NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canada's Liberal Refugee System

July 14, 2003

Canada's generous refugee determination system allows in tens of thousands of people each year, and recent reports that most terrorists who have entered Canada did so by claiming refugee status have spurred officials to find new ways to tighten border controls.

Canada attracts significant numbers of immigrants claiming refugee status because its definition of "refugee" is broader than in most countries:

  • Last year over 33,000 people made refugee claims in Canada.
  • Canada approves nearly 60 percent of these claimants for permanent resettlement; most other Western nations approve only 10 to 15 percent.
  • The cost of accepting so many refugees costs nearly C$1 billion a year when related expenses like welfare payments are included.

Other countries have begun changing their refugee policies; Australia, for example, is now detaining all claimants who enter the country without proper documentation. If Canada wishes to assure the United States that it is actively working to reduce the risk of terrorist activity, says Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, it must tighten border controls and reform its refugee determination system.

Source: Martin Collacott, "Canada's Inadequate Border Controls," Fraser Forum, March 2003, Fraser Institute.

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