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Making Waves

Refugee Settlement


By Peter Jackson

As the weather begins to turn colder, there is no slowdown in the number of asylum-seeking refugees crossing the border into Canada from the United States.
An interesting story in the Toronto Star recently quoted figures released by the federal Immigration and Refugee Board, that say 70 per-cent of illegal border-crossers are legitimate refugees.
We've seen over 15,000 asylum seekers walk across the border at unguarded points since January, many of whom are afraid they would get thrown out of the U.S. under that country's tightening immigration policy.
The story says between March and September, 5.4 per cent of refugee claims had been processed, and over two-thirds of that 5.4 per-cent were approved.
All well and good, but not enough.
The trouble is, while Immigration staff are doing the best they can to process asylum claims, more and more refugees are coming into Canada.
And there likely will be even more come 2018, when special protection granted to Haitians by Washington after Haiti's devestating 2010 earthquake ends.
With a vibrant Haitian community in Montreal and other places in Quebec, there could be a near-stampede across the border from New England very soon.
No matter where in Canada asylum-seekers are crossing, local authorities, social agencies and church groups need to know from Ottawa what they can expect when more refugees are admitted.
We are a generous and giving country, but in this case the federal government needs to step in to help our communities better prepare for new arrivals representing many different cultures.
Bandying numbers about is one thing -- being pro-active in a positive manner on refugee settlement is what's really needed.

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