Deportation numbers skyrocket in Canada
Immigration lawyer says the numbers point to a more aggressive system
By KATIE SCHNEIDER
Last Updated: 13th October 2009, 2:29am
CALGARY — Fifty per cent more people were deported from Canada last year than a decade ago — proof the system is getting too aggressive with who it gives the boot, says one local immigration lawyer.
Figures from the Canada Border Services Agency show deportations from the country have spiked to 12,732 removed last year, compared to 8,361 in 1999.
While three-quarters of deportations were failed refugee claimants, the rest were removed on criminal or security grounds.
But Calgary immigration lawyer Bjorn Harsanyi says while more people are entering Canada who could be claiming refugee status, he believes the numbers speak to a more aggressive system.
“I do think there is a greater enforcement mandate in immigration and that means willing to deport anyone who is eligible to be removed without exercise of discretion to keep them here,” he said.
“If they can remove them any way, they will.
“I've seen many people on the verge of deportation when I don't think they should be deported.”
The government explains the spike in deportations as the logical result of a jump in refugee applications — 35,000 refugee claims last year and the government says the system can only handle 25,000.
Spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said problems with the refugee system will be addressed in upcoming reforms.
Last month, Kenney vowed to explore “different policy options to give government more power to remove dangerous and violent foreign criminals.”
But, Harsanyi said the discretion should be put back into the hands of decision-makers.
He said permanent residents accused of serious crimes used to receive letters from immigration officers warning they could be removed from the country, but now “those letters don't get out anymore.”
Ultimately, that means for him and partner Raj Sharma, the lawyer for reputed gangster Jackie Tran — who faces two deportation orders — their case loads have also increased. “We are crazy busy,” he said.