Border agency reports big drop in number of long-term detainees

Latest numbers:

The number of people being held for more than 90 days in immigration detention centres has declined by almost a third this year over last year, according to statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency.

The figures show that the number of detainees being held for three months or longer dropped by 29.9 per cent in 2016-17 compared with 2015-16. They also show a decline since 2012-13 of 35.3 per cent.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) told CBC News that it is using federal funding announced last year to expand the use of alternatives to detention.

“The funding received is dedicated to developing and deploying a technology-enabled voice reporting solution that will make it easier for low-risk persons to comply with reporting conditions imposed by CBSA officers or the Immigration and Refugee Board, while living in the community,” a CBSA spokesperson said in an email to CBC.

Detainees are also now locked up an average of 19.5 days, down from 23.1 days last year, according to the agency’s statistics.

Last year, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced $138 million for a new national immigration detention framework, with the aim of creating a more humane system.

Part of the money is being spent on a new immigration holding centre (IHC) in Surrey, B.C., which should open in December 2018. The centre in Laval, Que., is scheduled for completion in 2021. The Toronto holding centre is also being upgraded.

“By July 2018 the Toronto IHC will be equipped to house higher-risk detainees, allowing more individuals in provincial detention facilities to be transferred to the IHC on a case-by-case basis,” CBSA said in the email.

Detention in jails

On any given day in Canada, hundreds of people are detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Last year the border agency detained 6,251 people, 32.6 per cent of which were held at non-CBSA facilities such as provincial jails, even though they had not been charged with a crime.

“Detaining people long-term at short-term detention facilities is extremely problematic, and especially when some of the detentions are going on for a very long time, into the years,” said Lorne Waldman, a prominent Toronto immigration and refugee lawyer.

Immigration detainees are sent to provincial jails when they’re high-risk, aren’t close to a holding centre or, in the Vancouver area, held for more than 48 hours.

Source: Border agency reports big drop in number of long-term detainees – Politics – CBC News

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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