On Bill c-49 and Greedy Immigration Lawyers
By Author: Admin | October 31, 2010
Bill c-49, if passed in its current form, will trigger lots of work for Canadian immigration lawyers. There will also be an expansion of detention facilities on Canada’s coasts, as boat-based refugee claimants will be jailed for one year. Under the current law refugee claimants are only detained until their identity has been determined or until it is determined that they are not a threat to Canada.
Canadian immigration lawyers on Canada’s coasts will be retained by entire groups of people asserting that they are refugees (a group can be as small as two people). Once the one year of jail time under Bill c-49 has passed, those Canadian immigration lawyers’ request for the release of their clients will be opposed by the Canada Border Service Agency . Both will argue before the Immigration Division of the Immigration Refugee Board.
Under Bill c-49, approved refugees who arrived by boat will have to apply to the immigration department for extra documentation to remain in Canada, with the help of an immigration attorney (documentation such as an annual temporary resident permit for five years). This extra documentation will necessitate the training and/or hiring of staff at Canada’s immigration department – staff that could be put towards reducing the current backlog at the Immigration Refugee Board, or towards the faster processing of skilled workers to Canada. The increased backlog of skilled workers will necessitate applications at the Federal Court, which would order faster processing of those skilled worker cases – another line of business for Canada’s immigration lawyers whose practice includes Federal Court work.
The passing of Bill c-49 will lead to charter challenges on the basis of section 15 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, given the unequal treatment accorded to refugee who arrive in a group via boat as opposed to via airplane. This will create a work for immigration attorneys who are conversant in interpreting Canada’s Charter. This will slow down the legal system for all Canadians who have litigation pending at the Federal Court and Supreme Court of Canada.
Bill c-49 in its current form can lead to the jailing of people other than smuggled persons and refugee claimants. Even permanent residents and foreign nationals who are not designated as an “irregular arrival” (i.e. smuggled group) are exposed to the possibility of incarceration by C-49’s proposed amendments to s. 55 and 58 of the current law.
One amendment (at 55(3)(b)), would allow detention of permanent residents on suspicion of relatively minor criminal offences. This will necessitate one or many detention hearings at the Immigration Division of the IRB until the CBSA has determined whether or not the person may be criminally inadmissible. Toronto’s current mayor, Rob Ford, who was arrested in Florida 11 years ago on charges of drunk driving and marijuana possession would likely go through a detention hearing or two if Bill c-49 was in effect after returning from his US vacation.
With respect to Canadian society in general, the increase in government spending on law and order, and the shortage of funds for other societal needs like health care and education, will justify the privatization of government services such as jails, a phenomenon in other jurisdictions that are overly preoccupied with illegal immigration.
Proponents of Bill c-49 do not comment on the above consequences to Canadian society or the fact that any change to Canada’s Immigration System will be a financial boon to Canadian immigration attorneys. Based on the above, proponents of Bill c-49 ignore reality when they allege that the opposition to Bill C-49 stems from a loss of potential business (for the so called “refugee lobby”) . Such an utterly reductionist and simplistic assertion belies the depth, breadth and motivation of those who deal with Canada’s Immigration department on a professional basis.
To Canada’s immigration attorneys, C-49 means: “Ka-ching!” To refugee and human rights advocates (some of whom are Canadian immigration lawyers), C-49 is a reckless challenge to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a tool of arbitrary detention.
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