Lax Deportation Enforcement Blamed for Death of Young Woman

The family of Jenna Cartwright says they feel “betrayed” by the federal government’s failure to detain Gaashaan after he was ordered deported

The family of a young Albertan woman who police believe was murdered by a convicted drug dealer from Somalia calls the federal government’s failure to deport the suspected perpetrator, “sickening”.

Arriving in Canada in 1993 as a refugee, and acquiring permanent residency in 1997, suspected murderer Bashir Gaashaan soon fell into a life of crime, and in 2009, due to two convictions that constituted “serious criminality”, faced a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), where the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) asked that he be deported, and detained until his day of deportation, due to being a flight risk and a danger to the public.

The board ordered the deportation but, according to documents gathered by the Calgary Sun, argued that it would unfair to hold Gaashaan until he was deported, as the deportation process could be lengthy:

Because Gaashaan arrived from Somalia as a refugee in 1993, the CBSA couldn’t deport him without a “danger opinion”.

That’s an order issued by the Minister of Immigration, stating the danger to Canada outweighs the risk to an individual being sent back to a potentially unsafe country.

Being federal paperwork with legal status, danger opinions are very slow in being completed — and time waiting in jail would have been unfair to poor Gaashaan.

“So if he’s detained, detention is likely to be lengthy. I know that it’s difficult to remove to Somalia at the best of times. Taking all of that into account, I think that the appropriate thing is to release him on terms and conditions,” states the ruling.

Less than two years later, on June 16, 2011, police charged Gaashaan with first-degree murder, unlawful confinement, offering an indignity to human remains, and sexual assault, in the death of Jenna Cartwright, 21, of Red Deer, Alberta, as well trafficking in cocaine.

Jenna Cartwright’s twin sister, Marissa Cartwright, said she is furious about the handling of Gaashaan’s deportation. “I’m so angry, even more angry than before — the whole thing is sickening,” she told the media.

She added that she felt “betrayed” by the government:

“I cannot believe this has happened, I honestly feel betrayed by our government — we should be able to rely on our government and know they are keeping us safe.”

The failure of the refugee board to place Gaashaan in detention after he was ordered deported is being seen by many as an example of the immigration and refugee system being more concerned with political correctness than national interests.

The public response could lead to pressure on the federal government to speed up the deportation process, which has already been reformed in the past year to address a wave of bogus asylum claims from Hungary.

It could also lead to individuals who have been ordered deported more often being held in detention until their deportation, and new monitoring technologies like electronic bracelets being deployed on a large scale in asylum and deportation cases.

Canada Border Services Agency to Use Electronic Bracelets in Place of Detention

A satellite used in the Global Positioning System. Electronic bracelets with GPS tracking will be used by the federal government in place of long-term detention of high-risk asylum claimants

The federal government will use electronic tracking bracelets in place of detention for asylum claimants and illegal immigrants who pose a high risk of evading deportation orders, according to a recent report by the Globe and Mail.

Ottawa served notice this week that it plans to sign a contract with the U.K. firm Buddi Ltd., used by police forces there to track criminals through electronic bracelet devices that the British media have dubbed “Chav Nav” tags. The technology provides real-time tracking using the same space-based Global Positioning System that drivers rely upon for in-car navigation.

The decision comes a little less than a year after a parliamentary committee on public safety and national security presented its findings on the effectiveness, cost efficiency, and feasibility of using electronic supervision in the correctional and immigration setting.

That report concluded that electronic supervision would likely improve the federal government’s enforcement of removal orders for failed asylum claimants, which is something it has struggled with in recent years.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board see electronic tracking as potentially a more humane alternative to holding high-risk asylum claimants in long-term detention.

New Safeguards Drastically Reduce Canadian Asylum Claims from High-Fraud Regions

New rules put into effect by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in December have led to a significant reduction in asylum claims being made in Canada

Canada, which was facing one of the worst bogus refugee claims problems in the world, and seeing government expenditure on welfare for asylum claimants gradually increase as a result, has seen a drastic reduction of asylum claims from problem countries in the aftermath of instituting new laws on how asylum claims are processed.

Changes that came into effect on December 15th 2012 require claims to be processed quickly – within 30 to 45 days for individuals from countries considered democratic and observant of human rights – and prevent claimants from delaying a deportation through years of appeals.

The number of claims from Hungary, the country that led the world in producing Canadian asylum claimants, and from which the vast majority of claims are rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board or abandoned by the claimant before their hearing, declined from 353 in the January 1st to February 19th period of 2012, to 7 in the same period of 2013.

Totally, asylum claims have declined by 70 percent, while claims from countries designated as safe have declined by 86 percent.

The primary reason for the drop in claims is likely that the new rules have eliminated the incentive to file a bogus asylum claim by making it impossible to take advantage of the years of welfare and other free social services it could previously provide.

The new rules are expected to save tax payers $400 million a year.

