The Toronto Star recently ran a three-part exposé on unscrupulous immigration consultants.
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While the piece was well done and served to educate the public, it did not reveal anything that was not already widely known within immigration circles.
Did the Star pull some “007” stuff to dig up its evidence of fraud and deceit?
Nope! They started their investigation by simply calling a random selection of consultants gleaned from ads found in the Yellow Pages and in ethnic papers. The Star reporters posed as visitors to Canada who wanted to stay here. Evidence of fraud and deceit simply poured in after that.
One consultant described his offer of assisting to fabricate a refugee story as “everyday process for us.”
No truer words were ever spoken.
How is this being allowed to happen?
Let’s first deal with the reality. Foreigners, with or without status, are vulnerable for many reasons. They often don’t speak English and are from countries where corruption is common. They place blind trust in people who have offices with diplomas on the walls. They fear that a complaint against anyone here will compromise their immigration chances. Finally, once they realize that they have been shaken down, they are deported and in no position to complain.
An illegal who approaches the RCMP is more likely to see themselves turned over to immigration authorities for removal than witness a useful prosecution. Similarly, the immigration department will likely prosecute a foreigner for misrepresentation even if a shady consultant duped the foreigner into it. So if Canadians want to see immigration fraudsters prosecuted, they cannot simply count on their victims to get the ball rolling. Instead, our agencies need to take charge.
For example, the RCMP need only do what the Star did, i.e. make a few calls and follow the leads. Better yet, they can solicit leads from practitioners such as myself who have spent years picking up the pieces of lives broken by these charlatans. In no time there will be evidence to sustain countless prosecutions.
Similarly, CIC and the CBSA cannot just focus on processing applications and executing removal orders. These agencies must make it their business to see that any allegations of fraud that they receive are thoroughly investigated. If not, they are simply contributing to the public’s lack of confidence in their work and are allowing these unscrupulous consultants to thrive.
Also, when the IRB receives a refugee claim that sounds identical to another it shouldn’t just reject the claim on credibility grounds but should ask the RCMP to investigate with a view of prosecuting the author.
Finally, Parliament must dedicate sufficient resources to this objective.
Otherwise, this good piece of investigative journalism will simply be wasted.