The CBSA currently has roughly 48,000 active arrest warrants for people wanted for immigration violations. Such violations include overstaying VISAs or remaining in the country after a refugee claim has been rejected.
However, Global News recently uncovered that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) “cancels arrest warrants for failed refugee claimants and other people wanted for removal who it cannot find, even in cases where it is not clear whether a person has left Canada.”
According to Global News, the CBSA often cancels an outstanding warrant for someone who has violated immigration laws after the CBSA loses track of that person’s whereabouts. Furthermore, the CBSA is unable to perfectly track whether someone who has violated immigration law has indeed left the country, as they only have access to information on people who have left by ground routes and not by air.
Former border agent and professor at Mount Royal University Kelly Sundberg says that border agents have been cancelling such warrants for people facing deportation for over a decade, well before the CBSA was created in 2003.
“It’s crazy,” Sundberg said. “There’s no way we should have been doing it this way.”
Sundberg says this was common if the person had not committed a crime while in Canada, with border agents only actively going after those whose whereabouts are known and who have broken some other law.
According to Global News, the CBSA considers how long “someone has been wanted in Canada without being detected, plus the age of the wanted individual.” If a person has evaded detection for over 10 years and have not committed any other crime, it’s normal for their warrant to be cancelled.
“In limited circumstances, an immigration warrant may be cancelled even if it cannot be confirmed that an individual has left Canada,” said CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy.
“CBSA officers must exercise due diligence in exhausting all leads to locate an individual before a warrant can be cancelled.”
Since this revelation, Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives have came out strongly against the practice, saying that, if elected, they will put a stop to the cancellation of outstanding warrants.
“We believe that when someone has been ordered deported, that should be carried out,” Scheer stated Friday.
“Cancelling warrants for those ordered deported is unacceptable and a Conservative government will fix this broken process,” added Conservative Party spokesperson Simon Jefferies.