Legislation to protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system has been introduced by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
The proposed measures include further reforms and significantly to make it mandatory to provide biometric data with a temporary resident visa application.
‘Canadians take great pride in the generosity and compassion of our immigration and refugee programs. But they have no tolerance for those who abuse our generosity and seek to take unfair advantage of our country,’ said Kenney.
The new bill, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, proposes changes that build on reforms to the asylum system passed in June 2010 and are designed to provide faster protection to those who genuinely need refuge, and faster removal for those who don’t.
In particular, refugee claimants from generally non refugee producing countries such as most of those in the European Union would be processed, on average, in 45 days compared to more than 1,000 days under the current system.
Canada receives more refugee claims from Europe than from Africa or Asia. Last year alone, 23% of all refugee claims made in Canada were made by nationals from the EU. That’s up from 14% the previous year. This growing trend threatens the integrity of the immigration system, according to Kenney.
In recent years over 95% of EU claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected. If that trend continues, that means that the unfounded claims from the 5,800 EU nationals who sought asylum last year will cost Canadian taxpayers nearly $170 million.
‘Too many tax dollars are spent on bogus refugees. We need to send a message to those who would abuse Canada’s generous asylum system that if you are not in need of protection, you will be sent home quickly,’ added Kenney.
‘Our Government is sending a clear message that our doors are open to those who play by the rules, including legitimate refugees. However, we will crack down on those who endanger human lives and threaten the integrity of our borders,’ explained Kenney.
The final component of the new legislation would give the Minister the authority to make it mandatory for visa applicants to provide biometric data, that is fingerprints and photographs, to visit Canada. Documents can be forged or stolen, whereas biometric data provide greater certainty, confirming the identity of applicants when they apply.
‘Biometrics will be an important new tool to help protect the safety and security of Canadians by reducing identity fraud and identity theft. As fraudsters become more sophisticated, biometrics will improve our ability to keep violent criminals and those who pose a threat to Canada out. In short, biometrics will strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration system while helping facilitate legitimate travel,’ said Kenney.
He pointed out that these measures would put Canada in line with other countries such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, and the United States.
‘This would help prevent known criminals, failed refugee claimants and deportees from using a fake identity to obtain a visa. The use of biometrics would also bolster Canada’s existing measures to facilitate legitimate travel by providing a fast and reliable tool for confirming identity,’ added Kenney.