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2021 Data

2021 Refugee Claim Data and IRB Member Recognition Rates

The following note and the accompanying data are provided by Sean Rehaag, Director of the Refugee Law Laboratory, Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies, and Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

21 October 2022

Data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) through Access to Information Requests and a data sharing agreement reveals vast disparities in refugee claim recognition rates across decision-makers in 2021. This is consistent with similar findings from prior years for Canada’s previous and new refugee determination systems.

In 2021, some Refugee Protection Division (RPD) decision-makers who decided over 30 cases granted refugee status in all the cases they heard, including K. Bugby (100.0%), D. Coyne (100.0%), H Savage (100.0%) and D. Simonian (100.0%). Others who decided over 30 cases granted refugee protection much less frequently, including M. Bourassa (9.3%), P Panajotov (3.0%) and D. Mungovan (0.0%).

The tables also show substantial variance for some decision-makers between the recognition rates that would be predicted based solely on the average recognition rates for the countries of origins in the cases they decided, and their actual recognition rates. For instance, J. Berkovits (predicted 69.3%; actual 95.9%), C. Côté (predicted 63.2%; actual 88.9%) and A. Guarino (predicted 64.2%; actual 89.4%) had much higher recognition rates than predicted, whereas M. Bourassa (predicted 54.0%, actual 9.3%), K. Gibson (predicted 73.4%; actual 23.6%) and D. Mungovan (predicted 59.5%; actual: 0.0%) had much lower recognition rates than predicted. All decided at least 30 cases.

Some of the recognition rate variation observed in the data is due to specialization in particular types of cases. For example, some decision-makers specialize in geographic regions with especially high or low refugee claim recognition rates. It should also be kept in mind that to enhance efficiency the RPD has recently placed increased emphasis on streaming cases into different categories, including expedited cases that are granted based on paper reviews rather than hearings. The proportion of such claims heard by particular decision-makers may affect their recognition rates. For further possible explanations for variations in recognition rates, please see an explanatory note (also available in French) that was provided by the IRB.

The data for 2021 also includes information about outcomes on appeals at the IRB’s Refugee Appeal Division (RAD). Like the variations seen in RPD decision-making, RAD decision-makers have very different rates at which they grant appeals. For example, in RAD cases decided on the merits, claimants were much more likely to succeed in their appeals before J. Corry (71.7%), H. Shepherd (70.8%) or J. Pollock (69.2%) than before G. Guerrier (5.4%), E. Rose (4.1%) or L. Mokhtar (1.1%). All decided at least 30 cases.

A few implications of this year’s data are worth highlighting:

  • The persistence of variations in recognition rates across adjudicators, combined with the devastating potential impact of false negative refugee decisions (i.e. refugees being returned to face persecution), make robust oversight mechanisms essential. Unfortunately, some refugee claimants continue to be denied access to the appeal at the IRB and are ineligible for automatic stays on removal pending judicial review at the Federal Court. This includes claimants who transited to Canada via the United States under an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement – even though one’s route to Canada has little to do with whether one has a well-founded fear of persecution. For further analysis, see: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2647638
  • The overall success rate in RAD appeals is remarkably high. Indeed, appeals brought by claimants and decided on the merits in 2021 were granted in around a third of cases (34.9%). The fact that the RAD so frequently finds either that the claim was wrongly denied at the RPD or that new evidence demonstrates that the claimant is entitled to refugee protection emphasizes the importance of this form of oversight. And it is yet another reason why all claimants, including those who have transited to Canada via the United States, must be entitled to a full appeal on the merits. For further analysis, see: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2647638

For a discussion of the methodology used to obtain the data and to calculate the statistics, as well as an analysis of the implications of similar data for a previous year, see https://ssrn.com/abstract=1468717

Note that this data was provided by the IRB through a data sharing agreement that requires compliance with the Treasury Board Privacy Implementation Notice and the IRB’s Small Value Suppression Policy. While we are grateful to the IRB for engaging with researchers in this way – and while we share the view that it is important to protect the privacy interests of refugee claimants – the agreement limits how much data we are able to publicly share. Thus, for example, unlike in many past years we are not posting the raw data we obtained. We are also only posting statistics relating to outcomes in cases decided on the merits by Board Members (leaving hundreds of claims decided on other grounds out of the reported figures). We are also only posting recognition rates, rather than counts of cases and breakdowns of outcomes. If you are interested in general statistics on refugee claim outcomes, including breakdowns for all claims from particular countries, we encourage you to consult the statistics webpages of the IRB and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Tables for RPD Cases:

