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Kenney’s Anti-Immigrant Mean Streak Continues As He Targets 6500 Immigrants For Citizenship Fraud

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s anti-immigrant mean streak isn’t just directed at immigrants who became citizens but his department has also been working on cases of those who are not yet citizens. Kenney claims nearly 4,400 people with permanent resident status who are known to be implicated in residence fraud have been flagged for additional scrutiny should they attempt to enter Canada or obtain citizenship. There is nothing wrong with cracking down on immigration and citizenship fraud but the Conservatives as usual go gung-ho in targeting immigrants and this comes across as actions of a government bent on attacking and vilifying immigrants. This seems like overzealousness given that since 1867, Canada has only revoked the citizenship status of 66 people but under the Stephen Harper Conservatives thousands of immigrants are on the chopping block.

By R. Paul Dhillon

SURREY — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s anti-immigrant mean streak continues as he targets an additonal 6500 people for citizenship after already stripping 1800 of citizenship earlier.

On Friday, Kenney announced that the Conservative government is now investigating 6,500 people from more than 100 countries for fraudulently attempting to gain citizenship or maintain permanent resident status.

“Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” the always boastful Kenney boasted. “Canadians are generous people, but have no tolerance or patience for people who don’t play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen.  The Government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently.”

In July, Kenney announced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was beginning the process to revoke the citizenship of up to 1,800 citizens who he claimed obtained it fraudulently; that number has now risen to more than 2,100.

Kenney’s mean streak isn’t just directed at immigrants who became citizens but his department has also been working on cases of those who are not yet citizens.  Nearly 4,400 people with permanent resident status who are known to be implicated in residence fraud have been flagged for additional scrutiny should they attempt to enter Canada or obtain citizenship.  The majority of these individuals are outside the country.

There is nothing wrong with cracking down on immigration and citizenship fraud but the Conservatives as usual go gung-ho in targeting immigrants and this comes across as actions of a government bent on attacking and vilifying immigrants. This seems like overzealousness given that since 1867, Canada has only revoked the citizenship status of 66 people but under the Stephen Harper Conservatives thousands of immigrants are on the chopping block.

According to Kenney, in typical cases, permanent residents will use the services of an unscrupulous immigration consultant to establish evidence of residence in Canada while living abroad most, if not all, of the time.  This fraud is perpetrated so that individuals can maintain their permanent residence status and later apply for citizenship.  A family of five may pay upwards of $25,000 over four or more years to create the illusion of residence in Canada.

“My department is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canadian offices abroad to prevent people who are suspected of non-compliance with the permanent residence requirement from being admitted to Canada without proving they meet the requirements and take enforcement action when necessary,” Kenney added.

Critics say Kenney as usual being high handed in this witch hunt given that under the Conservatives immigration reforms it’s taking a long time for people to become citizens

Immigration lawyers say even a simple citizenship application can take a year to process and suggested the crackdown needed to be supplemented with pragmatism.

To date, of the 4,400 permanent residents who have been flagged, nearly 1,400 people have withdrawn or abandoned their citizenship application because of new scrutiny.

Permanent residents must acquire three years of residence out of four years to apply for Canadian citizenship.  To retain their status as permanent residents, they must be physically present in Canada for two years out of five.

“I encourage anyone who has information regarding citizenship fraud to call our tip line to report it,” Kenney urged.

He’s asking Canadians to spy on their immigrant neighbours and report cases involving false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship process – for example, pretending to be present in Canada to meet the residence requirements for obtaining citizenship. They can report by calling the citizenship fraud tip line at CIC’s Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday).  Tips may also be reported by e-mail at Citizenship-fraud-tips@cic.gc.ca. Those overseas can contact the nearest Canadian visa office.

All other fraud types related to immigration should be reported to the CBSA’s Border Watch Tip Line at 1 888-502-9060.   Tips accepted by the Border Watch Tip Line include, but are not limited to, suspicious cross-border activity, marriages of convenience, misrepresentation in any temporary or permanent immigration application, or the whereabouts of any person wanted on an immigration warrant.

Kenney’s department has been cracking down on the actions of crooked consultants – consultants are calling it a witch hunt and so are many immigrants – during the immigration process. Bill C-35, originally introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, came into force on June 30, 2011.  The Act imposes penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding.

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