Customs & Immigration

Slow progress on Afghan refugees

Only about 10 per cent of the 40,000 Afghan refugees the federal government promised to bring into the country have arrived and it could take up to two years to resettle everyone. “When you're trying to move 40,000 people out of the most challenging environments imaginable, one of the most dangerous places in the world today, it's not easy,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser said after seven weeks on the job. “What I'm really encouraged by is that we're starting to see a regular pace.” [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19 screening increasingly stringent

Air travellers entering Canada, except from the U.S., now must tested on arrival for COVID-19 even if fully-vaccinated and must isolate until they get the results. The strict requirements announced Nov. 30 are in response to the Omicron variant which has been confirmed in four provinces among persons returning from Nigeria. The government expanded its border closure to travelled through that country or Egypt and Malawi after refusing entries last week from South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini. [node:read-more:link]

Afghan refugees’ bureaucratic nightmare

An Afghan mother and family, having been safely evacuated with the help of Canada’s special immigration program, had hoped to be in Canada by now. Instead, they’re stuck in Albania after spending a month in Qatar and Canada’s missions in both countries have said they have to deal with the embassy in Rome. “There's been this kind of good policy intent but there's been a tremendous amount of confusion,” says the head of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “People . . . are feeling very frustrated with the Canadian government.” [node:read-more:link]

Falling short on refugee admissions

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reports that it is falling short of welcoming 81,000 refugees by the end of 2021. It had processed some 7,800 government-assisted refugees by the end of October, well below the target for the year of 12,500 as well as more than 32,000 refugees who requested asylum after entering the country, also well below the target of 45,000. Also, Canada had accepted just 4,500 privately-sponsored refugees compared with an intake goal of 22,500. [node:read-more:link]

Canada ends pandemic refugee blockage

The federal government is ending a policy of turning back asylum-seekers due to COVID-19 concerns. At least 544 would-be refugees were sent back to the U.S. between March 2020 and mid-October but refugee advocates argued that asylum claims should not be considered “discretionary travel” and pointed to class exemptions during the pandemic for professional athletes and others. [node:read-more:link]

Polish border tensions renewed

Poland accused Belarus today of trucking hundreds of migrants back to the border and pushing them to attempt to cross illegally, a day after clearing camps at the frontier. European governments accuse Belarus of flying in thousands of Middle Easterners, some of whom have died as winter set in, as part of President Alexander Lukashenko’s push back against EU sactions. [node:read-more:link]

Belarus clears out migrants

Migrant encampments at a key border crossing into Poland were cleared by the Belarusian government today, defusing a politically-explosive standoff with the EU. However Polish troops remain in place along a barbed-wire fence and Belarus offered no details on where the migrants had been sent. [node:read-more:link]

Journalistic freedom of movement

The U.S. and China have agreed to reciprocally ease travel and visa restrictions on journalists after what is described a “more than a year of difficult negotiations.” China has a long history of restrictions and its state media were designated by the U.S. in February 2020 as “foreign missions” subject to tighter controls. [node:read-more:link]

Mexico considers limits on Venezuelans

Mexico is reportedly considering stricter entry requirements for Venezuelans, partly in response to U.S. requests, after a spike in arrests at the border. Venezuelans currently do not require visas to enter as tourists but there has been a sharp increase in the number trying to leave their homeland permanently, potentially headed for the U.S. [node:read-more:link]

EU plans airlines blacklist

The European Commission confirmed today that it would seek to blacklist airlines that transport migrants to Belarus migrants who then try to enter the EU. The Polish border has become a flashpoint in recent weeks. “They are involved in the smuggling of migrants,” a Commission official said of the international carriers. “We will be aligning practical actions with the United States.” [node:read-more:link]

Racism alleged in federal department

A report based on two focus groups involving 54 employees has yielded a report about racism within Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Presented to the department in June but only recently made public, it alleges racist language and marginalization as well as “microaggressions” and stereotyping on the job. [node:read-more:link]

Americans want new global approach

Results of a poll conducted in the closing weeks of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan indicate that a plurality of Americans want fewer troops stationed abroad, Published Sept. 28, they also indicate that a majority prefer more diplomatic engagement on a range of issues such as climate change, migration and human rights. [node:read-more:link]

Westminster approves Brexit deal

Britain’s post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union has been approved in a 521-73 vote in the House of Commons, a day before Britain’s formal Dec. 31 withdrawal from the EU. Negotiated over the past nine months, the deal sets out a new economic and security relationship. [node:read-more:link]

Alleged Nazi war criminal dies

A Canadian resident allegedly involved in Nazi war crimes has died at the age of 97 even as the federal government was finalizing a 26-year effort to deport him. The government’s position was that Helmut Oberlander’s immigration was illegal because he had concealed his role as an interpreter for a Nazi death squad during Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. opening up but not to Canada

The U.S. announced today that it is about to reopen to visitors from Britain, the European Union and other countries while maintaining a ban on non-essential land-border crossings from Canada and Mexico until at least Oct. 21. As of Nov. 1, most other visitors must be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 and while they will not be required to quarantine, they will need a negative test. [node:read-more:link]


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