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.

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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.

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Toronto Star Reports On Government Efforts Against Marriage Fraud

Efforts by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP seem to be reducing the number of fraudulent marriage sponsorships (Ra Boe)

The Toronto Star, the most widely circulated newspaper in Canada, published a story on Wednesday that describes the marriage sponsorship fraud that authorities are clamping down on and some of the obstacles the anti-abuse measures are imposing on Canadians seeking to sponsor foreign spouses.

The article, by the Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung, profiles Sarem Soomro, whose marriage sponsorship application was rejected by Canadian immigration officials due to the education and age gap between the younger, high-school educated, Soomro, and his Pakistani wife, who has a degree in economics.

Despite showing logs of Facebook chats, wedding photos, receipts, and a wedding certificate, authorities did not accept the sponsorship application.

In another case, a spouse who was already living in Canada while the sponsorship application was being reviewed received a surprise visit at her home which convinced the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that the marriage was a fraud:

That occurred in a case where border officers noticed the address on Xiu Yi Xuan’s driver’s licence was different than the address of her Canadian husband.

In a scene reminiscent of the 1990 romantic comedy Green Card, about a marriage of convenience, the Canada Border Services Agency made an unannounced visit to the couple’s Markham home to investigate.

Xuan, a failed refugee claimant from China, was home at the time and unable to produce her husband’s toothbrush (she claimed they shared one). She couldn’t say whether her husband used an electric razor or a disposable one, nor could she show the officer any evidence of his socks or underwear.

Despite other indications it was a genuine marriage — joint bank accounts, joint insurance, joint donations and ownership of a Stouffville property — Xuan was arrested. The couple’s spousal sponsorship was rejected and, most recently, their appeal to Federal Court denied.

The two types of immigration fraud that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) encounters, Keung notes, are cases where a foreign national manipulates and defrauds a Canadian, in order to get sponsored by them for permanent residence, and then leaves them once they have gotten what they wanted, and cases of collusion between the Canadian and the foreign national, where both understand that the primary purpose of the marriage is to provide the foreigner with Canadian permanent residency.

CIC has made changes to sponsorship rules to reduce the incidence of the first type, including instituting an initial two year probationary permanent resident status for sponsored spouses. Under the new rules, if the foreign spouse leaves their Canadian partner within that two year period, due to reasons other than neglect or abuse, their conditional permanent residency status is repealed.

The RCMP has had some successes prosecuting crime rings involving the second type of marriage fraud, including one where nearly 300 Canadian women, mostly of Haitian descent, were sponsoring men from North Africa in exchange for money.

The changes by the involved government agencies seem to be having an effect, with more people being deported on charges of sponsorship fraud annually, and a higher percentage of marriage sponsorship applications being found inadmissible due to lack of evidence of a genuine marriage.

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Canadian Immigration Department Releases TV Ad Warning of Marriage Fraud

A new television ad warns Canadians that their foreign spouse could just be using them to get a ticket to Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) began airing a television ad today warning Canadians of the dangers of marriage sponsorship fraud.

The ad tells Canadians that some foreign individuals seek out Canadians and feign genuine affection for them, in order to convince the Canadian to marry them and sponsor them for permanent residence.

The ruse is part of a ploy to get into Canada, something that would otherwise require meeting the federal government’s stringent and often unattainable requirements.

Victims of marriage fraud are legally responsible to pay for any social assistance that their foreign spouse uses while in Canada for a period of three years, which can cost them tens of thousands of dollars per year.

CIC also posted a seven minute video on its website today recounting the story of three Canadians who were victims of marriage fraud: an Anglophone woman, a Francophone man, and an Indo-Canadian Anglophone man, showing that this crime can affect any one.

The video (below) and the 30 second television ad (bottom) can be seen here:

New rules

CIC instituted a new rule last October requiring that a foreign spouse who has not had a child with their Canadian spouse be required to be in a relationship with their spouse in Canada for two years before they are granted full permanent residency status.

For the two year period, the foreign spouse can live in Canada under a provisional permanent resident status, that can be revoked if the relationship does not last the whole period, unless there is evidence of abandonment or abuse by the Canadian spouse.

In March 2012, CIC also began barring individuals who had been sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner, from sponsoring a new spouse or common-law partner for five years.

The new rules were motivated by the fallout from stories from Canadians like Lainie Towell, who brought national attention to the issue of marriage fraud in 2009, when she went public with allegations that her Guinean husband left her 29 days after arriving in Canada, in 2007.

