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Human Smuggling into Canada

It is clear that human smugglers are targeting Canada as one of their top destinations. Human Smuggling is a crime that is rampant all over the world and according to the United Nations is one of the most profitable criminal businesses worldwide. Human smugglers charges tens of thousands of dollars for each person they promise to bring into Canada and people pay the illegal travel in the hope of a better life and stability in this country. Canada has an obligation to provide protection and hear people’s claims before they can be removed from Canada provided they are not a threat to public safety. Most of them legitimately needed protection but are ignorant on how to get into their desired destinations.

In October 10, 2010, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act was first introduced. On June 14, 2011, RCMP arrested four individuals in connection with the migrant smuggling vessel, the Ocean Lady.

Under the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, individuals who illegally enter Canada as part of a human smuggling operation can be re-assessed within five years of obtaining refugee or protected person status or can be returned to their country of origin. During this five year period, the individual is restricted from travelling outside Canada and would not be able to apply to immigrate to Canada through other means therefore, they would not be eligible to sponsor family members into Canada or become Canadian Citizens and the Immigration Minister may apply to have their protected status reassessed if conditions changed in their country of origin. They would not have access to an appeal at the Immigration and Refugee Board, could be removed from Canada, and would be barred from applying to immigrate to Canada through other means for a five-year period; and would not have access to a health and benefits package that is more generous than what Canadians receive from the government. Individuals coming to Canada as part of an irregular arrival would be ineligible to apply for permanent residence for a period of five years.

The Canadian government introduced a new bill, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. It builds on reforms to the asylum system in the controversial Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA), which goes into effect on June 29, 2012, and includes provisions to address immigration issues such as human smuggling. The Act includes mandatory detention of participants in an irregular arrival of up to one year. It will also reduce the processing times for refugee claims and faster removal of unfounded refugee claimants from Canada. Moreover, it will save the country billions of dollars in social assistance and education costs over five years.

There is a high price for the punishment of a human smuggler; first offence includes a fine of $500,000 and ten years imprisonment and if convicted of helping more than ten undocumented migrants, can spend a lifetime in prison. This does not stop the human smuggling business; they continue to come up with other means to sneak people in to Canada and most of these smugglers are well-organized criminals.

Mary Jone Causing Buchholtz
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


References:

Human smuggling and trafficking big business in Canada
Overview: Ending the Abuse of Canada’s Immigration System by Human Smugglers
Government of Canada takes action to prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada’s immigration system

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