Kenney aims to deter mass arrival of migrants
CTV.ca News Staff
Date: Mon. Sep. 20 2010 10:50 PM ET
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is set to introduce legislation aimed at deterring the mass arrival of asylum seekers to Canada, like the 492 Tamil migrants who travelled to B.C. by boat last month.
The legislation, which Kenney is expected to present to cabinet on Tuesday, also proposes tough new sanctions for human smugglers, sources have told CTV News.
It would create a new class of asylum seeker for migrants who arrive in large groups. They would have to wait two weeks for a detention hearing, rather than the current 48 hours.
The Tamil migrants, including 49 minors, who arrived in B.C. on August 13 were packed into a cargo vessel called the MV Sun Sea. One man reportedly died en route.
Their arrival sparked a debate across the country about whether migrants who reach Canada without following an accepted immigration process should be allowed entry.
By lengthening the period of time until a refugee claimant's detention hearing, authorities would ostensibly have more time to investigate possible criminal activity.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland slammed Kenney's proposal, calling it a "draconian" and "punitive" measure for those seeking refugee status.
"Your first court hearing is within two weeks -- a penalty more serious than the War Measures Act," he told CTV News Channel from Vancouver. "And there's no real or apprehended insurrection in Canada when a boat arrives on our shores."
He also said it goes against Canadians values to focus more on detaining asylum seekers.
"Detention, if you intend to make a refugee claim in a very large group, is the order of the day. And that's a questionable value when we're here to offer sanctuary and asylum to the persecuted."
Kenney recently travelled to Australia to discuss the problem of human smuggling. In that country, authorities often block ships and send migrants to remote islands for processing.
On Monday, Kenney released a statement saying "migrant smuggling and human trafficking are global problems," according to The Canadian Press.
"Canada intends to work domestically and internationally to combat the crime and fraud associated with the treacherous journey some immigrants make to Canada," the statement continues. "At the same time, we need to ensure that those in need of protection have access to it, and we look forward to working with partners such as Australia.".
With files from The Canadian Press