1.1. Outcomes by Board Member (Alphabetical)

1.1a. Outcomes by Board Member (Organized by Recognition Rate, 30+ Decisions)

1.1b. Outcomes by Board Member(Organized by RR Nominal Variance, 30+ Decisions)

1.2. Outcomes by Board Member (Excluding Paper Review & Expedited Positive Decisions) (Alphabetical)

1.2a. Outcomes by Board Member (Excluding Paper Review & Expedited Positive Decisions) (Alphabetical) (Organized by Recognition Rate, 30+ Decisions)

1.2b. Outcomes by Board Member (Excluding Paper Review & Expedited Positive Decisions) (Alphabetical) (Organized by RR Nominal Variance, 30+ Decisions)

1.3. Outcomes by Country and Board Member

1.4. Outcomes by Board Member and Country

Tables for RAD Cases:

2.1. RAD Outcomes by Board Member (Alphabetical)

2.2. RAD Outcomes by Board Member (Organized by Allowal Rate, 30+ Decisions)


To be cited as: Sean Rehaag, “2021 Refugee Claim Data and IRB Member Recognition Rates” (21 October 2022), online: https://refugeelab.ca/refugee-claim-data-2021.

NOTES:

  • The data was obtained through Access to Information Request A-2021-01792 and a data sharing agreement with the IRB dated 8 July 2022.
  • Tables 1.1, 1.1a, 1.1b, 1.3 and 1.4 include only cases resulting in positive (including expedited positive and paper review positive) or negative (including no credible basis) decisions, excluding cases that were abandoned, withdrawn or otherwise decided. Tables 1.2, 1.2a and 1.2b, include only cases resulting in positive (excluding expedited positive and paper review positive) or negative (including no credible basis) decisions, excluding cases that were abandoned, withdrawn or otherwise decided.
  • All statistics (including recognition rates) include only principal applicant claims (i.e. excluding associated claims by family members of principal applicants).
  • A small number of cases were decided by panels of Board Members. Only the first listed Board Member is included in the statistics.
  • Country of origin averages and predicted recognition rates are calculated separately for tables that include (i.e. Tables 1.1, 1.1a, 1.1b, 1.3 and 1.4) and exclude (i.e.  Tables 1.2, 1.2a and 1.2b) expedited positive and paper review positive decisions.
  • The data refers to “recognition rates”. The term “recognition rate” is used to mean the proportion, expressed as a percentage, of positive (including expedited positive) decisions relative to the total number of positive (including expedited positive and paper review positive where applicable) and negative (including no credible basis) decisions, excluding cases that are abandoned, withdrawn or otherwise resolved. This is the standard practice for reporting outcomes by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (https://www.unhcr.org/statistics), and it is the way that both “recognition rates” and “grant rates” were reported for data obtained for prior years (see links below).
  • Tables 2.1 and 2.1a only include principal applicant RAD appeals brought by claimants (i.e. excluding appeals brought by the minister) that are decided on the merits (i.e. excluding appeals that are abandoned, withdrawn, not perfected, denied on jurisdictional grounds, or otherwise resolved).
  • This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Sean Rehaag

Director, Refugee Law Laboratory
Director, Centre for Refugee Studies (on sabbatical leave in 2022-23)
Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
York University


Data from previous years via Refugee Law Lab:

2020
2019

Data from previous years via Canadian Council for Refugees:

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011 (Updated)
2011 (Original)
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006

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Deportation Data Repository

Statistics and Documents Relating to Deportation of People with a Refused Refugee Claim

Principal Researcher: Kathryn Tomko Dennler

Last updated: November 8, 2022

The data repository contains data received from Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests to obtain data and corporate documents related to the removal of people with a refused refugee claim, as well as records from relevant ATIP requests made by others. Most documents are from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), with some from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

All data refers to people with a refused refugee claim unless otherwise specified in the table of contents or on the data itself.

Contents:

The ATIP requests were made between September 2020 and May 2022. Updates to the data repository will be infrequent.

You can read the public report from the research: https://romerohouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Report-on-deportation.pdf

Data repository to be cited as: Dennler, Kathryn Tomko, “Deportation Data Repository: Statistics and Documents Relating to Deportation of People with a Refused Refugee Claim” (October 24, 2022), online: https://refugeelab.ca/projects/deportation-data.

