Monday, June 18, 2007

Lost in migration

Three years after self-regulation, the lucrative immigration consulting industry has failed to purge itself of advisers who operate beyond the reach of the rules

June 16, 2007 Nicholas Keung and Jim RankinStaff Reporters

A Mexican family responds to an Internet pitch, arrives in Toronto with the name and number of a stranger and instructions to stay at a hotel. The man collects 10 crisp $100 U.S. bills, cooks up a fake refugee claim and disappears.

Twenty-four Korean truck drivers empty their bank accounts to buy into a dream spun by a Korean recruiter and come to Canada for "guaranteed" jobs that, in the end, don't pan out.
A community activist operating a "non-profit" group out of a backstreet Toronto church draws hundreds of people facing deportation and offers to help them – for a fee.

A woman facing removal pins her hopes on a consultant who, she claims, boasted of having an inside contact at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and promised to make her problems disappear for $10,000. When nothing happens, she secretly records the consultant refusing to give her a receipt, telling her not to worry and chiding her: "In this country, you no have to be honest." For years, the migrant tells no one about the ripoff, even the police, for fear of being deported.

Stories like these were supposed to go away when Ottawa put up $1.2 million three years ago to create the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, a self-regulatory body that everyone hoped would instill a sense of professionalism and faith in a business with a lousy reputation.

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