Category Archives: Refugees

Canada doesn’t have to accept refugees with serious non-political crimes in their history, Supreme Court rules

By Giuseppe Valiante, National Bureau

 OTTAWA — Refugee claimants who have previously committed non-political, serious crimes in other countries cannot seek safe haven in Canada, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a 5-2 decision, Canada’s highest court said the country’s refugees laws apply to anyone who committed a serious crime outside Canada prior to asking for refugee status, whether or not the seeker served time or is a fugitive.

The specific court challenge came from a 59-year-old Cuban citizen, who was striped of his refugee status in the U.S., entered Canada illegally in 2008 and applied for refuge status.

Luis Alberto Hernandez Febles had pleaded guilty twice in the U.S. to violent crimes.

He blamed alcohol for hitting someone in the head with a hammer, and for pointing a knife at another person years later and uttering threats. He was given a two-year prison term in 1984 and in 1993; he completed both sentences. Continue reading

Hungary is top country of origin for refugee claimants paid to leave Canada

November 5, 2014 10:01 am

Canada pays thousands of Roma to abandon refugee appeals, leave country

By  Global News

Dominik Tomko signed along the dotted line. His flight was booked, his bags packed: He’d agreed to accept $8,000 plus plane tickets in exchange for abandoning his refugee claim, and leaving the country with his wife and two sons.

Then, 17 days before his Aug. 28 takeoff date, he changed his mind. His brother Miroslav’s claim, virtually identical to Tomko’s own, had been approved.

“I didn’t know my brother was going to be accepted. So I was already prepared to go home.”

Tomko would have been one of more than 3,600 people Canada paid to abandon their refugee claims and leave the country since July, 2012, federal statistics show.

And data Global News obtained under federal access-to-information laws indicates most of these refugee claimants are Roma. Citizens of Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia make up 61 per cent of the total of people in the program – more than 1,800 by March of this year.

Immigration and Refugee Minister Chris Alexander refused to speak with Global News for this story.

“The [Canadian Border Services Agency] will not speculate on why these are the top five countries of return,” CBSA spokesperson Line Guibert-Wolf said in an e-mail.

Under the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program, unsuccessful refugee claimants who agree to abandon the appeal process are given airfare home, which on average costs $1,500, and “in-kind reintegration assistance” to a maximum of $2,000.

That payment “may be used to pay for services such as assistance creating a small business, obtaining education and/or job training,” CBSA spokesperson Esme Bailey wrote in an e-mail.

The payments are administered by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, which describes the program as “politically more palatable and less sensitive than the return of émigrés in shackles.”

Since Canada began the program in 2012, it has spent a total of $7.5 million paying would-be refugees to leave.

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CALGARY: Fariborz Birjandian, head of Calgary Catholic Immigration society, thinks Canada should take in more Syrian refugees

October 10, 2014 7:20 pm

Refugee families now call Calgary home thanks to local help

By  and   Global News

It’s been a year since Fadi Yacoub and his family fled from war-torn Syria to Lebanon.

Once in Lebanon they applied for refugee status, and a year later Calgary is their home.

Yacoub says the year-long wait was well worth it.

“I’m happy that I’m here,” he says. “I want a good future for my kids; it’s been four years that they didn’t go to school. “

There are currently more than three million Syrian refugees in the world, a number that climbs daily.

Yacoub’s wife, Ralda, knows how lucky her family is.

Canada, I heard from a lot of people that it’s a safe place, “says Ralda. “Thank god now that I’m here, I feel like my life is back again.”

While the family is grateful, the transition from Syria to Canada has had its challenges. Their daughter Perla is still adjusting to life in Calgary. Continue reading

HALIFAX: Shia-Muslim family claims will be persecuted if deported to Iran

Halifax family could be deported to country they’ve never visited

Federal Court of Canada hears unusual refugee case

By Richard Cuthbertson, CBC News Posted: Sep 10, 2014 5:28 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014 5:28 PM AT

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/halifax-family-could-be-deported-to-country-they-ve-never-visited-1.2762152

A family living in Halifax is fighting to stay in Canada as refugees. They say they fear they will be deported to Iran, a country they’ve never visited. (CBC)

A family living in Halifax is facing deportation after their refugee claim was rejected earlier this year — but in an unusual twist, they could be sent to a country they’ve never even visited.

Abbas Gholami, his wife Fatemeh Naserian Mochadam, and their five children arrived in Canada a couple of years ago. All family members were born and lived in Kuwait. However, due to family ties they are citizens of Iran.

They say they left Kuwait after years of threatening phone calls from two of Mochadam’s cousins, according to documents filed in the Federal Court of Canada. Mochadam is of Arab descent and says her 1995 marriage to her husband, who is Persian, was viewed as shameful by some relatives who threatened to kill them.

