October 16, 2012
Feds want to cut down on Roma refugee applications
By Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - After years of being on the receiving end of roughly 98% of European Roma refugee claims, Canada has changed the rules to drastically cut down the number of claimants from this community.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canada should not have to deal with what is essentially a European problem and that immigrants wanting to relocate here to "take advantage of our generosity" will have a much harder time doing so.
Kenney hopes to create a list of countries that generally don't produce refugees, to make it easier for the Canada Border Services Agency to separate unfounded refugee claims from those that have merit.
Hungary, where a bulk of Roma refugee claims come from - and from where the vast majority are abandoned, withdrawn or rejected - would be on that list.
"Countries whose nationals have an acceptance rate of 25% or less, or where 60% or more of claimants from a country have abandoned or withdrawn their claims ... would be subject to designation," he said Tuesday from the United Kingdom, where he is on an official visit.
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims accused Kenney of "divisive politics" and said lumping people and countries into overly broad categories isn't productive.
"Mexico, for example, is a democracy," she said. "But gays and lesbians experience a high level of persecution there."