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Faster removal of foreign criminals in Canada

The latest news release by office of minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism is sending shockwaves across the immigrant communities, being dubbed as “deportation made easy”. The faster removal of foreign criminals act introduced by Minister Kenny is aims to expedite removal of foreign criminals from Canada to enhance safety and security of Canadians. It lowers the bar for deportation, at present from conviction and sentencing for 2 years to 6 months, which means that any non-citizen convicted for an offence which carries 6 months of jail time is set to be deported with very limited chance to appeal deportation. It also takes away eligibility to apply for exemption under humanitarian and compassionate grounds, for serious criminality.

No one is going to argue against the face value purpose of this proposed legislation, all Canadians want a safe and secure society. On the contrary, we all are aware of the crime and the criminals in our society, who are not foreigners and are dealt very softly by our judicial system but when it comes to non-citizens, all of sudden government wants to throw book at them with all the extreme repercussions of doing an offence. With all the avenues in Canadian jurisprudence for the rehabilitation of an offender, being a non-citizen closes all the avenues for rehabilitation because residency in Canada is a privilege not a right for foreign nationals including permanent residence. This is the line of thinking which inspires discrimination between a citizen and non-citizen.

For a repetitive criminal who is abusing Canadian legal system by means of all appeals available, closing that door seems a right thing to do but we forget that the door is also being closed for all non-citizens who commit any offence, which results in 6 months or more of jail time. Are we going to split families who are Canadian permanent residents and have been living in Canada for years, just to make it easy for government to deport only a handful of serious criminals? Once this law comes into force it will be out of hands of courts but a mandatory deportation process will start when any non-citizen is sentenced for more than six months, which can result in split families or children forced out of country to accompany a parent who is being deported, as most of legal means to challenge such a decision will be lost.

Anyone who is under illusion that these tough measures would help in safety and security of Canadians fail to understand the slippery slope that we are following and where this will lead. With no checks and balances, and all the absolute powers, there is always a chance of abuse of authority. It would be prudent that as government gets tough on criminals abusing Canadian hospitality, the checks on the process by means of judicial intervention and appeal process should be maintained. Immigrants who chose Canada as their new home, have been living in Canada for years deserve to be treated fairly and equally as Canadian residents and we should be able to strike a balance between removing criminals and providing due and lawful process for others to remain in Canada.

Prabodh Pathak
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


References:

Media Centre
www.thestar.com/news
www.cbc.ca/news/canada/
http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/
Bill would expand minister’s power over deportations

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