Why should those immigrants who flout the rules of admission be entitled to a Canadian passport, one of the most desirable travel authorizations in the world.
The Harper government says they should not and have their sights on 2,100 people who have obtained citizenship through fraudulent means, while 4,400 more are suspected of ignoring the residency rules that accompany permanent residence status or citizenship.
To maintain permanent residence a person must reside in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period. Those who seek citizenship must show they have lived in Canada for three of the past four years before applying.
Some of the immigrant “cheats” are assisted by crooked immigration consultants who are paid tens of thousands of dollars to create false residence alibis. The Harper government tackled that motley crew by creating a new industry regulator for those who work as immigration consultants, after passing Bill-35 Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, which came into force in June this year.
The new legislation shut down the former regulatory body, Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, whose Federal Court challenge of the law responsible for their demise was unsuccessful.
As a Vancouver family law lawyer I regularly see immigrant women living with their children, following the rules for Canadian status, while their husbands live and work in their home country, all the while “pretending” they live in Vancouver. These women, who often feel abandoned by their spouses, end up in a divorce lawyer’s office and their spouse’s foreign passports confirm the illegitimacy of their permanent resident applications and their abuse of our system.
It’s tough to argue against a law that engenders fairness and decries fraud, however, both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party have criticized the government’s crackdown.
Liberal Immigration Critic Kevin Lamoureux suggests the government’s fervor to ferret out immigration fraud ought to be matched by a similar enthusiasm for processing legitimate immigration applications.
Lamoureux’s rationale? “People lose their right to be able to vote because the government is so slow at processing citizenships.”
Yes, once again the new immigrant’s importance to Canada is not the skill, energy, or cultural diversity they bring. It simply boils down to a vote and historically immigrants vote for middle to left-leaning parties, like the Liberals or the NDP.
While the politics of immigration hasn’t changed, Harper’s new policies will ensure a level playing field with a focus on fairness and a pox on fraud.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang