US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process

No issue with cracking down on fraud and misrepresentation, unlike some of the other Trump administration policies, although legitimate concern over how it may be done:

The US government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna said his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalisation.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.

Until now, the agency has pursued cases as they arose but not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He said he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalising people who should not have been naturalised in the first place,” Cissna said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

He declined to say how much the effort would cost but said it would be covered by the agency’s existing budget, which is funded by immigration application fees.

The push comes as the Trump administration has been cracking down on illegal immigration and taking steps to reduce legal immigration to the US.

Denaturalisation – the process of removing citizenship – is very rare.

The US government began looking at potentially fraudulent naturalisation cases a decade ago when a border officer detected about 200 people had used different identities to get green cards and citizenship after they were previously issued deportation orders.

In September 2016, an internal watchdog reported that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had criminal convictions had not been uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security database that is used to check immigrants’ identities. The same report found more than 800 immigrants had been ordered deported under one identity but became US citizens under another.

Since then, the government has been uploading these older fingerprint records dating back to the 1990s and investigators have been evaluating cases for denaturalisation.

Earlier this year, a judge revoked the citizenship of an Indian-born New Jersey man named Baljinder Singh after federal authorities accused him of using an alias to avoid deportation.

Authorities said Singh used a different name when he arrived in the United States in 1991. He was ordered deported the next year and a month later applied for asylum using the name Baljinder Singh before marrying an American, getting a green card and naturalising.

Authorities said Singh did not mention his earlier deportation order when he applied for citizenship.

For many years, most US efforts to strip immigrants of their citizenship focused largely on suspected war criminals who lied on their immigration paperwork, most notably former Nazis.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, officials began reviewing cases stemming from the fingerprints probe but prioritised those of naturalised citizens who had obtained security clearances, for example, to work at the Transportation Security Administration, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University law school.

The Trump administration has made these investigations a bigger priority, he said. He said he expects cases will focus on deliberate fraud but some naturalised Americans may feel uneasy with the change.

“It is clearly true that we have entered a new chapter when a much larger number of people could feel vulnerable that their naturalisation could be reopened,” Chishti said.

Since 1990, the Department of Justice has filed 305 civil denaturalisation cases, according to statistics obtained by an immigration attorney in Kansas who has defended immigrants in these cases.

The attorney, Matthew Hoppock, agrees that deportees who lied to get citizenship should face consequences but worries other immigrants who might have made mistakes on their paperwork could get targeted and might not have the money to fight back in court.

Cissna said there are valid reasons why immigrants might be listed under multiple names, noting many Latin American immigrants have more than one surname. He said the US government is not interested in that kind of minor discrepancy but wants to target people who deliberately changed their identities to dupe officials into granting immigration benefits.

“The people who are going to be targeted by this – they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on,” Cissna said. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”

Source: US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process

Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track permanent residency for migrants

Hard to know full extent of problem compared to overall numbers of Permanent Residents but number of anecdotes and some high profile convictions indicate is an issue:

Canadian employers are creating fake jobs so would-be immigrants can quickly get citizenship.

Immigration “consultants” often arrange the illicit deals, which frequently result in Canadian business owners being paid to fabricate non-existent jobs.

Other times, the immigrants perform actual work, while themselves handing cash to the employer under the table to top up their own salary.

The employers, for their part, devise fraudulent pay stubs so the foreign nationals can “prove” to immigration officials they have needed skills to go to the front of the queue to become a permanent resident of Canada.

“It’s very widespread. I have met a lot of clients who tell me how this is being done underground,” says George Lee, a veteran Burnaby-based lawyer who specializes in immigration law.

Immigration department officials, lawyers, employers, prosecutors and migrants are increasingly providing accounts of how immigration consultants and companies fabricate bogus records so foreign nationals can obtain permanent resident status.

Migrants are handing company owners anywhere from $15,000 to more than $150,000 to create the counterfeit jobs, with immigration consultants pocketing large fees in the bargain.

