Tory immigration bill passes in Commons
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney thinks Canada's new failed-refugee program deserves a chance as it could save taxpayers money in the long run. (QMI file photo)
OTTAWA - The government's controversial immigration and refugee bill will now make its way to the Senate despite opposition outrage.
Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, cleared the House of Commons Monday by a 159-132 vote after the Conservatives used their majority to pass the bill.
The Tories say the bill follows up on an election commitment to bring in "legislative tools to combat human smuggling criminals who want to treat Canada like a doormat."
"We hope that this bill will become law before the summer break as it passes to the Senate," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. "This bill will also further strengthen our reforms of Canada's asylum system to make sure that it's fast and fair, and will allow for us to improve immigration security screening significantly through legislative authority for biometric visa collection. So it's very important legislation."
The legislation will allow the government to detain "irregular applicants" unable to provide identification upon arrival.
Once the identity of a claimant is established and a refugee claim is approved, they will be released.
Under the terms of the bill, most refugee claimants will have their cases processed within around seven months, though claimants from designated "safe" countries will get a decision faster - within six weeks.
The Tories recently agreed to allow judicial reviews of detentions at 14 days and six months, instead of at 12-months as they originally proposed.
NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said the government's bill erodes the foundation of Canada's immigration and refugee system, and breaks domestic and international laws.
The B.C. MP takes issue with a number of components in the bill, including the terms surrounding mandatory detentions.
"I think it is one of the key pillars in this legislation that is so draconian," she said. "This is really about punishing the most vulnerable citizens when they arrive here, putting their lives at risk and when they get here we're going to throw them in prison."
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