Migrants Being Defrauded by Human Smuggling Criminals

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Colombo, Sri Lanka, January 7, 2013 — Anyone relying on human smugglers to try to get into Canada is just “throwing their life savings away,”Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said today.

“We are sending a strong message to those who are thinking of using the services of criminal human smugglers to sneak into Canada: Don’t do it. They’ll just take your money but leave you stranded,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada has a generous and open legal immigration system, but those who try to get into Canada through the back door using human smugglers will not succeed and are wasting their money trying.”

Thanks to very alert policing and intelligence action, recent human smuggling operations were shut down before they could leave port.

Other operations that planned to smuggle Sri Lankans to Canada from Thailand and Indonesia have also been disrupted in the past two years. To support ongoing efforts, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $12 million in funding in March 2012 to help fight human smuggling, including support for projects in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Canadian law enforcement agencies continue to work with their counterparts abroad to identify and prevent human smuggling operations that are targeting Canada.  Canada boosted its international efforts to prevent human smuggling after the arrival of two smuggling ships in 2009 and 2010. Since then, no planned smuggling voyages have succeeded in getting to Canada.

Under the new Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which became law in June 2012, law enforcement officials now have better tools to prosecute individuals who organize, engage in, and profit from human smuggling. The Act includes new mandatory minimum penalties, up to a minimum of ten years imprisonment for those convicted of human smuggling.

The Act also introduced mandatory detention of those individuals who arrive as part of a designated human smuggling operation, so that we can be sure we know who they are and that they do not pose a security threat before they are released.  And those who arrive as part of a designated irregular arrival are now barred from applying for permanent resident status for five years. This means that they will be unable to sponsor family members to come to Canada during that period.

“We will continue to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s generous immigration system, which admits more immigrants per capita than any other country in the  world, for those who come to Canada lawfully, including all legitimate refugees,” said Minister Kenney. “We will continue to work to make sure that human smugglers are put out of business.”

Canada continues to have one of the most generous resettlement programs in the world, welcoming approximately one in 10 refugees resettled worldwide through its programs.  By 2013, Canada will annually resettle up to 14,500 refugees and other individuals in vulnerable circumstances.

While in Sri Lanka, the Minister also met with officials to reiterate Canada’s concerns about the lack of meaningful post-civil war reconciliation.

“Canada again calls on the government of Sri Lanka to live up to the standard of membership in the Commonwealth and show tangible progress on a process of national political reconciliation and to seriously address allegations of human rights violations by both sides during the civil war,” said Minister Kenney. “Our Government will continue to stand up against human rights abuses abroad, including with commonwealth member countries.”

  • Backgrounder: Overview: Ending the Abuse of Canada’s Immigration System by Human Smugglers
  • Backgrounder: Designating Human Smuggling Events
  • Backgrounder: Cracking down on Human Smugglers who Abuse Canada’s Immigration System
  • Backgrounder: Protecting our Streets and Communities from Criminal and National Security Threats

For more information on changes to Canada’s asylum system, see also Protecting Canada’s Immigration System

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A Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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