Canada’s immigration system about to get more lax
Tuesday, May 03, 2016, 7:38 PM
On Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson reported that hundreds of immigrants to Canada used fraud to obtain citizenship.
And since Ferguson’s number – 700 bogus new Canadians – is based on a relatively small sampling of immigration applications, the actual number is likely in the thousands or even tens of thousands.
The most common fraud is the use of fake addresses to prove residency. Newcomers have mail, government documents or utility bills delivered to a legitimate address. But they don’t live there, it only appears they do.
Ferguson learned of one address used by 50 different applicants, most of whom never darkened the home’s door.
The immigrants live elsewhere, typically out of the country. Yet after using the bogus address to build up enough residency credit, they qualify for citizenship. And after they have citizenship, it is a very long, costly and complicated process to revoke it.
It’s bad enough that ordinary immigrants abuse our laws and generosity to gain false entry. What’s worse is that Ferguson showed many hardened criminals also game the system to obtain a citizenship card.
In some cases, the problem is lack of communication among departments. In one of the worst examples, the Immigration department (which grants residency and citizenship) was not told by the RCMP or the Canada Border Services Agency about outstanding warrants or security concerns for four applicants with long criminal pasts.
Two eventually became citizens, a third failed the citizenship test, while the fourth abandoned his application.
Remember that when the Tories made the citizenship test tougher two years ago, the Liberals wailed about how the Harper government was abandoning Canada’s compassionate, multicultural traditions. But in this case (and undoubtedly many, many others) the test worked to keep undesirable individuals from becoming Canadians.
The Liberals, of course, have already announced they will be weakening the test again.
All of which brings me to my main point.
Nearly all of the problems identified by the auditor general occurred on the Harper government’s watch, despite the fact the Tories tried and largely succeeded in making the citizenship process more meaningful and secure.
The Liberals have already reversed most of the Tories’ reforms and have pledged to do away with the rest as soon as possible. That simply means that as hole-riddled as our system was under the Harper government, it is about to get much more lax under the Trudeau Liberals.
Much of the fraud in the system is the result of too many unscrupulous immigration “consultants” and too few immigration security officers at Immigration Canada, the RCMP and the CBSA.
The consultants are people who, for a fee, promise to help immigrants navigate their applications for citizenship. All too often, though, it is the consultants who run the fake-address scheme and other cons that take advantage of Canada’s generosity and openness.
Legitimate consultants submit to a regulatory system imposed by the Tories that sets ethical and legal standards on the industry. But many consultants operate on the fringes of the law and charge tens of thousands of dollars for guarantees of a citizenship card.
Already the Liberals are attempting to weaken the immigration and refugee board. They are refusing to reappoint Tory-appointed immigration judges in favour of Liberal judges. In the name of increasing racial and ethnic diversity on the board, they are stacking its tribunals with appointees who favour few if any checks on newcomers.
It is just not in the nature of the Liberals or of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to act on Ferguson’s recommendations in any meaningful way. Expect the fraud and security threats in the system to get worse, not better.