Syria refugee sponsorship update

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees has missed the fast-track boat to receive a Syrian refugee.

The Houston Group to Sponsor Syrian Refugees has missed the fast-track boat to receive a Syrian refugee.

The latest setback comes as a result of the federal government scaling back its efforts to bring in Syrian refugees after hitting its 25,000 target.

As a result of missing that opportunity, the HGSSR’s attempts to sponsor a Syrian refugee will have the same priority as any refugee waiting in the queue to come to Canada, co-chair Bobby Seinen said.

However, the group will stick to its course.

“It’s same game plan,” said Seinen. “Work through compiling the application, submit it and wait our turn in line. That’s all we can do.”

The HGSSR first organized itself on Dec. 9 last year and Seinen said that was chiefly the reason why they were late to start their sponsorship drive.

“And then there was basically a break over Christmas, so officially we didn’t really start until the beginning of January,” said Seinen. “The initial deadline for the government was by the end of February, and if we had wanted a government-assisted refugee, they wouldn’t have given us one, because we’re considered an outpost.

“The only places in British Columbia where government-assisted refugees were originally to be assigned was the Lower Mainland.

“There’s a blended visa refugee, which is 50-50 per cent government assisted private assisted, there are a few of those outside the Lower Mainland, but again, people had to raise the money before they could go ahead with an application.”

The HGSSR only managed to raise its targeted $30,000 last month.

However, it faces additional costs of paying for the flight and immigration medical exam of bringing in a refugee.

“When the government was doing its fast-tracking, the government covered that cost,” she said. “So that adds to our expenses as a sponsorship group, but we don’t want it to be a burden on the refugee.”

The HGSSR has decided that they will pay for that cost.


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