Immigration bureaucrats rushed to reassign files stuck with idle officer DM10032, emails show | CBC News


In the hours after CBC News published a story about an immigration officer notorious among applicants as an idle worker who left files largely untouched for years, senior staff at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rushed to reassign all of the officer’s files to other employees and marked them as “urgent,” internal emails show.

IRCC officers are represented as codes under its administrative system. For example, AB12345.

In January 2022, several permanent residency (PR) applicants told their stories about what they called a torturous wait under an officer only known to them as DM10032. These applicants had applied in 2019, and said their files had been largely stuck since March 2020.

Applicants created social media support groups about being assigned to this officer, and some even took to online forums calling DM10032 “slow,” “useless,” and questioned whether the employee was working or even existed.

The department later told CBC the officer was “an active employee” but that it wouldn’t “comment on personal details.”

A couple of months later, several applicants assigned to DM10032 began to see significant movement on their files, and some had even arrived and settled in Canada by April 2022. 

CBC has now learned why PR applicants may have seen rapid approvals following that story.

Last spring, CBC filed an access to information request on internal government communications. After a year and a complaint to Canada’s information commissioner for delays, CBC received the documents last month. 

They show a glimpse of the internal practices at the department, which looked to resolve the issues related to DM10032 once the story went public.

The 101-page package consists of emails between IRCC bureaucrats — including the office of the deputy minister, director generals and their staff, workers with the assistant deputy minister’s office, managers and communications advisers. Several pages and names have been redacted.

I plan to reassign all his applications as urgent to other officers.– Manager at IRCC’s centralized network Ottawa office

Once the story about officer DM10032 published on Jan. 24, 2022, officials narrowed down the team the employee belonged to.

Emails show the officer worked with IRCC’s centralized network, which consists of five processing centres across Canada — and they were based in Ottawa.

“Hope our colleague is faring OK and getting some support under this pressure,” wrote an assistant director in one email.

Manager reassigns files as ‘urgent’

About eight hours after the story published, senior staff members under the director general of IRCC’s centralized network began to ask questions to DM10032’s management.

“Jon, all I need to know from you is what you’re going to be doing with these files…” wrote a senior adviser in an email.

“Were the employee’s files re-assigned to others? Is it true that any priority applications were re-assigned and LOBs [lines of business] deemed lower priority were queued for review,” asked another senior staff member in response.

A manager responded to those emails saying the applications were not reassigned previously as “there would have been no rush to do this” for a reason that was redacted.

“I plan to reshuffle [redacted] most urgent files … to get ready for Feb/March approval if possible,” continued that manager at the Ottawa office. It’s unclear whether “approval” here means giving applicants their PR, or if it’s an internal procedure.

The manager then said they “have not thought much beyond the most urgent” applications from 2018 to 2020.

“I plan to reassign all his applications as urgent to other officers,” they wrote.

A building with two Canadian flags, and people walking in.
IRCC is housed in this building in downtown Ottawa. The officer in question belonged to the centralized network team based in Ottawa, emails show. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Emails suggest the officer’s application inventory had been affected by IRCC-wide backlogs, but did not reveal specific details into why their files weren’t moving forward. One email states they had been processing files during the early stages of the pandemic. 

Officials also raised concerns over the officer’s privacy, should they release their identity as part of a response to a written inquiry submitted in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Kyle Seeback.

“If DM10032 name is disclosed and we release information pertaining to [their] performance this could lead to a privacy breach,” reads a segment in a parliamentary affairs briefing co-ordinator’s email on Feb. 8, 2022.

Documents lack concern for applicants: lawyer

Jamie Liew, who was interviewed for the articles relating to DM10032, reviewed the internal documents and said she noticed “a very reactionary response — not one that is built into the system.”

Liew, an immigration lawyer and professor at University of Ottawa, said she’s left with more questions on how IRCC’s process works when it comes to the department monitoring and keeping track of files that haven’t been moving through in a timely manner.

“It doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that there is … a process in place that oversees proper shuffling of files,” she said.

Liew added the emails among senior staff were eye-opening.

“I understand the concern for their colleague, but I also found it very concerning and disturbing that there was also no concern expressed on behalf of the people subject to this: [the applicants],” Liew said.

“Keep in mind that the officer’s name and identity is not revealed. It’s just a code.” 

‘No files … ever in limbo,’ IRCC says

CBC asked IRCC for comment on this story.

In an email, spokesperson Isabelle Dubois wrote files assigned to DM10032 “were always progressing normally,” and that “no files with IRCC are ever in limbo.”

“The department conducts regular checks and due diligence to ensure the files are progressing normally, regardless of media attention,” she wrote.

As it’s told CBC before, Dubois pointed out processing an application may involve more than one officer.

Dubois says the files referenced in the internal emails marked as “urgent” were either part of a priority line of business, or the applicants were part of a priority group like vulnerable people or family seeking reunification.

“Priority lines of business are assessed and reassessed regularly, and are subject to change,” she wrote.


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