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Canada’s Syrian refugee target could delay non-Syrian applicants, advocates worry

November 15, 2015

By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News |

While the new Liberal government pursues an ambitious target of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next two months, a similar number of non-Syrian refugees are already in the queue to come to Canada through private sponsorship.

On Saturday, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office told reporters that Friday night’s attacks in Paris have not prompted Canada to back down from its promise to accept the Syrian refugees, saying the government will ensure refugees brought to Canada will be chosen in a “safe and responsible” manner to deal with possible security threats.

Many people involved in helping refugees are concerned the recent focus on Syrians will further delay the applications of non-Syrians trying to come to Canada.

Tom Denton, executive director of the Hospitality House Refugee Ministry in Winnipeg, says with the government prioritizing 25,000 Syrian refugees, “Something has to give.”

And the Canadian Council for Refugees sent a letter to John McCallum, the new minister of immigration, urging the government not to forget refugees in other parts of the world.

In a statement to CBC News, McCallum says that while “All Syrian resettlement applications and sponsorships are being processed on a priority basis… Other refugee populations continue to be processed as per usual and existing commitments and admission targets will be met.”

That could be a challenge, says Denton. “The system worldwide was already taxed in terms of the processing of immigration applications, not just refugees.”

The 25,000 Syrian refugees would be roughly 80 times the number of government-assisted Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada in 2015 before Justin Trudeau became prime minister.

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