Romanian human smuggling ring uncovered

OTTAWA – Five groups of recently arrived Romanian nationals are suspected by Canadian border officials of being part of a human smuggling ring.

Fifty adults and 35 children who came to Canada since February have now been classified as “irregular arrivals.”

Forty have been found and 30 arrested under newly enacted immigration laws that allow for the mandatory detention of those suspected to have arrived in Canada via smugglers.

Some were not detained because they were too young or arrived prior to the mandatory detention provisions of the law came into effect.

Officials continue to search for those not yet apprehended.

The designation of irregular arrival means that the individuals can’t apply for permanent residence status for at least five years or sponsor their families to come to Canada during that time.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the measures send a strong signal to those who seek to illegally immigrate to Canada: don’t even try.

He says the arrival of the Romanians in Quebec via the United States was suspected to be facilitated by smugglers who are part of the group now under investigation.

“We open our arms to true immigrants and true refugees who follow the rules and who wait for their turn in line,” Kenney said at a news conference in Stanstead, Que., a town that borders the United States.

“We will not tolerate those who are abusing our generosity or who are tricking their way in.”

The groups of Romanian nationals came into Canada on five different dates beginning in February, and are believed to have made their way to Canada via Mexico and then the U.S.

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