LEGAL LOOPHOLES KEEP DEALERS SELLING Lock Up Illegal Migrants To Halt Lucrative Business, Lawyer Urges Most of the allegedly illegal migrants caught selling crack in Vancouver last month are back on the streets selling drugs. "These bastards, they come up here with one purpose, to make money selling misery and destruction to Canadians," said Insp. Val Harrison. Of the accused drug-dealing migrants, nine are Honduran refugee claimants, two have been deported before and one has a deportation order pending. Five already had prior drug-trafficking charges in Vancouver. "[Immigration officials] have got a system that's broken and they need to fix it," said Harrison. She noted that refugee claimants can make thousands of dollars dealing drugs in the time between claiming refugee status and a hearing. And even if claimants are deported, they are sent back to the country they came from. In the case of the Hondurans, that's the United States. "Why turn them back to the States. Why not fly them back to Honduras?" she asked. Harrison is planning another operation to sweep crack dealers off the corner of Seymour and Dunsmuir, noting many of them were among those arrested last month. "It's starting to come back again," she said when asked aobut crack trade at the corner. All that's needed to stop illegal migrants selling drugs is $100,000 and political will, says Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. Kurland wants the federal government to spend $100,000 on a pilot project that would keep repeat illegal migrants and those convicted of multiple criminal infractions locked up while their refugee claims are processed. "It's time to do it," Kurland said. "A pilot project to put these guys on ice." He said the key problem is that regardless of how many times a refugee claimant has been deported, the Canada Border Services Agency generally releases them while the paperwork required to deport again them is completed. Kurland said repeat offenders should not be set free because of the $235-a-day cost of keeping them in custody. "There's a loophole . . . it's avoidable by paying, temporarily, more." He noted it is legal to hold criminals or Immigration Act violators while their cases are processed, pointing to the 624 illegal Chinese migrants who arrived in B.C. in rusted-out boats in 1999. Of those migrants, 149 disappeared, 24 were given refugee status and the rest were deported. Some 250 were held in custody while their claims were handled. Refugee claimants can be held under three conditions -- if their identity is in question, they pose a flight risk, or are a danger to the public. It is up to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to argue before the Immigration Review Board that the claimants fall into any of those three categories. Melissa Anderson of the Immigration Review Board said drug dealers generally fall into the flight-risk category, but the onus is on Citizenship and Immigration to prove that. Said Angela Battiston, spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration and the border services agency: "You have to substantiate the reasons . . . Somebody's past behaviour is certainly taken into consideration." Stephen Heckbert, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, said the difference between the Hondurans and the wave of Chinese migrants six years ago is that the Hondurans typically come into Canada alone, making it "much more difficult to identify and process them." He could not say why the alleged Honduran crack dealers were not detained after their first convictions. ------------------------------------------- [SIDEBAR] An Alleged Honduran Crack Dealer's Meanderings In B.C. Jose Elvir-Sevilla, 31 Feb. 15, 2000: Picked up for selling drugs. He tells police he got into the country three days earlier by walking over the border on railway tracks. He was issued a departure order two days later, when he claimed refugee status. He said his family didn't like him and he was poor. He was released from detention with a promise to find a home and report to Immigration Canada within five days. Sept. 20, 2000: His refugee claim was declared abandoned. A letter was sent Aug. 23, 2001, requesting he report for an interview, but it was returned marked "moved." July 2004: Sevilla crosses into Canada through bushes. July 16, 2004: He is stopped by police dropping his common-law wife off at work. Officers discover he has outstanding warrants for the 2000 trafficking arrest. Sevilla tells officers he left Canada before the court dates, that he had been in Seattle and that he'd been deported from there in 2002. July 23, 2004: Immigration and Refugee Board hearing. Common-law wife Karen Briceno offers pay to $1,000 bond. Sevilla released from custody on condition he report to immigration officials every two weeks. Jan. 22-24, 2005: Arrested and charged with two counts of trafficking. Sevilla is not in custody. WHERE THEY ARE NOW Here is where the 11 charged in the Vancouver crack-dealing ring are in the legal system: Wilmer Amaya-Reyes, 23 Trafficking charge from November 2004, trial set for Sept. 19. Trafficking charge from January 2005, trial set for Sept. 16. Not in custody. Nelvin Sandres-Rivas, 21 Trafficking charge from January 2005, pleaded guilty Feb. 24, sentenced to one day in jail (credit for 47 days served). Not in custody. Jose Elvir-Sevilla, 31 Trafficking charge from Jan. 24, 2005, trial date set for Nov. 1. Trafficking charge from Jan. 22, 2005, trial date set for Dec. 14. Trafficking charge from 2000, trial date set for May 16. Not in custody. Cesar Andino-Giron, 21 Possession charge from December 2004, trial date set for July 13. Trafficking charge from January 2005, trial date set for Dec. 1. Not in custody. Ronal Hernandez-Martinez, 26 Trafficking charge from January 2005, arraignment March 8. Not in custody. Franklin Mendes-Cerrato, 23 Two charges of trafficking from January 2005, arraignment on both charges set for March 3. Not in custody. Jeremiah Gillingham, 21 Trafficking charge from January 2005, arraignment March 17. Not in custody. Andres Andres-Matias, 44 Possession charge from June 2004. Trafficking charge January 2005, pleads guilty to both charges Feb. 17 and enters drug rehab. Not in custody. Lesmar Orlando Cruz, 29 Trafficking charge from December 2004, detained and released Dec. 10, trial date set for Sept. 13. Trafficking charge from January 2005, fix date for trial March 4. In custody. Jose Chapas-Acosta, 21 Two charges of trafficking from January 2005, trials for March 18, April 12. In custody. Neris Hernandez-Barrientos, 22 Trafficking charge from September 2004, released on bail. Trafficking charge from January 2005, sentenced to three months on both charges Feb. 16. In custody.