One immigrant department report said fraud is “commonly associated” with such jobs, called “arranged employment offers.”

“There are lots of cases like this and they’ve been going on for a long time,” said Lee. “In most cases, jobs are needed to become a permanent resident, yet in many cases they are just jobs on paper.”

Both Lee and Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland have been informed by clients, who range from young international students to professionals with degrees, about different deals would-be immigrants strike with employers.

In one standard example, Lee said, a foreign student who received paycheques worth $30,000 a year for part-time work was paid $15,000 by the employer, but also secretly handed over another $15,000 in cash to his boss to prop up his declared salary.

It’s a violation of the law, say Lee and Kurland, to offer cash in exchange for a job.

CBC TV in Saskatchewan last month secretly recorded Bill Sui, of the Vancouver-based immigrant consulting company Vstar International, offering cash to a Prairie retail employer to create jobs for his clients from Mainland China.

Since the news story came out about how Vstar International promised the owner of a Fabricland outlet $15,000 to produce a false job, plus enough to pay the migrant’s salary, people in three other Saskatchewan communities have come forward with similar accounts.

Kurland provided documents in which people complain to the Immigration department about such practices.

In one redacted letter obtained under an access to information request, a Canadian provided details about how her colleague was “getting her cheques and returning cash money to her employer just to show fake employment.”

Kurland, who publishes the newsletter Lexbase, said: “My research uncovers allegations of fake jobs, examples of fake jobs, and complaints by visa officers about fake jobs. It shows that some people who can’t qualify under our rules will pay big money to get their visa illicitly.”

An Iranian-Canadian businessman in Metro Vancouver told Postmedia that each month offshore professionals offer to pay him large sums to cook up artificial jobs in Canada.

“I get this on a regular basis. I’m offered fees from $10,000 to $50,000, plus they will pay their own salaries. So I could bring employees here and have them work for free,” said the businessman, who asked to not be identified.

In a related case, he cited how three years ago an Iranian couple ago went public about paying a B.C. film company $15,000 to come to Canada for jobs that turned out to be non-existent.

The businessman, who said he does not engage in such practices, said any Canadian company with more than six employees can offer a job to a foreign national.

Many job descriptions, which are either bogus or exaggerated to make them seem more “skilled,” are facilitated through immigration consultants, some of whom are not registered, even though registration is supposed to be a requirement in Canada.

Richmond immigration consultant Xun (Sunny) Wang hauled in $10 millionover eight years by producing phoney paycheques and other documents for up to 1,200 clients in arguably the largest immigration fraud case in Canadian history.

Wang’s employees counterfeited thousands of employment documents for clients, most of whom had no real jobs in Canada.

In 2015 Wang, who was not registered as a consultant, was sentenced to seven years in jail.

Source: Douglas Todd: Fake jobs fast-track citizenship for migrants | Vancouver Sun

ICYMI: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes

Good article on one of the fraud schemes, appears largely related to Saskatchewan’s provincial nominee program:

An ongoing court case suggests this sort of thing may have been going on for years in Saskatchewan.

In December 2015, Qi Wang and Yujuan Cui, a couple from White City, Sask. — a bedroom community of Regina — were charged with violating the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for allegedly creating fake job offers or inducing others to do so.

The husband and wife, who now live in Roberts Creek, B.C., are set to stand trial in January for their actions related to hundreds of immigration files in Saskatchewan.

Wang and Cui have been on the radar of immigration authorities since 2008.

In its fact statement filed in court, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says from 2008 to 2010, the province of Saskatchewan had suspended Wang from using its Immigrant Nominee Program because “he had been offering jobs from Saskatchewan companies that were not in existence and offering positions from a company for which authorization had not been received.”

Then, in 2012, CBSA was tipped off by provincial officials about some more suspicious activity.

During the two-year investigation that followed, from 2012 to 2014, CBSA seized material including “documents containing signature blocks and business header information taped onto job offers as well as documents with the employer’s email address portion cut out or taped over with a new address.”

