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'Appalling' shortage of immigration appeal judges means long delays for justice, Calgary lawyers warn

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'Appalling' shortage of immigration appeal judges means long delays for justice, Calgary lawyers warn

Vacancies on Western Canada's immigration appeal tribunal expected to cause backlogs

By Jennifer Lee, CBC News Posted: Jun 07, 2017 7:54 PM MT Last Updated: Jun 08, 2017 9:41 AM MT

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Calling it a "crisis," Calgary lawyers are warning an extreme shortage of judges to deal with immigration appeals in western Canada will make already lengthy waits for family re-unification unacceptably long.

The Immigration Appeal Division — a tribunal that hears rejected family-class immigration cases — is experiencing a dramatic reduction in board members.

The majority of cases dealt with by the tribunal involve people trying to bring spouses and other family members to Canada. It also hears cases of permanent residents, refugees and others who have been ordered out of the country.

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), 11 federally-appointed judges should be hearing appeals — in Calgary and Vancouver — for the entire western region. But as of June 16, the IRB says it will be down to just one judge in each city.

The Privy Council Office, which took over the appointment process last year, tells CBC News there is one full-time and one part-time position in Vancouver and one member in Calgary.

"I'm very alarmed," said Peter Wong, a Calgary immigration lawyer who says, even when there was a full complement, the western region was short-staffed. "This crisis has already occurred."

Fears of more delays, cancellations

The glut of vacancies is spurring a cascade of concern that the western arm of the Immigration Appeal Division — which dealt with 1,756 new cases last year alone —  is about to grind to a halt.

Michael Greene, a partner in Calgary-based Sherritt Greene Immigration Lawyers, calls the situation "appalling."

"Within a week, they're basically going to have an empty house," said Greene, who points out the one full-time judge left in Vancouver will be a new appointee.

New members generally take nine to 12 months to be considered fully productive.

"Everybody else will be gone and [there will be] nobody to handle this enormous volume," said Greene.

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That means cases will be delayed, cancelled or not booked at all, and wait times will balloon beyond the current 12- to 18-month timeline, according to Wong.

"To me that's unacceptable," he said. "Spouses and people waiting for their parents should not have to be waiting two years, [or] three years to have an appeal heard. They need to have their day in court."

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada admits backlogs are a possibility.

In an email, a spokesperson for the department said officials are doing what they can to resolve and finalize cases, including having judges from Toronto deal with western Canadian hearings. 

"However, we will refrain from scheduling hearings we do not have the operational capacity to hear, and it is possible that some appeal hearings will need to be postponed," read the statement.

Families already struggling

Families are already waiting too long to have their cases heard. according to Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.

Further delays are a big concern for the organization, which hears from a lot of newcomers about the situation. 

"They are really suffering. They are frustrated," said Birjandian. "If we are bringing 300,000 people to this country, we have to be prepared for it."

Birjandian is calling on the federal government to take immediate action. "They're not moving as fast as they need to be...We want them to start looking at it today."

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Backlog caused by government overhaul 

The immigration vacancies are part of a large, nationwide backlog in appointments to federal Governor in Council positions.

The Trudeau government said last year the delays were caused, in part, by its decision to overhaul the entire appointments process and bring in a more transparent, merit-based system.

Through that change-over, responsibility for appointments to the Immigration Appeal Division shifted from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to the Privy Council Office (PCO).

A spokesperson for the PCO says the department hopes to finalize additional appointments in the coming weeks and is going through a selection process to identify more candidates.

"There's obviously a real problem in the way they've transitioned to their new appointment process," said Greene, who says many clients will no longer be able to have in-person hearings with judges.

"They'll have to settle for video hearings, which are just woefully inadequate," he said.

"It's a terrible process right now... And it's going to get far worse."

 

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-immigration-judge-shortage-1.4150043

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Video: Calgary gas-and-dash victim described as ‘mom who sacrificed her life’ at Mother’s Day service

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Watch on CCISTv: https://youtu.be/VZMC4CJkq_0

WATCH: A tearful memorial service was held on Sunday for a Calgary woman killed in a fatal gas-and-dash two years ago. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, Maryam Rashidi’s mother expressed her grief while friends are demanding workplace changes.

Dozens of mourners gathered at Rocky View Garden of Peace cemetery on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Maryam Rashidi.

Rashidi was killed in June of 2015 when she tried to stop a man from driving away from the Centex gas station she was working at without paying for fuel.

