The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
November 21st, 2014
Introduction The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act also known as Bill C-31, is an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act. This Bill was introduced to parliament on February 16th, 2012. The government, led by Progressive Conservative, Stephen Harper was in a majority and therefore assured the Bill’s success. This Bill was enacted to help combat ‘Bogus’ refugees gaining refugee status in Canada. (Bill C-31, 2012) Sponsored by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the time, Jason Kenney, this Bill would create substantial changes to the way in which refugees access the country. This Bill would allow only the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to have the power to decide which countries are considered ‘safe’ when deciding one’s refugee status in Canada. ‘Safe’ countries are described in the Bill as having a high refugee status rejection rate. This assumes that since the majority of the claims are rejected, then the claims must be unworthy of seeking refuge in Canada and therefore their current country is deemed as a safe place for all of its citizens. (Bill C-31, 2012) Rejected claimants, are assumed to be ‘Bogus’ refugees; for this paper I will be using the “Romani” of the Czech Republic as a case study. (Diop, 2014, 67-80) (Levine-Rasky, Beaudoin and St Clair, 2013, 67-93) This Bill would also make it mandatory that claimants from safe countries must wait a year before applying for compassionate or humanitarian considerations to become a permanent resident. (Bill C-31, 2012) This also makes clear that refugees in this circumstance may also be deported within that year at any time. The Bill also makes restraints on healthcare to refugees, creating stronger divisions between “us” and “them”. (Omeziri and Gore 2014, 44-53) Additionally the Bill emphasizes accelerating the process by altering the 60-day time frame to 30-45 days for the cases of refugees from “safe” or “designated countries of origin” (DCO). (Bill C-31, 2012) Lastly, this Bill would include mandatory biometrics for people applying for visas. (Bill C-31, 2012) In this paper I will argue that less power should be given to the Minister and that the stringent guidelines imposed on refugees have negatively affected both the “legitimate” and the “Bogus” refugees.
With this Bill, there have been two new categories created. Non-Designated Countries of Origin (Non-DCO), and Designated Countries of Origin (DCO). These designations were created to define “acceptable refugee” status. (Olson, et al., 2014, 7) The Bill argues that the reasoning for this is to deter abuse of the refugee system. The ‘Safe’ countries include countries that are not seen as typically producing refugees. (Diop, 2014, 73) The speeding up of the system rejects claims faster by using stricter guidelines for a proper refugee. A claimant from a DCO country is viewed as being ‘capable’, rather than being ‘vulnerable’ and in this case is given the title ‘Bogus Refugee’. (Olson, et al. ,2014, 4) The issue with these designations is that they have successfully and stereotypically lumped thousands of people into two categories. By doing this they have left it up to the system to decide whether or not they are ‘real’ refugees and have a greater chance of overlooking an individual’s specific case. This means that if an individual were to claim refugee status and their country is considered ‘safe’, their reasoning for seeking refuge is biased from the beginning and is more likely to be denied. Of course the claimants are still able to apply for a compassionate or humanitarian consideration; however, they are forced to wait a full year to make their claim. This is especially