Canada’s border agency has lost track of 41,000 illegal immigrants, and this is “jeopardizing the integrity of Canada’s immigration program,” Auditor General Sheila Fraser says.
Fraser said in her spring report released yesterday the Canada Border Service Agency has issued warrants for the deportation of these people, but doesn’t have a clue where they are or if they are still in Canada.
“The agency’s working inventory contains 22,000 individuals with enforceable removal orders, whose whereabouts are known to the agency. The remaining 41,000 cases are individuals with immigration warrants for removal, whose whereabouts are unknown to the agency,” her report states.
Most of those who have disappeared are believed to be failed refugee claimants. In 2003, it was estimated there were 36,000 missing illegal immigrants.
“We have to find and remove them,” Fraser told reporters.
Fraser said her audit found the border agency does not collect and analyze enough data to properly manage detentions and removals, nor does it monitor them.
However, she said, “The good news is that the agency is focusing its available resources on the higher-risk individuals.”
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said that as bad as the situation sounds, it is still better than it was a couple years ago when the agency did not know how many warrants were outstanding.
“There hasn’t been an effective tracking system in place. One of the recommendations (from the auditor) is to improve that and that’s what (the agency) intends to do,” Day told reporters.
The auditor general said part of the problem is there is not enough room in the federal immigration detention centres, specifically in Toronto and Vancouver, and as a result the border agency increasingly allows illegal immigrants to post a bond and then sends them on their way.