Investigators allege that Wang and Cui made fake job offers to Chinese nationals, sometimes using non-existent companies. They also theorize that the couple approached and counselled “legitimate Saskatchewan companies to provide fraudulent job offers to Chinese nationals” and promised “to compensate legitimate Saskatchewan companies for providing fraudulent job offers.”

In all, CBSA says the couple “illegally received $600,000 from Chinese nationals” and “paid out approximately $95,000 to seventeen different Saskatchewan business owners.”

In documents seized from the couple, investigators found the names of 1,229 people. The province had received immigration applications from 422 of them.

CBSA found that 27 of those had their applications rejected, but 78 had already become permanent residents.

The court document says “CBSA did not have the capacity to ascertain with certainty the number of applications that were fraudulent.”

Permanent residency marketed as ‘commodity’

None of this is surprising to Raj Sharma, a Calgary immigration lawyer who used to work for the immigration refugee board as a hearing officer.

“Wherever you have this hot economy and favourable immigration climate, you’re gonna see this type of action,” he said.

He said this is precisely the sort of thing they’ve been seeing for years in Alberta.

Sharma said he knows it goes on because he regularly gets calls from people wanting his firm to find them a job in exchange for money — which he says is illegal.

“We respond and say that’s not what we do. But obviously they make that inquiry because there are others who do,” he said.

He said those who are willing to flout the law can command “five to 10 to 100 times more than our fees.”

“Canadian residency is a sought-after commodity and an asset,” he said.

He insisted in order to stop people from exploiting that fact, enforcement needs to be tougher and the rules need to be strengthened.

He said that’s especially so in Saskatchewan, where the program “is looser and more generous than Alberta.”

When asked about CBC’s Vstar investigation, the Saskatchewan premier’s office responded with a brief written statement, saying, “Saskatchewan has the strongest nominee program in Canada and we are determined to make sure that it remains the strongest.”

“As always, the government treats any suspected immigration infractions very seriously. Government officials look into information provided by anyone showing potential evidence of wrongdoing.”

When asked, the premier’s office didn’t explain what it meant by “strongest.”

Sharma said Alberta prioritizes approving the immigration applications of people who already live in the province and work or study there, whereas Saskatchewan “will still allow someone to come directly from overseas and I think perhaps that should be tightened up.”

He said it’s implausible that someone from China with weak language skills would be able to land a job in Canada without assistance.

And he said there are many who are willing to “help.”

“It is inevitably fostering fraud,” Sharma said.

Source: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes – Saskatchewan – CBC News

Liberals repeal Conservative immigrant residency requirement targeting marriage fraud

Balance of risks but tend to share Dench’s view that marriage fraud was blown out of proportion, reflecting a few high profile cases:

The Liberal government is repealing a measure brought in by the Conservatives that required newcomers to live with their sponsoring spouse for two years or face deportation.

The conditional permanent residency status policy, which kicked in October 2012, was designed to clamp down on marriage fraud. But immigrant advocates said it had the effect of trapping some people in violent, abusive relationships.

Scrapping the two-year probation for permanent residency checks off another 2015 Liberal campaign promise, which the government signalled it would pursue last fall.

According to the Privy Council Office website, the cabinet decision was formally taken April 13 and will be published on May 3 in the Canada Gazette, the government’s official newsletter.

A formal government announcement on the change is expected Friday.

Under the Conservative policy, sponsored spouses and partners were given a status of “conditional” permanent residence, and were required to cohabit and remain in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for two years. If they didn’t, their status could be revoked, leading to deportation.

At the time, former immigration minister Jason Kenney said the change targeted con artists who dupe Canadians into marriage then dump them once they get to Canada. The measure was also designed to deal with “marriages of convenience,” where two persons pretend to be in love for one to gain entry to Canada, often in exchange for money.

Exemptions for abuse

The probation policy allowed for exemptions when there was abuse or neglect by the sponsor, but Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees said many people didn’t understand the process. They remained trapped in violent relationships, while others who applied for an exception found the ordeal excruciating.

