WFP: Audit of Deportation Orders

The widely reported report by the Canadian Auditor General describes the significant backlog and delays in the removal process for individuals who have enforceable removal orders, including deportation orders. These removals are carried out by CBSA Officers and we have many clients who are affected by these orders. We are in contact, almost daily, with CBSA Officers on behalf of our clients to ensure our clients fully cooperate with law enforcement and Canadian regulations. At the same time, we advise our clients on their legal rights.Deportation

The report focuses on failed refugee claimants who have deportation orders. Let me make a brief comment on this group. It is important to note that even when the refugee claimant’s risk may not rise to the level of risk per sections 96 or 97 of IRPA, they may still face significant risk or hardship and/or persecution. The fact is that the legal bar to refugee status is a high legal test and claimants must go through a rigorous adjudicative process, including examination and cross-examination of testimony. Another key fact is there is a shortage of competent legal counsel and claimants may be poorly prepared for their hearing.

Winnipeg Free Press reporter Eva Wasney published an article on the Auditor General’s report that discussed the challenges faced by CBSA:

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke said some of the criticisms in the report are valid, but the audit is a an “oversimplification” of the removal process because it doesn’t include specific case examples.

“My concern is that the public reads this report, they don’t understand the details, the individuals who are behind these numbers, and this type of report causes undue or exaggerated anxiety in the public,” Clarke said. “The individuals who are under enforceable removal orders in the serious criminality category are generally only a small fraction of individuals in that entire pool.”

Of the more than 34,000 cases in the agency’s wanted inventory, 2,800 were criminal.

Indeed, to a certain extent, this report provides a limited perspective on the current state of removals and it fails to provide a nuanced approach to a complex procedure. I have spoken many times on this topic. Canadian laws require CBSA Officers to adhere to procedural fairness and, in our experience, CBSA Officers in Manitoba are vigilant in following Canadian laws and regulations.

In addition, I strongly agree with my friend and advocate Dr. Lori Wilkinson who has been doing significant research at the University of Manitoba’s Immigration Research West group:

While Wilkinson said she is glad to see the immigration removal audit, she is worried that the report could have a negative impact on people who are in Canada legally.

“There could be backlashes against immigrants,” she said. “Lots of people make the leap that if the deportation system isn’t working, then the immigration system must not be working.”

This is absolutely correct. In my view, IRCC Officers and CBSA Officers are working hard to ensure integrity in the system and they take deportation orders seriously.

On the flip side, let us be reminded of deportations that have been rushed and have led to disastrous results. One example that comes to mind is the case of Lucia Vega Jimenez from 2014. She was a failed refugee claimant from Mexico with an enforceable removal order as described in the Auditor General’s report. While she was on the verge of being deported, she took her own life in Vancouver. Advocates point to the serious risks to her life. On its face, I believe anyone can understand that if she was so afraid to go back to Mexico she would take her own life to prevent deportation, she had genuine fear.

In my view, it is important to consider the people behind these numbers. Every case is different, and I can tell you from many years of experience, immigration is messy. As correctly noted by the report, CBSA Officers focus their resources on serious criminals and ensuring the safety of the Canadian public. This is exactly how the system is designed to work.

Denied Entry to Canada: What Can You Do?

Crossing the border is rarely a simple act. In the post-9/11 world, security checks have increased and each foreign national faces additional scrutiny from Immigration Officers. In Canada, the border security is the responsibility of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), under the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. They work closely with other police agencies and they have access to international databases to screen everyone, and everything, that goes through a border. When CBSA is dealing with a Permanent Resident of Canada, a Canadian Citizen or an immigration application, they may refer the case to their counterparts at Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC). If you are denied entry to Canada, it may be due to a negative determination by a CBSA Officer or an IRCC Officer. What can you do?

The first question to deal with is where you are trying to enter. Issues vary between entering at land borders, ports and airports. 

One of the common situations that we face is when Permanent Residents who are trying to fly back to Canada without a valid PR Card. The airline will not let them board their flight back to Canada without a valid travel document. There are a number of risks in these situations. One of my first concerns is that if the PR is anxious to return, they may insist on boarding the flight and then, when they enter Canada, they may request temporary status. This puts their Permanent Resident status at risk and we do not advise this option.

When a PR is flying back to Canada without a valid PR Card, they have two (2) main options – neither option is cheap or easy. The first option is to go to the nearest Canadian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission. Canada has hundreds of offices peppered around the world in every continent, except Antarctica. I have never had a client call who could not travel to a Canadian office within their jurisdiction.

Once the PR reaches the consulate, they may apply for a Permanent Resident Travel Document “PRTD”. The government fee for the document is $50 and processing times vary from 1 hour to 2 months. We had one case where the printer at the Canadian office was broken and they had to order a new printer before they could issue new travel documents. In general, the Officers who work in these offices are very supportive and they will help any Permanent Resident who is courteous and professional.