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Canadian Immigration Department Creates New Rules To Fight Refugee Fraud

The Immigration and Refugee Board office in Vancouver. New rules in place since December 15th expedite the processing of asylum claims from Designated Countries of Origin (DCOs) and withdraw their access to the Refugee Appeals Division (RAD) (GOOGLE MAPS)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) last week released a list of 27 countries whose nationals will have their asylum claims expedited.

The new rules were created to fight a growing problem of bogus asylum claims by nationals of European member-state countries, particularly Hungary.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has reported thousands of Hungarian Roma arriving in Canada in recent years and in most cases going on welfare for months/years until their refugee hearing.

In almost all cases, the bogus claimants withdrew their refugee claim before the hearing or had it heard and rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) due to lack of evidence of persecution in their country of origin.

Starting December 15th, the following countries have been classified as designated countries of origin (DCOs) and subject to the new expedited processing rules for asylum claimants they produce:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

The list includes 25 of 27 European member states, as well as the United States and Croatia.

CIC says more countries will be added over the next few months, which could see Romania, another major source of bogus claimants, put on the list. 

The new asylum processing procedures will also see claimants from non-DCO countries have their case heard within 60 days, which is significantly faster than the average 600 days that asylum claimants currently wait.

While claimants from DCO countries will be able to appeal negative IRB decisions at federal court, they will not have access to the newly created Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB, and will not have their removal orders stayed while making an appeal to federal courts, thus closing one of the main means by which bogus claimants extend their stay in Canada.

The criteria used to determine which countries will be designated as ‘safe’ and have the processing of asylum claimants originating from them expedited is at least 60 percent of claimants from the country withdrawing/abandoning their claim, or at least 75 percent of claims by claimants from the country being either withdrawn or abandoned by the claimant, or rejected by the IRB.

For countries from which less than 30 claimants originate each year, a different criterion of existence of an independent judiciary, democratic rights, and the existence of civil society organizations will be used.

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Canadian Government to Remove Visa Requirement For Mexicans

A Mexican passport. Mexico could soon be added to the Canadian government’s list of visa-exempt countries

The Canadian government is in talks with the government of Mexico to eliminate visa requirements for Mexicans travelling to Canada. Prime Minister Harper said he would only create a visa exemption for Mexicans if it was assured that it would not lead to a flood of asylum claims.

Canada has had problems with large numbers of refugee claimants arriving in the country from countries that it has made visa-exempt, in particular Hungary.

Almost all of these claimants end up being rejected by the Refugee Board or abandoning their claim, but not before receiving thousands of dollars worth of welfare and free health care courtesy of the federal government.

One Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) study estimates each bogus refugee claimant costs Canada $50,000, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of extra costs for the Canadian economy each year due to fraudulent refugee claims.

One measure that could help reduce the problem of bogus refugee claims from visa-exempt countries is the new ‘mini-visa’ that Canada will soon be introducing, which will require individuals from visa-exempt countries excluding the U.S. to acquire a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online before boarding their flight to Canada.

The mini-visa will enable Canadian authorities to screen out failed refugee claimants, ending the problem of a merry go-round of deportees returning to Canada to make new claims that take months to process and reject.

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Russian Bride Ditches Canadian Pensioner, Collects $25K in Welfare On His Dime

BC resident Heinz Munz is being ordered to pay nearly 25 thousand dollars after his Russian bride left him and began collecting social assistance (Jeff Belmonte)

An elderly Russian woman left her Canadian husband and subsequently collected nearly $25,000 in social assistance payments that have been charged to the 82 year pensioner who sponsored her immigration to Canada, said the Canadian man affected.

In an interview with the CBC, BC resident Heinz Munz said he had no idea that his Russian ex-wife, Polina Telyuk, was receiving social assistance until he received the $24,899.34 bill from the BC provincial government:

“When she applied for assistance, they should have told me. They never did.”

Under Canadian immigration law, a Canadian permanent resident or citizen can sponsor their foreign spouse for Canadian permanent residence, but is financially responsible for any financial assistance their spouse receives from the government for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.

Munz said in the interview that he began paying the bill for Telyuk’s social assistance payments because he feared his home could be seized by the government if he didn’t.

He said he did not suspect there was any thing amiss until his Russian wife, who he had met on the internet, left him, as she was “so nice” to him up to that point. Munz said that the day after Telyuk received her permanent resident papers, she left in a taxi with her daughter, laughing and chatting in Russian.

Possible reforms

Munz complained to the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), but nothing came of it. Allegations of marriage fraud typically do not end in charges being laid, as it is usually difficult to prove the sponsored party broke any law by planning to marry their partner to immigrate to Canada and then leave them.

Experts for years have cited examples like Munz’ to make the case for toughening immigration sponsorship rules. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that new rules would soon be put in place requiring sponsored spouses to live with their Canadian spouses for two years to be eligible for permanent residency.

