Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has reintroduced legislation to get tough on what he describes as “bogus” refugees that includes provisions for biometric visas for visitors from some countries.
Kenney said the new visa rules requiring fingerprints and photo are among the most significant security measures Canada has ever implemented and will keep criminals and people trying to enter the country with fake papers from succeeding.
Kenney is reintroducing legislation first seen in the previous Parliament that was dialled down due to unified opposition. He says the new measures will supplement those rejected last year and protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.
Bill C-31 was introduced Thursday and Kenney hopes it will be passed by the time that the compromise bill, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, comes into force in late June.
The new bill will designate “safe countries” from which refugee claimants could be sent home after one hearing. Although they can file for a judicial review of that decision by the Federal Court, the review process would not keep them in the country while the decision is pending.
Kenney told reporters Thursday that too many fake refugees come from European Union countries that have adequate human rights protections.
NDP Immigration critic Don Davies said the bill marked a “sad day” for those who wanted sound non-partisan legislation.
Davies said the compromise bill worked out in the previous Parliament was supported by all parties, including the immigration minister himself.
“[Kenney] said that the amendments made it a faster, fairer refugee system and called it a monumental achievement.
“And, inexplicably, here we are, you know, 20 months later, before that bill has actually been implemented, and he’s stripping out those amendments and going back to the original bill that he himself admitted was inferior. And I just can’t understand that,” said Davies.
Davies said it is impossible to know the value of the previous bill because it has not come into force and hasn’t been given a chance.