The second option, for some, is to fly to the United States and enter Canada at a land border. For those clients who are at the airport and they do not want to leave the airport, this may be an option. NOTE: this option is only available to individuals and/ or families who are able to enter the United States and they do not have other issues with American authorities. We also advise our clients that we do not practice US immigration law and, therefore, if there are any issues with US authorities, we would refer the matter to an American colleague.

Being denied entry can be a stressful experience. Airline staff are not government officials and their knowledge of Canadian immigration law is limited. If you or your family members are in a situation where you are denied entry, we recommend that you call a lawyer whom you trust to help you properly navigate the system.

 

Former Immigration Officer: “Gave Bad Advice for Money”

As reported in the Windsor Star, former Immigration Officer Flavio Angelo Andreatta used a store as a “front” and provided bad immigration advice to clients. He was an unlicensed representative who should have known better and he has been sentenced in criminal court.

Here is an excerpt from the Windsor Star article:

Andreatta, a retired Canadian immigration officer grandfathered into the Canada Border Services Agency, would instruct clients to make cheques out to the cultural charity, headquartered at his Kingsville home. He would then make withdrawals from the society’s bank account, a fact that caused the group’s treasurer and former bookkeeper to resign in 2011.

Andreatta, who turns 68 next week, pleaded guilty in Superior Court Wednesday to contravening Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by providing immigration advice for a fee. Only lawyers or people vetted by a sanctioned body can charge for that work.

As punishment, Andreatta will spend the next year on house arrest, followed by two years on probation.

Court heard Andreatta collected more than $25,000 for his services between June 2011 and December 2014.

Having the money flow through the Italian Genealogy and Heraldry Society was the “subterfuge” Andreatta used, federal prosecutor Paul Bailey told the court.

Having been an immigration officer in the past, Andreatta “certainly was in a position to know better,” Bailey said.

“He gave some bad advice for money.”

Authorities first learned of Andreatta’s activities in May 2012 when a woman who was an Italian national was denied a visitor’s visa. She had been working at the Caboto Club on a work permit that was about to expire. She was later deemed inadmissible to Canada because she had continued to work past the expiry date.

Clearly, this former Officer set up the charity with the purpose of deceiving the government and breaking the law. In my view, house arrest is too lenient on this gentlemen, no matter his health “ailments”, his background and his years of service. As stated in the article, “Only lawyers or people vetted by a sanctioned body can charge for that work.” Those described in the second part are sanctioned by ICCRC and they are subject to discipline by their professional organization. In my view, there are benefits to the system in the United States where they do not allow immigration consultants to represent clients.

Note that the decision by Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe does not preclude the Law Society of Ontario from imposing additional punishment to the immigration officer and ordering separate fines for providing legal services in Ontario without a licence.

Law Society Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter L.8. Section 26.2 of the Law Society Act states as follows:

Non-licensee practising law or providing legal services

26.1 (1) Subject to subsection (5), no person, other than a licensee whose licence is not suspended, shall practise law in Ontario or provide legal services in Ontario.  2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 22.

26.2 (1) Every person who contravenes section 26.1 is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of,

(a) not more than $25,000 for a first offence; and

(b) not more than $50,000 for each subsequent offence.  2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 22.

 

MCJA Conference: Guest Speaker on Criminal Justice

On 9 November 2017, Alastair will be a Guest Speaker at the annual Manitoba Criminal Justice Association conference. Here is a description of the Association and its importance in criminal justice:

criminal justice

The Manitoba Criminal Justice Association (MCJA) is a provincial affiliate of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) and has been actively engaged in promoting crime prevention initiatives in Manitoba for over 40 years. It is an independent, community-based organization, governed by a Board of Directors which is comprised of citizens interested in achieving the objectives of the Association. The Manitoba Criminal Justice Association exists to promote rational, informed, and responsible debate in order to contribute to the development of a more humane, equitable, and effective justice system.

Alastair will be speaking on criminal justice issues and the rights of refugees. He regularly represents refugees at the IRB, Refugee Protection Division. He also represents clients at all levels of tribunal, as well as Federal Court on appeals. He also assists clients who have criminality issues who face Section 44 Reports from CBSA and foreign nationals who have criminal convictions and need a TRP to enter Canada. His talk will cover:

The talk is part of a larger series that includes many perspectives and we welcome any questions at the end of the presentation. Please note that Alastair cannot give any legal advice on any individual matters at the conference.

MCJA is currently still accepting new registrations which can be done through their website here.

Participants at the conference will have access to all materials provided by MCJA. The purpose of the workshop is to foster coordination between agencies and to make sure that refugees are provided with sound advice and resources to potentially establish themselves in Canada.