This is similar to a rule in place in the US, which gives a two year ‘conditional resident status’ to sponsored spouses, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they have met all of the eligibility conditions.

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CBC Obtains Federal Police Report on Hungarian Refugee Claimants

A scan of the front page of the CBSA's report, obtained by CBC News

The largest news broadcaster in Canada, CBC News, has obtained a draft of a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) report on Hungarian refugee claimants, a group which has grown significantly since Canada lifted visa requirements for Hungarian nationals in 2008.

The report describes the findings of Project SARA, a CBSA intelligence study of Hungarian refugee claimants, which include high levels of welfare fraud and petty crime in the community, and indications of a sophisticated operation centred in Hungary that is assisting and coordinating the movement of the claimants.

The draft report says most refugee claimants from Hungary are Romani, an ethnic minority in Europe sometimes referred to as gypsies -though this term is considered derogatory by many Roma organizations. It says that in large part, they seek protection based on claims of being persecuted as an ethnic minority in their country.

According to the report, Canada has grounds to reject Hungarian refugee claimants, as Hungary is a European Union member-state, and as such, its nationals are free to move to any other EU state if they face danger in a particular EU country.

The report concludes that while reinstituting visa requirements for Hungarian nationals would reduce the number of claimants from the country, it is not a long-term solution as those seeking to file claims in Canada can do so from other European countries. It proposes instead a faster claims process for refugee claimants from European Union member-states.

The proposal is similar to a power already granted to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration with the passing of Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, in late June which gives the department the discretion to create a list of ‘safe’ countries with democratic governments and reputations for respecting human rights, and process asylum claims by individuals from these countries in 45 days instead of the usual 1,000 days.

The bill also denies claimants from countries on the list a right to appeal their decision, which is often used by asylum seekers to delay their deportation for years.

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Release of Convicted Fraudster Highlights Serious Problems with Canada’s Refugee System

A photo of Gyula Kolompar released by the Coquitlam RCMP in a March 2012 news release seeking help from the public in locating him

According to a CBC report, the Immigration Division (ID) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) released Gyula Kolompar, a refugee facing deportation, from federal custody on Tuesday, despite his conviction last week on six counts of fraud, 12 counts of fraud over $5000, and one count of mail theft, for his role in a mail theft and bank fraud operation that netted him, his wife, his son, and allegedly his brother, $345,000 in stolen funds.

His wife and son were found guilty last week as well, while his brother is still in custody.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) hearing officer Kevin Boothroyd argued that Kolompar should be held in custody until his admissibility hearing, scheduled for November 7th, as he fled BC for Ontario when the police issued a warrant for his arrest for the fraud operation and is unlikely to show up for next month’s hearing.

Kolompar’s lawyer countered that his client went on public assistance in Ontario, and that this shows that he made no effort to hide from authorities, and that he was not aware of the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

ID member Leeann King agreed with the defense, saying the federal government failed to show that Kolompar is likely to not appear at next month’s hearing. She told Kolompar, “I have no evidence of you being aware of warrants and trying to flee.”

According to evidence presented in the fraud case against Kolompar, the mail theft operation involved 30 Hungarian nationals coming to Canada as refugee claimants, opening bank accounts, giving their bank cards to Kolompar family members, and then returning to Hungary.

Gyula Kolompar, his wife Katalin Kolompar and his son, Gyula Kolompar Jr., then deposited 267 stolen cheques into the 30 accounts over a course of three years, defrauding four banks of approximately $345,000.

Seeking Deportation

The federal government is seeking to deport Kolompar from Canada for his involvement in an organized crime group. He has a long record of criminality in the country, which started soon after his arrival in Canada as a refugee claimant in 2000.

He was accepted as a refugee in 2004, but lost his bid for permanent residence in 2009 due to a 2005 conviction of being in possession of stolen property.

The sophistication and scale of the Kolompar family criminal operation, involving over 30 foreign nationals all entering Canada through the refugee claim system, shows the inadequacies of the refugee program in preventing abuse by disingenuous claimants, quickly filing deportation orders for criminals, and effectively enforcing those orders.

A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) director testified to the Federal Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in February that 80 percent of the approximately 44,000 outstanding warrants in Canada are for individuals who got into the country through a refugee claim and are evading deportation orders after having their claim rejected.

Correction and Clarification Oct. 12, 2012

An earlier version of the story incorrectly referred to Kevin Boothroyd as a Citizenship and Immigration Canada officer rather than a Canada Border Services Agency hearing officer. It also did not specify that the detention review was conducted by the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board, stating only that it was done by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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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.

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