Coming into Canada illegally and even legally can result in arrest warrants if people don't follow the rules while getting here. Even though warrants are serious business, sometimes they don't work out. In many cases, warrants for deportation in Canada are sometimes cancelled by the border agency.
If someone comes into Canada with a visa or seeking asylum, once that visa expires or if their asylum claims are denied they have to leave the country. However, that doesn't always happen and then arrest warrants for deportation are issued.
Sometimes, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) doesn't actually arrest and deport all the people warrants are issued for, though, and the warrant ends up being cancelled.
"The cancellation of immigration warrants can only occur if the case is low risk," Ashley Lemire, a representative for CBSA, told Narcity.
That means warrants for people wanted on immigration-related violations can only be cancelled if the person is not a danger to the public and hasn't been part of criminal activity in the past.
In Canada, there are more than 48,000 active arrest warrants for people who are wanted for immigration violations and according to the CBSA, most of those cases involve people who are wanted for deportation.
But according to Global News, "the CBSA cancels arrest warrants for failed refugee claimants and other people wanted for removal who it cannot find, even in cases where it is not clear whether a person has left Canada."
"In limited circumstances, an immigration warrant may be cancelled even if it cannot be confirmed that an individual has left Canada. CBSA officers must exercise due diligence in exhausting all leads to locate an individual before a warrant can be cancelled," said Rebecca Purdy, CBSA representative, to Global News.
But if a person's location is unknown and they pose a threat to the public or national security, are convicted or suspected criminals, have committed war crimes or human rights violations then the warrant can't be cancelled.
According to Global News, the CBSA cancelled more than 1,300 immigration warrants in 2018.
Immigration and border crossing has even come up during the federal election campaign. While at Roxham Road, an unofficial border crossing in Quebec, for a campaign stop on October 9, Andrew Scheer talked about immigration and ending illegal border crossings.
Scheer promised that he would put an end to asylum seekers entering Canada at unofficial points. He also said that his government would put an emphasis on economic immigration instead and protect refugees who are in the greatest amount of danger.
According to the CBC, between January and August, the RCMP intercepted more than 10,000 people entering Canada from the U.S. outside legal border points. And the majority of people crossed at Roxham Road.
The CBSA doesn't keep track of how many warrants are cancelled if a person's whereabouts aren't known so there's no way of knowing how many people are still in Canada that the CBSA has given up on finding.
In a statement to Narcity, the Ministry of Public Safety said, "The average age of a wanted case is 10 years. Many have already left the country, but their departure was not recorded."
However, the Ministry says that with the recent introduction of Bill C-21, "it allows the collection of exit information, so we'll be able to identify those who do not leave the country at the end of their authorized stay, and ensure that no resources are wasted chasing those who have already left."
The government began collecting exit information on July 11, 2019.