Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, discussed Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, the Harper Government’s commitment to crack down on human smugglers who seek to abuse Canada’s immigration system.
“Our government announced important legislation that sends a clear message to human smugglers: Canada will not tolerate them,” said Minister Toews. “Through this legislation, we are cracking down on human smugglers, protecting the safety and security of our communities, and helping to ensure the integrity of Canada’s generous immigration system.”
The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act will ensure law enforcement have the tools they need to crack down on human smugglers. The new measures in the proposed legislation include:
• Making it easier to prosecute human smugglers;
• Imposing mandatory prison sentences on convicted human smugglers; and
• Holding ship owners and operators to account for use of their ships in human smuggling operations.
“The government of Canada is committed to protecting the integrity of our immigration and refugee system,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada is a fair, generous and welcoming country for those who want to work for a better life - but there are legal and legitimate ways that must be followed in order to do so.”
The Act will also help to ensure the safety and security of Canadian communities by:
• Ensuring mandatory detention of illegal migrants for up to one year to allow for the determination of identity, inadmissibility and illegal activity.
The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act also contains numerous measures to deter individuals from using human smugglers to come to Canada. Included are the following deterrence measures that would specifically apply to illegal migrants who come to Canada by way of a human smuggling operation:
• Seeking to ensure that illegal migrants who obtain refugee status can be re-assessed within five years to determine whether they still need protection or can be returned to their country of origin;
• Ensuring that the health benefits the illegal migrants receive are not more generous than those received by the Canadian public.
• Ensuring that refugee or refugee applicants who were illegal migrants are not able to come back to Canada if they return to the country from which they sought refuge, or if they demonstrate in other ways that they are not legitimately in need of Canada’s protection; and
• Preventing illegal migrants from sponsoring family members for five years. In addition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed a Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration, Ward P.D. Elcock, as part of the government’s efforts to strengthen Canada’s ability to detect human smuggling operations overseas and prevent them from reaching Canada. The Special Advisor will advance Canada’s engagement with governments in source and transit countries, partner states and in regional and/or international fora which address human smuggling.