Eight More Countries Considered “Safe” By Canada’s Refugee System

A refugee camp in Africa. The Canadian government resettles over 10 percent of the refugees settled annually worldwide (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

As part of an effort to reduce the number of bogus asylum claims made in Canada, the federal government has added eight countries to its list of designated countries of origin, which are those it considers as having strong protection of human rights, and from which genuine refugees are unlikely to originate.

Asylum claimants from the now 35 designated countries of origin will still be able to file a claim with the Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), but they will receive a hearing within an expedited 30-45 day period, instead of the 60 days that individuals from non-designated countries will wait.

Individuals from designated countries of origin will also not have the recently created, quasi-judicial, Refugee Appeals Division (RAD) available to them, although they will still be able to appeal their decision in federal court.

The removal of access to the RAD from those originating from safe countries is intended to alleviate a major problem of those whose claims are rejected delaying their removal from the country through appeals, allowing them to stay in Canada for years, and collect thousands of dollars in social assistance, until they have finally exhausted the appeals process.

The eight countries categorized as designated countries of origin are:

  • Mexico
  • Israel (excluding Gaza and the West Bank)
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Switzerland

The introduction of expedited processing of asylum claims from designated countries puts Canada in the company of a number of other countries who withhold full access to their refugee system from claimants originating from countries deemed ‘safe’, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium and Finland.

Canadian Government Considering Electronic Bracelets For Refugee Claimants

CBSA and RCMP officers in Vancouver, Canada. The Standing Committee on Public Safety was told by a CBSA director that 80 percent of the 44,000 outstanding arrest warrants in Canada are for individuals who have had their refugee claim rejected and are evading deportation (2010 Legal Observers)

The federal government is considering requiring asylum seekers who are in Canada and awaiting a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) on their refugee claim to wear electronic tracking bracelets as a condition of being released from detention.

On Tuesday, parliament was presented with the findings of a study conducted by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to determine the effectiveness, cost efficiency, and feasibility of electronic supervision in the correctional and immigration setting.

The study recommended further consideration of the extra security measure for asylum seekers in part due to testimony it received from a senior official at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The Director General of the CBSA’s Post-Border Programs, Peter Hill, noted that a staggering 80 percent of the approximately 44,000 outstanding arrest warrants in Canada are for asylum seekers who had their refugee claim rejected and did not appear at their deportation hearing to comply with their removal order.

Hill testified that he believed electronic monitoring would be effective in improving enforcement of removal orders based on positive results the CBSA has had in the limited number of cases where it has used it, and proposed more analysis be done as a preliminary step to broader application of the supervision tool.

The Committee on Public Safety was persuaded by the testimony of Hill and other witnesses and recommended in its report that the CBSA review the cost-effectiveness of electronic monitoring.

Health Workers Associations Lobby against Cuts to Refugee Health Care

Cuts to health care for refugees are hoped to reduce the growth in health care expenditures in Canada

Health workers groups held several rallies across Canadian cities yesterday to protest government cuts to health care programs for refugees.

As part of its deficit reduction program, the federal government is cutting medical services provided at no cost to refugees through the Interim Federal Health Program, limiting free services to emergency health care and treatment of chronic conditions that pose a public health threat, like tuberculosis. The government expects the move will save it $100 million over five years.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has also indicated that the move was motivated by complaints that refugees receive free dental and eye care from the federal government that Canadian citizens do not.

“Canadians have been telling us they don’t think that smuggled migrants and bogus asylum claimants should be getting better health-care benefits than Canadian seniors and taxpayers. They won’t be getting extras that Canadians don’t get, like dental, eye care, and discretionary pharmaceuticals,” Kenney said in April.

Health workers associations, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nursing Association and the Canadian Pharmacists Association, whose members stand to lose tens of millions of dollars in health care work due to the cuts, wrote an open letter to the federal government in May criticizing the cuts.

In the letter they argued that the cuts would shift the cost of treating refugees to other groups like provincial governments, result in complications and higher costs in the future due to refugees not getting early treatment for medical problems, increase the load on emergency departments, and lead to an increase in public health threats from contagious diseases like tuberculosis.

Can. Immigration Minister Proposes New Bill to Toughen Canadian Refugee Admittance

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has proposed a new bill ”Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act”, that would toughen rules for asylum seekers coming to Canada.

The new bill would reduce the time taken to assess a standard refugee application from 1000 to 45 days. This would reduce the incidence of immigration authorities being unsuccessful in deporting asylum seekers applying under false pretences, due to the long duration of their time in Canada.

As the National Post writes, the longer the application process for an asylum seeker to Canada is, the less likelihood there is they will be deported:

Reducing the time it takes federal officials to examine claims for asylum is critical. The longer an applicant gets to remain in Canada before a decision is made, the less likely bogus applicants are to be expelled. People who stay here three or more years waiting for their cases to be adjudicated put down roots. They establish homes, have children, develop friendships and forge connections in the community. Then, if their applications are rejected, they plead that it is unfair to expel such a well-established new Canadian.

The new bill would also make biometric readings for foreigners getting Canadian visas mandatory, and introduce more powers to deal with human smuggling.