Last Updated: Nov 6, 2014
POLICY BRIEF: detention and REMOVALS
Canada's immigration system has shifted towards permanent temporariness in recent years, with drastic cuts and limitations placed on the refugee system, spousal sponsorship, and other permanent residency streams. As a result, more people are entering Canada each year through temporary means. In 2012, there were over 1 million people who entered Canada on a temporary basis, including migrant workers, international students, and refugee applicants.4 In addition, there are an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 undocumented residents across Canada.5 This means that 1.5 million people living in Canada are at risk of detention and deportation.
Recent changes in Canadian immigration have led to increased criminalization and illegalization of migrants who have little to no access to permanent residency. This has contributed to a growing number of migrants who are vulnerable to detention, deportation, family separation, and related financial and emotional difficulties. Furthermore, recent legislation has introduced mandatory detention for “irregular arrivals” (Bill C-31), made it easier to deport permanent residents who have been convicted of crimes (Bill C-44, Bill C-43), and stripped the right to appeal removal orders and denied sponsorship applications based on criminality (Bill C-11, Bill C-43).
The Canadian government is increasingly using incarceration to enforce its immigration laws, which in Canada is administrative and not criminal in nature. Every day, hundreds of migrants are detained across the country, many of whom are held in maximum-security prisons. Unlike many Western nations, Canada does not have a maximum length of detention. This is in direct contravention to international laws that prohibit arbitrary detention and mandate a “presumptive period” that limits the detention time pending a person's removal, after which point s/he must be released. The detention review mechanisms in place have also proven to be ineffective, evidenced by the 13.9% release rate in the Ontario Region.6 As a result, many detainees are held indefinitely, spending years without being charged or receiving a proper trial.
Despite the gender neutral language in immigration policy, there are distinct gendered effects of migration controls: male immigrants are detained more often than female immigrants, female immigrants are more likely regulated through their family relationships. Fearing detention, deportation, and losing their status, many precarious status women facing gender-based violence are forced to stay in abusive relationships. In detention, women with children must choose between keeping their children incarcerated with them or handing them over to a child welfare agency. Female detainees may also be denied some of the services available to male detainees.
Workshop held on June 5, 2014
“Family of 5 who had come to Canada and whose humanitarian application had been approved in principal; however, while they were waiting to be landed, one of them was convicted of an assault charge, rendering the rest of the family inadmissible for having an inadmissible family member.”
Section 42 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that:
A foreign national, other than a protected person, is inadmissible on grounds of an inadmissible family member if:
(a) their accompanying family member or, in prescribed circumstances, their non-accompanying family member is inadmissible; or
Bill C-44: Introduced in 2005 as an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Under this Bill, permanent residents convicted of an offence (10+ year prison sentence) and determined to be a “danger to the public” would be deported without the right to appeal.
Bill C-11: Under s. 64 of the changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act introduced by Bill C-11, "individuals found to be inadmissible on considerations of security, violating human rights, serious criminality or organized criminality or individuals convicted of a crime and given a term of imprisonment of two years or more may not be allowed to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division."
Bill C-43 (Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act): Under this Bill, permanent residents or family class members can be deported faster if found guilty of a criminal charge (6+ month prison sentence or community service) by removing their right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
→ End Arbitrary and Indefinite Detention: Implement a “presumptive period” as per international convention ensuring that detainees are released if they cannot be deported within 90 days.
→ Ban the Detention of Minors: Ensure that families are not forcibly separated by detention.
→ Ban the Use of Maximum Security Jails: Ensure that migrants are detained in designated minimum-security immigration holding centres.
→ Overhaul the adjudication process: Ensure migrants have access to legal aid and representation and the right to appeal decisions.
→ End the Criminalization of Sponsored Spouses: Ensure that victims of intimate partner violence can access support without fear of detention.
→ Implement Alternatives to Detention: Reduce the number of detainees and cost of detention.
→ Number of Migrant Detained FY 2008-2009:14,362
→ Number of Migrants Deported FY 2008-2009:13,249 (1,855 for criminality reasons, 9,672 were failed refugee claimants, and 1,722 for other reasons).
→ Budget for Detention and Removals FY 2008-2009: $85 million
→ Annual Cost per Detainee FY 2008-2009: $3,185
→ Average Length of Detention: 24 days
→ Number of Immigration Detainees on Nov. 8, 2013: 5852
→ Number of Minor Detainees FY 2011-2012: 285 (1-5 years-old: 75, 6-9 years-old: 67, 10-12 years-old: 55, 13-17 years-old: 92).
→ Percentage of Low-Risk Detainees in Max. Security Provincial Jails on April 22, 2010: 32%
Date Updated: May 30, 2014