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    Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivers the budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 April 2019

After being rejected from the U.S., thousands of asylum-seekers seek refuge in Canada.

Canada's government has announced its plan to no longer offer asylum to migrants who have already filed a claim in one of the Five Eyes security partner countries, which includes the United Kingdon, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

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"Those are safe countries and their claim in those countries should proceed. But we don't want them sort of shopping around and making applications in multiple countries," Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said. 

The authorities announced the amendments to the law at the Liberal government's budget bill proposal Monday.

Thousands of asylum-seekers have had their claims rejected in the United States and it is common for them to seek refuge in Canada after the fact. If the amendment is approved, it would mean that asylum-seekers with a claim in either of these countries will no longer be given an oral hearing.

This raises concerns about whether the proposed change is constitutional since it would deny the asylum seeker their legal right to a full hearing.

The denied migrants are given the option to submit a written, pre-removal risk assessment, although the chances of success are only three percent, according to lawyer Kevin Wiener. Wiener added that for such a "major change for Canada's refugee system," he was "surprised to see it buried in a budget bill."

The provision will shift responsibility to immigration officers as "front-line decision-makers for a large volume of refugee claims," which Wiener points out, should require government protocol to ensure that "they do a better job at providing fair and reasonable decision-making."

Since 2017, Canada's borders have witnessed about 40,000 asylum-seekers, with only 3,150 with previous claims in the U.S.

Currently, the wait for a hearing by Canada's refugee board, which has over 200,000 pending cases, has reached about 20 months average. Also included in the budget proposal was an increase of more than US$750 million for border services over the next half-decade.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the government is "putting more resources in and we're also ensuring that the system is fair for everyone."


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