By Mark Bourrie
OTTAWA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) - Canada and China will work together to stop immigration fraud, which often costs Chinese emigrants their life savings and leaves them as slaves to organized crime gangs on both sides of the Pacific, Canada' s Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney said in a news teleconference Thursday.
Kenney, who just finished visits to Hong Kong and Beijing, said he received strong support from Chinese authorities, and met with Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu for more than an hour during his stay in Beijing.
"The challenge for us is to simply put on the agenda at the national level, what is going on," Kenney told the media in Canada. "One of the things I raised with them that I think is very troubling is the connection between this kind of immigration fraud and human trafficking."
Kenney said China agreed to appoint one police official to work with Canadian authorities to solve the problem. As well, Chinese and Canadian officials have formed a working group to find ways of combating the practice.
The Canadian minister said Chinese hoping to emigrate to Canada and other countries often pay up to 60,000 U.S. dollars to gangs that promise to get them into their new country, either with forged documents or by smuggling. Many of those who agree to pay the gangs end up owing them much of the money and are forced to work for the gangs to pay their debt.
"Many of these people do not have 60,000 U.S. dollars to spend. They are signing an undertaking to pay that money back when they come to Canada. Their families in China are also under the thumbs of these criminal networks," Kenney said.
Kenney said the money is often wasted, as Canadian officials are becoming more skilled at spotting fake documents and bogus marriages. He said some gangs use the same apartment backdrops for all of their photographs of supposed brides and grooms, and make the same mistake on all their forged documents.
Still, he said, the time spent looking over fraudulent immigration documents could be better spent helping legitimate applicants get into Canada more quickly.