Useful links:

If you have questions about the data and research, or if you have documents to add to the data repository, please contact the principal researcher, Kathryn Tomko Dennler by email: Kathryn dot Dennler at gmail dot com.

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Student Data Scientist / Programmer

The Refugee Law Lab is looking for students with strong Python, data scraping and data wrangling skills to help with natural language processing projects involving legal data.

Two part-time positions are open to York University undergraduate students in data science, computer science, software engineering or related disciplines.

The Lab has secured funding to build a free open-source legal analytics application in the refugee law field. The application uses data about Canada’s refugee determination process scraped from online sources, applies various NLP tools to extract useful information from that data, and then presents analysis of that data to assist refugee lawyers appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court.

To assist with this project, the successful candidates will:

(a) Participate in brainstorming and planning meetings
(b) Program automated processes for legal data collection from online sources
(c) Undertake data wrangling to clean the collected data
(d) Assist with applying NLP categorization tools on the data

Qualifications & Competencies:

  • Currently enrolled York undergraduate student in a relevant discipline (e.g. data science, computer science, software engineering)
  • Strong Python programming skills
  • Data scraping / data wrangling experience is an asset
  • Experience with natural language processing is an asset
  • French language skills are an asset
  • Lived experience with forced migration or being a member of an equity seeking group is an asset.

Place of work: remote

Salary: $25/hr (inclusive of vacation pay)

Time Commitment: Approximately 5-7 hours per week throughout the Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 Terms. Hours are flexible and we can accommodate periods of non-availability.

Eligibility: Current York University undergraduate student in 2nd / 3rd / 4th year in Data Science, Computer Science, Software Engineering or related disciplines. Must be eligible for Research at York positions.

Application Deadline: September 12 at 5:00pmET

Application process: Apply online with a CV, electronic copy of unofficial transcripts, and a brief cover note describing your interest in the position.

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Junior Backend Developer

The Refugee Law Lab is looking for a part-time junior backend developer to assist with an open source legal analytics application that we are building.

The backend developer will help us connect our application’s frontend visualizations with our relational database by writing efficient SQL and/or GraphQL queries to compute various metrics and analytics.

The position is open to current students or recently graduated students.

Core Requirements:

  • Degree in progress or recently completed degree in computer science, engineering, or related fields
  • Programming skills in NodeJS, GraphQL, and SQL
  • Experience with relational databases such as PostgreSQL
  • Experience with implementing and documenting API endpoints
  • Experience with a Version Control System such as Git
  • Current legal authorization to work in Canada

Assets, but not required:

  • Experience in data engineering/backend development roles is an asset
  • Lived experience with forced migration and/or being a member of an equity seeking group are assets

Time commitment: 5-7 hours per week for Fall Term 2022, with the possibility of additional work in the Winter Term.

Salary: $35/hr for undergraduate students, $45/hr for recent graduates

Application Deadline: Position open until filled

Application Process: Apply online with a CV, electronic copy of unofficial transcripts, and a brief cover note describing your interest in the position.

Context: The Refugee Law Lab, based at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School, is devoted to research and advocacy related to new legal technologies and their impact on refugees, other displaced communities, and people on the move. We develop datasets and legal analytics that enhance transparency in refugee law processes. We study and critique the use of artificial intelligence and other technologies by governments and private actors in the migration field. And we produce legal technology that advances the rights and interests of refugees and other marginalized people on the move.  We are committed to social justice, to interdisciplinarity, to evidence-informed policy, and to ensuring that the data, research and technologies that we produce are freely accessible to the public. We strive to work from a community-based perspective, foregrounding the lived experiences of people on the move and their interactions with technology. We have secured funding to build a free open-source legal analytics application in the refugee law field. The application uses data about Canada’s refugee determination process scraped from online sources, applies various NLP tools to extract useful information from that data, and then presents analysis of that data to assist refugee lawyers appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court.

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RAD Decision re: Bias (4 Apr 2022)

On April 4, 2022, the Refugee Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (Member Erin Bobkin) issued a decision overturning a Refugee Protection Division (RPD) decision on the basis that the RPD Member demonstrated a reasonable apprehension of bias towards Roma refugee claimants. As Member Bobkin wrote (at para 34):

“I find that a reasonable person would conclude that this Board Member has a predisposition against Roma claimants from Romania. I find that the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias is met. The five decisions reviewed in this appeal reveal that the Member has inappropriately used boilerplate reasons and has repeatedly engaged in a pattern of credibility findings based on inappropriate considerations. Looking at these patterns along with the confrontational and sarcastic tone used in this RPD hearing, I find the test for bias is made out.”

