World View: Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board Overwhelmed by Migrants Crossing Border from U.S.

Refugees who crossed the Canada/US border illegally near Hemmingford, Quebec are processed in a tent after being arrested by the RCMP on August 5, 2017. The flow of asylum seekers has increased dramatically over the last few weeks with migrants arriving day and night. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US
  • Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US

August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)
August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has become so overwhelmed by refugees making asylum claims that it is giving up on following regulations requiring refugee hearings to be held within a certain time. Regulations drawn up in 2012 required the IRB to hold hearings with 30-60 days, depending on the country of origin.

The system began breaking down in January 2017, when U.S. president Donald Trump began cracking down on illegal immigration and also announced that legal immigrants having a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would have that status expire. In addition, the status of the “dreamers,” those who were brought to the country as children years ago by their parents, was in doubt.

The U.S. crackdown has created a growing backlog in Canada, as refugees in America have been crossing the border into Canada and applying for asylum. Many refugees and illegal immigrants living in the United States were encouraged to cross the border into Canada when Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a welcome and invitation to the refugees on January 28, 2017, shortly after Trump announced his travel ban:

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

Since January 2017, the backlog has been growing at a rate of about 2,100 cases per month. The largest increase so far occurred in September 2017, with a backlog increase of 6,200 cases.

More than 20,000 people, including thousands from Haiti and Nigeria, and hundreds from Turkey, Syria and Eritrea, have crossed the border into Canada illegally over the past year in search of asylum, many fleeing in fear that Trump would deport them to their home countries.

Canada’s IRB has given up trying to follow the 2012 regulations and is simply hearing claims in the order in which they are received. The board will make exceptions for priority claims, such as unaccompanied minors or other vulnerable persons. The backlog has now reached about 43,000 cases with the IRB saying the waiting time for a hearing is almost 2 years.

As the weather becomes warmer, it is expected that there will be a large new wave of migrants entering Canada. The Canadian government has dispatched lawmakers to diaspora communities in the United States to persuade people not to come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has discussed the situation with the Trump administration, but it has been careful not to publicly blame the U.S. president’s policies for triggering the migration wave.

According to figures published by the Immigration Board, the most asylum requests in 2017 were from migrants from Haiti, with over 8,000 requests, and from Nigeria, with over 5,500 requests. Other countries of origin where the numbers of requests exceeded 1,000 include: China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. Reuters and Radio Canada International (21-Feb) and Montreal Gazette (26-Nov-2017) and National Post (20-Feb) and Immigration Refugee Board

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Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Afrin, Syria, on Monday, after seizing the center of Afrin city. The objective of Operation Olive Branch, launched on January 20, was to seize control of Afrin from the Kurdish militias, People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ), who Erdogan says are branches of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The YPG withdrew on Sunday, rather than risk fighting a conventional war with Turkish-backed forces, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

However, the YPG claim that the fight for Afrin is far from over. The Kurdish militias are threatening a guerilla insurgency, with hit-and-run attacks on Turkey’s troops in Afrin. Such an insurgency could prompt Turkey to respond with harsh attacks on the civilians in Afrin.

As things stand, about 200,000 residents of Afrin fled the city in recent days, as Turkey’s offensive escalated. Theoretically, they will be allowed to return to their homes now, but there have been reports of looting by Turkish troops. Furthermore, the residents fear that Turkey will move some of the millions of Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey for years back into Afrin so that the Kurds will not have a home to come back to.

Erdogan seems emboldened by the capture of Afrin and is threatening to move eastward and attack the YPG in other cities, including Kobani and Manbij. However, the YPG forces in Manbij are backed by US forces, and if Erdogan carries through on his threat, then Turkish forces will be fighting American forces. France 24 and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Canada, Immigration and Refugee Board, IRB, Justin Trudeau, Haiti, Nigeria, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela, Turkey, Syria, Afrin, Operation Olive Branch, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, People’s Protection Units, YPG, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Kobani, Manbij
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