Border agents banking on catching illegals
By TOM GODFREY, Toronto Sun
Last Updated: March 10, 2010 5:49pm
Canadian border agents are routinely using confidential banking and credit card information to arrest illegal immigrant account-holders for deportation, a Toronto lawyer says.
Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency are using information from private banking records or credit files of illegal immigrants to target and arrest them, lawyer Guidy Mamann said this week.
Mamann said the policy surfaced after a Toronto man facing removal to Costa Rica received two letters from his bank alerting him that the CBSA was searching for him.
I am worried because there are some privacy concerns, said Jose, 42, who is sought on a warrant and didnt want his last name used. I dont think this is fair or right for them to be going through my banking information.
Jose said he was stunned to learn the CBSA was on his trail and has obtained a lawyer. He will be returning home next week.
I have tried everything to stay in Canada, he said. I am tired to be always looking behind my back.
Mamann said he wasnt aware the CBSA officers were using the bank to arrest people.
I have no doubt that this will offend people, Mamann said.
He said most of those being targeted have been living in Canada illegally for more than 10 years and have bank accounts. They are sought on warrants.
CBSA spokesman Anna Pape said her officers are required by law to investigate persons wanted on Canada-wide immigration warrants for violations of immigration law.
Our officers will follow all leads available in the performance of their duties under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Pape said. Those who choose not to leave voluntarily face enforcement action.
She said persons under removal orders are given reasonable notice and time to make arrangements to leave Canada.
Anne-Marie Hayden of the office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner said an individuals banking or credit card information is considered personal.
It is not something we have had an opportunity to examine and, to the best of my knowledge, we havent been consulted, Hayden said.