And never will, as my colleague points out. The question has been asked numerous times.
In my travels to many of the points of entry in this country, I have determined there is a flow of refugee claimants, tens of thousands a year, coming into the country, and many are determined not to be true refugees.
Consider the border crossing at Fort Erie. In 1993 over 7,000 entered through that port and claimed refugee status. By law, according to the present situation at least, the department of immigration is obliged to give them oral hearings.
Of the 30,000 to 35,000 who claim refugee status every year, slightly under half are really accepted as refugee claimants. That leaves in the neighbourhood of 15,000 to 20,000 who have been rejected as refugee claimants. We can read in the 1994-1995 estimates on immigration the cost that has been initiated by the department of immigration for hearing a claimant, a failed claimant, in our process through our court system once that individual has arrived here.
The figure from those estimates is between $30,000 and $50,000 per claimant. Of course, much of that cost is generated as a result of the state's having to support the claimant. Unfortunately many of the refugees do not speak the language and are not really expected to either. The provisions for refugee claimants will certainly be different than they would be for those who immigrate through normal channels. It is understood that many refugees will not have the skills, which I believe for the most part is acceptable to Canadians.
However, a failed claimant with an estimated cost of $30,000 to $50,000-I have heard that estimate as high as $100,000 per claimant-is a substantial burden to the taxpayer. Those claimants are supported at every turn by the present government. It is tax dollars that support them, although they are not legitimate claimants.
The reasons for this motion is to see that some form of communication be established with the provincial counterparts to curb this excessive cost and to take much swifter action for removal if the claimant is not legitimate.
On the issue of cost, there are 15,000 to 20,000 illegitimate claimants at a cost of between $30,000 and $50,000 per claimant. What does that add up to? We are talking about legal aid, welfare costs, support services right across the board, many of which are downloaded on to the provinces. There is a hit on the three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal.
The motion I have presented here speaks to that concern. It certainly speaks to the concern of a lot of Canadians who are aware of what is happening. However, many are not aware. It is incumbent on opposition to point these very glaring discrepancies out. Unfortunately the government across the way chooses to ignore much of the concerns expressed. It chooses to ignore what a lot of people have been telling it.
Why is it that the government refuses to deal with an issue that is so clear? From my experience thus far and from those people I have spoken to at this point I have come to one conclusion. The government is not listening to the concerns of the average person. It is listening to a very small group of special interests, many of whom are supported by and receive compensation from federal government grants. Lobbyists, advocates of all sorts, and consultants are seeking to keep the situation as is and for it not to be changed.
The public is growing weary of having to contend not only with the burden of cost but with some of the problems that have resulted because of poor screening processes of those people who are accepted as refugee applicants.
The list of concerns grows. It has become clear through several examples of refugee claimants-and I say claimants and not refugees themselves-being accepted in the country who were not given any status whatsoever and were involved in some very violent crimes. Many of those individuals have a tendency to be protected by the state in spite of the fact that they have been a burden on the state and should be removed immediately.
There have been clear violations of some individuals coming from overseas who have the means. They have the money or the wherewithal to end up in this country. They also have this very questionable chequered past. Mr. Abdirahman is one such individual who has been cited as having been involved in genocide in his own country. The list can be extended beyond what presently exists that may have hit the news. The recommendations and the policies set forth by the Liberal government encourage for some unknown reason selection of people like Mr. Abdirahman and those from questionable organizations in other countries of the world.
To my way of thinking and the thinking of a lot of Canadians these are not acceptable refugees. Certainly they are running from something else, but many of them should be tried in their own countries for some of the things they have done.
Let us get back to the point in question, the support level generated by both the federal and provincial governments because of federal legislation of those who have failed in their claim. When a claimant has failed in his application to be accepted as a refugee it is clear that the government should withdraw services. Why should legal aid continue to be pumped into the inexhaustive appeal process to follow? Why should the people of this country have to pay continually through their tax dollars for the support of such individuals?
It is obvious the average Canadian has not been heard in this debate at all.
When the matter was first raised in the House there was reaction from the other side, from some of the special interest groups and from the immigration bar association trying to squelch debate on the topic. The terms so often used were: "You are discriminatory. Those are racist comments". Is that what government and debate have resorted to, to squelch a legitimate issue? Those comments are wearing rather thin.
The Reform Party has put forward some proposals. In 1994-95 my office printed a document on a proactive approach to the protection of refugees in Canada. It is an alternative and it is important that we look at alternatives.
The Reform Party is suggesting the target number of persons accepted by Canada as convention refugees should stabilize at approximately 10 per cent of the total immigration intake.
We have talked about immigration levels. There has always been a history of fluctuation in the immigration levels in Canada, up until the last few years when it has been extremely high and there has been no adjustment or opportunity for the newcomers to integrate into Canada, into society and into the workforce. As a result other tensions have built up.
We are suggesting that it be 10 per cent of the total intake, in or around 15,000. The target of immigration levels would be 150,000 per year or thereabouts. The number of self-declared refugees arriving at our ports of entry would be sharply reduced if the word was clear out there in the immigration and refugee channels. It is known worldwide that Canada is a soft touch. All they have to do is land on our shores and declare they are refugees. Then they are entitled to all the support the Liberal government liberally generates in that direction.
With this restriction, and making it clear that the level of support on these appeals will not occur, the numbers will drop. The number of persons accepted as convention refugees through the inland determination process would be sharply reduced.
What will that do? It will open up slots for legitimate refugees. On the compassionate side of things that is what we should look at, not what we are experiencing here where legitimate refugees are being shut out because of a process that pays no heed to them. The inland process must be sharply curbed. With this form of communication to provincial governments since many on the provincial side are footing the bill in some respects although there are social transfer payments, it would be more of a legitimate concern expressed to the Canadian people and much more acceptable than what is happening at the present time.
To make sure the balance takes place it is our suggestion that the Government of Canada work in conjunction with the UN first to identify those who are legitimate. Second, it never hurts to have a watchdog over the process and encourage the UN representatives to examine our record of refugee determination.
There is a need for trade-offs. Looking at it from the compassionate side, Canada is doing an injustice to tens of thousands of genuine refugees overseas who are much easier to settle than those involved in the expensive inland determination process, many of whom are actually queue jumpers of the immigration line.
I encourage members across the way to give serious consideration to the motion. We are entering a time of substantial restraint This is one area that can be shored up and supported by the Liberal government.