But in February, an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada tribunal rejected the family’s refugee claim. The Gholamis now face removal from Canada — not to Kuwait, but to Iran, where none of them have lived or visited.

The family is fighting the tribunal’s decision. At a Federal Court hearing in Halifax on Wednesday, the Gholamis’ lawyer argued the family could face persecution if they are sent to Iran.

Scott McGirr says the family identifies as Arab and can’t even speak Farsi, the language of Iran. Arabs, he argues, are discriminated against in Iran.

“Arabs in Iran run a very real risk of persecution,” McGirr told the court.

A federal government lawyer acknowledged this is a “bit of an unusual case,” but argued Wednesday the court should uphold the tribunal’s finding that the Gholamis aren’t refugees.

Government lawyer Patricia MacPhee questioned the veracity of claims by the Gholamis that they faced years of harassment from Mochadam’s cousins. She says the tribunal did not believe the threatening phone calls would have lasted nearly two decades.

She notes that while the family may consider itself Arab, they are also Shia Muslims, the dominant religion in Iran. There is no evidence, MacPhee says, the family would face persecution.

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Author Erna Paris calls Canada “mean-minded” toward refugees

Canadian mean-mindedness is back

ERNA PARIS

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published 

Last updated 

A new edition of Erna Paris’s book From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain will be published in January.

In 1979 and 1980, the government of Canada admitted 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. Ordinary Canadians were invited to participate in the boat people program. My parents and our extended relatives and friends raised enough money to sponsor a family. They were diligent workers: Before long, they were driving a better car than we were.

We did this because we remembered that a meaner Canada had refused entry to a shipload of desperate Jewish refugees from Nazism 40 years before.

That prewar mean-mindedness is back. Canada’s refugee determination system needed updating, but the Harper government has gone much too far. It has been accused of breaching international law, breaching the Constitution, and – just as important – breaching the values Canadians have defined themselves by.

Some recent examples: Last month, a 65-year-old Pakistani woman who fled to Canada because she had been accused of adultery and faced death by stoning was deported. She had appealed to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which advised Ottawa to delay the deportation until it could review her case under the UN Convention Against Torture, which Canada signed in 1985.

According to Amnesty International, our government’s patent disregard for international law will weaken its claim to be a global defender of human rights.

In July, Justice Anne MacTavish of the Federal Court ruled that the government’s cuts to health care for failed refugee claimants constituted “cruel and unusual treatment.” Denying health care puts the lives of vulnerable people at risk in a manner that “outrages our standards of decency” and is unconstitutional, she wrote. Clearly piqued, the Harper government announced this week that it would appeal the judge’s decision. It also asked the appeal court to delay enforcement of the order to resume health care until the appeal had been heard. That could be months. Continue reading

OTTAWA: Gloucester-Southgate candidate Meladul Haq Ahmadzai wants to implement Islamic rules at city hall

Candidates have some wacky notions 

ron-corbettBY , OTTAWA SUN

FIRST POSTED: | UPDATED: 

If Mike Maguire can sit down yet — after the thorough spanking he received this week over his transit plan — I want him to know the worst is probably behind him.

And for what it’s worth, when Election Day comes around, I don’t think his transit plan will be seen as the worst idea of the campaign.

(…)

Why just this week a candidate in Gloucester-Southgate sent out a press release saying he would adopt sharia law at city hall if he were elected.

Meladul Haq Ahmadzai says sharia law would “restore transparency and accountability at city hall.”

Not a lot of reporters attended his sharia law press conference, nor has Ahmadzai been interviewed all that often, despite his press releases always ending with the cheerful reminder that “the media is welcome to ask questions.” Continue reading

BRAMPTON, ONT.: Irena Ratmanski, mother of drunkard on Sunwing flight, facing seventh deportation from Canada

Mom of Sunwing accused faces seventh deportation

SAM PAZZANO, QMI AGENCY

Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

BRAMPTON, Ont. — The mother of a Toronto-area woman whose alleged unruly behaviour forced a Cuba-bound Sunwing flight back to Toronto is in jail and facing her seventh deportation from Canada, QMI Agency has learned.

Irena Ratmanski, 56, was denied bail Wednesday by Justice of the Peace Ralph Cotter.

Ratmanski was charged in July with four Immigration and Refugee Protection Act offences, including re-entering the country unlawfully, failing to advise officers of previous deportations and some misrepresentations, including denying having a daughter, Lilia Ratmanski, 25, and failing to reveal other aliases.

Five weeks ago, Irena Ratmanski sat in a courtroom and then fled from media scrutiny before her daughter Lilia, of Whitby, Ont., and her friend, Milana Muzikante,26, of Maple, Ont., were freed on bail. They were accused of making threats, endangering the safety of an aircraft and mischief after allegedly drinking and smoking in the aircraft bathroom on the Aug. 27 flight to Cuba.

