Danielle Smith: Let's move on to this next topic. We do know why it is that Abdulahi Hasan Sharif in Edmonton, we do know why he did what he did. He had an ISIS flag sitting on the seat of one of the vehicles that he was in. We know that it was motivated as a terror attack. When he slammed into a police officer, attempted to kill him by stabbing him and then went and got a U-Haul truck and again, good policing work in both of these instances, right. It's quite amazing when you think about it that hours later they were able to identify, recognize this guy and then immediately take evasive action so that it was not worse than four individuals being injured.
We've been looking into how it is that this person got refugee status. We talked about that earlier. Even more alarming now is how does he get refugee status after having been refused in the United States, detained for four months. They say they didn't have the ability to remove him right away so they let him go and he didn't show up again when he was supposed to on January 24, 2012. Then he shows up in Canada, goes through our process and we approve him. You have remarkably of all you have Goodale saying it would be wrong to blame the attack on any shortcoming in Canada's immigration and refugee vetting system. There's absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever. The investigation is ongoing but that conclusion is just not supported by the facts.
What am I missing here? I thought that this whole Safe Third Country Agreement was to prevent people like Sharif from shopping around to a jurisdiction that would ultimately take him. Isn't that on the surface a failure when he was identified as somebody who had extreme views back in 2015 when he was investigated? Wouldn't that on the surface also demonstrate that there was something wrong with the refugee system? Why does it matter? Look what's happening in eastern Canada, 8,000 people who crossed the border over the summer, probably going to continue on, they've only manage to process a fraction of those numbers. I think only about five or 600 people. Of those five or 600 half of them have been determined not to have legitimate claims. What happens to them? Is it the same thing? We'll let you go and report back here for a date for us to deport you and then you never hear from them again. There's some big issue.
Third point I want to put on the table is an LGBT, a gay man, a gay Afghan man is trying to seek asylum in Canada. He fled Afghanistan, quoted saying my father told me don't come home or I will kill you. He's a 22 year old guy. Fled to Pakistan, wants to claim refugee status in Canada, there's a 65 month wait for him to be able to be processed. We've got our public safety manager saying no, there's nothing wrong with our refugee system. I beg to differ. We're going to talk with Raj Sharma, who deals with this day in, day out and hopefully he'll be able to draw some of the connections for us. He's a Calgary immigration lawyer, Raj thanks so much for being with me again.
Raj Sharma: It's a pleasure to be on AM 770.
Danielle Smith: Okay, now you know I've got a number of questions for you. Let's begin where I started. How is it that first of all, if he was refused refugee status in the United States, what should we interpret that to mean about the kind of claim? I just don't know, maybe we've got quite different ways of assessing refugee claims in the US versus Canada. What would you determine from that that he'd been rejected?
Raj Sharma: The refugee adjudication system between Canada and the US overlap significantly. They overlap on the definition of what is a convention refugee, that's what flowed out of World War II and [resulted in the] UN convention, a person outside their country facing risk, persecution by reason of one of the enumerated grounds. That is the sort of convention that a number of countries have signed onto including our ... peer countries. Canada's system after IRPA, Immigration Refugee Protection Act in 2002, we've added a sort of ground, which is section 97 of the act, which recognizes persons in need of protection. This is a broader base than the convention refugee definition. We go further than our southern neighbor in recognizing individuals that face a risk to their life.
Danielle Smith: Then in this particular case what would be the reasons why if he's rejected in the US, comes across to Canada, what would be the reasons why we would then not use that Safe Third Country Agreement that we have and say yeah, we'll process you independently? One of the stories mentions that the US has a second L in his first name, we only spell it with one L. Could it just be as simple as a software glitch that they didn't know it was the same person?
Raj Sharma: No, the fingerprints would have 'pinged' on our system. Our immigration databases have been integrated to a very high degree. A refugee claimant in the US would have had his fingerprints taken. A refugee claimant in Canada gets their fingerprints taken as well. Those fingerprints are assessed against a number of databases including the US immigration system. It's not a matter of removing one S and removing one L. The issue here is he showed up at a port of entry, a land port of entry. He made refugee claim at that port of entry. My best guess is that he had, there was an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement, the STC allows someone to make a claim at the border even though they're coming from the US. They're allowed to do that even if they have extended family members in Canada with status or going through the refugee system themselves. My sense is that the STC was found not to apply to him because he alleged that he had a family member. That family member could be even extended family like an uncle or an aunt.
Danielle Smith: Okay, we don't know that yet though do we? I don't know if any of that has come out whether he does have family.
Raj Sharma: If he showed up at a port of entry and if he made a refugee claim at the port of entry and he's obviously he's coming in from the US, the STC was found not to apply to him. The only sort of exception that can possibly apply would be the family member.
