The ongoing crisis in the Middle Eastern nation of Syria has forced two million of its twenty-two million former citizens to flee their borders and find better lives for themselves and their families. One of the countries that refugees have tried to reach is Canada, where currently over ten thousand refugees await processing so that they may begin their new lives.
In response, the Canadian Government has proposed a plan that would see ten thousand Syrian refugees brought in by the end of 2016. This would expedite immigration processing by skipping some of the standard screening international travellers normally go through.
Despite the benefits of speeding up procedure, the risks of skipping too many steps in procedure are not simply inconveniencing, but potentially endangering to the lives of Canadians. These refugees are fleeing a region seized by I.S.I.S., a group with a history of planting agents and coercion through extremism and threats. Canada itself has been through two incidents incited by such extremists, resulting in the deaths of two law enforcement officials in less than a three-month span. These incidents could be repeated if proper procedure isn’t followed.
The proposal, according to Harper, would prioritize the processing of refugees over existing applications. This would significantly slow the integration of non-refugee immigrants, greatly disrupting the queue and the lives of others waiting to become citizens of Canada.
That said, the circumstances from which the refugees have fled are extenuating, and should be treated as such. In terms of proportion, Canada is faced with ten thousand potential immigrants out of the existing two million currently seeking refuge throughout Asian and European countries. Canada has, at the time of writing, already processed a quarter of the ten thousand without major incident. The process has the added benefit of having doubled the workforce of immigration offices throughout Alberta and Manitoba, specifically Winnipeg.
In addition to this, expediting the immigration process for Syrian refuges has become increasingly necessary. Recently 3,000 of the 400,000 refugees fleeing Iraq have attempted to reach Canada, adding on to those already waiting for immigration processing.
As the situations in war-torn countries intensify, the possible solutions become more difficult to define as morally correct. Solutions proposed to help tend to both inconvenience and, in some instances, endanger the lives of both refugees and the citizens of countries that they flee to.
When one looks at the situation from both perspectives, a solution becomes more difficult to discern. Perhaps reducing circumstance to that of numbers and speed is the only solution. With this in mind, it would make sense to expedite refugee processing. This may be the most efficient and feasible solution, if only because we currently lack any other.