Debunking refugee myths

Refugee rights are one of five main themes addressed by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), “a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy.

“Based in Ottawa, CPJ is a Christian voice for social and environmental justice in Canadian public policy, focusing on poverty in Canada, ecological justice and refugee rights.”

Following is CPJ’s recently-published piece on Debunking Refugee Myths. It is re-posted by permission.

Myth

Refugees just want to take advantage of Canadians’ generous social programs.

Fact

Refugees are forced to flee their homes, with some leaving behind good jobs. Most are eager to work but may first have to learn a new language and wait to process their work permit; this can take many months.

 

Myth

Refugees might pose a security risk to Canada.

Fact

Refugees flee from violence in search of safety. They go through very rigorous security checks before entering Canada.

 

October 5 2015; Tovarnik in Croatia. Croatian police assist refugees get into train which will go to Hungary.October 5 2015; Tovarnik in Croatia.

Myth

Refugees jump the queue over other, more deserving immigrants.

Fact

Refugees are forced to flee their homes while economic immigrants have the ability to choose where and when to move. Canada recognizes this by having completely separate programs for refugees and economic immigrants. There is no queue.

 

Myth

Most refugees are in Western countries.

Fact

Most of the world’s refugees are in the Global South and only a few are found in Canada and western countries. The countries dealing with the biggest flows of refugees are not western countries, but countries like Pakistan, Iran and Uganda.

October 4, 2015; Bapska in Serbia. Photo of refugees leaving Serbia. They came to Bapska by buses and then they leaving Serbia and go to Croatia and then to Germany. Now they are waiting for entering EU in Croatia. October 4, 2015; Bapska in Serbia.

Myth

There is a border crisis.

Fact

There is no border crisis. The number of refugee claimants entering Canada has risen over the past year, but Canada experienced a similar increase in 2001. Most of those crossing the border come through one place, Roxham Road in Quebec, and declare themselves to Canadian authorities. Security checks are expedited for these claimants, ensuring those who enter in this fashion do not pose a security threat. The government has also increased the capacity of border officials and refugee adjudicators.

 

Myth

Canadian border crossers are illegal.

Fact

Irregular entry is not illegal. Asylum seekers have the legal right to cross the border and enter Canada to make a refugee claim. The right to make a refugee claim is protected in Canadian law which builds on its international obligations. The Refugee Convention stipulates that no country will return a refugee seeking asylum. Canadian law stipulates that it’s not illegal to cross a border informally, if that person presents themselves to border services without delay. Canadian border crossers are not illegal because they present themselves to border officials. Asylum seekers are crossing irregularly – between ports of entry – but that is not illegal. They are doing so because of the Safe Third Country Agreement.

 

October 4, 2015; Bapska in Serbia. Photo of refugees leaving Serbia. They came to Bapska by buses and then they leaving Serbia and go to Croatia and then to Germany. Now they are waiting for entering EU in Croatia. October 4, 2015; Bapska in Serbia.

Myth

Refugees take jobs from Canadians.

Fact

Refugees create jobs and expand the domestic market. Lebanese refugees who came to Nova Scotia in the ’60s and ’70s are now successful business leaders and have created wealth, jobs and increased tax revenue.

Immigrants don’t take jobs away from Canadians but increase jobs for all by stimulating the economy. They are eager to contribute to building Canada into a prosperous country for all. In fact, as Canada’s birth rate continues to remain low and the aging labour force nears retirement, the integration of immigrants and refugees helps to maintain a stable economy.

Myth

Refugee healthcare costs are a burden for Canadians.

Fact

The cost of healthcare for refugees and refugee claimants is only a fraction of that of other Canadians. Health care costs are disproportionately for the elderly: the average age of refugees is much lower than of Canadians.

October 5 2015; Tovarnik in Croatia. Croatian police assist refugees get into train which will go to Hungary.October 5 2015; Tovarnik in Croatia.

Myth

Refugees receive more financial support than pensioners do.

Fact

Refugees do not get more financial assistance from the federal government than Canadians pensioners do. Refugees come to Canada in a variety of different ways. Privately sponsored refugees are financially supported by the sponsoring citizens and are not eligible for any social assistance. Government-sponsored refugees will receive only minimal financial support from the federal government for up to one year to meet basic food and shelter costs. Refugee claimants in Canada receive Interim Federal Health, limited legal aid and in some provinces such as Ontario, some social assistance.

Myth

Refugee claimants are abusing Canada’s Generosity.

Fact

Refugee claimants are not abusing Canada’s generosity. Canada has a legal obligation to provide protection to refugees and to respect their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is not a matter of generosity. Canada has a history and a strong tradition of social justice and human rights.

Myth

Canada doesn’t need more immigrants.

Fact

Canada Depends on Immigrants. Unlike many other countries, it actively seeks out and recruits economic immigrants. Business groups estimate that if Canada were to close its doors to immigrants, our economy would shrink significantly.

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