Over the last three years, an unexplained 50 per cent drop in deportations, both national and local, has a former senior executive with Canada’s border agency worried.
Reg Williams, the former director of immigration enforcement at the Canada Border Service Agency’s Greater Toronto enforcement centre, has written to the Clerk of the Privy Council, claiming that the rapid and precipitous drop in deportations is a red flag that suggests the program is “grossly mismanaged.”
Williams is calling for a mechanism to review the deportation process and the CBSA. Williams said, “I’m raising this because it’s an issue that citizens should be aware of.”
Williams believes the unexplained drop in removals is due to mismanagement, but refugee advocates believe it may be because of the changes in the immigration and refugee act that make it harder to come to Canada and claim refugee status.
Nationally, the number of overall deportations has dropped 50 per cent from just over 16,000 in fiscal year 2011-2012 to 8,000 in fiscal 2014-2015, Williams says.
The number of deportations in the GTA has also dropped at a similar rate, according to Williams’ calculations. When Williams left his job, more than 8,000 people were deported a year from the GTA. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, overall deportations from the GTA were only at 4,000.
CBSA data confirm Williams’ claims. In 2012, 18,960 people were removed from Canada. But for the first half of 2015 that number is only 4,712.
These trends all say the system isn’t working, Williams maintains in his letter to the Clerk of the Privy Council.
Williams left his job as head of the Greater Toronto enforcement centre in Toronto in 2012 when a removal of a high-profile illegal immigrant went wrong. He was reassigned, but instead opted for retirement.
CBSA spokesperson O’Brien championed the agency’s efforts, saying “despite impediments to removals, such as difficulty in obtaining travel documents, the CBSA has achieved program milestones in removals, such as the successful removal of more than 50 individuals on the Wanted by the CBSA list.”
Williams believes the drop in deportations from the GTA is due to a cutback in CBSA investigators. Meanwhile, the CBSA provided numbers showing only a slight decline in investigators.