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Tamil boat migrants still waiting for refugee ruling

Oct 31 2012

More than two years after a boatload of asylum-seeking Sri Lankan Tamils arrived at CFB Esquimalt - sparking a vow by the Harper government to crack down on what it called immigration "queue jumpers" - the vast majority of the migrants remain in Canada awaiting a decision on their refugee claims. Two have been removed from the country.

An update on the status of the migrants was tabled in the House of Commons this week by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in response to a question put to him in June by NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan.

On Aug. 13, 2010, 492 Tamil migrants were escorted to CFB Esquimalt aboard the rusting cargo ship MV Sun Sea. All of them subsequently made refugee claims.

According to Toews' update, 20 refugee claims have since been approved and 35 have been rejected.

Another 23 individuals were excluded from the refugee determination process because the Immigration and Refugee Board found them inadmissible for reasons of national security or because of their involvement in the smuggling operation. So far, two of them have been removed from Canada - one to Sri Lanka, the other to India.

The remaining 414 migrants continue to wait to learn their fates.

Meanwhile, a criminal investigation resulted in charges of human smuggling against six people. Their trials are pending.

This past June, Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, was passed by Parliament. The law, in part, sets out mandatory minimum sentences for those involved in smuggling, and requires that refugee-seekers who come to Canada by way of a smuggler wait longer for permanent residency and family sponsorship.

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