Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crackdown in Canada

The newly elected Conservative government has wasted no time in hunting down suspected immigrants with the slightest of suspicion about their status.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, aka the “immigrant hunter”, is beginning the process to revokethe citizenship of up to 1,800 citizens who the government claims have obtained it fraudulently.

“Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” said Kenney. “There are some around the world who would abuse Canada’s openness and seek to devalue Canadian citizenship. We will apply the full force of Canadian law to punish those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is increasing the number of revocations it pursues as a result of its ongoing investigations into residence fraud in Canada. To date, approximately 1,800 citizens may have obtained citizenship fraudulently, many by using the services of crooked consultants to misrepresent their residence in Canada.

“Canada welcomed 143,535 new citizens in 20101. Obviously, the vast majority of these new Canadians obtained their citizenship honestly. We are defending the interests of these law-abiding new citizens by taking action against the small number of those who seek to cheapen the value of Canadian citizenship by acquiring it illicitly,” the Minister added.

But many immigrant groups have criticized Kenney’s blatant anti-immigrant tactics disguised as fighting fraud. And many of the government’s initiatives like calling many Black and South Asians wanted on suspicions of entering Canada illegally as “war criminals” as xenophobic.

CIC has increased the resources dedicated to combating residence fraud in the past year. Many of the people under investigation are suspected of using consultants to falsely establish evidence of residence in Canada while continuing to live abroad most, or all, of the time. A family of five may pay upwards of $25,000 over four or more years to create the illusion of residence in Canada.

Citizenship fraud is a global problem. To date, individuals from over 60 different countries have been implicated in this fraud.
The Government of Canada is taking action to crack down on the actions of crooked consultants during the immigration process. Bill C-35, originally introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, came into force on June 30, 2011. The Act imposes penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding.


Obama gets tougher on sharing fingerprints with States

Federal immigration officials announced Friday that they were terminating the joint agreements with state and local governments that have been at the center of a controversy surrounding a national fingerprint-sharing program, although they said they would continue setting up the program unilaterally.

In a letter to 40 governors and local officials who had signed the agreements, John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the change was intended to eliminate widespread confusion, which has plagued the program since its kickoff in 2008, over whether the agreements were necessary to initiate it. The move also seemed intended to remove political pressure from local officials who felt uneasy about appearing to collaborate with federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

The decision was met with a chorus of angry criticism from immigrant groups. More than 200 immigrant advocacy groups recently signed a letter demanding that the Obama administration suspend the program until changes are made to ensure that illegal immigrants who are not criminals are not deported. But Friday’s move made clear that the administration had no intention of suspending or even slowing the pace of the program.

The agreements, called memorandums of agreement, laid out the guidelines for setting up the program, known as Secure Communities, which is being rolled out across the country and is scheduled to be in effect nationwide by 2013.

Under the program, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s enforcement strategy, the fingerprints of everyone booked into a local or county jail are automatically sent to the Department of Homeland Security and compared with prints in the agency’s files, which record immigration violations.

Immigration officials insist that the program is intended to identify and deport the most serious noncitizen criminals as well as those who threaten national security. But critics have argued that the program has resulted in the deportations of a disproportionate number of foreigners guilty only of low-level offenses, like traffic infractions, or immigration violations.

This year, the governors of Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, in the belief that Secure Communities was voluntary, announced they were suspending or canceling their participation in the program. But since at least last fall, federal officials have insisted that the program was never voluntary and could be carried out across the country without the consent of local or state officials.

In a letter to Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware on Friday, Mr. Morton said that his agency was canceling the agreements because it had determined that they were “not required to activate or operate Secure Communities.”

“We are going to bring to an end any questions about whether or not we are requiring any state involvement in immigration enforcement,” a senior official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an interview on Friday.

Obama administration officials have explained that as long as local jurisdictions continue to share fingerprints with the F.B.I. — a routine procedure — then the fingerprints will automatically flow into a general federal database accessible to Homeland Security Department officials.


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