Canada’s immigrant and refugee system is bursting at the seams with applicants, as it struggles to process the 24,000 people who have submitted claims for citizenship since 2012.
More than 3,500 immigrants have crossed the border into Canada from the U.S. since January of this year alone, most likely fleeing Trump’s promises of immigration reform.
The grass hasn’t been greener in Canada thus far, as according to Immigration and Refugee Board data, refugee claims are taking longer to complete than ever before and are on track to get longer.
In order for refugees to attain legal status in Canada, each applicant is subject to a hearing in front of a council made up of IRB’s 127 tribunal members. About half of these 127 officials have been assigned to old cases, to attempt to make a dent in the 24,000 backlogged, and new cases are resigned to wait in a long line. 4,500 hearings in the first four months of 2017 had to be canceled.
Without a hearing, immigrants can’t convince employers to hire them, landlords to rent to them, get student financial aid, or update academic or professional credentials to Canadian standards.
“I don’t know when they will call me. I can’t work. It isn’t easy,” said 36-year-old Mohamed Daud, a refugee who left his family, after his May 8th hearing was canceled. Daud receives $454 a month in social security and lives in a flat with 6 other refugees waiting processing.
Canada has expedited the process for refugees from countries in the midst of civil war, such as Syria and Yemen, but still lacks the man power to conduct so many hearings and security screenings.
Legally, it is an extremely difficult place to be in for a person like Daud.
“How do you establish yourself when your status is unknown?” said Toronto-based lawyer Aadil Mangalji.
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