Opposition slams new immigration fraud tip line

Posted by admin on Sep 8th, 2011

By Robert Hiltz, Postmedia News, 8 Sep. 2011

OTTAWA — The opposition tore into a new government tip line, unveiled Thursday, designed to ferret out individuals attempting to defraud the immigration system. NDP immigration critic Don Davies said government resources would be better spent dealing with the major problems the immigration system already faces, instead of rolling out a program that is “form over substance.”

“I think it’s not a well thought out idea and I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to make the Conservatives look like they’re tough on a problem they haven’t even demonstrated exists,” Davies said.

The tip line is for members of the public to report any instances of “false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship process,” according to a news release.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in an email there would be no tolerance or patience for “those who don’t play by the rules.”

“This tool will help us crack down on anyone, including crooked consultants, who obtain Canadian citizenship fraudulently and tackle those who seek to demean and devalue Canadian citizenship,” Kenney said. “Canadian citizenship is not for sale. Our government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently.”

The opposition said there are more pressing issues for the immigration minister to tackle.

“There is a waiting list of 900,000 applications world wide. It’s taking 13 years to get grandparents here. I’ve got cases of people trying to get their spouses here that are waiting four, five and six years,” Davies said. “(There are) serious problems with foreign credentials, the visa system is a mess and they want to tie up immigration officials time with chasing down anonymous phone calls?”

Liberal immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux agreed. “I don’t believe that it’s a serious problem today — it’s never been talked about as a serious problem,” he said.

“Public policy should be more about facts as opposed to opinion poling and trying to make yourself look good,” Lamoureux said.

Davies said there are not enough resources or experience at Citizenship and Immigration Canada to handle tracking down the leads from a tip line.

“I have not heard Minister Kenney say a word that he intends to get additional resources,” Davies said. “So, they either have to take it out of existing resources — which they’ve already stretched — or there are going to be fewer resources to take care of what I think would be a very taxing obligation.”

The fraud line follows on the heels of the government’s release of a wanted list of names and photographs with an accompanying tip line used to track down suspected war criminals and immigrants convicted of crimes in Canada. The first list was unveiled by the Canada Border Services Agency in July and named 30 men wanted for deportation because they are suspected of participating in war crimes. It has, so far, netted six individuals — four of whom have been deported.

A second list, released in August, featured 30 men and two women wanted for deportation because they were convicted of crimes in Canada. That list has led to the capture of four men.

The public can call in any tips on people suspected of defrauding the immigration system to 1-888-242-2100 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.



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