Deportee issue ‘jeopardizing integrity’ of law

Posted by admin on May 8th, 2008


OTTAWA — Canada’s border agency has lost track of 41,000 illegal immigrants ordered to leave the country – most of whom are failed refugee claimants, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said yesterday in her latest report on how Ottawa spends. She also reprimanded Canada Border Services Agency for making uneven decisions about when to detain suspected illegal immigrants and for failing to watch the bottom line when it comes to escorting deportees out
of the country.

It’s the first time the watchdog has delivered what it calls a precise count of how many people have been ordered out of the country but cannot be located. Back in 2003, when it last tackled the subject, Ms. Fraser’s office reported that the estimated gap between those ordered removed and deported had grown by 36,000 over six years, but did not provide a count.

“Due in part to a lack of exit controls, there is a growing number of individuals whose whereabouts are unknown and who might remain in Canada illegally, thereby jeopardizing the integrity of the program,” the Office of the Auditor-General said in yesterday’s report.

The fact that these people can elude the Canada Border Services Agency reduces the incentive of other immigrants to follow the rules, Ms. Fraser said during a news conference.

“It’s obviously a problem because it really goes to the integrity of our immigration laws. If people can come into the country and stay here illegally, why would you go through what is a very long and complicated process to become a resident in Canada?”

The Conservatives, who railed against Ottawa’s inability to track illegal immigrants back when they were in opposition in 2003 yesterday played down the news. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Ottawa has done a better job of giving the boot to illegal immigrants, noting the number deported rose to 12,600 in 2006-2007 from 8,700 in 2002-2003.

But he acknowledged there should be a better way to monitor those ordered deported. “There needs to be a better system to track people who have been told they’re inadmissible, and many of those people leave of their own accord, but they don’t report it, and that’s one of the recommendations we want to pursue,” Mr. Day said.

Customs and Excise Union president Ron Moran said the findings reflect the fact that not enough funding is being directed to detaining and removing deportees. As Ms. Fraser’s office reported yesterday, Ottawa hasn’t significantly increased the cash dedicated to this area since she audited the program five years ago.

Mr. Moran, who represents customs workers, said the report should be a wake-up call.

The Auditor-General’s office also found that Ottawa has failed to deliver on a 2004 pledge to better track immigrants slated for deportation. It never fulfilled a commitment to introduce a new “Global Case Management System” for tracking deportees.

“As a result, the agency’s ability to track individuals in the detention and removal process remains limited.”

Ms. Fraser’s office carried out this follow-up audit on Canada’s deportation system after a request from the House of Commons Public Accounts committee that it revisit its 2003 findings.

The Auditor-General said the Canada Border Services Agency has increasingly used alternatives to detention for deportees, such as releasing them on the condition they post money as guarantees. But she reported that almost one in five – or 368 of the 2,038 bonds posted in 2004-2005 – were forfeited because individuals breached the terms of their
release. Last night, Mr. Day issued a statement that said the Canada Border Services Agency had arrested 45 people alleged to be in the country illegally.

The 45 were picked up during a raid on a distribution warehouse facility in the Toronto area, with the help of Peel Regional Police, the statement said. The undocumented workers face possible removal from Canada. The release did not say when the arrests occurred.

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