OPEN LETTER: Calling for Change in Policy Directive of 1000 Application Cap to the Special Family Reunification Program for Gaza

OPEN LETTER: Calling for Change in Policy Directive of 1000 Application Cap to the Special Family Reunification Program for Gaza

Many civil society groups and stakeholders have been vocal in their condemnation of an arbitrary application cap for over a week. Many feel the cap was unfair and discriminatory when they look to other temporary special immigration measures, such as the CUAET measure for Ukraine, that have not arbitrarily limited applications.

The confusion caused by the public policy and the unfortunate delay in clarification created tense conditions for the Palestinian-Canadian community. To many families, these applications mean the difference between the life and death. Not knowing when the online portal would open but understanding that spots are limited caused many people to stay awake through the night, continually refreshing the application portal to not miss the chance for a spot. I know you agree that Palestinian- Canadians have endured enough and do not need their anxieties needlessly exacerbated.

            

Hill Times: Palestinian Canadians race against time and each other as Gazan visa cap threatens hopes of family reunification

NDP MP Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, B.C.), her party’s immigration critic, and MP Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre, Ont.) also wrote a letter to Miller, calling the imposed cap “shocking” and “indefensible.”

“In this catastrophic environment, families in Canada with loved ones trapped in Gaza should not be pitted against each other out of fear that their application will not be considered when the arbitrary 1,000 applications quota is filled,” reads the Jan. 5 letter calling on the government to immediately retract the cap on applications. 
In a Jan. 8 interview with The Hill Times, Kwan said she was initially relieved to hear the announcement of the program, rewatching Miller’s press conference twice and signing up for the briefing the next day in order to provide as much accurate information as she could during a Zoom meeting later that evening with Palestinian Canadians across Canada who had hoped to access the program. Kwan said that when she joined the call, she was met with more than 1,000 participants, each with family members of their own in Gaza who they hope to bring to Canada.
“It was such an important announcement that gave people hope that they could bring their loved ones to safety,” Kwan said. “When [Miller] announced the cap, disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe it … they gave them hope, and now they’re going to shut the door quickly and say ‘good luck to the rest of you.’”

Kwan said she has no doubt that the cap would severely limit the number of people who would have otherwise accessed the program, noting that even without the cap, there were already significant hurdles to getting people to safety outside Gaza.

OPEN LETTER: Arbitrary cap of 1000 applications for special family reunification measures for Gaza

OPEN LETTER: Arbitrary cap of 1000 applications for special family reunification measures for Gaza

This announcement was widely welcomed, albeit overdue. Nobody was more appreciative than those Canadians and permanent residents with family members trapped in Gaza. These same members of our communities have endured the longest and most unbearable months of their lives. Unfortunately, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not been forthright about this policy but shrouded certain details in uncertainty. In particular, the cap of 1,000 applications for the family reunification program that has been imposed is shocking.

Considering the unbearably horrific and inhumane conditions facing the nearly two million civilians that have been displaced in the Gaza Strip, the decision to cap the number of temporary resident visa applications at 1,000 is indefensible.

Families and children in the Gaza Strip are facing shortages of essential supplies including food, water, electricity, medicine, and fuel. UNICEF spokesperson James Elder has stated that “children face a serious threat of mass disease outbreak.”

  

CBC: 'Lost Canadians' win in Ontario court as judge ends 2 classes of citizenship

CBC: 'Lost Canadians' win in Ontario court as judge ends 2 classes of citizenship

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has ruled it's unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to children born abroad to parents who were also born overseas but have a substantial connection to Canada — a big win for "Lost Canadians" trying to reclaim citizenship rights.

"It's a wonderful Christmas gift," said Sujit Choudhry, a constitutional lawyer in Toronto representing seven multi-generational families living in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States who challenged what's known as Canada's "second-generation cut-off rule."

"It removes a second-class status that people had because of the accident of where they were born."

Choudhry filed a constitutional challenge in December 2021, suing the federal government for denying his clients the right to transmit their citizenship to their foreign-born offspring.

In a 55-page ruling released this week, Justice Jasmine Akbarali found that the second-generation cut-off rule violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it "treats differently those Canadians who became Canadians at birth because they were born in Canada from those Canadians who obtained their citizenship by descent on their birth outside of Canada.”


City News: Gov’t to offer 3-year visas to Canadians’ extended family in Gaza, starting in 2024

This development comes after the Liberals faced pressure from families and the federal NDP to find special pathways to bring extended family members of Canadians out of the region. Recognizing the advocacy from Canadians that led to Thursday’s announcement, Miller said the policy changes are about keeping families together.

“New Democrats welcome this long overdue announcement by the federal government,” NDP MP Jenny Kwan said in a statement. “Families have been waiting for this day for too long.” 

The minister has said while Canadian officials remain in contact with consular staff on the ground pushing for more evacuations—as an estimated 200 individuals registered with Global Affairs Canada remained trapped— the situation in the war zone remains precarious.


CBC: Canadian trapped in Gaza pleads for help as Ottawa announces new immigration measures

CBC: Canadian trapped in Gaza pleads for help as Ottawa announces new immigration measures

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan welcomed the government's announcement but said it was "long overdue."

"As more than two million people remain trapped under the devastating siege, many Canadians have been enduring daily distress that is beyond comprehension," she said in a media statement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked earlier in the day why the government didn't act sooner.


Media Release: NDP secures major investment in housing for indigenous peoples

Media Release: NDP secures major investment in housing for indigenous peoples

OTTAWA — On Wednesday, New Democrats used their power to force the Liberal government to invest in a For-Indigenous/By-Indigenous housing strategy for First Nations, Métis and Inuit living away from their home community.

A few days after Pierre Poilievre’s cut-and-gut Conservatives voted to cut funding for homes for Indigenous peoples, the NDP is delivering critical funding, and a For-Indigenous/By-Indigenous Centre responsible for channelling the funds through both national and regional Indigenous-led housing organizations. Through the Confidence and Supply Agreement, the NDP used their power to secure $8.3 billion in total federal funding to address the urgent, unmet housing needs of Indigenous people living in urban, rural and northern areas. This includes $4 billion dedicated to community distinctions-based funding and $4.3 billion for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living away from their home community.


The Tyee: How a Palestinian Injured in a Drone Strike Came to Canada

The Tyee: How a Palestinian Injured in a Drone Strike Came to Canada

The group lobbied federal members of Parliament, who wrote letters of support. Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship and MP for Vancouver East, took Alzaza’s story directly to then-immigration minister Sean Fraser. Barkan reached out to friend and fellow activist Roger Waters, bassist for the rock group Pink Floyd, who spoke out on Alzaza’s behalf.

CBC: Victims' families, women's advocates demand RCMP halt plan to dispose of Robert Pickton evidence

CBC: Victims' families, women's advocates demand RCMP halt plan to dispose of Robert Pickton evidence

The seven-page letter released Monday, titled "A Call To Preserve Evidence In The Pickton Case," is endorsed by nearly three dozen different organizations from across Canada, including several Indigenous women's groups, as well as several academics and other people including Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan.

The letter is co-signed by Sue Brown, a director and staff lawyer with the group Justice for Girls, and Sasha Reid, who is behind a database of missing people and unsolved murders in Canada.

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