Backlog of 180,000 illegal immigrants and asylum seekers requesting to stay in Canada

During a Senate committee hearing, it was revealed that 'Thousands of claimants are facing long wait times at multiple points in the process,' according to comments from Jason Hollmann, director general of asylum policy at the immigration department.

Backlog of 180,000 illegal immigrants and asylum seekers requesting to stay in Canada
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Officials revealed that Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board is dealing with a backlog of 180,000 illegal immigrants and asylum seekers asking to stay in the country.

During a Senate committee hearing, it was revealed that “Thousands of claimants are facing long wait times at multiple points in the process,” according to comments from Jason Hollmann, director general of asylum policy at the immigration department. He testified that authorities needed to step up their decision-making process, as the backlog will take years to clear, reports Blacklock's Reporter.

“Last year Canada received 144,000 asylum claims,” said Hollmann. “In terms of the initial eligibility determination the inventory is around 34,000.”

“Although it falls under the Immigration and Refugee Board my understanding is their inventory for decisions is around 180,000,” said Hollmann, prompting Senator Omidvar to say, “Good God.”

The department has budgeted nearly $3 billion for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, not including the providing of "free" room and board. Hollmann pointed to additional costs which fall on taxpayers, such as healthcare expenses.

“Typically, the role of the federal government has been to ensure that claimants receive interim federal health benefits, that we provide access to legal aid, and we provide work permits so claimants can support themselves while their claim is pending,” said Hollmann. “The other support services are traditionally offered by other jurisdictions. The government has been providing interim housing support since 2017.”

“Historically asylum claimants were expected to secure their own housing and when they could not, they accessed provincial and municipal shelter systems,” a report to the Senate National Finance Committee said. “Since 2017 however due to the higher volume of claimants arriving in Canada, the government has expended approximately $1.76 billion to help address the interim housing needs of asylum claimants.”

More than $1 billion in shelter subsidies is allocated “beginning in 2024” over three years. No specific figures were given for the costs associated with health care, education, language training, food bank utilization, and other expenses.

Canada has seen a massive influx of asylum claims by international students over the last five years, increasing by 1,500%.

In 2018, there were 1,515 asylum claims by international students, which increased to 25,465 in 2023, figures obtained by the Globe and Mail from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada showed.

Ontario’s Seneca College, for example, had “45 asylum claims in 2018,” according to the Globe. That number rose to 1,135 five years later in 2023, an increase of 2,400%.

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