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April 12th, 2022

Liberals must remove red tape to bring families of Afghan interpreters and collaborators to Canada

The federal government is further delaying the process which could cost more people their lives

OTTAWA – Today, NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Jenny Kwan called out the Liberal government for requiring Afghan interpreters to complete even more bureaucratic red tape before they can bring their families to safety in Canada. Only days after the interpreters held a protest and hunger strike to highlight the already frustrating and lengthy process in March, the government requested even more documentation from their family members seeking asylum.

“Afghan interpreters and their families have gone through enough,” said Kwan. “Just days after their protest, the government decided to complicate the process even more for these Afghan interpreters and their family members threatened by the Taliban. While the families flee for their lives in Afghanistan, the government is burying their loved ones with more onerous paperwork. For some, this may as well be a death sentence.”

In an email to Afghan interpreters, the government says they have 30 days to submit additional documents, or their families’ applications may be refused. The families have already submitted abundant documentation to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) when they first applied. Now, eight months later, the government is putting up more hurdles for the families. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals need to make good on their promise to bring the families of Afghan interpreters to safety in Canada.

“Former Afghan interpreters are part of the Canadian military family — they deserve recognition,” said Kwan. “They have already gone through layers and layers of vetting and security checks when they served with Canadian troops. The Canadian military has vouched for them with certifications. At the Special Afghanistan Committee, all the former interpreters said that they will vouch for their family members. If the government doesn’t stop with this bureaucratic red tape, more lives will be lost.”

The NDP is calling once again on the Liberals to waive the documentation requirements, issue single travel journey documents to the family members to reach a third country and, from there, organize evacuation flights to reunite them with their loved ones in Canada. The NDP is also calling on the government to waive the refugee determination requirements and allow Afghans to apply for the special immigration measures from within Afghanistan.

Reactions from former Afghan interpreters:

“I do not know how to reply or submit these when I have no contact with my family. They are hiding from the Taliban. They are barely surviving. They do not have the luxury of accessing computers. One of my brothers has gone missing and I fear that he may have been captured by the Taliban. As the government delays the process, the risks for our family members increases. Eventually their luck will run out and they will lose their lives.”
– Safiullah Mohammad Zahed

“Previous to this, we have received numerous requests from IRCC and different government departments asking for many of the same documentations. The families have submitted what documentations we could get our hands on already. For some, they have had to burn them fearing that the Taliban will find them. How can we produce documents that have already been burned? This was all explained to the government. Now they are asking for them again but this time with a 30-day deadline. We have supported Canada—at the risk of our lives and the lives of our families—and now it seems as though the government is getting back at us for speaking out. I can’t help but to think that they are just trying to get rid of us by coming up with a reason to refuse our applications.”
– Ghulam Faizi

“All we are asking for is that our families be treated the same as Ukrainian nationals. We understand what they are going through and we support them wholeheartedly. They are trying to escape the violence and death inflicted by the Russians. We have been there. Now, our family members are trying to escape the Taliban. Are our lives not worth the same as Ukrainian nationals?”
– Ahmad Sayed