Thursday, October 21, 2010

Conservatives and refugees: punishing them for being who they are

This, via BCL fucking inflames me this morning.

In August, QMI Agency reported on a secret government survey that showed that many Tamils who came to Canada claiming that their lives were in danger in their native Sri Lanka subsequently returned safely to that country. They would then come back to Canada and wait out their refugee claim.
In legislation to be tabled Thursday, the government will make it easier to revoke someone's refugee status immediately if a refugee claimant heads home for holidays, birthdays or to sponsor other family members.
"It's a serious problem," said one government source.
Why? Because say for example you're a member of the Karen ethnic group living in Mah Sot refugee camp, Thailand. You cannot go back to Burma because the disgusting bunch of military fetishists running the show over routinely send the army after you and friends. You are effectively stateless and cannot claim citizenship in Burma or Thailand because neither country really wants much to do with you. Canada comes along and grants you refugee status and you come here to live, leaving many of your family and friends behind. When you are processed and formally recognised as a refugee by Canada, you are granted permanent residency.

After a number of years, you can apply citizenship and thus a Canadian passport. However, before that you can do that you may apply for a Travel Document because you can't actually get a passport from your home country, or the country you fled to. This travel document legally protects you because it says to foreign governments 'I'm now under the protection of Canada, do not mess with me'. If you want to travel to see family and friends still stuck eating sandy rice in a dusty camp, this travel document allows that to happen. You are free now, and can live, play and travel with more security than you've ever had in your life.

What the Conservatives now want to do it seems is take that security away and punish refugee claimants for being refugee claimants. While your claim is being processed, they want you to effectively remain a prisoner within Canada. Don't go home, don't visit your dying mother, don't got back to celebrate the wedding of your sister. Not only that, but the Conservatives also seem to want to be able to revoke your claim should you ever leave the country.

Will the very act of applying for a travel document be grounds for revoking your status? Will the Conservatives seek to revoke citizenship and residency of Canadians from refugee backgrounds who happen to use that protection to safely go home (opposed to say wealthy migrants who arrive through something like business or skilled worker channels...)? If you're poor and desperate, the Cons want to be able to track, monitor and restrict you until such a time as you satisfy their wicked little "principle" that you've behaved like a good little sepoy for long enough.

How many tiers of people does our mollycoddled little gang want to create in this country?


M@ said...

How many tiers of people does our mollycoddled little gang want to create in this country?

Only two -- and not surprisingly, they want the top one to be as small as possible, and have only them in it.

Marissa said...

What does "returned safely to that country" even mean? It seems like they're saying, "oh, you went back without being killed. Therefore your life isn't really in danger."


WhigWag said...

The other thing that's bothering the Tea / Tailgate Party set is the fact that if people somehow beg, borrow, or scrape together $20,000 to pay the human smugglers, that they're therefore NOT genuine refugees, since:
1) $20,000 sounds like a lot of money to them (even to save someone's life!); and,
2) in their, um, "minds," refugees aren't supposed to have a pot to piss in: apparently it's binary: you've either gotta be 'Monster House' investor-class rich, or absolutely poor, to come here.

Interestingly, it turns out that Vic Toews himself owes his very existence to an insidious program in the '20s, in which the CPR was the human smuggler: springing for the trip to bring Ukrainians over which it took them, like, 40 years to pay back in the company town:

Marissa said...

Toews is Ukrainian? I'm ashamed.