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.

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.

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.

Border Services Report Says Bogus Refugees From Hungary Could Cost Canada $222 Million A Year

Bill C-31 is expected to reduce the costs imposed by bogus refugee claimants

A recent report by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) estimates that each refugee claimant who has their application rejected by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), due either to lack of evidence of persecution in their home country or failing to show up to refugee hearings, costs the Canadian government over $50,000.

The country that produces the highest number of refugee claimants in Canada is Hungary, where 4,442 of the people who applied for refugee status in Canada last year hail from.

Virtually all applicants from Hungary had their refugee claim rejected, but before their cases were processed and they were deported, the cost of the welfare and health care provided to them by the Canadian government could have amounted to over $222 million last year alone according to the report, based on the $50,000 cost per failed claimant estimate.

Not only do provincial governments pay claimants welfare while they are in Canada, but also sometimes for up to seven months after they have left the country due to insufficient information sharing between the CBSA, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and provincial social services authorities, according to the report.

Most of the claimants from Hungary are Romani, a stateless ethnic minority who reside primarily in Europe and who are sometimes referred to as gypsies -though this term is considered derogotary by many Roma organizations.

The Canadian government has said that 40 percent of Hungarian Roma who claim refugee status are from a town called Miskolc, where a large-scale organized effort to send people to Canada to claim refugee status is centered in.

The federal government has taken steps to reduce bogus refugee claims and the costs they impose on federal and provincial governments in Canada with the passing of Bill C-31 in June.

The legislation gave the Department of Citizenship and Immigration the discretion to create a list of ‘safe’ democratic countries with a reputation of respecting human rights, and the authority to reject refugee claims by individuals from those countries and deport the claimants within 45 days, rather than the typical 1,000 days that refugee claims take to process.

This would enable Canada to place Hungary on the safe list and reduce the processing time of refugee claims from that country.

The bill also eliminated free pharmaceutical, vision and dental care for refugee claimants, which CIC argued was fair given those services are not available to Canadian citizens through Medicare.

Statistics Show Bogus Asylum Seekers Racking Up Health Care Costs

George Dumont hospital in Moncton. The Canadian government spends approximately $20 million a year on health care for asylum seekers. (Stu Pendousmat)

Immigration Canada released statistics on health care spending for refugee claimants yesterday to bolster its case that the recent scaling back of free health care for asylum seekers was necessary.

The statistics show that refugee claimants from Mexico, Hungary, Columbia, the United States and Jamaica, all countries that do not have a record of human rights abuse and persecution, received millions of dollars worth of Canadian health care services for free through the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), and proportionally more than asylum seekers from any other country.

Immigration Canada’s data shows that health care costs for 8,819 Mexican asylum seekers came to $7 million last year, for 6,749 Hungarians to $4.4 million, for 4,583 Columbians to $2.6 million, for 3,790 Americans to over $1.4 million and for 809 Jaimaican asylum seekers to $808,000.

Almost all of the claimants from these countries end up not attending their refugee hearings, withdrawing their refugee application, or having their claim rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that this made it necessary to reduce the range of free health care services provided to asylum seekers to prevent abuse of Canada’s refugee system.

“That does underscore the reasons why we’ve reformed the Interim Federal Health Program. There’s no doubt that it has been a draw factor for many false asylum claims,” commented Mr. Kenney.

Under changes to Canada’s Refugees System with the enactment of Bill C-31 on June 11th, free pharmaceutical, vision and dental care for refugee claimants was eliminated, which supporters of the cuts argue is fair as none of these services are available to Canadian citizens through Medicare.

The extent of the abuse of the Interim Federal Health Program was highlighted by Minister Kenney as he cited interviews Canada Border Service agents have conducted with some Hungarian asylum seekers when they were withdrawing their applications for refugee status, in which the claimants admitted that they had come to Canada to receive free dental care for their children, and now that they had gotten it, there was no reason to stay.

Refugee Law, Bill C-31, Set to Pass Today

Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, is set to be passed by the Conservative majority in the Commons today

Bill C-31, a proposed set of laws to reform Canada’s refugee system, is expected to pass the House of Commons today.

The bill would give the Department of Citizenship and Immigration the discretion to create a list of ‘safe’ democratic countries with a reputation of respecting human rights, and the authority to reject refugee claims by individuals from those countries and deport the claimants within 45 days, rather than the typical 1,000 days that refugee claims take to process.

The new law would also deny claimants from safe countries the right to appeal the refugee board’s decision, which would prevent the situation of claimants staying in Canada for years through a lengthy process of appeals.

Bill C-31 is largely a response to a flood of Roma asylum seekers from Hungary this year that has outnumbered claimants from any other country.

In an email explaining the need for the new law, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s press secretary, Alexis Pavlich, said that “[v]irtually all asylum claims from European Union citizens in 2011 were abandoned or withdrawn by the claimant or rejected by the independent Board, with Canadian taxpayers left to foot the bill for the expensive health care and welfare benefits these bogus claimants received”.

** June 12th 2012 update **

Bill C-31, as had been expected, passed the House of Commons yesterday, with 159 voting for, and 132 voting against.

Immigration Ministry to Expedite Deportations of Refugee Applicants from European Countries

Hungarian Roma Asylum Seekers (MTI Hungary)

The Immigration Ministry will create a list of ‘safe’ European countries with independent judiciaries and a demonstrated commitment to international human rights agreements, where residents are unlikely to be facing persecution, and expedite deportations of asylum seekers originating from them.

The move is a response to a large scale wave of Roma asylum seekers that have recently been arriving in Canada from Hungary, which Immigration Minister Jason Kenney described as “highly organized”. Mr. Kenney said the claimants often don’t show up to their refugee hearings and enroll in Canadian welfare programs.

The Immigration Minister said it was strange that there were more refugee applicants from European countries than from African and Asian ones, and that the changes that Bill C-31 will make to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will help change this situation.

The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, Bill C-31, was introduced in February this year, and the federal government hopes it will be passed before the summer




Refugee Activists say new Bill violates Canadian Charter, Federal Government Says Bill Necessary to Protect Canada

Asylum Seekers (UNHCR/A. Webster)

The “Justice for Refugees and Immigrants Coalition”, a refugee activist group, made a public statement on Monday denouncing Bill C-31, a proposed update to the Immigration and Refugees Protections Act, charging that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights.

The bill would strengthen the ability of Canadian immigration authorities to deport refugee claimants and prevent claimants from remaining in Canada through a long series of appeals.

The Federal Government rejected the coalition’s charges, and insisted that the bill is a vital step in protecting Canada’s asylum program from being exploited.

The refugee advocacy group was particularly critical of the proposed new power the bill would grant Canadian immigration authorities to detain refugee applicants for up to 12 months.

The Canadian government believes that this is necessary to prevent refugee applicants from escaping immigration controls and residing in Canada illegally, a problem that is common to other developed nations like the US, which now has an estimated 20-22 million illegal immigrants.