B.C. migrant workers face deportation after raid
Here are my comments on the case that came out in the media today on a raid that took place on a construction site where there were migrant workers working without permits:
The activity described in the CBC news article by the construction company and the workers is absolutely illegal. And the CBSA is the enforcer of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act which gives them special powers:
CBSA Mandate: powers given A6(1) & A6(2)
- Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness
- Oversees 90 acts and regulations and international agreements
- Citizenship Act
- Excise Act
- Excise Act 2001
- Immigration and Refugee Act & Regulations
- Customs Act
- Customs Tariff
- Criminal Code
The CBSA has special powers under section 44(2) of the act to intervene in cases where there is suspected criminality or where there is a person or group of persons who are in Non-Compliance (section 41) of the rules under the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act.
If the workers were actual refugees who were awaiting a refugee claim in Canada, under those circumstances, refugees are issued temporary work permits or study permits while they are awaiting their claim to be processed and their Hearing date at the IRB Tribunal. So they [the workers in this case] could not have been refugee claimants!
While I am sympathetic to the plight of poor people coming from countries such as Honduras, workers were also cited from Mexico in which Canada has several international trade agreements for skilled workers to flow freely between Canada, the US and Mexico (NAFTA). There should be no reason why a migrant worker from Mexico is here without permission, as this is easily obtainable, unless you have a criminal past conviction (rendering you inadmissible to Canada). Furthermore, it should be noted that people who are inadmissible to Canada due to past criminality have serious previous convictions – let’s just say that the conviction was not a DUI but something else.
I don’t particularly understand the comments in the CBC article by the Immigration Lawyer commentator that spoke about “refugees” and creating “fear” by the broadcast. I don’t condone the broadcast, but it is not illegal, as the persons concerned (who were not refugees) were subject to arrest, detention, removals and possible Admissibility Hearings at the IRB which are public. Only Refugee Hearings are private and confidential. Furthermore, the Persons Concerned all signed the affidavits of the Media Company (in this case, Force Four Entertainment) waiving their rights and allowing the said Company to broadcast and use their images. If you are under arrest, what you do is you don’t do anything (except answer the Border Services Agent’s questions truthfully and fully). In those circumstances, “cooler heads prevail” and you certainly don’t sign any contracts or the like until such time as you have convened with Counsel. Detainees in Canada (yes, even Foreign Nationals) have the Right to Counsel in the event they have been arrested. If you cannot afford Counsel, a Duty Counsel will be appointed.
The bottom line is that if you are a Foreign National, under no circumstances do you work without a work permit or enter Canada without ensuring that you have the Right of Entry (Permanent Residents & Canadian citizens only). If you are a temporary seasonal worker, you still have to present yourself to the Port of Entry. And you need to follow the rules of the IRPA. If you don’t follow the rules, then you leave yourself open to a potential CBSA arrest situation. The raid was conducted under the powers of Non-Compliance section 41 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It is a straightforward allegation, that was deemed by the Minister’s Delegate to be well-founded and the illegal workers were subsequently issued removal orders under Regulation 228, and in some cases a deportation order if the allegation involves previous criminality (which is a permanent ban from Canada).
The lesson here is that make sure you have proper documentation. Make sure you have applied for work permits or study permits and ensure that you follow the rules that every foreign national is subject to (including any conditions that are imposed by the visa officers). People don’t realize that visa officers have the authority of the Minister to act. And that means, let’s just say, you never want to meet a removal officer. By the time they have come for you, it’s probably too late to fix it. Plan ahead and ensure you have complied with the Act. Better to be safe and ensure the safety of your family members as well.
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