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Immigration Detention Coalition

Canada’s immigration detention regime is inhumane, ineffective, and violates international human rights law. This contract allows Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to detain migrants and refugees in provincial jails on purely administrative grounds. Practices in immigration detention are discriminatory against people with mental health conditions, and detainees from racialized communities, primarily detainees who are Black, are also incarcerated for longer periods and are more frequently held in provincial jails.

With support and leadership from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the BCCLA helped to start the immigration detention coalition to put pressure on the BC government to terminate its contract with CBSA. We launched a 14-day campaign in coalition with people with lived experience of immigration detention and other BC migrant rights supporters calling on the City of Vancouver to urge the Province to end its contract with the CBSA. In the first motion of its kind, the City voted unanimously to echo our call.

This win was achieved in coalition with people with lived experience of detention as well as a coalition of BC groups and individuals, including former City Councillor Jean Swanson, Dr. Efrat Arbel, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, SWAN, Community Legal Assistance Society, Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity, Migrant Workers Centre BC, West Coast LEAF, Justice for Girls, BC Prisoner Legal Services, Pivot Legal Society, Rainbow Refugee, VAST, the Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic, Sanctuary Health, Migrante BC, BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and BC General Employees’ Union.

Advocates React to B.C.’s Decision to End CBSA Immigration Detention Agreement

Following this, in July 2022, the BC government announced its decision to end its immigration detention contract, giving CBSA notice of one year.

Since BC’s big announcement, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have all followed suit by announcing they will end their immigration detention agreements with CBSA. While the move towards ending these provincial contracts is a heartening move towards reforming the racist and carceral foundations upon which Canada’s immigration regime is built, we know this is only a first step. 

 Where We are Today

On June 27, 2023, just days before the deadline to completely end its agreement with CBSA, the Province of BC announced it would be extending its immigration detention agreement for three months, despite assurances that no such delays would occur. 

As the new October 31 deadline approaches, the BCCLA will continue to work alongside fellow advocates, to hold the BC government and all state actors accountable to upholding and enforcing the human rights of all those seeking to call this place home.