A new program in Canada will take effect at the end of June that could displace thousands of refugees seeking asylum from our northern neighbor. Canada has a backlog of nearly 42,000 refugee cases and the $540 million program is intended to expedite the review process for these applicants. Some analysts believe this could greatly impact North American immigration in the second half of 2012, especially into the United States.

Canada has traditionally been generous with their immigration policies, allowing many asylum applicants to immigrate to their county. However, a recent clampdown on immigration has forced refugees elsewhere, culminating in this new program that also calls for increased enforcement of removing rejected applicants who reside in Canada.

An immigration policy analyst in Vancouver discussed the program and its possible effect on the U.S. “If you deprive a large number of people of asylum options, they’re going to look for the next place to go, in large numbers,” he said. A 2004 pact between the U.S. and Canada bars new immigrants from seeking asylum in either country after residing in the other country.

How the U.S. handles the potential influx of rejected Canadian refugees remains to be seen, though U.S. officials said that they will not necessarily be turned away despite that 2004 agreement. U.S. officials also don’t expect immigration figures to change dramatically once Canada’s new program becomes active.

It seems that we could be headed for an influx of Canadian asylum applicants who were rejected north of the border. The delicate issues that are involved in any immigration case – may it be deportation, a refugee case or an employment visa – should be handled with an experienced immigration attorney by your side.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Canada’s tightening immigration policy may be felt in U.S.,” Kim Murphy, Jan. 14, 2012