OTTAWA, October 21, 2010 (AFP) – The Canadian government on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration and human smuggling by imposing stiff penalties and even detaining asylum seekers. The arrival of two ships carrying illegal migrants over the past year “clearly demonstrates that human smuggling networks are targeting Canada as a destination and that they believe our generous immigration system can be exploited for profit,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
“We will not tolerate the abuse of our immigration system, either by human smugglers or by those who are unwilling to play by the rules,” he said.
The proposed amendments to Canada’s immigration act would impose mandatory prison sentences on convicted human smugglers and put smuggled people in mandatory detention for up to one year while their backgrounds are checked.
They would bar illegal immigrants from applying for permanent residency for five years and terminate refugee applications from people who return to their country of origin for vacation or otherwise show they do not need Canada’s protection.
The rules would also hold ship owners and operators to account for the use of their ships in human