Feel Like A Sucker? Flawed Refugee System Leaves Canadians With Little Confidence
December 14, 2007
If it weren't for eagle-eyed citizens, a rapist who went on the lam while under a deportation order might still be missing.
The Immigration Refugee Board may be naive — an adjudicator released Sudan-born refugee Samuel Martin Luin last week, presumably figuring he didn't need to be detained.
But everyone else in Canada knows better. The 23-year-old, who's accumulated at least 16 convictions since he sought sanctuary in Canada five years ago, probably doesn't want to go back home to Sudan. No surprise, then, that he didn't bother showing as required at an Edmonton probation office on Monday.
He's back in custody — for now — on a charge of breach of recognizance after he was spotted at an Edmonton job site yesterday morning and tipsters called the cops.
But will the authorities be able to keep him in jail? Or will he disappear again, as have thousands of refugees over the years who have been ordered deported? Canada is so nice, people play us for suckers. And politicians wonder why Canadians have little faith in our refugee system.
This case should be a slam dunk. Luin, a permanent resident, was jailed in July 2006 for the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman and completed his sentence last month. Ever since he was convicted, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been working behind the scenes to get him booted out of the country.
But removal orders take time. In the case of a refugee, for instance, officials need a so-called danger opinion from Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day that the subject of the removal order is a danger to the public.
Luin appears to fit the bill. As well as the rape, his convictions include assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.
While in jail for the rape, he was involved in seven different incidents in which he assaulted other inmates, the IRB adjudicator noted last week before releasing Luin.
“These reports outline a large number of incidents — ranging from blatant disrespect for correctional officers, to assaults on other inmates, to two assaults on correctional staff,” he observed.
But it can take up to 18 months to get a danger opinion from Ottawa so the adjudicator released Luin on several conditions, including that he report as directed for removal arrangements. Yeah, that's worked so well in the past.
“We argued for his continued detention on the fact that he was a danger to the public and the fact that he was a flight risk,” CBSA spokesman Lisa White said yesterday. “We presented our case and the IRB (decided) to let him go.”
IRB spokesman Melissa Anderson said people can't be kept in detention if there's no reasonable indication that they're about to be deported.
“Detention must not be indeterminate,” she explained. The IRB does consider the public safety aspect, she added, but the adjudicator felt there was an alternative to detention — reporting conditions.
I asked her if the IRB wasn't naive in this case. “I have no opinion. Our members make decisions in accordance with the law. Our cases speak for themselves,” she said. They sure do.
Meanwhile, Canadians must be wondering why it's so difficult to deport people who are clearly dangerous.
“We're the patsies of the world,” quipped James Bissett, a former head of the Canadian Immigration Service.
“We let everybody make a (refugee) claim,” he commented. “We can't keep anybody out and, at the same time, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to kick people out.”