New Canadian immigration legislation could see thousands of permanent residents lose their status and be deported for minor convictions, such as shoplifting, traffic and drug offences. This one strike you’re out is a drastic departure from the more traditional Canadian approach of allowing second chances.
The legislation, Ottawa’s Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, would in fact target permanent residents convicted of minor crimes. Often times, young children are brought to Canada at an early age as permanent residents, who were raised and schooled in Canada but never became citizens and have lived their whole lives as permanent residents. Many African, Caribbean, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, English, Irish and Scottish permanent residents have not acquired Canadian citizenship despite having been here for a long time. Canadian immigration legislation already makes a distinction between Canadian permanent residents and citizens, in this case Canadian permanent residents are main target of this new law.
Interestingly, the federal government has always had the power to strip landed-immigrant status from any permanent resident convicted of a serious crime. The new legislation, Bill C-43, would allow appeals only for those sentenced to less than six months in jail, down from the current threshold of two years.
This means people committed of minor offences such as possession of marijuana plants can be deported from Canada under Bill C-43. Other offences that can fall under the bill would include permanent residents found to have misrepresented themselves when they applied for immigration.
An omission on an immigrant’s employment history or submitting the incorrect dates of certain events on an immigration application could come back to haunt the individual years later. Currently, the law allows convicted immigrants to lose their immigrant status and be banned from re-entering Canada for two years. The new Act would prevent readmission for five years. Due to the new legislation, thousands of permanent residents’ statuses have been put in peril.
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