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January 28, 2010

New Visa Requirements Tighten Number of Refugee Claimants: Mexico and Czech Republic

An article published yesterday in the Toronto Star entitled “Czech, Mexican claims plummet” speaks of the concerning number of refugee claims in our system from the Czech Republic and Mexico.

Although Canada implemented a visa requirement on those visitors coming from Mexico and the Czech Republic in July of this past summer due to concerns about the continually increasing number of refugee claimants from these countries:“the backlog of claimants awaiting a decision continues to climb, growing by 7,000 last year.”

However, since the visa requirement came into force, asylum claims have fallen significantly. For Mexican claimants, the number dropped from around 1000 claims per month, to just under 200. For Czech Roma refugees, the numbers have also fallen, from “a peak of 448 in May to just one in December”.

Concerns in Ottawa now focus on the increasing number of refugees coming from Hungary, and the necessity of implementing a future visa requirement on those refugee claimants. There are predictions that such a move could lead to repercussions for the European Union, as both Hungary and the Czech Republic are members.

The Toronto Star reported the following:

“In all, asylum claims fell slightly last year, from 35,000 in 2008 to 34,000 in 2009, with the acceptance rate hovering at about 42 per cent. However, the backlog has continued to grow, from 54,232 cases to 61,170 in the past year – a result of delays by the Conservative government in appointing new adjudicators to the refugee board.

A board spokesperson said all member seats have now been filled and will help ease the backlog.

After Mexico, Canada’s top refugee sources in 2009 were Hungary, with 2,440 new claims filed; Colombia, 2,300; Czech Republic, 2,200; Haiti, 1,600; and China, 1,580.”

Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/756336–czech-mexican-refugee-claims-plummet

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