(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
New information reveals how an alleged terrorist manipulated our immigration system to gain entry and remain in North America.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, the Somali national being detained after the recent Edmonton terror attack, managed to slip into Canada despite a complicated system of biometric checks designed to stop people just like him.
In 2011, Canada implemented a biometric screening program designed to stop criminals and other dangerous individuals from entering Canada.
This system has the capacity to share vital information amongst our allies in a network known as the Five Eyes.
The Five Eyes is a security alliance by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, who work together on matters related to immigration, national security and various types of intelligence.
When it comes to migrants entering Canada illegally and without documentation, there are many things a person can lie about, including their name, birthdate, nationality and birthplace.
That’s why biometrics are important.
Biometric data — for example fingerprints and a live photo — help governments ensure criminals and terrorists cannot slip through the cracks.
Yet, when it came to Sharif, he was able to enter Canada despite having a deportation order in the U.S.
According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sharif arrived in San Diego after crossing the border from Tijuana, Mexico.
The paper said he had no passport and no other documentation, and was therefore detained and ordered deported.
Except, in this case, there was no viable government in Somalia and nowhere to deport him to, so Sharif was released — with conditions.
But when it came time for him to check in with U.S. officials, he had already fled the country.
Sharif crossed into Canada without documentation, much as he had entered the U.S., except that in Canada he was awarded refugee status and allowed to stay.
He is now accused of stabbing an Edmonton police officer and mowing down four pedestrians, while reportedly hanging an Islamic State flag in his car.
This case shows a major failure in the way that both countries deal with illegal migrants who arrive from terrorist hotspots.
It particularly reveals our inability to properly screen and vet migrants who show up at our border, even with our sophisticated new system.
When an individual arrives from a failed state like Somalia, we have no way to verify their identity or any criminal history.
With no working government in Somalia, we have no way of checking to see if a migrant has a criminal record, much less an affiliation to one of the many terrorist armies in the region.
But in the case of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, as we’ve learned, he had a record in the U.S.
Thus our biometric system should have alerted CBSA officials to his pending deportation order.
I spoke to a former senior official in the Department of Public Safety who told me a failed refugee claimant from one Five Eyes country should not be granted entry to any of the others.
“How this guy was able to get through the system needs to be answered,” he said, “especially given his fact pattern of coming through Mexico, that raises serious flags.”
Our biometric screening system was designed to stop illegal migrants who have criminal records or deportation orders in one of our ally countries.
And yet, Sharif was still able to gain entry and stay in Canada.
Our security system failed, and...(READ MORE)