Read the decision here.

Read a media story about the case here.

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Student Backend Developer

The Refugee Law Lab, hosted at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School, is looking for a Part-Time Student Backend Developer.

The Backend Developer will join a team that currently includes a law professor, a research lawyer, a data scientist, a software engineer, and a front-end developer who are building a legal analytics app to help lawyers draw on insights from data about Canada’s refugee determination system to advance the interests of refugee claimants.

The app involves scraping data about refugee law processes from various online sources, parsing the data, applying natural language processing, and transforming the data into information that will be of use to refugee lawyers, presenting the information to refugee lawyers, and providing a secure venue for lawyers to exchange tips that relate to the information. The app will be made available free of charge to refugee lawyers and more broadly to members of the public. Wherever possible, data obtained through the project will be shared so that it can be used by other researchers.

We are seeking a backend developer who can help us develop and document a REST API to interface with databases such as PostgreSQL and MongoDB.

Core Requirements:

  • Degree in progress in computer science, engineering, or related fields at any Canadian university
  • Programming skills in Python, JavaScript, Node
  • Experience with documenting REST API endpoints
  • Experience with Git
  • Current legal authorization to work in Canada

Assets, but not required:

  • Experience with FastAPI and/or SQLAlchemy
  • Interest in leveraging technology to advance the interests of displaced people and other marginalized groups
  • Interest in contributing to open-source technologies

Pay, hours & location:

  • $40/hr (inclusive of 4% vacation pay)
  • This is a part time position with flexible work hours. We anticipate a total level of effort at around 120 hours, with approximately 10 hours per week for the first 8 weeks of the contract, followed by 5 hours per month as we move into the launch face of the project.
  • Start date: as soon as possible.
  • End date: 31 December 2022
  • Work is remote
  • Additional work may become available, as the Refugee Law Lab is growing quickly.

Application Process: Apply online with a CV and a brief cover note describing your interest in the position by Feb 7 at 5:00pm EST.

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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 23, 2021

LAW PROFS & CONSUMER ADVOCATES TO INVESTIGATE RACIAL PROFILING OF AIR PASSENGERS

Announcement: New funding received by York University’s Refugee Law Lab to work with Air Passenger Rights and University of New Brunswick law professor to investigate racial profiling by Canadian government at airports abroad

Toronto, ON, (November 23, 2021) – York University’s Refugee Law Laboratory is delighted to announce that it has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to work with Air Passenger Rights, Canada’s independent nonprofit consumer advocacy group for air travellers, and University of New Brunswick law professor Benjamin Perryman, to undertake a joint research project about the Canadian government’s use of racial profiling to prevent some people from travelling to Canada.

In 2016, the Canadian government made it mandatory for Canada-bound air travellers to get pre-authorization for their travel. Before boarding a plane, non-Canadian citizens must apply for and receive an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). An eTA is a mini-visa granted by a largely automated system. Each applicant is digitally cross-referenced against lists of “threats” to Canada’s security and the integrity of its immigration system. If a person is on a list, they are not issued an eTA and not allowed to board a plane. The eTA is part of a Beyond the Border strategy that extends the effective border beyond Canada’s territorial limits. One of the purposes of this strategy is to prevent the arrival in Canada of refugee claimants.

Air Passenger Rights, in the context of ongoing litigation, has discovered that the Canadian government appears to be racially profiling travellers and cancelling their eTAs to deboard perceived refugees from planes. Using targeting methodologies, private airline security forces and overseas enforcement officers search out indicators that a person will make a refugee claim once they arrive. One particularly problematic indicator is whether passengers are associated with refugees — implying that the Canadian government views passengers who associate with refugees as unwelcome. If there are enough indicators, the otherwise legitimate eTA is revoked and the door to Canada is closed. APR has painstakingly obtained documentary evidence showing that Hungarian Roma passengers are disproportionately screened and deboarded. This appears to be part of a longer-term trend of racial discrimination towards Hungarian Roma passengers that precedes the establishment of the eTA. 

“There is a long history in Canada and in Europe of racial discrimination against members of Roma communities,” said Professor Sean Rehaag, Director of York University’s Refugee Law Laboratory. “This research project is necessary because the Canadian government continues to strenuously fight the release of information about the eTA program and how that program is applied to Roma passengers”, he added.

