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Eritrea: Former refugees lose residency for visiting homeland

Ottawa has slowly — and quietly — stepped up efforts to strip permanent resident status from former refugees who were granted asylum in Canada and later returned to the country where they once faced persecution.

Wielding new powers that came in with changes to immigration law in 2012, the federal government is now actively pursuing reopening asylum files under what’s known as a “cessation application” and forcing refugees whose circumstances have changed to leave Canada. An internal document showed the Conservative government has set an annual target of 875 applications to strip refugee status. Advocates say the government initiative has created anxiety and fear among former refugees, who may sometimes travel back to their homeland to visit ailing relatives or visit for longer periods after conditions in the country improve.