Why Canada Can Safely Meet Its Refugee Commitments

When evaluating security threats, Canadians would do well to look at the evidence. All of the identified attackers from Paris appear to be Belgian or French nationals, yet no politician has suggested increased screening of European visitors or immigrants to Canada. Studies out of the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto and Harvard University link an increase in immigration to a decrease in crime.

Statistics Canada data suggests that the percentage of new immigrants in Toronto and Montreal neighbourhoods is inversely proportional to all types of violent crime.

In Canada, despite the objective lack of connection, politicians began sounding off “security concerns” related to incoming Syrian refugees. Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall called for a delay in resettling Syrian refugees. Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia stated the obvious: that the government needs to ensure that security checks are done on every refugee. These statements demonstrate a clear lack of understanding by government officials of Canada’s process for resettled refugees.

Contrary to the influx of migrants crossing into Europe over the past months, Canada is resettling pre-screened refugees who have been approved for permanent residency by a Canadian visa officer abroad. The process is thorough and involves international and national law enforcement agencies.

Refugees who may be eligible for resettlement are first identified by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), primarily on the basis of their vulnerability. International refugee law is clear that those responsible for serious criminal and terrorist acts will not benefit from refugee protection. Only one to two per cent of individuals registered with the UNHCR get referred into the potential resettlement pool. Anyone with a hint of criminal or terrorism connections is simply not placed into the pool for further assessment.

Next, a UNHCR officer conducts a file analysis. Officers in the Beirut UNHCR office are exceptionally knowledgeable about the events in Syria, the various factions and the timeline of the conflict. This allows for a robust credibility assessment of the facts alleged by the individual. At this point, anyone who the officer identifies as having security or criminal concerns would again be filtered out.

If a file progresses onwards, in general, a UNHCR officer is then tasked with conducting a “refugee status determination.” This includes an interview where the truth of their allegations and their background is fulsomely assessed.

If facts related to criminality or terrorism come to light after the interview, the UNCHR also has a process for cancelling refugee status.

If an individual passes this assessment, the UNHCR can refer the file to a Canadian visa officer who will again interview the person. In each case, the visa officer will assess whether the person meets the definition of a refugee.

The individual is then screened for “admissibility” to Canada. Medical and criminal screening is mandatory. A security review involves, at a minimum, the coordination of Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Information is often sought from third party states, international organizations and searches conducted in international databases.

Read the complete article on The Tyee here.

Statue of Liberty about to be changed?

The Statue of Liberty is famous for the quote upon it, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The quote may have to be revised after Republican members raised concerns about some refugees entering the United States following the Paris attacks.

statue of liberty conditions

What Paris’s night of horror means for Europe

The Economist magazine published an article titled ‘What Paris’s night of horror means for Europe’ which contained the following graph:

14 years of terror in western europe

Ever since a commando-style raid by a jihadist group in Mumbai eight years ago that killed 166 people and lasted for four days, there have been fairly regular instances of similar plots either being uncovered or turning out to be false alarms. But as the IRA once grimly warned: “You have to be lucky every time; we only have to be lucky once.”

What has clearly greatly increased Europe’s vulnerability to such attacks is the continuing civil war on its doorstep in Syria and the emergence of Islamic State (IS) as an even more potent magnet for would-be jihadists than al-Qaeda (AQ). While so-called “core” AQ in the badlands of Pakistan’s tribal areas has withered under assault from America’s drones, IS has gone from strength to strength. With its rampage through Iraq last summer, its pretensions to establish a caliphate and its slick exploitation of social media to publicise its successes and brutalities, IS has radicalised, recruited and trained many thousands of young European Muslims, not least in France.

It is too early to say what the consequences of Europe’s most lethal terrorist attack since the Madrid train bombing in 2004 will be. But it is bound to ratchet up the sense of crisis over Europe’s porous external borders and non-existent internal ones (at least for the signatories of the embattled Schengen Agreement). It is an understandable fear that among the many refugees flocking to Europe from Syria are some experienced fighters who mean to do harm when the opportunity arises. The attack will also exacerbate the anxiety about an “enemy within” that is at war with both the West’s cultural mores and foreign policies that are perceived as “anti-Islam”. Anti-radicalisation programmes that almost every country in Europe with a significant Muslim population has a version of are well-meaning, but of dubious effectiveness. Across Europe, there is no shortage of populist politicians who are only too happy to exploit the fallout from what happened last night.

Read the full article in The Economist magazine at this link.