Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 11, 2004
Church leaders meet with immigration minister
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Canadian Church leaders and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro are to begin discussions in mid-October on ways to improve the refugee determination system to protect people whose lives may be in danger if they are deported.
The leaders and representatives of other groups met privately with Sgro in Ottawa Sept. 29. The Church groups are worried about her appeal this summer for churches to stop granting sanctuary to failed refugee claimants because of the risk of har-bouring criminals and terrorists.
"It was a very positive meeting," said Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It was a chance to clarify some things and we are looking forward to another meeting."
The Church leaders say the refugee determination process is flawed and say that only one person decides whether a refugee claimant is allowed to stay in Canada.
"The best trained and most discerning of individuals is capable of an error in judgment," said Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In August, the Church leaders said they would not close their churches to refugees threatened with deportation until the appeal process is reformed.
In March, an Algerian activist was deported after police stormed a Quebec City church where he had taken refuge. Church groups, including the CCCB, Development and Peace, and Canadian Religious Conference said in a letter to Sgro that "Brute force is not an answer."
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