TORONTO - The federal government's clean sweep of revoking the citizenship status of 1,800 people should be swift, a Toronto immigration lawyer says.
The massive investigation, unprecedented in its scale, involved the RCMP and the federal department of citizenship and immigration.
The targeted people can appeal the revocation in federal court, but that could take up to three years, and in the mean time, they still have access to things such as education and health care.
"Everyone knows our courts are very backlogged," lawyer Guidy Mamann said Tuesday night. "So 1,800 number is an enormous amount. There's no way of overstating that. It's about time and we know there's a lot of citizenship fraud going on. It sets a pattern on how (these people will) behave here forever."
News of the 1,800 who are about to have their citizenship stripped reminded Mamann, who has 24 years of experience under his belt, of the Palestine House, a Mississauga cultural centre where last year, the RCMP found 300 people claiming to live at this address.
"I have a feeling this investigation is a part of that," he said. "They used the Palestine House as an address so it looked like they were living in Canada, but in fact they were never living in Canada. Of those 1,800, I suspect dozens if not hundreds will be associated with that investigation."
No One is Illegal, an activist group that fights for migrants to live with dignity and respect, called the move to strip the 1,800 of Canadian citizenship "unprecedented."
"This is part of the Conservative government's ongoing attack on immigrants," said the group's spokesman Mohan Mishra. "First they throw refugees in jail, now they're tearing apart families that have been living and working in this country for years."
In the west, the Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society's executive director, Fariborz Birjandian, says the move by the federal government involves a surprisingly large number, but he feels it is within reason.
"The legal system is built in a way that they can't just do that if they didn't have a reason ... I'm sure that they had some good reason," he said.
"I'm very confident they're not just coming in to ship people out.
"It's an area that we know a lot of fraud is going on (and) the integrity of the process has to be maintained and preserved."
Birjandian would, however, like to see some sort of explanation from the government as this process moves forward.