“I know there was conversation about, yeah she should not have done that. But this is nonsense,” said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, who spoke at the service.

“At that time, she felt something wrong was happening and she was trying to correct it.”

Friends called Rashidi a brave and intelligent woman. She is being remembered as a mother and engineer, who took a job at a gas station to support her family.

“A mom who was trying to put food on the table. A mom who was trying to right a wrong. A mom who sacrificed her life for the well-being of her kid,” said memorial organizer, Ehsan Hosseini.

Memorial organizers want to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. They’re asking for a provincial pay-before-you-pump law, and for employers to promote better safety through training.

“We can correct it for the newcomers in the future that they know their rights. They should know their rights,”  said family friend, Gina Masnadi.

“We can correct it with law and legislation about the gas stations, that people should get trained and know their rights.

“One of the things is remembering Maryam as a friend and as a brave lady. And also giving this message to the community that we should be supporting each other,” said Masnadi.

Those at the service want to know what has changed in Alberta since Rashidi died two years ago. After her death, the provincial government said it would look into pay at the pump legislation.

“We are still in mourning. We still feel that she really died for no reason. And we are hoping that should be prevented,” said Birjandian,

On May 5, Joshua Mitchell was acquitted of second degree murder in connection with Rashidi’s death. Instead, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter. A decision that isn’t sitting well with people who knew Rashidi.

“There has been some uneasiness about that decision that they feel that the punishment that this man is going to face does not really fit the crime that he committed. But at the same time, we have our faith in Canadian justice and I would urge everybody to do that,” said Birjandian.

Members of Calgary’s Iranian community are now making arrangements for Rashidi’s mother to travel to Calgary from Iran for Mitchell’s sentencing in August, and to finally see her daughter’s grave.

“She’s devastated. I was hoping that after two years she would be better and more settled, but unfortunately she is not,” Masnadi said of Rashidi’s mother.

 

Source: http://globalnews.ca/news/3450719/calgary-gas-and-dash-victim-described-as-mom-who-sacrificed-her-life-at-mothers-day-service/

 

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Calgary gas-and-dash victim described as ‘mom who sacrificed her life’ at Mother’s Day service

edmonton

gas

Carolyn Kurydecastillo

May 14, 2017 04:26 pm
 

Dozens of mourners gathered at Rocky View Garden of Peace cemetery on Sunday morning to celebrate the life of Maryam Rashidi.

Rashidi was killed in June of 2015 when she tried to stop a man from driving away from the Centex gas station she was working at without paying for fuel.

“I know there was conversation about, yeah she should not have done that. But this is nonsense,” said Fabiborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, who spoke at the service.

“At that time, she felt something wrong was happening and she was trying to correct it.”

Friends called Rashidi a brave and intelligent woman. She is being remembered as a mother and engineer, who took a job at a gas station to support her family.

“A mom who was trying to put food on the table. A mom who was trying to right a wrong. A mom who sacrificed her life for the well-being of her kid,” said memorial organizer, Ehsan Hosseini.

Memorial organizers want to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. They’re asking for a provincial pay-before-you-pump law, and for employers to promote better safety through training.

“We can correct it for the newcomers in the future that they know their rights. They should know their rights,”  said family friend, Gina Masnadi.

“We can correct it with law and legislation about the gas stations, that people should get trained and know their rights.

“One of the things is remembering Maryam as a friend and as a brave lady. And also giving this message to the community that we should be supporting each other,” said Masnadi.

Those at the service want to know what has changed in Alberta since Rashidi died two years ago. After her death, the provincial government said it would look into pay at the pump legislation.

“We are still in mourning. We still feel that she really died for no reason. And we are hoping that should be prevented,” said Birjandian,

On May 5, Joshua Mitchell was acquitted of second degree murder in connection with Rashidi’s death. Instead, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter. A decision that isn’t sitting well with people who knew Rashidi.

“There has been some uneasiness about that decision that they feel that the punishment that this man is going to face does not really fit the crime that he committed. But at the same time, we have our faith in Canadian justice and I would urge everybody to do that,” said Birjandian.

Members of Calgary’s Iranian community are now making arrangements for Rashidi’s mother to travel to Calgary from Iran for Mitchell’s sentencing in August, and to finally see her daughter’s grave.

“She’s devastated. I was hoping that after two years she would be better and more settled, but unfortunately she is not,” Masnadi said of Rashidi’s mother.

Rashidi’s mother spoke to mourners at the graveside service from her home in Iran on Sunday. Despite her grief, she is finding some solace from the outpouring of support from the Calgary community, and knowing her daughter’s organs are now giving hope to six other families.

