Inside/Outside the Circle: From the Indochinese Designated Class to Contemporary Group Processing


  • Robert C. Batarseh York University



Canada, Indochinese refugees, Tibetan refugees, refugee policy, resettlement, eligibility, group processing, designated class


This article compares the conditions surrounding the creation of Canada’s former Indochinese Designated Class and the contemporary group processing program. Under this program the UNHCR identifies and refers entire groupings of refugees for resettlement in Canada. The article also briefly touches on the selection of Tibetan refugees by Canadian officials in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Designated Class framework streamlined eligibility for resettlement and allowed government officials to respond to persons not covered by the narrower definition of refugee under the Convention. In a similar fashion, contemporary group processing aims to make resettlement processing efficient by skipping refugee status determinations and using group profiles. The aftermath of the Indochinese resettlement programs and the tightening of eligibility under the Indochinese Designated Class have shaped the creation of group processing. Concerns over “pull factors,” economic migration, and fraud, along with the securitization of migration, have led to a preference for homogenous and self-contained groupings of refugees. The article traces the Canadian government’s preoccupation with visualizing and drawing boundaries around groupings of refugees. While both group processing and the former Indochinese Designated Class aim to make resettlement processing efficient, this objective plays a more prominent role under the former, intersecting with security practices in unique ways and informing the selection of groupings of refugees.


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Author Biography

Robert C. Batarseh, York University

Robert Batarseh is a senior PhD candidate in the Political Science Program at York University working on the final stages of his dissertation. His doctoral research investigates the selection of refugee groups for resettlement in Canada, also known as “group processing”, under the Canadian Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program. Prior to this, he completed a BA and MA in Political Science at Carleton University. Other research interests include: the securitization of migration, surveillance, risk management, border control practices, global health governance, and the securitization of infectious diseases.



How to Cite

Batarseh, R. C. (2016). Inside/Outside the Circle: From the Indochinese Designated Class to Contemporary Group Processing. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 32(2), 54–66.

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