August 7, 2018 – The Canada Border Services Agency is using ancestry websites and DNA testing to help establish the identity of long-term immigration detainees.
Immigration officials say the technique is used as a last-resort when other avenues of confirming identity have been exhausted.
By taking DNA swabs and submitting them to ancestry websites, officials are able to get indicators of nationality.
It means resources can be focused on particular countries when investigating identity.
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Authorities say this is only ever done with the consent of the detainee.
An inability to confirm identity is one of the reasons Canada detains immigrants, a controversial practice for which it has faced criticism from the UN human rights wing.
However, where identity cannot be confirmed, it poses a clear dilemma for Canadian authorities.
Canada is currently coping with an influx of irregular border crossers from the US looking to claim asylum here.
Although numbers have decline in the last two months, more than 1,250 still crossed in June, putting pressure on the Canadian system.
This compares with a 2018 monthly peak of 2,560 in April.
In the first six months of the year, 10,744 people crossed the border illegally hoping to claim asylum in Canada.
Source: Government of Canada
The number of asylum seekers has reduced from an average of 83 per day in April to 39 per day in June.
Canada’s federal government hopes the downward trend continues, but accepts it is unpredictable.
“As trends in irregular border crossings are difficult to predict, our extensive outreach campaign continues to dispel misinformation about our asylum system,” a federal government statement said.
“We are ensuring that everyone is aware we have a rigorous system in place and that claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”
The overwhelming majority of asylum seekers are crossing into Quebec.
Some 10,261 out of the 10,744 have arrived in the French-speaking province, or 96 per cent.
Note: The remaining provinces have recorded zero irregular border crossings
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen delivered a strong message that ‘those who do not qualify will be removed from Canada’.
“Our top priority is the safety and security of Canadians,” he said.
“There is no free ticket to Canada, and we have delivered that message extensively at home and overseas, with real results.”
Those who do make it into the asylum process are being issued work permits so they can support themselves in Canada while they wait for hearings.
Figures show 14,314 work permits were issued to asylum claimants in Quebec from April 2017 to May 2018.
Why Are Migrants Crossing the Border from U.S. To Canada?
The original 2017 surge in irregular border crossing came after Trump began his crackdown on migrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the U.S.
Trump’s latest move to separate children from their parents has led to renewed calls for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The Safe Third Country Agreement means asylum seekers who arrive at an official Canada border point from the U.S. are turned away, as both countries are considered safe for refugees.
However, if migrants cross the border at an unrecognized point, they are arrested and enter the Canadian asylum system.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires the countries considered ‘safe’ to be continually reviewed.
Immigration.ca Managing Partner Colin Singer was recently interviewed on CBC News on the asylum seeker issue. Watch the video here:
How Can Canada Stop Asylum Seekers Crossing Border?
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