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Civil Liberties Groups to Prime Minister: Stop Detaining Migrants in Provincial Jails

Ottawa, ON (unceded Algonquin Anishnaabeg Territory) – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) are calling on the federal government to end all remaining provincial Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) immigration detention agreements. The open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino submitted today comes as part of a 12 days of action campaign launched by a coalition of groups that follows joint advocacy campaigns and decisions by the provincial governments of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Manitoba to end their CBSA agreements earlier this year.

The submission highlights a variety of concerns including that detaining migrant and refugee claimants in provincial jails on purely administrative grounds is a harmful practice that breaches international law and violates human rights. Permitting the agreements to stand further protects a critical piece of Canada’s inhumane immigration detention regime and endorses the CBSA’s cruel status quo.


“Four provinces have already done the right thing and cancelled their immigration detention contracts with CBSA. It’s time for the Canadian government to step up and prioritize the rights, health, and safety of immigrants and refugees. Canada must stop incarcerating migrants in jails that were never meant to be used for immigration detention.”

– Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Executive Director, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

“Prime Minister Trudeau has the opportunity to protect and advance human rights and choose community care over incarceration by calling for the end of all remaining immigration detention agreements between the provinces and Canada Border Services Agency. It is time for the federal government to send a clear message that Canada’s current immigration detention regime is inhumane and in violation of international law.”

-Mara Selanders, Policy Staff Counsel (Community), BC Civil Liberties Association