CBSA enforcement against immigrants on the rise in B.C.

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      Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) immigration-enforcement activities conducted in B.C. have intensified this year, an analysis of regional department data suggests.

      CBSA recently supplied the Straight with statistics for the last two fiscal years (which run from April to March) plus the last nine months of 2015. Based on that data, the Straight estimates that CBSA Pacific region officers will have initiated 2,210 immigration investigations by March 31, 2016. That’s up from 1,843 during the previous fiscal year and 2,060 for 2013-14.

      The number of immigration warrants CBSA Pacific region officers executed is also on track to increase. It’s projected to reach 268, up from 241 last year, but down slightly from 282 in 2013-14.

      Finalized immigration investigations are also projected to rise. CBSA officers should close an estimated 2,717 cases during this fiscal year, again up from 2014-15, when 2,254 were recorded, and up from 2013-14, when that number was 2,561.

      The statistics support anecdotal claims previously covered by the Straight.

      Last December, Harsha Walia, an organizer with No One Is Illegal, reported that the organization had observed a sharp spike in calls from undocumented immigrants asking for assistance.

      “We usually get three to five calls a week, and the last month we got probably close to double,” she said then. “We are getting more calls from people who are in detention, more calls from people who had just been visited at their homes or workplaces with deportation orders.”

      Presented with the data obtained by the Straight, Walia cautioned it is “hard to say” why the numbers look to be on the rise.

      Walia suggested that last October’s election of the Trudeau government has not translated into a change in immigration enforcement and deportation policies.

      “There is a lot of emphasis on taking in refugees,” she said. “But in terms of increased enforcement, increasing prison populations, migrant detention—all of the things that make migrants more vulnerable—that continues to be the policy under this government.”

      The statistics were only obtained by the Straight after five weeks of repeated requests, phone calls, and emails. CBSA refused to grant an interview.

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