Pinay immigrant hits immigration fraud; joins Canada street protest

By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS

NEW WESTMINSTER – Brandishing a placard that screamed: “Stop immigration fraud” and joining a small group of protesters led mostly by Indian immigrants along 76th Avenue in Surrey recently, Patricia Intrepido-Voigh sought for better regulation of immigration consultants from the federal government.

“I am not against personalities but the system,” 48-year-old Voigh, a mother of two, boomed as she lashed at the “mushrooming of unscrupulous immigration consultants that don’t have good standing with the CSIC (Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants).”

Born in Polomolok, South Cotabato in the Philippines , Intrepido-Voight migrated to Canada and stayed in Ontario from 1989 to 1996 when she married a Canadian accountant she met while working as hotel clerk in Singapore in 1988.

They transferred in British Columbia in 1997 where she operates a cleaning service.

She bewailed that she already spent nearly $25,000 in “blood money” to certain immigration consultants to facilitate the papers of her brother and sister in Koronadal, Cotabato in the Philippines in vain.

“Everytime I went to their offices, they were either out-of-the-country or had appointments,” Intrepido-Voigh lamented. She refused to name the consultants but admitted the money she allegedly paid to facilitate the visas of her brother and sister “is no longer refundable.”

NIGHTMARE

She was not sure if the applications were filed reportedly in Buffalo , New York but the consultants “have been giving me a nightmare.”

“They don’t have the decency to explain to me the chances of my brother and sister or if there is possibility that I could recover my money but they appeared so decent when they received my money,” Intrepido-Voigh protested.

Protesters were demanding from the federal government that consultants be bonded and restricted from making false promises and guarantees.

“Some unscrupulous consultants are taking advantage of the applicants’ desperation to obtain a visa in order to stay and work in Canada ,” a fellow protester from Burnaby added.

An immigrant lawyer has reported that Canada ‘s immigration system has created “a recipe for disaster” and it’s not surprising five people — including a senior immigration official — have been charged with corruption and fraud.

According to Lorne Waldman , Canada ‘s immigration system falls down in three key areas. “You create programs that create desperation — couple that with junior officials having a lot of power, and lack of supervision, ” he said. “Those three things together are a recipe for disaster.”

COUNTRY OF CHOICE

Despite being known as a country of bitterly cold weather, Canada is a country of choice among many Filipinos – both professional and skilled workers alike. Filipinos’ immigration to Canada has become a favorite topic nowadays among most of working age Filipino women and men, both in the Philippines and also those who were already working outside of the country.

Statistics show that there are 700,000 new graduates yearly in the Philippines and these young people have nowhere to find a suitable employment after graduation. Many of them would work in call center agencies, many more will find temporary employment abroad but majority are thinking about immigration to Canada as their passport to a better future, it was reported.

Intrepido-Voigh said despite her woes, she is not losing her hope to bring in her brother and sister, who are both computer literates.

“I know that in the field of all possibilities, they we will survive here. We will soon be able to overcome this problem once the government has started regulating the (immigration) industry and separating the chaffs from the grain,” she concluded.