Support for Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act

Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP)
The CACP supports the efforts of the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act to provide for a more expeditious removal from Canada of foreigners who are convicted of committing serious crimes against Canadians. As well, we support measures to prevent those with a history of committing criminal offenses, or who pose a risk to our society, from entering Canada. The Act will help to make Canadians and those who legitimately enter Canada safer.
(June 25, 2012)

Canadian Police Association (CPA)
The Canadian Police Association (CPA) welcomes the introduction of the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, particularly with respect to the enhanced prohibitions against those who have committed serious crimes abroad from coming to Canada.

While the overwhelming majority of those who come to Canada make a tremendous contribution to our shared communities, there does remain a small minority who flout Canadian law and have taken advantage of drawn-out proceedings to remain in the country at a risk to public safety. This legislation will help us by streamlining the procedures necessary to remove individuals who remain at-risk to re-offend.

Ensuring that public safety is one of the considerations with respect to admissibility to Canada is a clear step in the right direction.
(July 16, 2012)

Sharon Rosenfeldt, Victims of Violence
Victims of Violence is writing you today in support of Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act. We are very pleased with the Government’s announcement of changes to legislation that would make it easier for the Government to remove dangerous foreign criminals from our country.

As an organization that works with victims of violent crimes and their families, we applaud this proposed change. We feel that streamlining the deportation of convicted criminals from Canada will make our country safer. Limiting access to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Immigration Appeal Division, and thus reducing the amount of time that convicted criminals may spend in Canada, is an important proactive step in ensuring the safety of all Canadians.

Reducing the time that criminals may spend in Canada will reduce the chances of these criminals continuing on a path of destruction by committing additional crimes. It must be made clear that crime, particularly of a serious, violent or dangerous nature, will not be tolerated in our country.

Cutting short foreign criminals’ opportunity for lengthy appeals will go a long way in minimizing and preventing the re-victimization of those innocent Canadians who are the victims of foreign offenders.

We are pleased that the Government is putting the safety and well-being of all Canadians first with the introduction of this Bill.
(Letter – July 30, 2012)

Immigrants For Canada
Immigrants For Canada fully supports this proposal. Once a criminal is ordered deported following the conviction of a criminal offence in Canada (which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years or more, or is sentenced to a length greater than six months), the process to have said person deported can be extraordinary. Abuses of the appeal process can delay the matter for years. Ensuring fairness in this process; and eliminating abuse, is certainly in the best interests of all Canadians.
(June 26, 2012)

Dan Bohbot, Association of Immigration Lawyers of Quebec
I always say to my clients don’t commit a crime. Obviously Canada doesn’t want people who are going to come here and then end up in the judicial system. So obviously I think Canadians, it’s true, do not want criminals in Canada. I agree with that.
(CBC Radio – June 21, 2012)

Richard Kurland, Immigration Lawyer
I think that’s wonderful to hear that the Minister is using hard data and some street sense to come up with policy solutions that will hit the ground running.
(Roy Green Show – June 23, 2012)

Martin Collacott, Centre for Immigration Policy Reform
What that means is that someone who we should be getting rid of immediately can stay for months and years, even decades by a whole series of appeals that they launch. And if you’ve been found guilty by a Canadian court, convicted and served time, surely that’s enough to say that you’re a danger to Canadian society. You shouldn’t be given years, months and years of appeals to prevent your removal.
(Roy Green Show – June 23, 2012)

Dr. Meb Rashid, Medical Director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital
Welcomed the expedition of the removal of criminals from Canada.
(Toronto Star – June 21, 2012)

Natalie Brender, research associate at the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa
The changes the government has introduced make good sense (including swifter deportation for non-citizen criminals)… Many of the reforms [the Minister]’s pursuing could solidify public confidence in our citizenship and immigration regimes, and strengthen Canadians’ welcome for the millions of newcomers our country needs to prosper in decades ahead. 
(Ottawa Citizen – July 14, 2012)

Reis Pagtakhan, Immigration Lawyer
Immigration Minister has introduced a proposed new law that will make it easier for the government to remove certain non-Canadian criminals from Canada.  The part that eliminates the ability of certain convicted criminals to appeal their removal from Canada is fair.  It is important to note we are not talking about removing non-citizens who have been merely charged or accused of a crime. The only people that will be removed without appeal are permanent residents convicted of a crime and sentenced to six or more months of prison. These individuals are no longer presumed innocent. They were found guilty after having the right to hire a lawyer and to defend themselves in court. It is only after going through this process that these individuals were convicted and sentenced.

Some will also argue these changes are unfair because the convicted criminal will not be able to plead their personal immigration circumstances in an appeal. This argument does not hold much water since the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled last year that judges must look at a convicted criminal’s personal immigration circumstances before handing down a sentence.

When sentencing convicted criminals, judges already take into account a number of factors including whether the individual has pled guilty, has shown remorse, has family and community support, is employed, and, of course, has committed previous crimes. Since judges must take into account a criminal’s personal immigration circumstances, the convicted criminal should have more than ample protection of his or her rights
(Winnipeg Free Press, June 28, 2012)

The Globe and Mail
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has made a convincing case for a new law allowing the swift deportation of convicted criminals. The infamous example of Clinton Gayle underscores the need for such legislation. A Jamaican citizen who was convicted in Canada of multiple criminal offences, Mr. Gayle was able to remain in the country long after a 1991 deportation order, because of the immigration appeals process. In 1996, he shot two Toronto police officers, killing one of them.