“Warkentin family still battling to overturn a decision from Immigration Canada”

FROM 730CKDM.COM: 

The Warkentin family from Waterhen are still battling to overturn a decision from Immigration Canada which denied them Permanent Resident status because of their daughter’s disability.

The family has hired Alastair Clarke, an immigration lawyer from Winnipeg to handle their case.

Clarke provides some insight to Immigration Canada’s decision.

“Unfortunately medical inadmissibility are not uncommon. Generally the individuals who face this type of issue come to me before a refusal. In this case the Warkentin family responded to the fairness letter, submitted all the evidence and then after it was refused, that’s when they came.”

If the decision cannot be reversed, the Warkentins could face moving back to the U.S. by November of this year, when their visas run out.

Free Presentation: Law in the Library – Transcona

Please note that Alastair Clarke will be giving a free presentation on citizenship law and other changes to immigration law at Transcona Library as part of the Law in the Library Series presented by the Community Legal Education Association.

Here is a description of the program:

Are you new to Canada? Are you looking for help in some legal aspects of immigration? Join us for a free program to help provide you with legal information that you may need. Our guest lawyer Alastair Clarke will cover issues like immigration options, sponsorship, citizenship applications, bringing family members to Manitoba, MPNP and other options. Please bring questions for the lawyer to answer!

For more information, contact the library directly at 204-986-3954.

Immigration Questions from Presentations

These past few weeks have been very busy and we wanted to thank everyone for their support. At the PCCM event on Jan 30th, more than 100 people came to the event. The room was full and the audience was engaged. Last night, we have a presentation at Munroe Library in Winnipeg and, again, the room was packed and there was active participation. We met folks from Ukraine, Philippines, India, Pakistan, the USA, Nigeria, Egypt, Australia, El Salvador and many others. We answered many immigration questions. Here are some of the questions that Mr. Clarke answered during the 5 hours of presentations:

  • If my Super Visa is going to expire but my husband has submitted an In-Canada Spousal Sponsorship application, do I need to apply to extend my Visa?
  • Can I sponsor my brother in Punjab?Immigration Questions
  • If my MPNP application is refused, how do I appeal the decision?
  • I want my mother from the Philippines to come and take care of my children. How do I bring her to Canada?
  • MPNP is no longer accepting applications from Nurses and my sister is a Nurse. How I can I help her come to Manitoba?
  • My son married a woman from Wisconsin and she has children from a previous marriage. Do the children become Permanent Residents too?
  • What are the benefits of becoming a Canadian citizen?
  • If I become a citizen, do I lose my American citizenship?
  • My brother was refused entry to Canada but we don’t know why. How can we find out?
  • How long does it take for a MPNP application?
  • How many people can I support for MPNP applications?
  • My brother wants to come to Canada but he is not sure if he will come to Manitoba. He is interested in Toronto. If I help him with his MPNP application, can he move to Toronto? Can Manitoba come after me?
  • How long does it take to process a Parental Class application?
  • How many times can I extend my visa?
  • And many more!

If you have any of these questions or you have other immigration questions, please come to the next presentation or contact our office. Click here for information on how to schedule an appointment.

In The News: “Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not suprised …”

Published by CBC News on 15 Oct 2015:

Winnipeg lawyer saddened, not surprised by family’s detention at U.S. border

‘These types of situations are increasingly common,’ says Alastair Clarke

A Winnipeg immigration lawyer says his heart goes out to a man who was questioned by customs officers in the United States for seven hours and denied entry into the country.

“He’s a Canadian and, based on the information I have, he had no reason to think anything untoward would happen trying to cross into the U.S.,” Alastair Clarke told CBC News.

Abdelkrim Boulhout said border officials in the U.S. treated him and his wife like terrorists this past weekend.

Boulhout said he, his wife and their four young children were on a family road trip to Grand Forks in North Dakota, but when they arrived at the U.S. border crossing in Pembina, N.D., their vehicle was searched, they were questioned for hours and were eventually asked to withdraw their request to enter the U.S.

Boulhout said he believes the incident was related to the fact that he and his family are Muslim.

Clarke, founder of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg, said he was saddened to hear about the incident, but not surprised.

“Currently, immigration and law enforcement are working very closely to share information, so these types of situations are increasingly common,” he said.

Clarke doesn’t practise U.S. immigration law, but he had general advice for anyone who might find themselves being questioned by border authorities. Co-operation with officials is extremely important, he said.

“These officials have broad discretionary authority,” he said.

Clarke also said if you’re in a situation in which you don’t understand a document, you need to ask for clarification or assistance.

As well, he reminded people never to sign something if they don’t understand it.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told CBC News it would not comment on specific cases, citing privacy laws and “law enforcement reasons.”