Backgrounder — Designating Human Smuggling Events

To combat human smugglers and prevent the abuse of Canada’s immigration system, stronger laws and deterrence measures than what currently exist are required. By conferring a special legal status on a human smuggling operation or irregular arrival, tougher measures can be applied to all those who have participated in that venture.

Under the proposed Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, the Minister of Public Safety could designate the arrival of a group of individuals who entered or attempted to enter Canada in a manner that runs contrary to Canada’s immigration laws as a designated irregular arrival.

According to the Bill,

The Minister may, by order, having regard to the public interest, designate the arrival of a group of persons in Canada as an irregular arrival if he or she:

  • is of the opinion that examinations particularly relating to identity and admissibility of the persons involved in the arrival, and other investigations, cannot be conducted in a timely manner; or
  • has reasonable grounds to suspect that the arrival involves organized human smuggling activity for profit, or in support of a criminal organization, or terrorist group.

Individuals who arrive as part of a designated irregular arrival would be subject to different detention rules and processing at the Immigration and Refugee Board; restrictions on applying for permanent residence; travel and family sponsorship; in-person reporting to immigration officials; and government-provided health coverage that is no better than that which is available to the Canadian public.

The proposed Bill also stipulates that the Ministerial authority to designate an irregular arrival cannot be delegated. This would ensure that the decision is thoroughly considered and reasoned at the Ministerial level, with an awareness of all the relevant evidence, given the significant consequences that flow from a designation.

The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act would help to end the abuse of Canada’s immigration system by human smugglers. It would ensure the integrity and fairness of Canada’s immigration system, the security of Canada’s shores, and ensure that those who apply to come to Canada legitimately and play by the rules are not penalized by those who try to jump the queue.

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