Canada can't find 41,000 people it wants to deport

Tue May 6, 2008 4:31pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian authorities cannot find 41,000 people who were classified as security risks or illegal immigrants and ordered to leave the country, an official watchdog reported on Tuesday.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said that in some cases the failure of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to keep track of potential security threats could "result in undue risk to the public."

She also said a police database of those told to leave Canada is riddled with errors, and said computer problems mean authorities have only a limited ability to track offenders.

The revelations are likely to embarrass the Conservative government, which won power in January 2006 on a pledge to boost law and order.

Fraser said that in September 2007, some 63,000 people had been served with immigration warrants ordering them to leave Canada. The Border Services Agency -- responsible for expelling those deemed undesirable -- knew the location of 22,000.

"The remaining 41,000 cases are individuals with immigration warrants for removal whose whereabouts are unknown to the agency," Fraser wrote in an official report.

Canada's lack of exit controls means there is no way of knowing how many of the 41,000 were in Canada. Fraser said most were refugees whose applications had been rejected.

In the 2006-07 fiscal year, the CBSA removed 12,600 people, including 1,900 criminals "who posed a high risk to Canada."   Continued...