Danielle Smith: Does he have to prove that? Do you take them at their word? Would that have been verified?
Raj Sharma: One of the shortcomings and there's a great article by Howard Anglin in Maclean's, How Canada Can Restore Order to it's Immigration System, he talks about this as well, which is that it is sort of taken at the word. No one's really going to verify I don't think. There might have been a call but again it's made at a port of entry. I don't know what documents they presented. Obviously we've assisted clients with this in the past, we show the family relationship through sort of documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates, things of that nature. It is possible that there wasn't a lot of vetting on that.
Danielle Smith: Then to the second point, rejected in the US, accepted in Canada and we have pretty well, very similar types of adjudication processes, what would explain the difference? What would've been one of the grounds that he would've been able to argue successfully in Canada even though he was rejected in the US?
Raj Sharma: Probably section 97, where we go a little bit further and we say well this person is a person in need of protection and it's somewhat beyond the scope of for example of section 96, so that there's perhaps targeting by a criminal organization back in Somalia for example. That doesn't normally lend itself well to a convention refugee claim. It does lend itself well to a section 97 claim.
Danielle Smith: Okay, I've got a couple more question on this because when he was identified and they've been quite up front about this as somebody who holds extremist views in 2015, went through full vetting process. I talked to a former cop who told me the kind of process he would've gone through. They determined that there wasn't enough there to lay charges of terrorism nor establish a peace bond. How high a bar is that to have somebody have to have a peace bond on them? How can we interpret the fact that they didn't do that when they had the chance back in 2015?
Raj Sharma: I don't want to second guess the law enforcement. Obviously there was in 2015, there was a decision to sort of investigate. There is a process under the criminal code to lay or use the peace bond process for individuals suspected of this terror, extremist ideology. It's a little bit problematic. Our legal system, our western concepts of, find preventative detention or that is taking action against someone or infringing on their rights before they actually commit a crime to be essentially repugnant. It's simply not what we do. Obviously that value is in contradiction with the reality that is facing us today that there's individuals that hold these views, these violent views and extremist ideologies and there is no good way of prevention.
Danielle Smith: You can't, somebody has refugee status you can't say okay you've come on our radar screen because you're an extremist, we're revoking your refugee status and we're sending you to Somalia tomorrow? We can't do that?
Raj Sharma: It can be done but if he came Danielle in 2011, he was ordered removed from the US, 2012, he comes to Canada, makes a refugee claim, he's accepted in 2012, by 2015 he's probably a permanent resident. A protected person, his claim was accepted in 2012. He would've applied normally for permanent residency. He would've been granted permanent residency.
Danielle Smith: Once you have permanent residency you're limited in being able to take those kind of measures?
Raj Sharma: Not necessarily if for example, if he's a permanent resident he's charged with very, very serious crimes right now. If he's convicted of them and he's sentenced to more than six months, there's no appeal against the resulting deportation order. We can of course deport permanent residents with criminal convictions of serious crimes. After that, he's still a protected person in Canada. To remove a successful refugee claimant from Canada you need something called a danger opinion. An officer will assess whether the risk of this person being here to Canadians outweighs the risk this person will face going back to the source country.
Danielle Smith: He still may end up staying here and serving out his time behind bars in Canada?
Raj Sharma: He will definitely serve, if he is convicted he will definitely serve his time in Canada. We don't deport prior to serving out sentences. This, I can't imagine if he is convicted can't imagine a danger opinion not resulting from ...
Danielle Smith: Okay, let me take a pause because I want to understand what happens with deportation orders. I'm sort of mystified about how he gets ordered to be deported and it's okay hey, show up on this day and we'll deport you and then he doesn't show up. I have to wonder, there's got to be a lot of people who do that. I wonder if we've got the same practice here. I do have to take a quick pause, Raj Sharma is my guest. He's a Calgary immigration lawyer. We're talking about this case is Edmonton to understand whether or not Ralph Goodale was accurate in saying hey, nothing wrong with the system at all, don't blame the system. What do you think? 403-974-8255, we'll back right back on news talk 770. Everything pot coming up at 11 o'clock and just seeing some of the framework of the new agreement and you know what, [inaudible 00:13:25] looks that bad.
...Okay, a few of you are feeling pretty bloody minded about this case. It's because if this problem is exemplified in this circumstance with Sharif, how many others fall into this category? That's what you guys are worried about. I have this person who says I get we need immigration but any damn refugee that we open our home to of Canada, commits any violent crime, gone instantly, out of our country. I don't care about their rights after violent acts. I care about Canadian's rights.
