Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When the Canadian Consulate office in Downtown Buffalo closed last year, it created a massive backlog for people from all over the world trying to become Canadian citizens.
Now, around 10,000 people describe themselves as the "Forgotten of Buffalo," and they want the Canadian government to do something to speed up their permanent residency applications.
Many of those people can't get work. Others lost their health care coverage. Some have been forced to leave Canada and return to their home countries, even though they were elibigle for citizenship. It's all due to the delays.
The Buffalo office was known for its efficiency. However, as a cost-cutting measure, the Canadian government decided to close it. At that point, around 10,000 applications were transferred to Canadian workers, and the problems began.
Critics say the Canadian offices that received those applications were simply overwhelmed and haven't been able to keep up.
"I understand that they were doing it as a cost-cutting measure," said Buffalo-based Immigration Attorney Rosanna Berardi. "But the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo has always been known for decades as the most efficient, friendly processing center for these types of applications. So when it was abruptly closed, we knew there was going to be some major fallout in terms of applications that were going to go to the wayside. We didn't know that there'd be quite 10,000."
Canadian officials say they hope to have all the applications processed by the summer, but that's too late for many.
The Buffalo office of the Consulate remains closed; however, Canadian officials agreed to place two workers from the New York City office in the Buffalo area to help with economic and border management issues.