Document everyone entering or leaving Canada – including Canadians: Senate report

I wondered if maybe the laws had changed and it would be difficult to abduct our children but not according to this article. Click here to read the full story or an excerpt below.

Anyone and everyone who enters or departs Canada should be documented, including Canadian citizens, while foreign travellers should also be fingerprinted and photographed, says a Senate report calling for significant operational and oversight changes to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Tabled Thursday, the report recommends government create an entry/exit registration system to capture the estimated 100 million annual cross-border movements of all citizens and foreigners. The immediate aim, it says, would be to track Canadians heading overseas to join terrorist causes, then returning.

“It has become clear that over 145 Canadians have gone abroad to support terrorist groups and approximately 80 have returned. Without entry and exit registration this poses a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies and the CBSA.”

An estimated 70 million trips to and from Canada happen at the land border with the United States. Americans would be exempt from the biometric identification requirement proposed by the committee. The two countries are already phasing in an entry/exit system, where a traveller’s entry into one country will create an exit record from the other.

In public hearings last year, the committee heard that current legislation limits the authority of frontline CBSA officers to turn people away. Recent legislative changes give them greater powers to detain people they believe are inadmissible, but only on limited grounds. All other cases must go to the immigration division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

About 80 per cent of those who fail to leave Canada are failed refugee claimants and considered low-level security risks, according to the border agency.

“However, this leaves individuals in Canada who may pose a threat because they are inadmissible on the grounds of security, war crimes or organized criminality,” says the report. “Even if the CBSA places a high priority on removing ‘high risk’ individuals, the number of people who are in Canada illegally and who have been deemed inadmissible on such serious grounds, is cause for concern.”

It takes the CBSA an average of 851 days to remove a person found inadmissible. “This is a long and costly process.”

The CBSA was created in 2003 in response to the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., with Canada intent on demonstrating to the Americans that it took border security seriously. It is the only agency in the federal security and intelligence community that does have independent real-time oversight or after-the-fact review of its actions.

The job of border management and immigration control involves several other arms of government including Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Transport Canada and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

Because intelligence-sharing among them is crucial, the committee calls for the creation of a CBSA oversight body, “which will ensure appropriate senior management compliance with legislation and policy. This would also ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians are protected and safeguarded, especially in the complex operations relating to immigration and international travel.”

Other recommendations in the Senate report:

• Establishing an independent, civilian review and complaints body for all CBSA activities.

  • CBSA should ensure that interviews with the public are audio and video recorded and retained for a period of at least 10 years.
  • CIC should establish a pilot project to examine the feasibility of secure video conferencing and mobile teams of experienced Canadian immigration officers to record face-to-face interviews with immigration applicants in the applicant’s country of residence.
  • The CBSA should move to enhance regional intelligence capabilities and information sharing with front-line officers.
  • The government should fully implement a plan to collect biometric information from all foreign nationals arriving in Canada. (Current plans call for fingerprinting and photographing visitors from 150 nations.) The CBSA should use this biometric information to verify the departure of all foreign nationals, subject to privacy and security safeguards.
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