May 11, 2008
41,000 Illegal Immigrants Missing . . . there may be more . . .
The Auditor General’s Report indicates there are 41,000 illegal immigrants the Canada Border Services Agency cannot locate.
A key question is how to deal with illegal immigrants in Canada?
Some lobbyists cite “billions of dollars in unpaid tax dollars” as the main reason why regularization should occur. Others, made up mostly of community advocate groups, say that the government needs to look more at the circumstances that surround undocumented persons and work at solving the root of the problem. Others still, maintain that the number of illegal workers has risen drastically only in response to immigration law and policy that does not respond to market conditions. The economy clearly is need of the services offered by undocumented workers and as such should be legally recognized.
Other key questions include is there a significant criminal element within this group and what are the current costs of deporting these individuals? Mr. Robert MacDougall (Director General, Enforcement Program, Enforcement Programs Directorate, Canada Border Services Agency also testified before the Standing Committee that:
I don’t have an exact number of criminals we would be working on that I can give you right now. We have a working inventory of around 22,000 who are removal ready right now. About 8% of those in the working inventory who are ready for removal have criminal backgrounds . . .
I actually have that number for you. The last fiscal year we spent $23,433,000 on the removals program.
In Spain an amnesty in 2005 helped curb Spain’s population decline, fuelled consumer growth and social security contributions helped offset a looming pension crisis. All of these factors are relevant to Canada’s current socio-economic circumstances. It follows then; efforts to regularize undocumented workers are being led by industry sectors, most prominently by the construction industry including the Construction Recruitment External Workers Services (CREWS) program which allows non-status construction workers to become regularized for the purpose of working legally in the field.
One group entitled Status Coalition cited a few factors that underscore the need for a program including security checks, the ability for these persons to report crime and the redirection of enforcement resources to those who present serious security risks.
Also, our current demographics can no longer be ignored.
The Honourable Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua, a Committee Member aptly stated:
As you know, when we’re studying issues like this and others related to immigration, we’re very cognizant of the fact that by the year 2011, 100% of Canada’s net labour growth will come from immigration. When you consider Canada’s aging population, where you’re going to have, from the present state of five workers to one senior, a drop in the next 15 to 20 years to three to one, there are issues related to productivity and other issues where I think if we don’t wake up to that reality, if Canada’s political class does not wake up to that reality, we will indeed be challenged.