Raj Sharma is my guest. He's trying to help us understand how the law actually works. Raj, please explain to me why would after you made a deportation order you say in the US, we're sorry we're not accepting you, why would you then let somebody go for several months and then be surprised when they don't turn up to be deported on their scheduled date? That seems like a backward system. It would strike me, it'd be like when you get fired from a job, okay we're going to escort you out of the building and we'll send your stuff behind you. Why, tell me if that system that they have in the US is the same one that we have here.
Raj Sharma: It's the same one that we have here. Now here's the issue this is again a situation where there's competing values. Here, an individual's ordered removal Abdulahi Hasan Sharif was ordered removed from the US. He was released from detention in the US because there was no prospect or likelihood that he'd actually be removed any time soon. Again, this is preventative detention. He hasn't actually committed a crime in the US. It was not appropriate at that time to keep him in jail. For example, there is, he's not going back to France. He's not going back to Australia. He's going back to Somalia and there are issues in removing individuals to Somalia.
For example [Abdi Koreem Deli 00:15:14] was stuck in Edmonton jail, he's got 57 convictions, he's from Somalia. He's been ordered removed. His permanent resident status was stripped. They can't remove him because Somalia does not accept mentally ill people. There are issues and if we cannot remove then we can't stick someone in jail particularly if there's no criminal convictions or chargers forever for example. If we can't remove what does that mean, do we just keep them in jail forever, no. We'll release. The US released [Hasan]. That appeared to be appropriate at that time.
Danielle Smith: Then the obvious question is can we deport anybody if that's the case? I can imagine that being the case in any place where you have civil conflict that they've fled. If you're not allowed to just say okay, we'll send you a one way ticket on an airplane and you're on your own once you get to the airport, I would think that we wouldn't really have the power to deport any people.
Raj Sharma: We deport people all the time. We deport thousands of people. We have good working relationships with a lot of countries to allow for removal. Somalia's a special case. Somalia doesn't really have a functional government. Somalia does not have these documents or passports or other sort of [government issued] ID. Somalia, it is complicated to remove to Somalia. We had again, a very, very serious criminal Mr. Jama was ordered deported. We tried to get him deported. We actually got him all the way to Kenya to catch a flight to Somalia and again, removal was stymied. He was returned. He was released. He went underground. He eventually was picked up again. Somalia is a special and different case. This is not indicative of removal for the vast majority of countries.
Danielle Smith: Okay, that helps explain it. Now let's go to the east coast. I just gave the numbers there's about 600 that have been processed, half been told sorry, no we're not giving you status. Most of those people I believe are from Haiti. What do we know about the deportation process there? Are you expecting it to be somewhat more smooth?
Raj Sharma: You know, Danielle this is really interesting when I look at the news articles and everyone's like well half of them have been rejected, is the glass half full or the glass half empty? The framing of this could be well 50% of these border crossers have been accepted to Canada and 50% of getting status within weeks or months of arriving in Canada is obviously better than a zero percent chance of obtaining status in the US, as the TPS [Temporary Protected Status] is going to be expiring and not going to be renewed in January . When we look at this, I think it's important to look at it from the what is the view, obviously our government is trying to close the barn door after the horses have bolted. The reality is is that 50% success rate on a refugee claim is going to be sounding pretty good to someone that has no status in the US.
Danielle Smith: Are we seeing any evidence that they are upping the number of people who can process these claims? When you talk about that 65 month back log in processing legitimate refugee claimants from Pakistan, the system sounds like it's a mess.
Raj Sharma: [Those are] two different things, the 65 months is [overseas] resettlement of refugees. Those numbers are typically pretty high. In Canada, we got it down to months, we're now looking at a 16 month processing time for claims. There was a sort of dedicated team [to deal with border crossers] but that's going to be shut down at the end of November. The IRB can do about 20,000 but in a year we're going to get 40,000 this year. We already have 40,000 in the backlog.
This is a bit like a snowball. This is a bit like an accreting snowball rolling down a hill. What's going to happen is people are going to come, a significant portion are going to be allowed to remain and obtain status in Canada.
That's going to encourage other individuals to follow in their footsteps. That's going to lead to more and more delays in our immigration and refugee adjudication system. That's going then result in more people being granted status because of course, even if you fail the refugee process there's an appeal there or at least judicial review. There's something called a humanitarian and compassion application, which is particularly appropriate especially when there's children involved. Out of these failed claimants, my own back of the envelope calculation is that and I sort of tongue in cheek tweeted at immigration and I said look, I'm going to make a bet that less than 20% of Haitian border crosses are ever going to be removed from Canada.
Danielle Smith: You're probably right, Raj Sharma, thanks so much for you context on this today. I sure appreciate it.
Raj Sharma: My pleasure.
Danielle Smith: Raj Sharma's a Calgary immigration lawyer. Okay, we're going to take a pause because I got to figure out what ...