Colin Powell’s scathing report says we’re patsies in human trafficking
Sheldon Alberts, Vancouver Sun, Feb. 26
The U.S. state department has singled out Vancouver as one two Canadian “hubs” for organized criminals who are using Canada’s “lax immigration laws” to traffic in people.
The report says Vancouver’s proximity to the U.S. border has also helped criminals smuggle people, primarily Asian women and girls into the U.S., often for the purposes of prostitution.
In its annual report on global human rights practices, the state department warned that Canada has become a major transit point and destination for human trafficking.
“Vancouver and Toronto served as hubs for organized crime groups that traffic in persons, including trafficking for prostitution,” the report said. “East Asian crime groups targeted the country, and Vancouver in particular, because of lax immigration laws, benefits available to immigrants, and the proximity to the U.S. border.”
The report follows an internal RCMP report issued last year that said illegal migration to Canada is a “rapidly growing” and lucrative market for “snakeheads,” people who organize the secret movement of illegal aliens. The RCMP report said the market is expected to increase over the next 15 years and has an estimated annual profit of $9.5 billion.
Vancouver and B.C. have long been known as focal points for the snakeheads who organize the shipment of large groups of immigrants — many who come from Fujian province in China — into Canada. The issue became public in 1999 when four rusting fishing boats packed with illegal immigrants came ashore in B.C. Most of the people were sent back to China after their claims for refugee status were rejected by Canadian authorities.
From Vancouver, the immigrants either slip across the border, move to Toronto, or claim refugee status here, according to Constable Alex Borden, a spokesman for the RCMP’s border integrity unit in Surrey.
Borden hasn’t seen the U.S. state department’s report, but said the problems of illegal immigration are not new.
The report, issued Wednesday, said “at least 15,000 Chinese” entered Canada illegally over the last decade, many of them paying thousands of dollars to smugglers only to end up working as indentured servants or prostitutes.
“Asian women and girls who were smuggled into the country often were forced into prostitution. Traffickers used intimidation and violence, as well as the illegal immigrants’ inability to speak English, to keep victims from running away or informing the police.”
Canada’s immigration laws, rather than helping victims of human trafficking, further exacerbated the suffering, the report suggested.
“Victims may apply for permanent residence under the ‘humanitarian and compassionate’ provisions of the Immigration Act,” the report said.
“However, some victims of trafficking were arrested and deported. In prostitution cases, often the prostitute instead of the customer was arrested.”
The RCMP’s report last year also suggested illegal immigrants face pressure from organized smugglers.
“Indicators suggest that illegal migrants now comprise one-third to one-half of new entrants to most developed countries. Terrorists and organized crime groups may exploit flaws in migration controls to blend into and recruit from immigrant communities and also to move associates into Canada,” the RCMP report said.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in October it had tried to tighten rules and improve relations with other countries “to prevent criminals involved in organized crime, or human or international rights abuses, from taking advantage of Canada’s immigration program.”
Wednesday’s state department report said the Canadian government “generally respected the human rights of its citizens,” but the report highlighted continuing problems including “discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, and Aboriginal people.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell made no specific mention of Canada’s human rights problems during remarks about the U.S. report, which included detailed assessments of rights abuses in nations around the world.
But he said the U.S. regards the advancement of human rights as “America’s special calling” and will use the report to work with other countries to “expose and end existing human rights violations.”
It detailed well-publicized cases of abuse against natives in Saskatoon, where recently the city’s police force has been the subject of a public inquiry into the death of an Aboriginal man.
The report also noted that instances of harassment against Muslims and Jews were on the rise, despite government appeals for tolerance.
The report hailed the federal government for showing a “strong commitment to children’s rights and welfare through its well-funded systems of public education and medical care.”
But it cited ongoing problems with harassment of women in the Canadian military and violence against women, which it estimated costs the Canadian economy $4.2 billion each year.
Put new immigrants on probation, he says
Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, Feb. 26
Immigrants and refugees should be put on “probation” upon their arrival in Canada, Conservative leadership candidate Tony Clement said yesterday. “Residence in Canada is a privilege, not a right,” Clement told a meeting of The Toronto Sun’s editorial board.
Clement said the probationary period would last several years, during which time new arrivals would have to prove themselves worthy of Canadian citizenship.
That would mean living up to a higher standard of conduct than that expected of those who are already citizens, Clement added.
“Canada’s generosity must not be taken advantage of,” Clement said. “Our current passive refugee acceptance program makes us vulnerable to those seeking a safe haven for criminal or terrorist acts.”
Clement said he would begin a “strategic review” of Canada’s immigration and refugee system within 100 days of being elected prime minister.
It would include:
— Deciding whether the 250,000 immigrants Canada now accepts annually is an appropriate target.
— Aggressively speeding up the enforcement of deportation orders by hiring 40 more immigration and RCMP officers. Clement described the current deportation backlog as “punitive to our legal, health-care and welfare systems.”
— Refusing to accept any refugee claimants from a designated list of “safe” countries.
— Identifying the major “unsafe” countries from which most refugee claimants originate and establishing Canadian immigration offices at local airports in those nations to prevent anyone without proper documentation from boarding planes headed for Canada.
Clement said the current point system used for determining successful immigrants must be overhauled to make fulfiling Canada’s own economic needs the priority.
He denied his proposals are anti-immigrant, noting he is an immigrant himself — coming to Canada from England with his parents at the age of four.