Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Scrutiny of applications of Gaza applicants

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The system introduced by the federal government to vet applications for visa applicants to leave Gaza has come under fire

The system introduced by the federal government to vet applications for visa applicants to leave the Gaza Strip has come under criticism. Lawyers find the questions offensive. Others think the scrutiny should be deeper.

A special program has allowed 1,000 Gazans who have relatives in Canada to apply for visas. Applications have been accepted since last week. But the federal government is asking for an unusual level of detail in the application.

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Applicants are asked to provide details of their social media accounts, any bruises and other marks on their entire body, each of their relatives and every passport they have received so far. These questions are causing concern among families.

The families fear that they may not be able to answer these questions as they have been without internet, electricity or even enough food and water for three months. That’s what Calgary immigration lawyer Yamina Ansari said. He is advocating for the program as a member of the Gaza Family Reunification Project.

In an interview, he said, it is almost impossible for people who are fleeing from their homes to answer these questions. Apart from this, the questions after which are also painful. Because these questions imply that people desperate to escape the violence in Gaza are suspected terrorists. We did not ask such questions of people coming to Canada on humanitarian grounds. I think this is the kind of question we ask them if we think they are terrorists or fighters.

Lawyers for Secure Immigration, a group formed in the wake of the recent Israel-Hamas war, urged the government in a letter last week to ask more specific questions about Hamas and terrorist activities to prevent anyone from the militant group from entering Canada.

Richard Carland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and a member of the organization, called these questions inadequate. Because, through this, it is not possible to prove the possible connection with Hamas and the October 7 attack.

He said he understands the importance of Palestinian Canadians entering Canada safely. But it cannot be done blindly. Once the bad guys get into Canada, getting them out is a long and difficult task.

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