“They often end up getting the exception, but it’s a very difficult process, retraumatizing people who are already broken down by the panic of correspondence and interviews and having to go through everything that they suffered,” she told CBC News.

Dench said reports of fraudulent marriage have been blown out of proportion, and noted there are already provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to crack down on people who misrepresent themselves or make false claims.

But Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said the 2012 policy was brought in to address a real problem of marriage fraud, and called the Liberal move to repeal it a “giant step backward.”

“I think it’s the wrong approach,” she said. “I think it erodes public confidence in the integrity of the immigration system and it puts vulnerable persons at greater risk.”

Source: Liberals repeal Conservative immigrant residency requirement targeting marriage fraud – Politics – CBC News

‘It may go unnoticed’: Why Canada is ripe for immigration scams

One of the more recent scams to have emerged but no indication that any of the fraudulent applications resulted in the granting of permanent residency (and story doesn’t answer the headline question):

Imagine that your business name is used as bait to scam foreign workers hoping to come to Canada or that your stolen personal identity is used as the contact for the scheme.

It is happening to some of Canada’s best-known companies, including Bell Canada, Via Rail, Scotiabank and Bombardier and to a Montreal businessman, CBC News has learned.
Those companies and the Montreal man were unaware that someone had used them as a front to defraud foreign job seekers out of thousands of dollars until CBC News told them.

“This is the first we have heard of Giant Tiger being mentioned in this capacity,” said Alison Scarlett, manager of brand communications for Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.

“We are absolutely appalled that our trusted name would be used in such a scheme.”

The CBC investigation began after hearing from two Canadians whose family members were trying to immigrate to Canada from India.

The relatives in India were working through a contact who claimed to be a lawyer named Daniel Philip Bornstein and who would help them obtain a Canadian job and documentation.

Once offered a job in this country, the prospective immigrants would pay a fee. The catch: the job offers turned out to be bogus.

How the scheme worked

The lawyer claiming to be Daniel Philip Bornstein approached a third party consultant in India who had clients wishing to immigrate to Canada.
Documents obtained from the Indian consultant show that he then provided job postings from a number of Quebec-based companies, including SNC Lavalin, Via Rail, Golder Associates, Siemens Canada, Scotiabank, Bell, Brookfield Global, Giant Tiger, Systemex Automation and Bombardier. The job postings all appeared to be real positions from the companies’ websites.

Bell Bombardier

Companies such as Bell, Bombardier and Scotiabank were unaware their names had been used in the immigration scheme. (Shutterstock)

He would then arrange a phone interview with someone he said was a company representative. Applicants would then receive a job offer letter and contract, often using the company’s real logo and contact details.
Once the contracts were signed, he provided them with what looked like government documents including visas and Labour Market Impact Assessments.
The clients would pay more than $3,000 by transferring money through a pre-arranged bank account or online money transfer site.

The real Daniel Bornstein

To establish his credibility, the fraudster told prospective victims that he is a lawyer registered with the Law Society of Upper Canada with no complaints against him.
A quick search of the law society online database does list information for a Daniel Philip Bornstein and does show no complaints.

There is no current contact information or company association listed, making it harder for clients to verify his identity and making it easier for anyone to just use that name.

CBC News tracked down the real Daniel Bornstein, who confirmed that he is registered with the law society and spent two years practising tax and estate law in Montreal but is now a partner at a linen supply company.

He said had no idea his name was being used for fraudulent activity and found it “very alarming” to know that his name could be easily lifted from a legal directory.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre confirmed that it received three separate complaints against someone named Daniel Philip Bornstein dating back to 2012 from Nepal, Kazakhstan and Singapore.

CBC tried repeatedly to contact the man claiming to be Daniel Bornstein, however, the Montreal business address he provided to the clients was not valid and no one answers at the phone number he listed.

Clients of convicted immigration consultant facing deportation for lying

Important conviction for immigration and citizenship fraud, and good to see that both the consultant being punished and individuals pursued with revocation.

