The “Justice for Refugees and Immigrants Coalition”, a refugee activist group, made a public statement on Monday denouncing Bill C-31, a proposed update to the Immigration and Refugees Protections Act, charging that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights.
The bill would strengthen the ability of Canadian immigration authorities to deport refugee claimants and prevent claimants from remaining in Canada through a long series of appeals.
The Federal Government rejected the coalition’s charges, and insisted that the bill is a vital step in protecting Canada’s asylum program from being exploited.
The refugee advocacy group was particularly critical of the proposed new power the bill would grant Canadian immigration authorities to detain refugee applicants for up to 12 months.
The Canadian government believes that this is necessary to prevent refugee applicants from escaping immigration controls and residing in Canada illegally, a problem that is common to other developed nations like the US, which now has an estimated 20-22 million illegal immigrants.