Immigration Lawyer Explains Recent Detention of Toronto Man
A Toronto man is suing the Canada Border Services Agency because he claims he was wrongfully detained for over a month. Gabriel Chan was born in the Philippines to a Canadian father, therefore inheriting his Canadian citizenship, which could be passed on to children born abroad under Canadian law at the time. After a dispute with a GO Transit officer over proof of payment, immigration authorities were called. Although Chan is a Canadian citizen, he was still held for over a month in a Canadian detention center. This case highlights the growing concerns with the immigration detention regime in Canada.
There are a number of factors taken into consideration when detaining individuals including criminal convictions and inadmissibility, cooperation with the government to confirm identity, and personal ties to the community. Detention may be justified if the individual will not appear for immigration proceedings, is a danger to the public, or if their identity cannot be verified.
However, the issue for Mr. Chan is that even after his citizenship was confirmed through a DNA test of his father, he was held for over 30 days. Similarly, a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto claims that Canada’s immigration detention centers are a “legal black hole” where some people are held for months or even years. The report claims there are few clear criteria to determine the length of detainment.
Unlike other countries, Canada lacks a limit on how long individuals can be detained for immigration purposes. Studies show that this uncertainty can take a psychological toll on the mental health of detainees, which in turn may affect their immigration proceedings. Although the Canada Border Services Agency website claims that detention should be the shortest amount of time possible and that those with poor mental health will be held in facilities that provide specialized care, the U of T research shows that few actually gain access to this care.
As for Gabriel Chan, his Canadian immigration lawyer says this should not have happened. Having proved his Canadian citizenship through his father, Chan should have been released immediately. Chan aims to claim Canada as his home, since his family is here, and his citizenship should give him that right.