This is important both in its own right as well as helping to maintain broader confidence in the Canadian immigration and citizenship program, and is one of better and needed initiatives of the previous Conservative government:

One by one, many of the 1,200 former clients of an unlicensed Richmond, B.C., immigration consultant are getting the bad news — they’re no longer welcome in Canada because they lied.

CBC News has learned 320 immigrants, who each paid thousands of dollars to New Can Consulting and owner Xun (Sunny) Wang, are now facing deportation to China.

One year ago, Wang, 47, was convicted of one of the biggest immigration scams in Canadian history — making $10 million by filing fraudulent immigration applications for his clients.

In one of his ploys, Wang falsely used his own home in Richmond as an address for 114 of his clients who didn’t live in Canada.

Xun 'Sunny' Wang Richmond house

Convicted immigration fraudster Xun (Sunny) Wang used his own home in Richmond as a fake address for at least 114 of his clients. (Mike Zimmer/CBC )

His appeal of his seven-year prison term and $900,000 fine was rejected last month.

Three of his former employees will be sentenced in January and three more are awaiting trial. At least three others have warrants out for their arrest.

Now the Canada Border Services Agency says of Wang’s 320 ex-clients facing review of their immigration status, approximately 200 could be stripped of their citizenship and 120 could lose their permanent residency status.

Hundreds of other former New Can clients could also be in trouble.

500 more cases being investigated

In an email to CBC News, the border agency said it is continuing efforts to “uncover fraud on approximately 500 cases remaining to be investigated”.

That means out of the 1,200 clients of New Can, over 800 could ultimately be sent back to China.

Guo Liang Lin is one of them.

At his recent hearing before the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB), the clean-cut man in his late 40s was ruled “inadmissible to Canada due to misrepresentation.”

Eric Leung and Guo Liang Lin

Immigration consultant Eric Leung, left, and client Guo Liang Lin. Lin admits he signed documents that said he lived in Canada three times longer than he actually had to obtain permanent residency. Lin was working with a different immigration company at the time, which he blames for falsifying records. (Manjula Dufresne/CBC )

Lin was issued an exclusion order, banning him from re-entry into Canada for five years unless he gets permission from immigration officials to come back sooner — something an immigration and refugee spokesperson says rarely happens.

Lin immediately launched an appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a move that will allow him to remain in Canada for nine to 12 months until his case is reviewed by the Immigration Appeal Division.

Passport ‘falsified’

To obtain details of Lin’s case, CBC News attended his IRB hearing on Nov. 23.

The board adjudicator heard that Lin, who received permanent resident status in 2010, had spent just seven months in Canada over five years — not the minimum two years required by law.

This allowed him to live and work in China, while keeping his wife, son and daughter in B.C.

But his passport was altered by New Can Consulting, his IRB hearing heard, with entry and exit stamps falsified to make it appear Lin had spent 980 days, or just over 2½ years, in Canada.

Permanent residents are entitled to most social benefits in Canada, including health care.

McCallum doesn’t want to let fraudsters ‘off the hook’ through moratorium on citizenship revocation

There is a distinction between fraud cases investigated by the RCMP and those investigated by IRCC. The Minister seems to be referring to only the latter. In general, if I recall correctly, the RCMP cases deal more with massive fraud (e.g., consultants submitted multiple fraudulent applications) whereas IRCC deal more with individual cases.

IRCC data shows the vast majority of fraud cases are a result of IRCC internal investigations, not RCMP, as the chart below indicates:


The federal government is trying to revoke the citizenship of fraudsters, and that’s why it won’t agree to a moratorium on citizenship revocation, says Immigration Minister John McCallum.

“We have large numbers of a criminal element unveiled by the RCMP, and reported on by the auditor general. It was actually under the previous government that [investigations began that] we are now dealing with…and those people have really, truly abused our citizenship. So it would not be right to have a moratorium, and let them off the hook,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.

