Transit Police defend immigration snooping
Jazmine Rosales with her husband Juan Inostroza. Peruvian Rosales was deported last August after she was caught without a ticket on SkyTrain. FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS
More than once every week, a Transit Police fare evasion check turns into a Canada Border Services Agency immigration-status investigation, according to the force.
But that’s an expected number, according to Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan, given how the authority stopped 25,000 people last year on fare evasion checks.
She said 328 cases resulted in some form of communication with the CBSA in 2013, but only 62 actually proceeded as immigration-status investigation.
Immigration and refugee lawyer Laura Best said “the vast majority, if not all of the referrals that Transit Police are making to the CBSA, are for paying the wrong fare or fare evasion.”
She said many are indeed in Canada without status, but the reasons are numerous.
“Often, the people I would see that are arrested are people who are overstays ... or people who have been previously deported who have returned to Canada without authorization,” Best said.
“But reporting to the CBSA to the level they do, I don’t think is merited.”
Drennan said the CBSA is only called when a person’s identification doesn’t show up in existing police databases — and not all referrals are from farechecks.
She pointed to how in 2011, a lengthy investigation into fake transit passes resulted in several people being deported after their arrests.
“They were sending information back to Hong Kong where passes were made fraudulently and the passes were sent back here for distribution.”
In a 2013 case, a transit groping investigation ended with the arrest of a South Korean man, Seung Woo Min, who had lived here illegally for years.
Drennan said Transit Police don’t racially profile despite the criticism she’s heard.
Just earlier this year, she said, police found a Caucasian man from the United States evading fare and discovered he was a registered sex offender wanted in the U.S. for property crimes.
“(On Wednesday) a Cuban national actually called through to police, advising that he was a drug dealer in the U.S. and that he was here illegally,” Drennan said.
“It was quite obviously referred through to CBSA.”
She added the majority of 489 arrest warrant apprehensions last year were results of farechecks, as were the majority of 514 breach-of-order arrests.