implemented across the border which prevented new arrivals from seeking status in both countries at once. U.S. officials say they will allow those whose case has already been decided in Canada to enter their own system.
“Anybody seeking asylum or claiming a credible fear of persecution gets to articulate their case to an asylum officer,” says Mike Milne, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “We would take them into detention and they would have the same right as anyone seeking asylum to a hearing.”
Canadian government officials are expressing doubt that the changes will have much impact on the U.S. system. However, analysts say that any changes would surely be felt in a system in which over 100,000 decided cases would rapidly need enforced removal. Other critics say that the new regulations will not allow ample time for gathering evidence in more complex cases.
There are currently over 40,000 pending refugee cases in Canada.
Source: Montreal Gazette