…. He [immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman] is part of a group bringing a constitutional challenge against a law brought in by the previous Conservative government, known as it was as C-24, that means a person who’s received notice of citizenship revocation doesn’t have a right to an appeal or court hearing.

 Mr. Waldman and another lawyer said they’re representing clients in similar circumstances to Ms. Monsef where their citizenship is in jeopardy because another family member is accused of misrepresentation.

Mr. McCallum (Markham-Thornhill, Ont.) acknowledged that the lack of an appeals mechanism needs to be fixed, but wouldn’t go as far as to instruct his department to stop revoking citizenships until one is set up, preferring instead to allow it to be developed through a change to a citizenship bill, C-6, currently at second reading in the Senate.

The bill aims to reverse parts of the Conservative legislation, C-24, that allowed the government to pull citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism, expanded the age range of immigrants subject to language testing, and more.

Mr. McCallum told the Senate during an appearance Oct. 4 for Question Period that he would welcome a Senate amendment to C-6 to put in place an appeals process for new Canadians who had their citizenship revoked for providing false information on their citizenship application.

However, he wavered on whether he would pause revocations while C-6 went through Parliament when asked by Senate Liberal Art Eggleton, saying “no,” then saying he would “consider” it. The federal Justice Department confirmed the government would not impose such a moratorium in a letter to the Federal Court last week, the Canadian Press reported.

The government has increased the rate of citizenship revocations for fraud since the Liberals took power. That includes 104 revocations in the first eight months of this year, compared with 132 in all of last year and just 30 in the previous two years combined, the CBC reported.

‘Never entitled’ to citizenship

Mr. McCallum said the government is not trying to revoke the citizenship of the alleged fraudsters before an amended C-6 could bring in an appeals mechanism.

“Those two are not linked,” he said.

“As a result of that RCMP investigation, they are pursuing cases, which we fully support. It takes a while to pursue those cases, and some of them are just coming to the revocation point now. It wasn’t an effort for any particular reason, except that they were ready. And we are definitely supporting efforts to go after the criminal element and remove citizenship where it was clearly done for fraudulent or criminal reasons,” he said.

In a written statement provided to The Hill Times, Mr. McCallum’s office said “the recent increase in citizenship revocations is the result of large-scale fraud investigations led by our RCMP and [Canada Border Services Agency] partners that began under the former Conservative government.

“These investigations led to criminal convictions of several immigration consultants, and notices of intent to revoke citizenship were sent to their clients who had provided fraudulent documents to suggest they were living in Canada when they were living abroad, in order to gain citizenship. Others changed their identity in order to hide criminal backgrounds.

Source: McCallum doesn’t want to let fraudsters ‘off the hook’ through moratorium on citizenship revocation – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Trudeau government revoking citizenship at much higher rate than Conservatives

The lack of procedural protections for citizenship revocation in cases of fraud or misrepresentation, flagged as a concern in both hearings on the Harper government’s C-24 and the Trudeau government’s C-6, continues to draw attention, given both the increased number of revocations and the Monsef case (although I would argue misrepresentation of her birthplace by her mother is not material in the way that misrepresenting residency).

And while the Trudeau government continued use of this power is questionable, the higher rate reflects in part the increased number of investigations following implementation of this provision in C-24 on 28 May 2015.

IRCC data shows 24 investigations initiated before this provision came into force, and 324 in the seven months after. The number of cases in the pipeline increased, and thus normal that more revocations would result, as the government applies the law:

The Trudeau government used powers granted by the Harper government’s controversial citizenship law to make 184 revocation decisions without legal hearings between November 2015 and the end of August. About 90 per cent of the decisions resulted in a negative finding and the loss of a person’s citizenship.

The numbers show that the Trudeau government has used the law far more aggressively than the Harper government itself.

But in a Federal Court filing late Friday, the government said it would not grant a moratorium on revocation cases, and added that claims by some that the system was revoking large numbers of citizenship are speculative.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made the sanctity of citizenship an issue in last year’s federal election.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Trudeau said in a leaders’ debate three weeks before storming to victory.

