Immigration News | Canada offers failed refugee claimants $2,000 dollars to go home.

Posted July 5, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Life Stories ~ 4,958 views


It’s akin to a bribe, but few will admit to calling it that. Ottawa is offering as much as $2,000 and a one-way plane ticket to any refugee claimant denied asylum who will voluntarily go home. The pilot program was up and running this week in Greater Toronto so the expected number of takers isn’t yet known, but it has created a buzz among lawyers and refugee groups.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Peter Showler, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. Failed applicants go back without losing the ability to return and receive some money to re-establish themselves, while the government gets prompt, trouble-free removal, he said. Efficient removals have long been a sticking point as people may linger for years after their refugee claims have been refused.

Immigration and refugee lawyers say the initiative will save taxpayers money by reducing the cost of tracking failed asylum seekers trying to avoid deportation by going underground. The federal government spends millions to track, monitor and then remove failed claimants. Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk calls it a humane system and suspects many failed applicants will opt for it.

“It’s an incentive to go back . . . that doesn’t trouble me,” he said. “There are people who may want to go but don’t have the means to because they have been out of their country for so long. This is good for them.” Sandaluk admits it is almost a bribe to walk away from their legal rights. “As a lawyer I don’t like that too much but people are capable of making their decisions.”

The program is a partnership between Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the International Organization for Migration, an independent agency which will disburse the funds once the applicant is back home. CBSA refused to comment on the project. On its website, it was described as: “A voluntary return offers you a way to return home with support, dignity and anonymity. To be eligible for the program, refugees must have no criminal record, have made an asylum claim under the new system and have complied with all terms and conditions of the process.

It’s not clear yet how long it will take for an applicant to get home after applying for the program. There are limitations on how the money can be used. The up to $2,000 in assistance can be used to go back to school, start a business or get help to find work. How much money an applicant receives will be partly based on the stage in the process they apply for voluntary return. The sooner the application, the greater the payout.

In 2009, 106,530 refugee claims were made in Canada, and 98,380 in 2010. CBSA removed 15,073 people from Canada in 2010 compared to 13,249 in 2009. Of those, 12 per cent were deported for criminality while almost 75 per cent were failed refugee applicants. At least 20 other countries, mostly in Europe, offer similar programs. England gives failed refugee applicants up to $6,000 to leave.

That brings up the question of the amount Canada is offering. Some call $2,000 a pittance that can’t go far in helping people reintegrate into new lives.“It is a drawback,” said Max Berger, a Toronto immigration lawyer whose clients, refugee applicants, have already been discussing the program.Berger added that genuine refugees won’t apply, whatever the amount is. Miroslav Kaleja, 49, a Roma, fled the Czech Republic and made a refugee claim in Canada in 2008. It was rejected; he appealed and lost. Berger, his lawyer, recently told him about the program.

Kaleja said he isn’t inclined to apply even though he is quickly running out of options. “Who would like to go back to their country to be killed for $2,000,” he said, adding he is certain he would be targetted on his return to the Czech Republic. “I don’t think it’s worth any amount of money.”–canada-offers-failed-refugee-claimants-2-000-to-go-home

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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