The federal government says it's cracking down on people who are in the country illegally in the wake of an auditor general's report criticizing Ottawa for losing track of 41,000 people it ordered to be deported.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in a news release Tuesday that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) arrested 45 people Tuesday morning in a raid on a warehouse in the Toronto area. They are accused of working in Canada illegally without proper documentation.
The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Peel Regional Police.
The workers face possible removal from Canada.
Sima Zerehi is the co-ordinator of Status Now, a group that advocates on behalf of undocumented immigrants. She says raids like this have increased in frequency since the federal Conservatives were elected.
"I'm very disturbed that these kinds of attacks against undocumented workers are encouraged and complimented at a time when our immigration ministry is sending out the message that we need [the] skills and the labour of immigrants to come into this country," Zerehi said in an interview.
Those ordered out pose low risk to public: report
News of the arrests came soon after a report to Parliament Tuesday by federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser, who accused the CBSA of failing to follow up on its removal decisions.
She said the agency doesn't know the whereabouts of 41,000 people ordered to leave the country; makes flawed decisions about when to lock up suspected illegal immigrants; and doesn't keep proper data on the number of people detained and the length of their detentions.
Fraser's report said the agency lacked contact information for 41,000 of the 63,000 people ordered to leave the country as of September 2007. But it said the majority of those ordered deported were rejected refugee applicants and didn't pose "a very high risk to the public."
Day said the government is acting on Fraser's advice.
"The CBSA has already put in place quite a few of the recommendations that she has talked about, so we're improving," he said.