Ottawa closes special Afghan immigration program to new applicants & More Latest News

Less than midway to its aim of bringing 40,000 Afghans to Canada, the federal authorities is not taking new referrals for the special immigration program meant to prioritize former workers of the Armed Forces or Canadian authorities and their households.

CBC News has discovered the federal government is processing the final of the 18,000 purposes stuffed out by Afghans hoping to come right here via the program. Advocates for refugees say the choice to wind down the program abandons Afghans determined to come to this nation.

The program was arrange practically a 12 months in the past, a number of weeks earlier than Kabul fell to the Taliban in August, 2021 and earlier than the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to convey 40,000 Afghans to security right here.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s on-line referral portal for the program continues to be up however a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed in a media assertion that every one spots within the program have been taken up.

“IRCC has applications for more than 15,000 Afghans and their family members in various stages of processing,” the spokesperson wrote. “Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and National Defence have shared referrals with IRCC for the remaining spots.”

The Toronto Star first reported the program appeared to be about to shut in mid-June, prompting a coalition of support organizations to concern a joint assertion condemning the transfer.

“From the government side, there hasn’t been a lot of clarity on precisely what the criteria are,” mentioned Lauryn Oates, the chief director of Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, one of many teams behind the joint assertion.

‘They are trapped and … in peril’

Oates mentioned 17 individuals from her group have requested the Canadian authorities to state whether or not they qualify for the program. She mentioned all of them began the method final 12 months however haven’t obtained invites to apply but. 

“They have tried everything else. They have knocked on the doors of other governments, other embassies, all kinds of other programs,” she mentioned. “They are trapped and they are in danger.”

Oates is asking on the federal government to lengthen the program for an additional 12 months and to broaden the variety of spots open to Afghan immigrants.

“And parallel to that, we’ll be trying everything possible to get our people out of the country and to safety,” she mentioned.

CBC News spoke to one Afghan who works with a Canadian non-governmental group and is splitting his time between Pakistan and Kabul whereas he tries to keep one step forward of the Taliban. He’s amongst these ready to be taught if he qualifies for the Canadian program.

Former Afghanistan interpreters start a starvation strike on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, March 31, 2022. The interpreters, who helped the Canadian navy throughout its mission in Afghanistan, mentioned the federal authorities lied to them about bringing relations to Canada and that individuals have died whereas ready for paperwork to be processed. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“I was left behind from Canada. I haven’t heard back from them,” he mentioned. The CBC shouldn’t be disclosing his title as a result of each his workplace and his neighbourhood have been searched by the Taliban.

He mentioned he was “shocked” by the previous Afghan authorities’s sudden collapse final August. He mentioned that when the information got here in, he went to discover his spouse and youngsters and take them into hiding. 

Other packages open, minister’s workplace says

Fraser’s workplace mentioned different avenues stay for Afghans who want to come to Canada, similar to a humanitarian program and one other to assist households of former navy interpreters who’re already right here.

“I think it is deceptive for the government to make that suggestion to people,” mentioned NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan. “That is just a rejection. And telling people to go to other streams is a dead end for them.

WATCH | Ottawa closes special Afghan immigration program to new applicants: 

Canada no longer accepting applicants for special Afghan immigration program

The federal government is quietly shuttering the Special Immigration Measures program to bring over Afghans who worked with Canada during the war. It has advocates worried about the people who could be left behind, and the danger facing them.

“What the federal government wants to do is to come ahead and open up that program to be certain that those that are eligible, those that served Canada, who’re a part of the Canadian navy and their relations, are introduced to security.”

Roughly 16,540 Afghans have arrived in Canada since August of last year.

In its statement to the CBC, Fraser’s office also said it has received “tons of of hundreds of communications from these expressing curiosity in coming to Canada because the fall of Kabul.

“Regrettably, this is a far larger number than we can bring to Canada.”

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