New Legislation Targets Canadian Permanent Residents for Possible Deportation Should Circumstances Change in their Original Home country

Posted: February 27, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in World
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New Legislation targets Canadian Permanent Residents:
Minister assumes new powers to revoke status

OTTAWA – On February 16, 2012, the government tabled Bill C-31, new immigration and refugee legislation that significantly undermines Canada’s domestic and international obligations to protect and resettle refugees. The new bill includes several vindictive measures. One of the most pernicious is the new “conditional” permanent residence for refugees.

Under clause 19, a person who obtained permanent residence after making a successful refugee claim either in Canada or as a government sponsored refugee resettled from abroad may lose their permanent residence status if the Minister determines that they no longer need protection. This provision can be applied against refugees who made claims in Canada or those who have been resettled to Canada from refugee camps abroad and would apply retroactively. The provision could therefore apply to refugees who became permanent residents many, many years ago, and have established full and permanent lives in Canada. Refugees who have been resettled in Canada and granted permanent residence can be stripped of that status and deported years after their arrival.

Under our current legislation, the Minister can apply to the Immigration and Refugee Board for an order that the refugee’s need for protection no longer exists (cessation) where circumstances for that person have changed. Changes can include systemic developments in countries of origin such as regime change or increased police protection as well as individual factors, such as a change in a person’s political activism or a return to their country of origin after a significant passage of time.

However, if the Minister currently is successful on an application to the Board, refugees who have become permanent residents do not lose that status. In accordance with Canada’s commitment to the United Nations, refugees who permanently resettle here are entitled to rebuild their lives, work and raise their families, secure in the knowledge Canada is their permanent home.

In fact, this is one of the most positive features of our current system. It is a tremendous benefit to Canadians as a whole, as well as to refugees, that Canada promotes quick and permanent resettlement. Rather than remaining in limbo, refugees become productive, contributing members of our society. The feeling of security that permanent residence provides cannot be overestimated.

However, Bill C-31 now threatens to undermine our commitment to resettle refugees and provide them with the security of permanent residence. Under clause 19, the Minister can apply at any time for a finding that the refugee is no longer at risk. If the Minister is successful, the refugee will not only lose his or her refugee status, but if the person has been granted permanent residence he or she will lose that status as well. Moreover, the legislation makes those refugees who have been found to no longer need protection inadmissible to Canada, and therefore subject to deportation. This provision will apply retroactively and will apply equally to those who made claims in Canada and those who were resettled here by the government. Someone brought to Canada under a refugee resettlement program over a decade ago, who has spent many years building a life in this country could be stripped of her status and deported. This is simply unconscionable.

In many ways, Bill C-31 represents an unprecedented dismantling of Canada’s refugee determination system. In addition, clause 19 undermines Canada’s commitment to refugees, makes a mockery of our commitment to the United Nations to provide permanent resettlement to refugees and puts at risk of deportation tens of thousands of refugees who have already been granted permanent residence in Canada.

For more information or to Contact the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL):

Lorne Waldman: President, Toronto,
Mitchell Goldberg: Vice-president, Montreal,
Donald Galloway: Co-chair, Legal Research Committee, Victoria,
Peter Showler: Co-chair, Advocacy Committee, Ottawa,
Julie Chamagne: CARL Representative in Halifax,
Catherine Dauvergne : CARL Representative in Vancouver,
Audrey Macklin: Co-Chair, Legal Research Committee, Toronto,

CARL Responds to New Refugee Legislation, Bill C-31


OTTAWA – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) has identified the following deeply problematic deficiencies that relate both to the architecture and content of Bill C-31:

  1. The omnibus nature of the bill hides key initiatives and detracts from proper scrutiny
    • This huge omnibus bill rolls together proposed anti-smuggling Bill C-4, the current refugee system, and the future refugee system, as well as additional new elements, including the use of biometrics.
    • Like Bill C-10 (the omnibus crime bill), this is a complicated omnibus bill whose bulk is designed to inhibit careful scrutiny and precise analysis of several controversial issues.
  2. The draconian measures of C-4 are rolled into this new bill
    • C-4’s proposed mandatory, unreviewable, warrantless, year-long detention is patently unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of Canada decided this issue in the clearest of terms.
    • Family separation for at least 5, and up to 8 or more years, will have disastrous consequences for refugees.
  3. Hasty timelines deny refugees a fair chance to prove their claims
    • Bill C-31 significantly changes our current refugee system, making it hasty and unfair. It imposes unrealistic deadlines on refugee claimants, and uses a failure to meet deadlines as a means to disqualifying refugee claimants without ever having a fair and reasonable opportunity to tell their story.
    • Refugees will only have 15 days to deliver a written version of their history, and 15 days to present an appeal. This is not enough time to seek legal advice and respond to complicated legal requirements.
  4. The designated “safe” country list, and the Minister’s unilateral power to list countries, dangerously politicizes the refugee system
    • Refugee claimants who are put on a designated safe country list are subjected to even shorter deadlines to submit a written claim, and will not have access to an appeal.
    • The Minister need not justify why he deems a country safe, nor does he have to take account of the differential risk faced by certain minorities in a country that is ‘safe’ for others. Refugees will be vulnerable to the political whims of the Minister and the government.
  5. The Minister’s constant reference to “bogus” claims is an egregious misrepresentation
    • The refugee definition is very technical. Many claimants come with a genuine fear of harm but may not meet the definition of a refugee. That does not make them ‘frauds’ or ‘bogus’, or abusers of the system. Their search for protection is genuine.
  6. Canada’s humanitarian safety net is gravely weakened
    • Bill C-31 forces people, upon arrival, to make an impossible choice between making a refugee claim or an application for humanitarian consideration. Each of these processes is complicated and making an informed decision is simply not possible for persons who have just arrived.
    • Canada has long recognized that a broad humanitarian consideration process is necessary to preserve the flexibility of our protection system. Barring access to this is contrary to our humanitarian tradition.

For more information or to Contact CARL:

Lorne Waldman: President, Toronto,
Mitchell Goldberg: Vice-president, Montreal,
Donald Galloway: Co-chair, Legal Research Committee, Victoria,
Peter Showler: Co-chair, Advocacy Committee, Ottawa,
Julie Chamagne: CARL Representative in Halifax,
Catherine Dauvergne : CARL Representative in Vancouver,
Audrey Macklin: Co-Chair, Legal Research Committee, Toronto,

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