He used it to dress down Stephen Harper for passing Bill C-24, a law that aimed to strip dual citizens of their Canadian passports if they were convicted of crimes of terrorism, treason or espionage against Canada, or took up arms against Canada.

Immigrant communities rallied to the Liberal Party, concerned that Canadians born overseas would be reduced by C-24 to an insecure second-class status.

Once elected, one of the Liberals’ first acts was to repeal the parts of C-24 that applied to those convicted of terrorism-related crimes, ensuring that they can keep their Canadian passports.

But the Trudeau government left intact other parts of the law that allow the government to strip citizenship from other holders of Canadian passports for misrepresentation.

The 184 revocation decisions of the first 10 months of the Trudeau government nearly match the total number of decisions over a 27-year period between 1988 and the last month of the Harper government in October 2015.

Revocations increase as Trudeau takes office

Although the powers being used come from a law passed by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, the law has been used much more aggressively under Trudeau.

In the first full month of the law’s operation, June 2015, only three revocation decisions were made. None were made in July or August, two in September and two more in October.

The Trudeau cabinet was sworn in on Nov. 4, 2015. That month saw 21 revocation decisions. The following month there were 59. The year 2016 averaged 13 decisions a month up to Aug. 31, the latest data CBC News has been able to obtain.

The monthly average under the Harper government from 2013 to 2015 was only 2.4 cases a month, some under the auspices of C-24 and some under rules that existed previously.

Citizenship revocation decisions by year (in persons)

2013 2014 2015 2016 (8 months)
January 13
February 4 7 25
March 17 7
April 5 14
May 5 16 18
June 4 1 3 7
July 10
August 10
September 4 2
October 1 2
November 4 21
December 7 59
Total 15 15 132 104

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Liberals accused of hypocrisy

In recent days, following revelations that the birthplace of one of its own cabinet ministers was misrepresented on her passport documents, the government has said it is open to reforming the system.

But in the preceding months, it had used the revocation measures at an unprecedented rate.

“The Liberals criticized these provisions when they were in opposition,” says Laura Track of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “They said they were going to fix it. And yet they have been using it even more than the Conservatives did.”

The government says the revocation decisions are being taken to protect the integrity of the citizenship system and are aimed at cases of fraud.

Nancy Caron of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said “many cases that are being processed for revocation are as a result of large-scale investigations into possible residence fraud.”

The department carried out those investigations with Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP. Investigations led by those agencies have resulted in the conviction of immigration consultants who helped individuals obtain citizenship illegally.

“The revocation process is then undertaken to determine whether the individuals associated with these investigations, fraudulently obtained their Canadian citizenship through having intentionally misled the government of Canada about key aspects of their citizenship application such as concealing past criminal activities or submitting false documents to demonstrate residence in Canada when in fact they were not living in Canada‎. Many of the decisions to revoke citizenship that have been made since May 2015 directly result from those investigations,” Caron said in an email to CBC News.

Source: Trudeau government revoking citizenship at much higher rate than Conservatives – Politics – CBC News

Immigration [citizenship] fraud makes us vulnerable: Hassan

Farzana Hassan on the OAG report on citizenship fraud (Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds):

According to a Sun story Tuesday: “Michael Ferguson’s report uncovered instances of people with serious criminal records and others using potentially phony addresses, among those who managed to secure Canadian citizenship, thanks to holes throughout not just the Immigration Department but the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency as well.”

Of course, we should expect some mistakes in any government department, but it is reasonable to ask how widespread is the failure to weed out undesirable people from entering Canada and what will be done to solve the problem?

Immigration Minister John McCallum reacted to the report by saying the Liberal government is already looking into the issue and trying to address the problem. But the public needs something more tangible from the government than a formulaic response.

Andrew Griffith, author of the book, Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, writes in his blog entitled Multicultural Meanderings, “One of the lasting legacies of the Conservative government was increased attention to the integrity of the program, beyond the issues identified in the OAG report (e.g., rotating citizenship test questions, more rigorous and consistent language assessment, and the integrity measures of C-24).”

