After officials from the Canada Border Services Agency arrested 21 individuals for immigration violations last week, critics are speaking out.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is the government agency responsible for Canada’s border security, including ensuring that individuals who are unauthorized to enter Canada do not enter the country.
Last week, the CBSA teamed up with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to conduct vehicle spot checks in the Jane and Finch area of Toronto. While the checks were portrayed as vehicle safety checks, after being stopped, individuals were forced to produce identification and were arrested and detained based on suspicion that they may be in Canada illegally. Others were asked to provide identification and arrested while entering coffee shops in the area.
A total of 21 individuals were arrested during these spot checks for violations of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Many of these individuals are also currently being detained, and could be subject to the controversial indefinite immigration detention that was recently condemned by the United Nations.
The CBSA is facing widespread criticism as a result of these arrests, spurring questions about privacy and human rights. Some individuals who were stopped during the spot checks have asserted that they were coerced into providing information to the officers, and others have claimed that they were asked to sign documents that waived their rights without being provided with a translation of the document in their native language.
No One Is Illegal, a group that advocates for migrant justice, believes that the actions of the CBSA amount to targeted racial profiling. The OPP has since attempted to distance itself from the incident and the criticism, stating that OPP staff did not play a big role in the arrests.
This incident may indicate a shift in the priorities of the CBSA, but ultimately reinforces the importance of having your immigration papers and permits in order to maintain your legal status in Canada.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.