It is an extreme example. But it was hardly an isolated one. Take, for instance, the case of Walford Uriah Steer, who somehow managed to remain in Canada long enough to be convicted of more than 70 criminal acts by the time he was arrested again last year and charged with multiple prostitution offences involving a 16-year-old girl.

The common thread in these cases, and other less notorious ones, is that the offenders racked up a string of convictions for which they were sentenced to less than two years in prison - the threshold at which those who are ordered deported lose their right to appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board. So Mr. Kenney is proposing to lower that bar so that only those sentenced to less than six months could use the immigration appeals process.

But while some immigration lawyers are predictably up in arms, it is difficult to argue with the bill’s main thrust. The immigration process can be enormously complex, but one principle should be fairly straightforward: The tiny share of immigrants and refugees who lack citizenship and are convicted of serious crimes on Canadian soil forfeit their right to be here.
(June 25, 2012)

Calgary Herald
In the category of “why didn’t anyone think of this before,” comes new legislation introduced last week to quickly deport foreigners who commit crimes. Duh.

[The Immigration Minister] cited the case of Clinton Gayle, a Jamaican who was convicted of multiple drug offences and sentenced to a term of two years less a day. For six years beginning in 1990, the government tried unsuccessfully to deport him. In 1996, Gayle shot and killed a Toronto police officer, Todd Baylis. 

Although high profile, the Gayle case is not isolated. Career criminal Walford Uriah Steer, a Jamaican who was one of those put on the Canada Border Services Agency deportation list last year, was convicted of more than 70 criminal acts by the time he was arrested and charged with multiple prostitution offences involving a 16-year-old girl. Earlier this month, the CBSA added five new names to its deportation list. To date, the CBSA has removed 19 people who were on its most wanted list for deportation and located five others who were living abroad.

Under the proposed new rules, foreign citizens involved in organized crime and human or international rights violations will no longer be permitted to attempt to put off their removal.

There are currently more than 2,700 deportation orders under appeal in Canada, with the average file taking 15 months to process.

The new legislation is the latest in a series of get-tough immigration policies from Kenney, ranging from crackdowns on bogus refugee claimants to evicting fake citizens and dealing with human smugglers and shady immigration consultants.  There is no arguing that Kenney is reshaping Canada’s image as a soft target for immigration.

By doing so, he has also made more room for legitimate, productive and deserving immigrants who play by the rules. Instead of accommodating criminals with endless appeals, we’ll gladly take more of the law-abiding ones.
(June 27, 2012)

Kelly McParland, National Post
As with many of the other reforms Mr. Kenney has initiated, the problem he’s addressing has been widely known and complained about for years. Canada’s immigration laws have been far too lax and open to abuse for years. As one Edmonton columnist noted, the change is so sensible it will probably surprise most Canadians that the new policy isn’t already the law of the land.
(June 22, 2012)

Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Sun 
[The Immigration Minister] introduced a bill – the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act – that is so sensible it will probably surprise most Canadians that the new policy isn’t already the law of the land.

He moved to close a major loophole that has for years permitted recent immigrants to commit crimes in Canada before they become citizens, but remain here nonetheless.

Under existing law, any resident non-citizen guilty of a crime can be ordered deported to his home country, but those sentenced to two years or less have been permitted to appeal their expulsion orders to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The process takes an average of 15 months and often very much longer. By the time a case is heard, the offender has often finished his jail time, after which there is less enthusiasm to kick him out.

The whole thing has become a gerbil-wheel of futility.

If this bill passes, those sentenced to six months or longer will have no right to appeal their automatic deportation orders.

They will no longer be able to use the bureaucratic process to delay their removal from Canada until it is too late for officials to do anything about it.

How can this change possibly be unfair?

If you wish to move here and become a citizen, shouldn’t you have to be on your best behaviour while you wait to become a Canadian?

Why should Canada have to keep you if you demonstrate your danger to the community during your probationary period?

Other new rules in this law make it easier for immigration and refugee screeners to reject applications to come to Canada from those individuals suspected of “involvement in organized crime or security, human or international rights violations.”

Excuse me!?

You mean it’s presently difficult for our immigration officials to turn away gang members, potential terrorists and war criminals?

Not only is it difficult to bar the door to such undesirable applicants, even if Immigration Canada officials manage to build a case for excluding organized criminals and political extremists, it is next to impossible to exclude their spouses and children. They may not get in, but their wives and kids will. Bill C-43 would correct that, too.

About 86% of Canadians convicted of a crime this year will be sentenced to six months or less, according to Statistics Canada.

That means Kenney’s new rules will not lead to mass deportation of petty criminals.

Rather, only those convicted of serious offenses such as assault, sexual assault, fraud and drug dealing will be affected.

Nor will the new law adversely impact the roughly 300,000 new Canadians who come here every year to live lawfully, work hard and make a better life for their families. Each year more than 2,500 criminal immigrants sentenced to between six and 24 months in jail have managed to avoid expulsion from Canada by way of the existing appeals process.

It is not mean or hardhearted or bigoted to deny them citizenship and punt them from our shores more quickly.

If you want to come to Canada and make a new life here, welcome. We love to have you.

But if you commit a crime while awaiting citizenship, don’t claim to be a victim if we make you leave.
(June 22, 2012)

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