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CBSA charges woman with taking money to help refugees into Canada

An RCMP officer takes a man into custody after he crossed illegally into Canada from the U.S. on Roxham Road in Hemmingford, Que., Sunday, March 5, 2017.
An RCMP officer takes a man into custody after he crossed illegally into Canada from the U.S. on Roxham Road in Hemmingford, Que., Sunday, March 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has laid charges against Olayinka Celestina Opaleye for allegedly organizing illegal entry into Canada for refugee protection claimants in exchange for compensation.

The charges come under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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“She is charged pursuant to section 1.17.3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” CBSA spokesperson Dominique McNeely told Global News.

“That means more than 10 people were involved.”

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Border agents claim Opaleye brought several people into Canada illegally via Roxham Road in Quebec.

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“It is further alleged that Opaleye was operating as part of a network of smugglers who organized travel for these people in exchange for compensation,” the CBSA stated.

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Over the last two years, the flow of asylum seekers has led to a significant backlog of refugee claims, causing wait times of almost two years, a phenomenon the Immigration and Refugee Board attributes to “changes in the global environment.”

In September 2018, it was found that more than half of the asylum seekers crossing the border through Quebec held some kind of legal status in the U.S. prior to doing so.

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“When it comes to irregular migration, the CBSA works in close co-operation with other government departments and agencies, as well as international partners, to uphold the integrity of the border crossing process and to ensure the border is safe and secure,” the CBSA said.

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McNeely would not confirm whether the smuggling network has been dismantled or if investigations are ongoing but promised that “other hearings are forthcoming.”

Opaleye’s next hearing is expected for March 27 at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu courthouse.

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