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 Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, the Minister of Public Safety can 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 new Act:

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 will be subject to different detention rules and will have no access to the Refugee Appeal Division at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada; restrictions on applying for permanent residence; travel and family sponsorship; and in-person reporting to immigration officials.

The Ministerial authority to designate an irregular arrival cannot be delegated. This will 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 will help to end the abuse of Canada’s immigration system by human smugglers. It ensures the integrity and fairness of Canada’s immigration system, the security of Canada’s shores, and ensures 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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