“(Irena Ratmanski) has a history of being removed … and finding her way back in despite not being authorized to do so,” said Cotter in rejecting Ratmanski’s bail application.

“She is making a mockery of the integrity of our borders. She knows the chances of being deported again are very high,” A. M. Coke, an agent for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, told court in opposing Ratmanski’s release.

“She has nothing to lose by fleeing.”

TORONTO: Refugee from Burma ends up working for the Karen community

From there to here: Burmese refugee loves Canada’s respect for human rights
For Mie Tha Lah, part of the persecuted Karen minority in Burma, Canada’s respect for human rights is one of his adopted home’s best features.

Mie Tha Lah, a 37-year-old refugee from Burma, now known as Myanmar, is a youth worker for the Jane/ Finch Community and Family Centre. When he arrived in Canada and saw the CN Tower he knew his dream for freedom was complete.

DEBRA BLACK / TORONTO STAR Order this photo

By: Debra Black Immigration Reporter, Published on Thu Jan 30 2014

More than 240,000 immigrants are expected to arrive in Canada this year. Many will settle in the GTA. For some, their dreams may take years to build. For others, those dreams may never materialize.
To explore that experience, the Star is publishing an occasional series in the words of newcomers, both recent and more established. If you would like to tell your story, email dzblack@thestar.ca
Mie Tha Lah, a 37-year-old Burmese refugee, came to Canada in 2007 after the country’s doors were opened to members of the minority Karen community, who had been targeted by the government. Lah now works as a settlement worker with the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre and is an accredited court interpreter.
Before coming to Canada with his wife, originally from the Philippines, his parents and siblings, he spent about 13 years in a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Burma. While there, Lah received a scholarship to attend a Catholic university in the Philippines, where he studied education. Continue reading

TORONTO: Randall Baran-Chong of HanVoice hoping to see Canadian sponsorship program for North Koreans

What’s Keeping Door Shut to North Koreans Seeking Haven in Canada?

Group says progress on sponsorships slowed since new immigration minister appointed.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall, 23 Sep 2014, TheTyee.ca

Randall Baran-Chong in Vancouver: His organization HanVoice seeks to match 100 North Koreans with welcoming Canadian families.

A group that advocates on behalf of North Korean refugees says it believes it is close to establishing a sponsorship program making it easier for those who originated from the oppressive country to come to Canada.

Toronto organization HanVoice said it has been in talks with the federal government — mainly the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration — for some time and almost came to a firm proposal under former minister Jason Kenney.

The Tyee reported on Sept. 11 that Canada has not given a single North Korean refugee claimant status in Canada this year, compared to 230 in 2012.

The revelation came 10 months after current Immigration Minister Chris Alexander successfully challenged the granting of a North Korean woman and her child refugee status.

Since then, no North Korean has been granted refugee protection as the decision essentially shut the door to them, according to critics.

But Randall Baran-Chong of HanVoice said his group hopes to change the situation by establishing a program whereby Canadians can sponsor North Koreans for immigration.

He said progress has been slower since Alexander took over the immigration portfolio in July 2013 and he’s hoping with the opening of Parliament progress can be made. Continue reading

MONTREAL: Khurshid Begum Awan wants to remain in Canada claiming that Lahore is not safe for Shia Muslims

CTV Montreal 
Published Monday, September 22, 2014 7:50PM EDT

A Montreal woman is pleading with Immigration Canada to allow her mother to stay in Canada.

Khurshid Begum Awan has been living in a Montreal church for a year to avoid being deported to Pakistan, but a heart condition has now forced her to be admitted to hospital.

“When I went to the immigration officer, he told me you have to respect the law, I said, ‘Okay I will respect the law.’ But when they said, ‘We’re going to send your mom back,’ that I have no answer (for) so I said okay,” said Awan’s daughter Tahira Malik, through tears, at a news conference Monday.

Awan first came to Canada with her husband in the spring of 2011

Their refugee claim was rejected. Her husband was deported to Pakistan in 2013 but Awan’s deportation was postponed, because doctors determined she was too ill to leave the country.

Last fall, Awan took refuge with the Anglican Church of Montreal.

Bishop Barry Bryan Clarke of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal said they were told they were breaking the law but felt there were few other options.

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If Awan is sent back, her family said she won’t receive the medical care she needs and she will be targeted for being a Shia, a Muslim minority.

Lahore, which used to be a place in the past where you could get some peace, is now a place which is a centre of extremism. There’s very serious violence in the past two years,” said immigration lawyer Stewart Istvanffy. Continue reading

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