Has the archdiocese become the archenemy? via: Archdiocese looking for huge jump in refugee sponsorships
The Archdiocese of Toronto is asking Ottawa for the chance to sponsor another 4,000 refugees over the coming year, said Martin Mark, director of the refugee office.
But the ambition of Toronto Catholics may be on a collision course with a hard cap on the number of private sponsorships Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is willing to process.
This year’s request for 4,000 spaces is a 74-per-cent increase over last year’s request for 2,300 places for Archdiocese of Toronto-sponsored refugees.
In an effort to winnow down a backlog of 51,683 applications in the private sponsorship system, Ottawa is limiting the number of new private sponsorship applications in 2016 to 10,500.
“The purpose of the caps is to reduce processing wait times,” Immigration spokesperson Jessica Seguin told The Catholic Register in an e-mail. “Lengthy delays create frustration for sponsors and are inhumane to refugee applicants.”
Somali refugees currently wait an average of 45 months (almost four years) from the time the Nairobi visa post receives an application to when Immigration makes a final decision.
Though the cap on private sponsorship applications has more than doubled from last year’s 5,000 limit, this year’s national quota includes Iraqis and Syrians. Last year, applications to sponsor refugees from Syria and Iraq were unlimited — free reign that the Archdiocese of Toronto and other sponsorship agreement holders fully exploited.
Ottawa plans to admit between 15,000 and 18,000 privately sponsored refugees, between 24,000 and 25,000 government-assisted refugees and between 2,000 and 3,000 in the blended category. Added to the sponsored refugees are between 10,000 and 11,000 refugees who apply for protection after arriving in Canada plus reunification of refugees in Canada with family abroad. In total, Canada plans to admit between 51,000 and 57,000 refugees this year — more than half of whom will be Syrians.
Currently, the Canadian visa office in Amman, Jordan, has a backlog of more than 9,000 mainly Syrian refugee sponsorship applications.
In addition to asking for almost 40 per cent of Ottawa’s self-imposed quota for refugee applications, the Archdiocese of Toronto finds itself in competition with the generosity and eagerness of churches and community groups across the country who are trying to sponsor as many refugees as they can.
The Catholic Church in Toronto is one of 100 sponsorship agreement holders which feed into the private sponsorship system. Those organizations have already submitted about 4,000 applications this year, even though Ottawa asked they hold off on new applications until Immigration assigns a quota to each sponsorship agreement holder. Sponsorship agreement holders will receive their 2016 application quotas early in April.
The archdiocese respected the request to hold back, but now finds itself wondering whether it will lose quota to the more aggressive groups who continued to submit during the moratorium.
“In its final allocation of spaces, (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) will take into account what submissions are currently in the system as well as new expressions of interest submitted by the SAH (sponsorship agreement holder) community,” said Seguin.
The 2016 refugee target of 55,800 is an 80-per-cent increase over the 2015 target of 24,800.
The Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto will lead a volunteer expedition to Lebanon starting March 28 to select new refugees for its sponsorship program.
Wall Street’s got nothing on the church-Muslim-refugee racket.