Border agency warns that pandemic could lead to a surge in immigration fraud

A strategic intelligence report prepared by the Canadian Border Services Agency stated that as desperate immigrants try to enter Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an increase in immigration fraud and human smuggling.

The report warned that the economic recession caused by the pandemic and increasing poverty abroad will prompt more people to come to Canada in an informal way.

“As more and more people seek immigration, fraud in all immigration flows may increase, through the use of fraudulent documents to support visa or permanent resident applications, fraudulently obtaining travel documents to board flights to Canada Flights and false statements,” the report dated June 2020 said.

“Once an individual is in Canada, we may also see more downstream immigration fraud, such as an increase in unauthorized workers, convenient marriages, or the use of unethical agents to help individuals formalize their temporary status into permanent residency. “

The report warns that the pandemic may increase the number of people seeking refugee status in Canada and the number of economic immigrants posing as refugees.

Migrants trying to flee to Europe traveled in small boats after being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard on September 29, 2015. The area is the main center of human trafficking. (Ismael Zituni/Reuters)

The report predicts that this is also expected to trigger an increase in human smuggling.

“Due to restrictive socio-economic conditions or strict immigration policies, the number of immigration channels on a global scale may be reduced, and desperation may see more immigrants increasingly using smuggling networks and more dangerous services. This It may increase the vulnerability of immigrants and exploit human traffickers or other criminal groups,” the report said.

“Competent immigrants may use the services of smuggling networks, which may lead to the use of more fraud and forged travel documents, increase the pertinence of visa-free travel documents, and use new border crossings and secret routes to facilitate them. People move to Canada.”

Poverty, corruption and inequality

According to the report, part of the problem lies in how the pandemic has exacerbated economic inequality around the world.

“Economic inequality may exacerbate the driving factors of corruption, unemployment, poverty, weak infrastructure, restrictions on human rights and violent conflict,” it wrote. “These driving factors and the desire to seek favorable socio-economic opportunities have driven a large portion of irregular immigration to Canada, and the consequences of the pandemic may exacerbate this situation.”

According to the report, Canada is one of the largest sources of remittances in the world-people who come to work in Canada send money back to their home countries.

Judith Gadebois-St. CBSA spokesperson Cyr said that the report is the agency’s latest assessment. She said the pandemic has affected the number of people trying to enter Canada through fraud or human smuggling.

She said in a written statement: “Irregular immigrants are affected by the pandemic travel restrictions in Canada and around the world.” “Currently, the number of asylums is still lower than before COVID-19. When CBSA is planning the post-pandemic environment, Will continue to evaluate these trends and the broader impact of COVID-19.”

She said that the agency provides training on fraud detection techniques and immigration fraud, involving “consultants, representatives and organizers that remain the top priority of the investigation”.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said the pandemic has destroyed the economies of some countries and made Canada an attractive destination. (Chris Cordy/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who obtained the report under the Access to Information Act, stated that the report and its warnings about forged documents may have contributed to some of the delays experienced by applicants for work or study permits. .

“This explains why in many major visa processing centers around the world, applications to Canada are subject to stricter review, which requires more time to process, and the processing time is longer due to COVID and its impact on immigration enforcement. ,”He says. .

“So, if your visa service is delayed, it helps explain why.”

Kurand said the pandemic has destroyed the economies of some countries—at least temporarily—coming to Canada allows immigrants to stay healthy, work legally or illegally, and send money home.

“The CBSA hit the nail on the head when it issued a COVID warning to Canadian immigration authorities,” he said.

Janet Dench of the Canadian Refugee Council said the CBSA report paints a bleak picture. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Refugee Council, said the report paints a bleak picture. She said the report focuses more on how to enforce the law than on ways to help desperate immigrants.

“CBSA analysts quickly said,’People will be in a terrible situation, they will flee human rights violations, they will face humanitarian needs, so we must expect more fraud and take action to combat fraud, rather than considering their availability Choices, such as learning more about why people are forced to turn to smugglers because they face severe humanitarian needs,’” she said.

Danqi said that during the pandemic, some emergency refugee cases have been allowed to enter Canada, but her team hopes to see the Canadian government once again allow refugees who have been allowed to resettle in Canada to arrive.

Elizabeth Thompson’s contact information is [email protected]

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