Thursday, July 7, 2011

20,000 illegals hunted in GTA

MISSISSAUGA - Canadian border officials have launched a massive sweep for 20,000 illegal immigrants — many desperate to avoid deportation — who are hiding in the Greater Toronto Area.
The crackdown includes warrants for up to 50 notorious war criminals and 1,400 hardened foreign criminals who are sought by an Immigration Task Force that includes the RCMP, Toronto Police and OPP, said a top official of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
“These people did not comply or report to immigration officials as required (by law),” said Reg Williams, director of CBSA inland enforcement in the GTA Region. “These are warrants for people that we are actively looking for.”
Williams said many of the alleged war criminals arrived in Canada as refugee claimants from the Baltic countries, Africa and Central America. Efforts are made to revoke their refugee claims and deport them after their backgrounds surface.
He said priority is given to hunting those with criminal or violent backgrounds so they can be removed from the streets.
“All our officers have priority cases of fugitives they are searching for,” Williams said. “These people were last known to be in the GTA and we will find them.”
The files are among 120,000 stored in a sprawling CBSA complex at 6900 Airport Rd.
The facility includes an area where officers can store their weapons and a dispatch room, in which CBSA officers can work with police in the apprehension of fugitives.
CBSA officials on Thursday gave a rare glimpse of their Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre that is responsible for removing from Canada about 7,000 illegal immigrants annually to dozens of countries. The centre is the largest in Canada.
Many violators are arrested by Toronto and other police forces for offences and are turned over to the CBSA for deportation after their criminal case is finished, police said.
Williams said about $5 million is spent yearly on airline tickets to deport failed immigrants and about 5% of those sent packing have to be returned by escort officers to avert public safety issues on commercial flights.
Some 3,600 immigrants and refugees are required to check in weekly at the centre as their case proceeds through the system.
The centre is using a biometric telephone system that recognizes the immigrant’s voice, after pre-registering, when they call to check in.

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