'Common sense has prevailed': Immigration lawyer backs refugee plan
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, November 24, 2015 7:08PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 25, 2015 6:57AM EST
A Canadian immigration lawyer says she's “extremely relieved” by the Liberal Party's decision to push back its deadline to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by New Year's Day.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Immigration and Refugees Minister John McCallum said the government expects 10,000 to arrive in the country by Dec. 31, with the total rising to 25,000 by the end of February.
In an appearance on CTV's Power Play, immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges said that that the announcement was a relief and that "common sense has prevailed."
"People have realized that 25,000 by the end of the year is not viable, not doable and it is not safe," she said.
In contrast, Desloges said she approved of the new deadline and plan, which will see 15,000 government-sponsored refugees and 10,000 privately sponsored refugees arrive in Canada by the end of February, followed by more throughout the year.
"I'm feeling pretty proud of us as a nation right now," she said.
"We're going to be doing it in a way that balances our compassionate urge also with our need to protect the safety and security of Canada."
The government estimates the plan will cost up to $678 million over six years.
Desloges said the Liberals made a prudent decision by opening up thousands of spots for private sponsorship.
"It means the taxpayers will be less responsible for those costs, and there will be families here waiting to receive them who have applied for them a long time ago and will be ready to go when they hit the ground," she said.
Desloges said she was also relieved to see the government back away from previous remarks that it would expedite the process by performing security screenings in Canada.
She said once you bring people into the county "it becomes very difficult to remove them after the fact."
Desloges also said she was "puzzled" by the Liberals unwavering support of the December deadline until Tuesday.
"It really wasn’t necessary," she said.
"I think everyone is more comfortable with this extended deadline, and even though it does mean a little bit of a broken campaign promise -- this is something we can all live with."
While Desloges says the new plan has her "full support," she admitted that she is concerned about how Syrians jumping the queue will affect other refugees who had previously applied for sponsorship.
"(They're) just as deserving as people from Syria, (and) are now going to have sit by and watch as people who applied much later than they did get their visa's earlier," she said.
Other refugee advocates also expressed their support for the plan, including Care Canada.
In a statement, the group said it "applauds" the government's commitment to resettling 25,000 refugees.
"Resettlement is certainly an important part of how Canada can contribute to help those who have fled the violence in Syria," said the statement.
"We join Canadians from across the country in welcoming Syrian refugees here."
Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University, said once the refugees arrive in the country Canadians have a "duty to welcome them."
He added that concerns over extremists making joining the ranks of refugees have been overblown, and Canadians have no to fear Muslims because millions have already integrated in the West, abide by its laws and share its values.
"You have Canadian Muslims who are living peacefully with their fellow citizens … and we should not let far-right parties and populists say we have a problem with Islam -- that’s not true," he said.