Canada limits male refugees from Syria, welcomes women and children

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In Canada, recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Liberal, has backed off a campaign promise to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees there by New Year’s Day limiting the intake of tired, poor and huddled masses this year to 10,000, as long as none of them are single, heterosexual Syrian men.  

Earlier this week the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., or CBC, reported that the government’s Syrian refugee plan will only be accepting women, children and families.

On Tuesday, the National Post newspaper reported that single Syrian men will be allowed to resettle in Canada “if they identify as LGBT or are accompanying their parents as part of a family unit.”

John McCallum, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, also told reporters that the Trudeau government remains committed to welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees, but pushed back the deadline to the end of February, with at least 10,000 more processed by the end of next year.  About 4 million Syrian refugees have been displaced by war and terrorism in their native land since 2012.

McCallum stressed that the delay is necessary “to do it right,” news reports indicated.

Out of the 25,000 refugees expected to enter Canada by the end of February, 10,000 will be “privately sponsored,” in which residents host the new arrivals, McCallum said. The Canadian government has launched several websites aimed at encouraging residents to receive them with open arms, in addition to promoting the #WelcomeRefugees hashtag on Twitter.

McCallum also stressed that single men who are privately sponsored will not be subject to the LGBT/family restrictions, adding that Canada “will choose the most vulnerable, whatever their religion might be.”

The refugees, according to a government fact sheet, “will be admitted into Canada, in either Montreal or Toronto, and then continue directly on to their destination community.” There are 36 of these cities and towns across the country.

McCallum said 6,000 living spaces will be available at military bases in Ontario and Quebec provinces in the event of a housing shortage.

The total cost is projected to reach as much as C$678 million over six years, the Post reported.  

As for the potential impact on the U.S., a Reuters report Wednesday explored concerns that much of the 500-mile stretch of the U.S.-Canadian border in Montana alone is “relatively porous” without so much as a cattle fence to show where it runs.

The northern U.S. border as a whole is patrolled by 2,200 American agents, compared with 18,000 who monitor the U.S frontier with Mexico, Reuters reported.

In October, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a proposal from Rep. John Katko’s (R-New York) that would direct the Department of Homeland Security to analyze potential vulnerabilities along the Canadian-American border. The measure, called the Northern Border Security Review Act, received votes from Democrats as well as Republicans.

In an Oct. 28 floor speech urging support for the bill, Katko recalled several instances in which Canadian and American authorities intercepted terrorist plots. But he also pointed to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, that determined only 69 miles of the 4,000-mile frontier with Canada is “under operational control.”

A similar bill pending in the U.S. Senate, the Northern Border Security Review Act introduced in July, is still awaiting a vote.

Contact Evan Lips at [email protected] or on Twitter at @evanmlips.