The Conservative government has announced it will speed up the processing of “thousands more” Syrian refugee applications.
In an announcement in his east Toronto riding today, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander made the announcement that the government is aiming to issue the extra visas by the end of the year.
“We’ll be accelerating our existing commitment to resettle Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Canada by designating all Syrians who fled their home countries as prima facie refugees,” says Alexander.
Under the changes Syrians fleeing the civil war won’t have to prove they’re convention refugees under the United Nations Refugee Agency. Instead, it will be presumed they are refugees by Canadian authorities for the purpose of vetting their applications.
A special co-ordinator will also be appointed to handle the Syrian and Iraqi refugee file, more than double the number of staff handling the sponsorship applications, and will expand the categories of refugees eligible for temporary government income assistance.
“These measures will ensure that thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees will have reached Canada by the of 2015 and our existing commitment to resettle 10,000 Syrians will be complete a full 15 months earlier than originally anticipated.
Critics of the plan fear that ISIS will attempt to smuggle soldiers into Western countries posing as refugees. Alexander says “security screening will remain the top priority,” while assuring all medical screening and background screening will continue.
The cry for increased refugee visas intensified after photos of the body of Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, circulated around the world.