This project, which received $19,854 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Engage Grant competition, will support research into this practice and explore whether Canada’s actions contravene domestic and international law.

# # #

ABOUT AIR PASSENGER RIGHTS

Air Passenger Rights is an independent, nonprofit organization of volunteers working to make the travelling public aware of its rights and capable of enforcing them. The organization’s mission is to turn helpless passengers into empowered travelers through education, advocacy, investigation, and litigation.

ABOUT THE REFUGEE LAW LABORATORY

The Refugee Law Laboratory, based at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School, undertakes research and advocacy related to new legal technologies and their impact on refugees, other displaced communities, and people on the move.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Sean Rehaag
Director & Associate Professor
Refugee Law Laboratory & Osgoode Hall Law School
York University
srehaag@osgoode.yorku.ca 

Gabor Lukacs
President
Air Passenger Rights
lukacs@airpassengerrights.ca

Benjamin Perryman
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law
University of New Brunswick
benjamin.perryman@unb.ca 

Simon Wallace
Research Lawyer & PHD Candidate
Refugee Law Laboratory & Osgoode Hall Law School
York University
simonwallace@osgoode.yorku.ca

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Sharp Borders: Technology, Pushbacks, and Interdisciplinary Investigation

November 15, 2021 (12:30 PM – 2:00 PM ET) (by zoom)

Details to come soon.

Register in advance for this joint RLL & CRS seminar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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Osgoode JD RA (Refugee Law)

The Refugee Law Lab is seeking a part-time Osgoode JD research assistant with an interest in refugee law. The successful candidate will assist the Lab by:

(a) Participating in brainstorming and planning meetings
(b) Assisting with preparing grant applications and manuscripts, including preparing research memoranda and copy editing
(c) Helping with legal data collection / data cleaning for Lab projects, including for the Refugee Law Lab Reporter

The position is open to JD students at Osgoode Hall Law School who have completed the Refugee Law course (or who have equivalent experience).

Supervisor: Sean Rehaag (RLL Director)

Time: up to 10 hours per week hours per week for the Fall Term (hours are flexible and we can accommodate periods where the candidate is not available), with the possibility of additional work in the Winter term.

Location: Remote

Pay: $25/hr (inclusive of vacation pay)

Eligibility: Must be a current Osgoode JD student

Mandatory qualifications :

• Strong legal research and writing skills

• Attention to detail

• Demonstrated interest in immigration/refugee law

• Successful completion of Refugee Law (or equivalent experience through clinical programs / employment)

Qualities that are assets but are not required:

• French language skills are an asset

• Experience with law journal editing is an asset

• Lived experience with forced migration and/or being a member of an equity seeking group are assets

Application Deadline: Sept 12 at 5:00 pm EST

Application Process: Apply online with a CV, electronic copy of unofficial transcripts, and a brief cover note describing your interest in the position.

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Summer Osgoode JD RA

The Refugee Law Laboratory (RLL) is looking to hire a summer Osgoode JD research assistant with an interest in refugee law. The successful candidate will assist the Lab with several ongoing projects, including law journal articles about Canada’s refugee determination system and about artificial intelligence and other new technologies in the migration law context. This position is only open to Osgoode Hall Law School students.

Supervisors: Sean Rehaag (RLL Director) & Petra Molnar (RLL Associate Director)

Time: approximately 35 hours per week for 15 weeks, May 2 to Aug 12 (dates flexible)

Location: If Covid restrictions allow in person research, then work will be hybrid in-person and remote (York University campus 3-5 days per week, Remote 0-2 days per week). If Covid restrictions do not allow in person research, then work will be remote.

Pay: $25/hr (inclusive of vacation pay)

Eligibility: Must be a current 1L/2L JD student at Osgoode Hall Law School

Expected tasks:

• Preparing legal research memoranda

• Copy-editing manuscripts, grant applications, and online materials

• Assisting with online events

• Other tasks as required

Mandatory qualities sought:

• Strong legal research and writing skills

• Attention to detail

• Interest in immigration/refugee law

Qualities that are assets but are not required:

• Ability to read in French

• Background in data science, statistics, computer science, or related disciplines

• Lived experience with migration or membership in other equity-seeking groups

Application Deadline: Feb 1 at 5:00 pm EST

Application Process: Apply online with a CV, unofficial transcripts, and a cover note describing your interest in the position.