Bill C-49 for Refugees in Canada opposition growing

Refugees in Canada may receive the worst end of the deal

We blogged about a new Bill that would affect refugees in Canada in October here, when it had just had its first reading in Parliament. Many in the government have since taken a stand against the Preventing Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, or Bill C-49.

The bill would effectively create two classes of refugees in Canada, and mandate that anyone who is smuggled into Canada will not be allowed to apply for permanent residency for five years, face up to a year in jail and be processed differently than other refugees in Canada. While the bill also proposes stiffer punishments for smugglers themselves, smugglers are subject to a life sentence and million dollar fine anyway – if they even head to Canada at all.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is one of those opposing the bill and immigration critics from other parties have also said the bill needs to be trashed or seriously amended – which might get the ball rolling on changes to the bill.

Two classes of refugees in Canada

The bill would also give the Immigration Minister the power to determine who is a regular refugee in Canada and who is not, which puts the fates of these people in one person’s hands. If they are deemed irregular refugees to Canada, they can be put in jail.

Applying at a visa office is not a possibility for many refugees, which is why there are laws protecting those who set foot on Canadian soil. For those facing death or persecution in some countries, the only way to escape is through smuggling. That doesn’t make smuggling okay, but refugees in Canada who arrive this way should not be held in some kind of government detention limbo.

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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