“She, by dying, she tried to prevent something that was wrong. But when she passed away she was killed, she actually saved six other lives,” said Birjandian.

Source: http://www.630ched.com/syn/98/227492/calgary-gas-and-dash-victim-described-as-mom-who-sacrificed-her-life-at-mothers-day-service

 

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Calgary to welcome 200 Yazidi refugees by end of year

Calgary to welcome 200 Yazidi refugees by end of year

cbccalgary

U.N. report says ISIS seeking to destroy small religious minority community

CBC News Posted: Mar 22, 2017 1:02 PM MT Last Updated: Mar 22, 2017 1:06 PM MT

Dozens of Yazidi refugees are starting to settle into life in Calgary. 

They're among a larger community of about 1,200 the federal government has promised to resettle over the course of this year.

Fariborz Birjandian, with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, is helping the newcomers adjust. 

So far, 48 Yazidi refugees have arrived in Calgary, including one family of seven consisting of two sisters and their children. 

"The men, the members of their family, they are missing," said Birjandian. "Obviously, they have both been killed. Obviously, that is quite significant."

Persecuted minority

The Yazidis are a religious minority with a 6,000-year-old culture based mainly in northern Iraq. ISIS launched brutal attacks targeting the Yazidi community in August 2014.

Last June, a United Nations report said ISIS was seeking to destroy the community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

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The refugees' arrival in Canada has been tightly controlled and kept largely under wraps — unlike the very public airport arrivals of some of the first Syrian refugees more than a year ago.

In January, Dawn Edlund, associate assistant deputy minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said the government is carefully avoiding language that could lead to revictimization, and avoiding releasing any details publically that could put other relatives still in captivity at risk.

Resilient families

Back in Calgary, Birjandian says each of the families have managed to settle as best they can.

"They have a lot of question, a lot of fears coming to [Canada] but definitely they are really appreciative and they are very positive, actually. I'm very impressed with their resilience."

Birjandian said Calgary is one of four settlement locations in Canada, and the families are living close together because the Yazidi community is so small. 

Calgary will accept about 200 Yazidi refugees this year.

 

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/yazidi-refugees-calgary-1.4036377

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Agencies push back against Coulter's attacks on Calgary's Syrian refugees

Agencies push back against Coulter's attacks on Calgary's Syrian refugees

calgaryhearld

Published on: March 22, 2017 | Last Updated: March 22, 2017 6:13 AM MDT

 

Comments from a notorious American political commentator that Syrian refugees are ballooning Calgary’s poverty rate were deflated by local social workers.

In response to a Postmedia story published Monday on a drive to collect clothing and halal food for the city’s needy Muslims, Ann Coulter on Tuesday tweeted “Keep it up Calgary and we may not be able to make you our 51st state,” possibly mistaking the city for a province or country.

She goes on to say “massive jump in poverty as “underprivileged” “refugees” pour in.”

It’s an assessment divorced from reality, said Karen Young, president of the Calgary United Way.

“In 2012, there was back then a poverty rate of 10 per cent, and it’s about 10 per cent now, or 120,000 people,” said Young.

The influx of about 3,000 Mideast, mostly Syrian, refugees began in late 2015.

In the Monday news story, the Muslim Families Network Society, which organized the drive, said the number of Muslims in the city doubled since the latest refugee crisis began.

Young said she’d rather not address any comments made by Coulter, but added “we really believe in the value of fairness, inclusion and diversity.”

The numbers of those refugees aren’t significant enough to considerably affect the city’s poverty rate, said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society which has overseen the refugee influx.

“They’re looking for an excuse to move an agenda,” he said of Coulter.

Most of the Mideast refugees are privately-sponsored and among those, 40% are now working a, figure he says “is quite good.”

Government-sponsored refugees tend to be less educated and about 10% of them have jobs, said Birjandian, who fled religious persecution in Iran 30 years ago.

“The reality is, it’s a struggle, but we should make sure they succeed,” he said.

He said one study shows that within 20 years, the rate of home ownership among one-time refugees is on par with those born in Canada while in Calgary, it’s 10% higher.

“On a settlement level, they’re doing quite well, they have kids in school learning, who’ll start working,” said Birjandian.

BKaufmann [AT] postmedia [DOT] com

Source: http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/city-pushes-back-right-wing-commentator-ann-coulters-attacks-on-calgarys-syrian-refugees

 

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