- Bill tightens rules on asylum-seekers and aims to suppress false claims
- Opponents say extended detentions without trial and sweeping new ministerial powers violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canada’s parliament passed Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, in June, 2012. The new law gives discretionary power to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to designate groups of asylum-seekers illegitimate, and increases the maximum allowable detention of illegal immigrants to 12 months without a hearing.
Foreign Affairs Minister Jason Kennedy insisted that the top priority was speeding up the processing time for illegitimate asylum-seekers, the majority of whom now come from European Union countries. Candidates from countries designated “safe” by the Minister and department will get fast-tracked to hearings in six weeks in an effort to deport false claimants and save on detention costs. Regular claims will be processed in seven months.
Critics of the bill, however, say that the new discretionary ministerial powers and longer detentions contravene Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms and international laws. Will the law supply the much-needed cost-saving reform it promises, or will it strand thousands more in processing limbo?