Newspaper article The Canadian Press

About Half of Summer's Border Crosser Asylum Cases Heard So Far Rejected: IRB

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

About Half of Summer's Border Crosser Asylum Cases Heard So Far Rejected: IRB

Article excerpt

Summer asylum claims now before IRB

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OTTAWA - About half of the asylum claims heard so far from those who've crossed the Canada-U.S.. border since July have been rejected, the Immigration and Refugee Board said Tuesday.

But the actual number of cases the board has heard since then is a mere fraction of the 8,000 or so claims that have been filed to date.

Shereen Benzvy Miller, the head of the IRB's refugee protection division, told a House of Commons immigration committee hearing that 240 have already been finalized, and a further 373 had been scheduled as of earlier this week, with the rate of rejection around 50 per cent.

That's in line with the historical acceptance rate for claims by Haitian nationals in past years; the vast majority of the asylum seekers who have arrived in Quebec in particular since the summer are Haitian.

In August, the board set up a dedicated team of 17 members to hear asylum claims solely from the border crossers. The fate of those who crossed before July remains unclear, as those claims were just part of the board's general caseload and aren't specifically tracked.

The dedicated team is aiming to hear about 1,500 cases between now and the end of November. After that, claims from the border crossers will go back to being part of the regular workflow.

It's a case load that has overwhelmed the board, Miller told the committee Tuesday.

The board is funded to hear at most 24,000 cases a year and at present, is anticipating more than 40,000 to be filed in all of 2017.

There are currently 40,000 cases in the backlog as well, she said. Wait times for a hearing are currently about 16 months with nowhere to go but up, she added.

"The math is clear -- unless you put more resources to this problem, then it takes longer time to schedule so there will be longer wait times."

The reason so many people have chosen to cross illegally into Canada in order to claim asylum is the Safe Third Country agreement with the U. …

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