Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hungary still tops for refugee claims in Canada


OTTAWA - As Canada receives thousands of dubious refugee claims from Hungarian citizens, there's a call for drastic action.
"How much of our money do we want to hemorrhage before setting a visa requirement on Hungarian nationals, just like we did with the Czech Republic?" asked immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
Between January and August of this year 2,045 people claiming to be refugees came to Canada from Hungary That's 13% of all refugee claims made during that time in Canada, keeping
Hungary as this country's top source of refugee claims.
QMI Agency has acquired a 2010 Canada Border Services Agency report that concluded most of the claimants from Hungary are Roma – a stateless ethnic group that considers the name 'Gypsy' derogatory.
Once those claimants arrive, they're set up to receive medical, dental and eye care at no charge, social assistance benefits, and financial help for housing and furniture while their case is sorted out.
But, claims from Hungary are almost never approved and most cases are usually abandoned or withdrawn during the 12 to 18 months it takes to process them.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke out about the problem in the House of Commons in April 2010.
"The allegations are that many of these people were coached to come to Canada, make a false asylum claim and then register for provincial welfare benefits which subsequently flowed to a criminal organization. The asylum system was being abused as a tool to access welfare." said Kenney.  Over the last several years, the Mounties have investigated allegations people have
been trafficked from Hungary to Hamilton, Ont., coached into filing refugee claims and collecting social assistance, enslaved in construction work, and locked in basements while organized crime syndicates took every penny from them.
The Conservatives passed reforms to the refugee system last year to get claims
processed in just two or three months -- not long enough for most claimants to
get approval for provincial welfare benefits.
Budget considerations and the process for approving new regulations have bogged down those reforms, so changes aren't expected until late June 2012.
Federal officials say a new visa requirement for Hungarian nationals is not under consideration.