Citizenships of about a dozen people at risk after auditor general report
Immigration officials are looking at revoking the Canadian citizenship of about a dozen people after the auditor general found the government isn’t doing enough to root out fraud in the citizenship system.
Michael Ferguson’s report uncovered instances of people with serious criminal records and others using potentially phoney addresses among those who managed to secure Canadian citizenship thanks to holes throughout not just the Immigration Department but the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency as well.
The cases flagged represent just a fraction of the nearly half a million people who’ve become Canadian citizens in the last two years, but that doesn’t mean improvements aren’t necessary, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Tuesday.
“The vast majority of the cases are clear but we are not happy if even one case is fraudulently obtained and that is why we are vigorously implementing the recommendations of the auditor general,” McCallum said.
Recommendations related to improving information sharing between departments will be implemented by the end of the year, McCallum said. Another suggestion — that officers be given more power to seize fraudulent documents — is currently in a bill being debated in the House of Commons.
Among the cases caught by Michael Ferguson’s team: four people who were granted citizenship despite having criminal records that would render them ineligible, and two who were approved despite having committed crimes after passing a criminal-background check.
The audit also revealed it took seven years for officials to cotton on to the fact a single address had been used by at least 50 different applicants during overlapping time periods. Of the 50, seven became Canadian citizens.
A review of 49 cases where an individual’s address had been flagged as problematic concluded that in 18 instances, citizenship officials didn’t follow up to see if the applicant actually met residency requirements.
The issues Ferguson included everything from officers seeming to ignore existing information about applicants, data entry errors that meant problems were missed, a failure on the part of security agencies to share information with the Immigration Department and officers not following their own procedures, like checking an applicant’s paperwork against a database of known fake documents.(Source: Toronto Star)