A former Canadian military legal officer says a group of Afghan lawyers and other staff who helped his mission in Afghanistan have been “left in the dark,” and is urging Canada’s Immigration Ministry to act quickly to help them escape the Taliban.
It’s been one year since Canada began accepting refugees through its one-year special immigration program for Afghans who helped the Canadian government. The program was established a few weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021. Last month, the government closed the program to new applicants, less than halfway toward its goal of bringing 40,000 Afghans to Canada.
Cory Moore, a former military legal officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, is helping 12 applicants and their families who applied for the program between September and December 2021. He is still waiting for word from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). All 12 Afghans were involved in various capacities during Moore’s mission to help bolster the Afghan National Army’s legal branch. The group includes military prosecutors, criminal investigators, security staff, recruitment video participants, a doctor, and a journalist.
To date, none of the 12 Afghans has received an email from IRCC about their application status. The government website instructs applicants to “wait for us to contact you” once an application has been submitted. “They don’t receive anything,” Moore said.
Tamar Boghossian, an immigration lawyer with Boghossian Morais LLP, is helping Moore with the case. Last week, she refiled and updated all 12 applications. Boghossian said all 12 applicants meet the government’s eligibility requirements. The issue, Boghossian said, is that the program has “no transparency.” The short timeline is also problematic, as the one-year program has already expired. “It’s a slap in the face to those who actually helped the Canadian government,” Boghossian said. “Why can’t we help these individuals in return?”
Boghossian is urging the government to not only extend the deadline for applications, but to also expand the number of people Canada will receive.
“We are working to process applications as quickly as possible,” wrote Aidan Strickland, the spokesperson for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, noting the resettlement initiative for Afghans is uniquely challenging. Strickland said the eligibility requirements are meant “to be as inclusive as possible,” and can include cooks, drivers, and other staff who helped Canada’s military. “We have accomplished much, but there is still more work to be done.”
Read Full Article from CBC (08/10/22)
Author: Hwang, Priscilla
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