The “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” or the Bill C-31, is a comprehensive piece of legislation that was enacted by the federal government of Canada in 2012. It made significant changes to the immigration and refugee laws of Canada with the aim of reforming the immigration system by making it more efficient and effective while ensuring public safety.
The Act is divided into three parts, each dealing with a different aspect of the immigration process.
1. Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA): The BRRA makes numerous changes to the refugee determination system, aiming to make it quicker and fairer. One of the main features of this part is the establishment of a list of safe countries of origin, from which refugee claims will be accelerated due to a presumption that genuine refugees are less likely to originate from these countries.
2. Protecting Human Smuggling Act: Also known as Marine Human Smuggling Prevention Act, it introduces new measures to combat human smuggling, including stricter punishments for those involved in organizing such activities. It also grants the government the power to detain suspected victims of human smuggling for up to a year while their identities are being confirmed.
3. Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act: This part introduces tougher policies regarding citizenship, including stricter residency requirements for applicants, as well as new provisions ensuring that those who pose a security risk or have committed fraud cannot obtain citizenship.
Critics of the Act argue that it restricts rights and freedoms of refugees and asylum seekers by subjecting them to mandatory detention without review, limiting access to an appeal procedure, and preventing them from applying for permanent residence status for at least five years. Supporters argue that it protects the integrity of Canada’s immigration system by preventing abuse and ensuring that only genuine refugees are granted protection in Canada.
Furthermore, legal experts have opined that some parts of this Act could potentially be challenged under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These include provisions regarding mandatory detention, limited access to appeals, and differential treatment of refugees based on their country of origin.
To conclude, the “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” is a wide-ranging and controversial piece of legislation that has significantly reformed the immigration and refugee system in Canada. Its interpretation and implementation continue to generate discussion and debate among legal experts, policy makers, and the public alike.