MONTREAL - The federal government is continuing its controversial practice of publicizing the names and faces of most-wanted dangerous immigrants in the hope Canadians will help track them down.
The government added another 30 names to its Canada Border Services Agency watch-list Wednesday in the hope of expelling these people from the country.
The new list was the third released by the government since last July; those being pursued this time are alleged to have ties to organized crime abroad and are deemed a threat to Canadian society.
In Montreal, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told a news conference that using the public's help to track down the individuals has proven successful.
Fifteen people have been arrested and seven people returned to their home countries.<
The latest was a Sri Lankan national in Toronto who was nabbed late Tuesday. He had been wanted on a deportation order since 2006.
Four others were found to already have left the country and their cases have been closed, a senior CBSA official said.
Benoit Chiquette said the agency has received 225 calls from the public to their tip line, with the majority providing useful information.
"The response has been encouraging," said Chiquette, a Quebec regional director general for the agency.
Initially the focus was on war-crimes suspects and those involved in serious crimes. Now, organized crime and those posing a national security risk will be added to the list — a popular concept in the United States.
Last July, the government released a list of 30 suspected war criminals believed to be living in Canada.
A second list followed in August seeking 32 foreign citizens who were under deportation orders after convictions for serious crimes abroad — crimes punishable by jail sentences of 10 years or more in Canada.
Currently, the names and photos of 42 people adorn the Canadian Border Services Agency website. All except one are men.
Although the impact of the list on the overall deportation numbers is negligible, the CBSA says the list has proven fruitful.
"All the people who are listed are people being sought on a priority basis," said Erik Paradis, chief of operations for the CBSA in Quebec.
"These people would not have been found had they not been on that list."
Human-rights advocates have criticized the federal government, accusing it of shirking its responsibilities by deporting instead of prosecuting the suspects.
The Canadian Press obtained a border agency briefing note prepared prior to the list's unveiling. It cautioned that putting a deportees on a "wanted war criminals" list could stir up attention back in their home country and put them at risk if deported.
But Kenney brushed off such concerns and says the government has done its due diligence in all cases before deporting an individual.
"Anyone who's been staying in Canada illegally is going to come up with every possible effort to prolong their stay here," Kenney said.
"In virtually every case they're going to come up and say that they might face risk in their country."
Kenney said the Canadian system is fair and the courts respond to these claims.
"We're not going to respond to every foreign criminal in Canada … who constantly invent stories of risk," Kenney said.
"Some of these people might face justice in their countries of origin. But obviously we would never return someone to a situation where there has been a finding that they're likely to face cruel or unusual punishment."
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