Support and Aid for Syrian Arrivals a Welcome Sight to Refugee Law Offices
It’s a refreshing sight for a refugee law office: the first waves of refugees from Syria are arriving in Canada, and are receiving an exceptionally warm welcome and displays of support. Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been working hard to make good on his promise to resettle by February 25,000 Syrians fleeing the civil war that has shaken their home country and left them displaced in the world. And earlier this month, the first 163 of this 25,000 arrived at Toronto’s Pearson airport, where they were greeted by the Prime Minister himself, alongside Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The 163 new arrivals were screened for health and security purposes, and then promptly issued social insurance numbers and health cards—making them fully-fledged permanent residents of Canada.
To call the speed at which this is being accomplished astounding would be an understatement. Just a very few short months ago, newcomers to Canada would often jump through endless hoops and legal red tape to try and become a permanent resident—or even just to attain refugee status. While programs existed to fast track certain applications, even with the help of an immigration lawyer, other applicants would often find themselves navigating a labyrinthine legal system that seemed to be designed to keep immigrants out of Canada. A refugee law office would see countless appeals every year to fight removals, particularly in the face of the “Designated Countries of Origin” list, which denied many claimants, including religious minorities fleeing persecution in Hungary, the right to appeal. The list was recently declared unconstitutional, which was a victory for immigration lawyers that brought with it increased power to help those fleeing unsafe conditions in their home countries.
In addition to the increased government action to aid the refugees from Syria, there’s been an outpouring of support from small towns and rural communities. While traditionally newcomers to Canada have been more likely to settle in large urban areas, and particularly in communities where there are others who share the same culture and heritage, a number of smaller communities across the country have been offering support, opening their doors, and inviting Syrian newcomers to settle in their communities. According to an article from CBC, many of these communities acknowledge that there are infrastructure-related challenges and barriers to be overcome, as well as issues of intolerance, but they are dedicated to helping in any way that they can. This positive trend—in both government action and community support regarding the Syrian refugee crisis—is a promising sign of a bright future, and this immigration lawyer hopes to see it continue.