Government of Canada

Government of Canada

October 21, 2010 13:14 ET

Harper Government Introduces Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 21, 2010) - Today, the Harper Government is delivering on its commitment to crack down on human smugglers who seek to abuse Canada's immigration system. Speaking in front of the illegal migrant vessel, the Ocean Lady in Vancouver, the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism introduced legislation that would strengthen Canada's ability to prosecute human smugglers, deter those that seek to jump the queue, prevent human smuggling operations before they leave for Canada and maintain the integrity and fairness of our immigration system. 

"Our Government is taking action to prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers," said Minister Toews. "The legislation introduced today will send a clear message: Canada opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules while cracking down on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity and abuse our fair and welcoming immigration system."

The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act will ensure law enforcement have the tools they need to crack down on human smugglers. The new measures in the proposed legislation include:

  • Making it easier to prosecute human smugglers;

  • Imposing mandatory prison sentences on convicted human smugglers; and

  • Holding ship owners and operators to account for use of their ships in human smuggling operations.

The Act will also help to ensure the safety and security of Canadian communities by:

  • Ensuring mandatory detention of illegal migrants for up to one year to allow for the determination of identity, inadmissibility and illegal activity.

"The measures we introduced today send a clear message to individuals overseas thinking about smuggling people and to those people thinking about using human smugglers – don't do it," said Minister Kenney. "This action will help to prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers, while allowing us to continue offering protection to the world's most vulnerable."

The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act also contains numerous measures to deter individuals from using human smugglers to come to Canada. Included are the following deterrence measures that would specifically apply to illegal migrants who come to Canada by way of a human smuggling operation: 

  • Seeking to ensure that illegal migrants who obtain refugee status can be re-assessed within five years to determine whether they still need protection or can be returned to their country of origin;

  • Ensuring that the health benefits the illegal migrants receive are not more generous than those received by the Canadian public from the government;

  • Ensuring that refugee or refugee applicants who were illegal migrants are not able to come back to Canada if they return to the country from which they sought refuge, or if they demonstrate in other ways that they are not legitimately in need of Canada's protection; and

  • Preventing illegal migrants from sponsoring family members for five years.

In addition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is appointing a Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration, Mr. Ward P.D. Elcock, as part of the Government's efforts to strengthen Canada's ability to detect human smuggling operations overseas and prevent them from reaching Canada. The Special Advisor will advance Canada's engagement with governments in source and transit countries, partner states and in regional and/or international fora which address human smuggling.

The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act and backgrounders can be consulted at www.publicsafety.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Public Safety Canada
    Media Relations
    613-991-0657
    or
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Media Relations
    613-952-1650
    or
    Public Safety Canada
    Minister's Office
    613-991-2924
    or
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    613-954-1064