Baseball91's Weblog

July 18, 2009

Checking from Behind: Gypsies Come To Canada

A refugee is defined, according to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees, as someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”

With 600,000 refugees claims made in Canada over the past 20 years, the Roma believe based upon mistreatment across Europe that Canada is an ideal destination. A refugee applicant is allowed to stay in Canada on the average 17.8 months waiting for a claim to be processed until their Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board hearing. There are now 60,823 applications held in border facilities in Canada while each claim is assessed under the above definition by Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) members.

Canada determines whether a claimant is fleeing a country for legitimate fear of unfair persecution, deciding who is eligible for asylum as a refugee. On April 4, 1985, the Canadian Supreme Court handed down its “landmark” Singh decision which established de facto that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to anyone who sets foot on Canadian soil. Based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, any person who claims refugee status in Canada has an inalienable right to a formal hearing.

Seventeen years later, Harjit Singh, a convicted criminal in his native India and a known credit card scammer in Canada, was finally put on a plane and sent home in 2005, after a national political scandal and the downfall of an immigration minister, Judy Sgro.

In Canada, all that is needed is a valid passport, and once you set foot on the tarmac at Winnipeg’s Pearson Airport, the machine kicks into gear, and can drag on for years and usually does. A refugee may not be eligible to apply as a refugee if they entered Canada by way of the Canada-U.S. border as part of their “safe 3rd country” agreement which states that someone must seek asylum in the first safe country where they arrive. Thus, with arrival first in the U.S., a “refugee” cannot seek asylum in Canada but must apply in the U.S. There is no eligibility as a refugee on security grounds because of past criminal activity or human rights violations, and no eligibility after rejection by the Canadian immigration board or a withdrawn or previously abandoned refugee claim.

Nearly 10,000 Mexicans and 3,000 Czechs now seek asylum here each year. The vast majority, according to the government, are economic migrants. Both Mexico and the Czech Republic are democracies, more or less. Neither is beset by war or famine now. The Harper government in Ottawa announcement this week Mexican visitors to Canada will immediately need visas to enter Canada. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced as well the new visa requirement for residents of the Czech Republic, along with residents of Mexico on Monday, sparking widespread anger in both countries. Previously there was no permit required for Mexican students staying less than 6 months, a North American Free Trade Agreement partner.

Some 200 deserters from the U.S. military are believed to have fled to Canada, some living incognito. Kimberly Rivera, a mother of 3, had requested permission to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds but her appeal was rejected. She could face up to five years in prison when she returns to the US. In a memo to Kenney in February, then-deputy minister Richard Fadden provided a thorough review of why all Iraqi war deserters’ claims for refugee status had failed so far with the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Federal Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal. Fadden, now head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, wrote that whereas the UN High Commission for Refugees Handbook suggests a relevant factor to consider in a refugee claim is whether a deserter was drafted or joined the army voluntarily, deserters now coming to Canada from the U.S knew the risks and the consequences when they enlisted. Everyone who is there had volunteered for military service. Nobody is serving in Iraq who did not voluntarily sign on.

The Obama administration has also opened the way for foreign women to receive asylum in the United States if they are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse, reversing a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees. With the peculiarities of the United States immigration system, asylum cases are heard in courts that are run by an agency of the Justice Department, with Homeland Security officials representing the government, not the federal judiciary.

Those Czech gypsies. The European Commission Thursday said it is investigating why so many Czech Romanies are seeking asylum in Canada. The Romanies complain of being discriminated against in the Czech Republic.

In October 1997, Canada for the first time re-introduced visa duty for Czechs as a result of increased immigration of Czech citizens of the Romany community. In 1996-97, approximately 1,500 Czech Romanies applied for asylum in Canada. In April 2001, the Czech Republic reciprocated and Canadian citizens needed visas when traveling to the Czech Republic until the entry of the Czech Republic into the European Union. On November 1, 2007, Canada cancelled the visa duty for Czech citizens, and since that time until the end of March 2009, 1,565 Czech citizens sought asylum in Canada, according the the Czech government. Of the total number seeking asylum in Canada, Czechs represented 4.33% in January 2009 and i 5.77% in n February 2009.

It is has been speculated in the Czech Republic that the Czech Romanies’ departures are organized and that some people profit from them. A part of the refugee wave of Czech Romanies to Canada has been taken aback at the difficult conditions in refugee camps and some of them are returning home. Dozens returning in the recent time who “have found out that Canada is no fools’ paradise,” Dzeno chairman Ivan Vesely told the Czech News Agency.

Critics have speculated that because of the Czech Republic’s membership in the EU,the European Union may debate whether to show solidarity with the Czech Republic by imposing visa requirements on Canadians traveling to any of its 27-member nations resulting in a “visa war” hurting trade relations with the European Union. The European Commission said it is investigating what has been going on in the Czech Republic before making any judgment on decisions by the Canadian goverrnment.

Michael Den Tandt writes in the Winnipeg Sun: “A foreign visitor steps ashore in Halifax and enters the customs lineup. He claims asylum. He’s immediately ushered into a comfortable waiting room. In short order the foreign visitor speaks one-on-one to a senior customs officer. The foreign visitor tells his story and presents any supporting evidence. That process takes 15, maybe 20 minutes. If the story doesn’t measure up, the refugee is politely ushered into another waiting room. He’s offered a meal and a selection of in-flight magazines. As soon as a flight is available off he goes home, courtesy of the government of Canada.

That new policy: “It is causing an uproar in Mexico,” one Mexican reporter bluntly told Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. Cannon defended the controversial decision, saying Canada’s asylum system needed a major overhaul to reduce delays and to stem abuse of fraudulent claim abuse from the waves of refugee claimants from Mexico and the Czech Republic which are now the top two sources of refugee applicants. “People who are traveling at the end of this month should have very little difficulty. We regret the inconvenience,” said Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney with a straight face. He also is the MP for Calgary Southeast.

Gwendolyn Albert, a native Californian, characterized Canada’s move as “clumsy” and warned that it will not only harm Canadian-Czech tourism and other business, but Kenney’s reference to false asylum seekers could inflame anti-Roma sentiment in the Czech Republic. Albert has been an activist on Roma issues. She first came to Prague as a Fulbright scholar in 1989, participating in the Velvet Revolution as a translator for Civic Forum, returning to the Czech Republic in 1994, said “Kenney has gone out of his way to claim there is ‘no discrimination’ against the Roma here, which is a completely laughable assertion.”

Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout blasted Canada, saying its reintroduction of visas was unparalleled, according to the Czech News Agency. “This is not an approach [that] partner and allied countries take to each other,” he said. He further warned the Czech Republic will appeal for solidarity with the European Union to impose visa restrictions for all Canadian travelers.

There used to be a difference between Canadian hockey and the European game, with a lot more concussions suffered by Canadian players. The EU member had to wonder about the after affects of too many checks to the head.

Meanwhile the information has appeared that Canada is considering changing its social advantages for the applicants waiting for the processing of their applications.

The Canadian policy is based upon a ‘holier than thou’ attitude towards the Czech Republic, and their treatment of gypsies. This is seen in the requirement for Czech citizens to apply prior to travel for a visa by sending an application to the Canadian embassy in Vienna, Austria. Maybe the Canadian government is angered over the success of the Czechs against Canada in hockey.


1 Comment »

  1. Comment by baseball91 — March 29, 2012 @ 11:19 PM | Reply

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