The Trudeau government has retained many of these controls, but the technology solutions enabling effective oversight need to be refined.

Griffith is convinced the problem is not too widespread, but the current high reliance on manual data entry and human triggered searches is so critically prone to error that a simple spelling mistake can cause a failure in the system.

Automated alerts need to be in place. Electronic scanning for data accuracy and compatibility between security organizations needs to be a priority.

The stakes are high, and the current system has too many holes to provide the kind of assurance to which Canadians are entitled.

Despite the optimism of observers like Griffith, it is clear the system needs a thorough overhaul, especially when immigration in many cases is being aggressively and fraudulently pursued in terror-exporting countries like Pakistan and others in the Middle East.

Human error will continue to play a role in any system. But in an electronic age, automatic identification technology and smart systems that use leading-edge applications can significantly reduce mistakes.

Canadians deserve to know they are safe from people with criminal records and jihadi mindsets

Source: Immigration fraud makes us vulnerable | HASSAN | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto

Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds

I did not find this OAG study all that surprising, particularly the challenges of maintaining accurate and consistent database records (e.g., spelling of addresses) and the lack of consistent follow-up to any cases flagged.

One of the lasting legacies of the Conservative government was increased attention to the integrity of the program, beyond the issues identified in the OAG report (e.g., rotating citizenship test questions, more rigorous and consistent language assessment, and the integrity measures of C-24).

But like many OAG reports, it is weak with respect to the materiality of fraud and the gaps it uncovered.

Six addresses out of 9,778 that IRCC officials missed is 0.06 percent. Other aspects are more problematic, multiple versions of addresses in particular, as well as lack of follow-up to warning flags and coordination between IRCC and RCMP or CBSA.

IRCC’s own number of revocation cases pending is 700, again a relatively small number (0.14 percent) compared to  the large numbers of new citizens in the past two years (500,000). And of course there is no comparative data in the report on permanent residency, EI, CPP or other program fraud to relate compare these numbers with.

So while any fraud is by definition unacceptable, the realities of large programs means that some degree, as small as possible, is inevitable, and ongoing attention to reducing its incidence is necessary:

Canada’s immigration department did not properly detect and prevent citizenship fraud, resulting in the review of some 700 citizenship cases as of January, according to Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s spring report.

The report, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday morning, found a number of concerns in the citizenship program affecting the department’s capability to prevent citizenship fraud, including the absence of a method to identify and document fraud risks.

“We concluded that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) efforts to detect and prevent citizenship fraud were not adequate,” said Mr. Ferguson in a prepared statement. “These gaps make it difficult for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to assess the impacts of its efforts to combat citizenship fraud.”

…According to the report, the most common reasons for revoking citizenship are residency and identity fraud, and undeclared criminal proceedings.

The report found that citizenship officers did not consistently apply their own methods to identify and prevent fraud when dealing with suspicious immigration documents, such as altered passports. For example, in one region, citizenship officers did not seize any suspicious documents for in-depth analysis since at least 2010, while they did in another.

It was also found that citizenship officers did not have the information they needed to properly identify “problem addresses” when making decisions to grant citizenship. Problem addresses are those known or suspected to be associated with fraud, and used by citizenship applicants to meet residency requirements for citizenship.

“For example, one address was not identified as a problem even though it had been used by 50 different applicants, seven of whom were granted citizenship,” said Mr. Ferguson.

The problem was further complicated by poor sharing of information with the RCMP, which provides information about criminal behaviour among permanent residents, and the Canada Border Services Agency, which leads investigations of immigration fraud, said the report.

While the department did not track the exact number of citizenship fraud risks, it reported 700 pending revocation cases as of January. According to the report, revoking citizenship after fraud is discovered is “time consuming and costly.”

Source: Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds – The Globe and Mail,

Dozens of fraudsters and suspected criminals became Canadian citizens, watchdog says in damning report

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