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I am starting this petition to express my concerns regarding the significant increase in applications to strip refugees of their status in Canada through a process called cessation. Cessation of refugee status means that a person is found to no longer need protection as a refugee. Although the possibility of a cessation application is not new, however changes in the Canadian immigration law by conservative government have made the consequences much more drastic for people who were granted refugee status and are now permanent residents of Canada. Changes to the IRPA adopted in 2012 mean that a person automatically loses their permanent residence if the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) decides that they are no longer a refugee. I strongly believe that this Draconian immigration rule was a major step backwards in Canadian immigration policy, and have increased insecurity and mental health issues in refugees.

Since 2012, CBSA has made cessation applications a significantly higher priority. CBSA internal documents show that they have set an annual quota of 875 cessation applications to strip refugee status. According to IRB statistics, there were 178 applications for cessation made in 2013, compared to under 40 such applications in each of the four preceding years. These numbers are growing with each passing year and existence of a target for cessation applications raises grave concerns that CBSA officials are under pressure to identify and pursue cases without regard to the merits of the case, the consequences to the individual or the costs to society. In their enthusiasm to identify cessation cases, CBSA is casting an inappropriately wide net and interpreting almost any contact with the country of origin as re-availment. CBSA has been arguing that cessation should apply in cases where individuals have done no more than applying for a passport, or have made short visits to the country of origin, for compelling reasons.

By the automatic operation of the law, a decision by the IRB to cessate refugee status results in the person losing permanent residence and becoming inadmissible to Canada. There is no H & C option available to refugees for at least one year and this maybe is harsher punishment than the treatment for other grounds of loss of permanent residence. A permanent resident who does not respect the residency requirements or even commits crime has the right to an appeal before the IAD, however no such appeal is available to a permanent resident who faces the loss of their status due to cessation. The impact of a cessation decision is that a person goes immediately from being a permanent resident to being inadmissible, without any rights in Canada. They are immediately removable.

An effected person with a Canadian citizen spouse might eventually be able regain permanent residence through a spousal sponsorship, but in the meantime they would have to give up their job, spend extra money on lawyers and have no legal status in Canada. They might well be deported. If the person loses status through cessation, and then regains permanent residence through an H&C or spousal sponsorship application, we will have incurred significant costs only to end up back at square one.

CBSA is investing significant resources in preparing and pursuing cessation applications. In addition to CBSA expenses, taxpayers are footing the bill for the costs of the cessation hearing before the IRB, as well as the costs of litigation before the Federal Court in some cases. If CBSA succeeds in cessation applications, there are potentially other costs incurred, such as removing a long-term resident means that Canadian society would have lost an investment in the person’s integration, including language training, settlement services and professional and educational upgrading.

Many refugees used to feel that once they had permanent residence they were safe and no longer refugees. This sense is lost when it is understood that permanent residence is effectively conditional on their continuing to be recognized as refugees. It is unclear what permanent residence status means for refugees if it can be lost simply because they are no longer refugees. We are accustomed to thinking of permanent residence as a status that, once legitimately acquired, is independent of the grounds on which it was acquired. We don’t expect Skilled Worker immigrants to lose their status if they no longer work in their profession, or Family Class immigrants to be told to leave Canada if the family member that sponsored them dies. Canada is a nation built by immigrants: People need to feel that they belong to Canada before they invest, start a business or set down roots in Canada. People won’t feel they belong to this society if they know that any moment they can be asked to leave.

Canadians, prospective immigrants and citizens are really happy with the changes, which Liberals are introducing in Bill C-6. Their decision to revoke some provisions in Bill C-24 has been widely appreciated by the immigrant community. This is also a great opportunity to introduce amendments to the cessation rules via Bill C-6, which is yet to receive Royal Assent.

This one issue is an outcry of thousands of people who are trapped in the net and looking forward for some mercy.

Mr. Hussen, you are our only hope. We, the immigrants, will always support Liberals. Please help us.