(Pixabay)

(Pixabay)

Canada must process applications for children’s immigration in six months: advocates

Global migration has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic

Ottawa should establish a standard of six months to reunite newcomers to Canada with their children, as many refugee and immigrant families now wait years, says a national advocacy group.

The long wait is unacceptable, especially for children who are separated from both parents, said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

She said parents who have been forced to flee as refugees end up in many cases leaving their children with a grandparent, another family member or even a neighbour in their home countries.

“That is a very vulnerable situation,” Dench said in an interview.

“Sometimes, they’re staying with their grandparents, who, we often hear … they’re not necessarily in the best of health. They don’t necessarily have the means to support the kids.”

Dench said many children don’t get the care they need and in some cases become subject to physical and sexual abuse.

Canada is legally obliged under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to deal with family reunification applications in a positive, humane and expeditious manner, she said.

Jennifer Wan, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, said parents who come to Canada as refugees usually flee persecution in their home countries.

She cites the case of two refugee parents who have been waiting for years to see their children who are still living in unsafe conditions in India.

The parents were granted refugee status in Canada in July 2019 and applied for their children to join them that October but they are still waiting.

“The father was attacked. His business was destroyed. The wife was also separately attacked,” she said.

“Knowing what they went through, they fear for their children.”

Wan said the parents left their children in the care of an elderly relative hoping that they would be safe.

“(Their teenage child) has been really frightened to even leave his house,” she said. “He was being followed. The house was being watched.”

Wan said the government should prioritize family reunification cases that involve children, especially when the young people are in danger or don’t have anyone to care for them.

Global migration has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire processing system has been operating at reduced capacity, said Alexander Cohen, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

Refugees face travel restrictions and difficulties obtaining documents including evidence of a familial relationship, Cohen said.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have prioritized processing of vulnerable persons, family members and those in essential services,” he said.

“We’re prioritizing applications from refugees sponsoring their dependants … and are also assessing the results of two pilot programs to improve processing for protected persons with dependants abroad.”

Wan said the Immigration Department has not been responsive to her requests to expedite processing of the children waiting in India to join family in Canada.

“Sometimes, I feel quite helpless,” she said. “When we send a letter to an immigration office, we don’t really get a response to know that it has an impact.”

Dench said about 35 families have contacted the refugee council for help in speeding up their children’s immigration applications and there are many more struggling with the same issue.

Many children are suffering psychologically due to separation from their parents, she said. “Some of them have clinical diagnoses.”

Dench said she has heard heartbreaking stories of children crying out to their parents and thinking that they are to blame for the fact that they’re still separated.

The psychological distress of parents in Canada is “absolutely agonizing,” she added.

“Many, many medical professionals in Canada have also written expert opinions on what they’re seeing: the physical and psychological impacts of the stress of separation.”

READ MORE: New pathway to residency for 90,000 essential workers and graduates: Mendicino

——

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Immigration

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Details will be made available in the next few days. (File photo)
UPDATED: Community vaccine program to open in Golden

The clinic will be held from Saturday, May 8 until Sunday, May 16.

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Summerland, Rutland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Rutland and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Lake Country firefighters assisted the RCMP on Kalamalka Lake Tuesday, May 4. (Fire Department file photo)
Okanagan RCMP interrupt houseboat break-in

Pair in their 30s arrested but no charges laid after alleged Kalamalka Lake incident

Most Read