Saturday, June 17, 2006

More refugees sneaking into Canada: study

refugee Image

Canada's refugee agreement with the United States is forcing more people to try to enter Canada illegally, a study from Harvard says.

The report, Bordering on Failure, says the number of refugee claimants at Canadian border crossings has dropped by more than 50 per cent in the past 18 months.

However, the researchers say that doesn't mean fewer people want to settle in Canada. They believe refugees are trying to find other ways into the country, including human smuggling.

"What we found was dramatic decreases in legal border crossings," said Deborah Anker, a Harvard law professor who co-wrote the study.

"There were a number of reports from NGOs [non-governmental organizations] who had been contacted by refugees who were applying for asylum with relatives who had entered Canada without authorization." (International Teams is one of those NGOs)

Anker said the connection is clear: Fewer refugees are trying to enter Canada legally because of the new safe third-country agreement that came into effect just over a year ago.

The agreement was intended to reduce the number of refugee claims at the border by designating the United States as a safe haven.

The problem, Anker said, is that many migrants don't consider the United States a safe haven.

"We are really in a very troubling situation in terms of refugee protection in the U.S.," she said.

The study backs up a report by the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Janet Dench, executive director of the council, says the number of refugee claims has dropped to about 4,000 from 9,000 in the year before the agreement was signed. And she says illegal crossings are on the rise.

"We do know that some of them are finding a way of getting into Canada irregularly," Dench said. "This is what we were frightened would happen. They have no recourse but resort to dangerous methods of crossing borders."

Please continue to pray witth us as we respond to needs of people who get caught in our political systems!

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