B.C. ends immigration detention arrangement with CBSA

The B.C. government has decided to stop working with border agents to detain people under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, starting next year.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province reviewed BC Corrections’ arrangement with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on holding immigration detainees in provincial jails.

“The review brought to light that aspects of the arrangement do not align with our government’s commitment to upholding human-rights standards or our dedication to pursuing social justice and equity for everyone,” Farnworth said in a statement.

The province will still hold people for CBSA for the next year, until the agreement expires.

“We are very happy to hear that news,” said Omar Chu with the Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic in Vancouver.

“The provincial government recognized that detaining people awaiting determination of their legal status in Canada is a violation of human rights and we’re glad to hear that they have committed to ending their participation in this system.”

He says putting people in “carceral” settings “[exacerbates] pre-existing mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and really creates a negative impact on detainees’ mental health.”

Chu notes B.C. is the first province to end its agreement with CBSA.

“We know that other provinces are also undergoing reviews, like Nova Scotia. We hope that Nova Scotia will come to a similar conclusion and that provinces across the country decide to end their participation in the immigration detention system.”

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