“Back to where you came from”: Canada deports 35 people daily
Canadian government deported an average of 35 people per day over the past nine years, including to countries with moratoriums on deportation.
Deportation: The Canadian government deported 117,531 people between 2006 and 2014, including to countries with official moratoriums on deportation. The federal government and Canada Border Services Agency bribe people to self-deport and use international smugglers. Refugees are stripped of their permanent residency and face deportation, while permanent residents convicted of minor offences — including traffic offenses — are deported without a right to appeal.
The Canadian government deported 117,531 people between 2006 and 2014. In the last several years, despite official moratoriums on deportation to these countries, more than 500 people were sent to Iraq, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and other politically volatile states.
I tried to explain to CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] that I come from the Gaza Strip, that I can’t go back. I have issues there, I fear for my life. None of that made any sense to them, so i found myself handcuffed and thrown in a detention centre in Vancouver airport and then an airplane. — Hamoudi Ghareeb.
In 2012, the federal government began a program to bribe refugee claimants to abandon their refugee claims and self-deport. From 2012-2014, the government spent $7.5 million paying 36,000 refugee claimants, primarily Roma from Hungary, to leave Canada. It was recently revealed that Canada Border Services Agency was using international smugglers to get fake documents to deport migrants to countries to which they have no connection.
From 2012-2014, the government spent $7.5 million paying 36,000 refugee claimants, primarily Roma from Hungary, to leave Canada.
The 2012 “Refugee Exclusion Act” (Bill C-31, officially known as Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act) allows the Immigration and Refugee Board to strip accepted refugees of their permanent residency status and face deportation. The federal government is now actively pursuing reopening asylum files under “cessation applications” and forcing refugees whose circumstances may have changed to leave Canada.
Since these changes, the number of former refugees who have lost their protected status and permanent residency almost quintupled. The Conservative government set an arbitrary annual target of 875 applications to strip refugee status.
In 2010 the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) entered Beatrice House, a downtown Toronto shelter, looking for a woman identified as Jane and her three-year-old daughter. Jane had arrived in Canada in 1999 from Ghana as a survivor of sexual violence. Her refugee claim had been rejected and she was due for removal around 2006. At the time of the raid, she and her daughter had just moved to another shelter. As Jane describes, “It’s scary. I can’t go to sleep I’m scared not just for myself, but for others in shelters everywhere who are facing the same fear.”
According to a 2009 House of Commons immigration committee report, estimates of those living in Canada without immigration status ranged from 80,000-500,000 people. With the more recent exclusionary overhaul of the refugee system and restrictions for temporary foreign workers, this number has likely risen.
The CBSA has detained and deported migrants from women’s shelters, vehicle safety checks and hospitals. As registered nurse Natalie Blair recounts, “There’s been situations where people have been [apprehended] right from their hospital beds. Like, they’ve woken up and there’s been CBSA beside them.”
Criminalization, Double Punishment and Deportation
Deportations are not only increasing for refugee claimants or those with precarious status, but also for those with permanent residency status. The federal government’s ‘tough on crime’ agenda targets immigrant communities.
For example in 2008, 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed by Montreal police officer Jean-Loup Lapointe. Shortly after, his brother Dany Villanueva, who was a key eyewitness at the public inquiry into the killing of Fredy, faced deportation to Honduras. Despite the fact that Dany’s criminal record was expunged in 2008 and he has lived in Canada since the age of 12, he faces being torn apart from his home and family for old criminal convictions. This is a policy of double punishment where non-citizens, especially those who are racialized, face deportation after already being profiled and punished by the criminal justice system.
The “Immigrant Criminalization Law” (Bill C-43, officially known as the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act), which passed in 2013, allows for deportations of thousands of permanent residents who have been convicted for minor offences including traffic offenses. The right to appeal the deportation order is stripped from many of these individuals.
In May 2015, the federal government introduced the Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act that continues the trend of criminalization of immigrants and refugees, including those with permanent residency. The bill allows people with certain criminal convictions within Canada to be forced back to their home country without their consent. The bill also denies them access to the pardon process.
The federal government’s ‘tough on crime’ agenda targets immigrant communities.
Going even further, in 2011, the government released a ‘most-wanted’ list to media with names, photos and other identifying information of thirty men wanted for deportation from Canada. Ottawa declared that these men “had violated human or international rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.” None had actually even faced trial in Canada, but the Immigration and Refugee Board had ruled them inadmissible simply because of vague suspicions. Legal and civil liberties organizations oppose this list since publicly shaming people and referring to them as “suspected war criminals” violates the presumption of innocence.
The federal government’s push to criminalize sex-workers is evident not only in its new prostitution laws but also within immigration policy. The federal government’s 2012 Omnibus Crime Bill C-10 included amendments that granted immigration officials the ability to deny a work permit to applicants who are “vulnerable to abuse or exploitation.” The backgrounder provided by the government explicitly mentions exotic dancers, low-skilled workers, and victims of trafficking. As the Canadian Council for Refugees explains, “it is demeaning for women to have a visa officer decide that they should be kept out of Canada for their own protection.”