Cablegate: Canadian Immigrants On the Rise, but so Are "Lost"

DE RUEHOT #0645/01 1301851
P 091851Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: In addition to accepting an increasing number
of immigrants (especially high-skilled workers), Canada is
also a growing destination for asylum seekers and refugees.
Canada has successfully managed its immigration policies to
maintain a reputation as a successful model of diversity and
multi-culturalism, but is facing growing enforcement
problems. The Auditor General concluded in May that the
Canadian Border Services Protection Agency (CBSA) had lost
track of approximately 41,000 illegals it had ordered to
leave the country; most are failed refugee applicants. The
government claimed in response that it had already improved
its deportation processes over the past five years while
acknowledging that it still needed to do a better job to
maintain the integrity of its immigration system. End

--------------------------------------------- -----------

2. (U) With an overall population of about 33 million people
but declining birthrates, Canada is increasingly looking
overseas to sustain both its population and its economic
growth. In 2007, Canada accepted the highest number of
temporary and permanent residents as well as foreign students
in its history -- 429,649 people -- of whom approximately
250,000 were new immigrants. It admitted 12 pct more foreign
workers in 2007 than 2006. The government has estimated that
Canada's labor demands will continue to grow and that, by
2012, immigration will account for all net growth of the
labor force. According to the 2006 census, Canada's
population over the past five years grew by 1.6 million -- of
whom 1.1 million were immigrants. An estimated 6.2 Canadian
residents are now foreign-born, with 58 pct born in Asia or
the Middle East. An estimated 63 pct of Canada's total
foreign-born population have settled in the three largest
cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

3. (U) Canada also maintains a generous in-Canada refugee
protection system (preferring "refugees" or "protected
persons" to "asylum seekers" for the vast majority who apply
in-country). According to a senior Citizenship and
Immigration Canada (CIC) official, Canada has a high rate of
acceptance compared to other Western countries. In 2006,
22,944 individuals submitted claims for refugee protection
within Canada, of whom Canada approved about 47 pct. Mexico
was the country of origin of the highest number of
applications that Canada approved in 2006, followed by China,
Colombia, Sri Lanka, India, and Haiti. Of all refugees
living in Canada at the end of 2006, more were from Columbia
than from any other single country, however. In December
2004, Canada and the United States had signed a "Safe Third
Country Agreement" stipulating that persons seeking refugee
status must make a claim in the first country in which they
arrive, unless they qualify for an exception. The Federal
Court of Canada in November 2007 struck down the Agreement,
but the Federal Court of Appeal granted a stay on January 31,
ruling that it is in the public interest that the Agreement
remain in place pending an appeal by the government.

4. (SBU) According to CIC, the refugee acceptance rate in
2007 decreased to approximately 43 pct, largely the result of
an influx of Mexicans seeking asylum in Canada. The CIC
official commented that Mexican asylum seekers seemed
recently to have "discovered there is a country north of the
United States." United Nations High Commissioner for
QUnited States." United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) statistics indicate that 74 pct of all
asylum applications lodged by Mexican nationals worldwide in
2007 were submitted in Canada, compared to 24 pct in the
United States. The CIC official commented that Mexican
applicants in Canada tend to be better educated and wealthier
than those in the United States, as they had managed to
travel farther.

5. (U) In addition to its in-country national refugee
protection system, Canada also resettles refugees from abroad
through close coordination with international partners,
including UNHCR. In 2006, Canada resettled approximately
10,700 refugees from overseas. Canada has played a major
role in helping to resettle certain particularly vulnerable
groups. In March 2008, Canada announced that it would accept
between 1,800 and 2,000 new Iraqi refugees, more than double
the number in 2007. In May 2007, Canada stated that it would
resettle up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepalese
camps over the next three to five years. In 2006, Canada
accepted 810 Karen refugees from Burma who had been living in
camps in Thailand, and, in early 2007, it accepted an
additional 1,850 refugees from Burma.


OTTAWA 00000645 002 OF 002


6. (U) While Canada's immigration policies have helped
augment its work force and have assisted tens of thousands of
refugees, they have also created a number of complications.
According to a May 2008 Report of the Auditor General of
Canada, as of September 2007, CBSA had issued about 63,000
removal orders or immigration warrants for failed refugee
seekers or illegal immigrants, but could only verify the
departure of approximately 22,000 individuals -- leaving the
location of the remaining 41,000 people unknown. The report
criticized CBSA for its failure to investigate the vast
majority of these cases under the pretext of not wanting to
use scarce resources to locate people who may have already
left Canada on their own accord without officially notifying
the government. The report also noted that the government
had failed to fulfill a 2004 commitment to introduce the
following year a new "Global Case Management System" better
to track these deportees. During a May 6 news conference,
the Auditor General commented that the apparent ease with
which so many people can elude the CBSA and illegally stay in
Canada reduces the incentive for others to comply with
immigration laws and damages the integrity of the immigration
and refugee processes.

7. (U) According to Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute
(a conservative Canadian think tank), many overseas workers
also simply stay in Canada after their work permits end. The
Auditor General's report acknowledged this possibility, and
expressed concern that CBSA did not track whether individuals
whose temporary resident permits had expired had left the
country as required. Canada issued 106,750 temporary foreign
worker permits in 2006, and 103,000 in the first nine months
of 2007.

8. (U) Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day insisted to the
media on May 6 that, while CBSA should improve its tracking
system, Canada has been doing a better job of deporting
illegal immigrants, citing deportations of 12,600 people (15
pct of them criminals) in 2006-2007, up from 8,700 (17 pct of
them criminals) in 2002-2003. Day nonetheless pledged that
the government would pursue implementation of an improved
tracking system.

9. (SBU) The CIC official commented to poloff that, while
Canada's refugee and immigration must improve, even "losing"
41,000 deportees was not unreasonable, claiming that the
United States and other countries have far many more illegal
residents whom they are unable to locate.


10. (SBU) While the Canadian government admits the need to
improve its system of tracking would-be migrants, its
immigration policies have already had positive affects,
including helping to fill labor shortages that experts
predict will only worsen. Immigration has also helped Canada
create one of the most diverse societies in the world, with
one in five Canadians now an immigrant. Only Australia has a
higher percentage of foreign born residents. As Canada's job
market continues to grow, especially in the resource-rich
western provinces, and as it maintains its generous refugee
assistance programs, Canada will need better to respond to
the challenge of admitting increasing numbers while striving
to ensure adequate security and enforce its own laws and

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