Opinion: Why does Canada jail migrants?

By Vancouver Sun, 31 August 2015

A new multimedia project Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration chronicles a decade of drastic immigration changes by the federal government and its devastating effects on families in Canada. (...)

Never Home finds the number of immigration avenues that grant permanent residency — such as those that facilitate entry of skilled workers, refugees or family members — has plunged. The federal government eliminated nearly 280,000 applications under the Skilled Worker Program. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of family-class immigrants dropped 20 per cent, while the number of accepted refugees dropped 30 per cent.

When the MV Sun Sea carrying 492 Tamil women, children and men landed in B.C. in August, 2010, after a treacherous three-month journey, the federal government fomented nationwide hysteria about terrorism. They asylum-seekers were all immediately jailed, and within two years the federal government passed wide-ranging legislation to make it more difficult for refugees to remain in Canada. Asylum seekers now face a discriminatory two-tier system based on nationality with restricted legal avenues. Refugees designated as irregular arrivals, including those as young as 16, face mandatory incarceration. (...)

Furthermore, permanent residency and citizenship are becoming conditional. Most parents and grandparents can now only arrive on a temporary Super Visa that requires the purchase of private Canadian health care insurance. Many spouses now have to come on a two-year conditional sponsorship, leaving immigrant women more vulnerable to abuse since their legal status is contingent on their partner. (...)

Over the past 10 years, the federal government jailed an average of 11,000 migrants per year, including up to 807 children, without charge. Canada is one of the only Western countries to have indefinite detention.

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Image: MCpl Angela Abbey, Vancouver Sun