Electronic monitoring devices and biometric 'bad guy' lookout systems at the border appropriate tools in tracking unwanted individuals


OTTAWA, January 22, 2012 – Canada's "robotic appeals process" may put immigration lawyers into a Mercedes Benz, but it is not exactly an effective way to remove people who are in Canada illegally, according to security expert Scott Newark in his latest Straight Talk with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI).

The complexity and duplication of all the reviews are major problems for removing individuals with criminal records or links to terrorist groups according to Mr. Newark in Straight Talk interviews released today.

See Straight Talk interview examining broad issues affecting Canadian immigration.

See Straight Talk interview exploring how, and how well, the Canadian government checks people out before letting them in as immigrants or as refugees.

See Straight Talk interview examining better ways of removing people who are in Canada illegally.

"The basic problem is too many appeals. In my view, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA, introduced in 2001 is among the worst-drafted laws in Canada. It created needlessly complex and repetitive processes that are at the root of the inordinate delays in removing people today."

Mr. Newark says the IRPA is a bureaucratic treadmill involving inadmissibility reports, administrative tribunals, hearings, removal orders, protection orders, risk assessments, rights of judicial review and a multi-layered appeals process.

He adds that the one sure way to avoid being removed from Canada is to commit a new crime – "the biggest absurdity in the whole process. That puts the original process on hold until the new charges are dealt with, including completion of any new sentence, which effectively fuels up the removals merry-go-round all over again."

He says the main thing is to streamline the appeals process. "This includes restricting judicial review of Ministerial discretion to ensuring due process was followed rather than substituting the appeal body's judgment for the Minister's. Also, we need to remove repetitive appeals of the same issue."

Canada should proactively enter into treaties with countries where we mutually agree not to abuse returned citizens who are deported, he says. This could facilitate matters in pre-removal risk assessments and potential transfers under the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

He says it is encouraging that the immigration reform bill, C-31, which received royal assent in June, allows for implementation of biometric screening in defined circumstances to help intercept people who are inadmissible. The screening including face recognition biometrics should also be in use at every port of entry.

In December, the government proposed to introduce biometric identity screening for nationals of 29 countries and 1 territory when they apply for a temporary resident visa, study permit or work permit. The change would take effect in 2013.

"A biometric 'bad guy' lookout system at the border is critically important. It's better to catch inadmissible people, including people we've previously deported for criminality, before they come into the country than to try and remove them once they're here."

Mr. Newark adds that the Canadian Border Services Agency should use electronic monitoring devices for high-risk flight individuals between the time of their initial finding of inadmissibility and their actual removal. But we need to use it selectively.

"There is much to be done, but we appear to be finally moving in the right direction on several fronts."

Today's Straight Talk interviews are the next instalments in a series theme related to immigration and national security. The final instalments will be released on Friday, January 25, 2013. Click here for the previous instalment.

Scott Newark's 30-year criminal justice career began as an Alberta Crown Prosecutor, with subsequent roles as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair and Special Counsel for the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, and as a security and policy advisor to both the Ontario and federal Ministers of Public Safety.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is an independent non-partisan Ottawa-based national think tank devoted to the development of Canadian public policy.

For further information, please contact:

Tripti Saha
Communications Officer
Macdonald-Laurier Institute
613-482-8327 ext 105


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