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article imageCanada deported record number of people in 2020, despite pandemic

By Karen Graham     Jan 22, 2021 in World
Toronto - Canada deported thousands of people even as COVID-19 raged last year, data seen by Reuters shows, and lawyers say deportations are ramping up, putting people needlessly at risk in the midst of a global health emergency.
Until now, according to Reuters, the extent of the country’s pandemic deportations was not known, but recent interviews with immigration lawyers and scrutiny of government numbers has shed light on the situation.
Data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) shows that 12,122 people were removed in 2020 – 875 more than the previous year and the highest number since at least 2015. CBSA says that the higher numbers seen last year were due to "administrative removals," a term used to describe people who decided to leave on their own.
In 2019 there were 1,657 administrative removals, compared with 8,215 last year. Yet even subtracting those numbers still leaves thousands of people who were deported, even as governments around the world cautioned against any kind of travel for safety reasons.
And according to the Toronto Sun, Canada is continuing with deportations. Canada officially imposed a moratorium on deportations in March 2020 and then rescinded it in November. Since that time, the number of people being deported has been ramping up.
Human rights vs common sense
“As much as a human rights concern it’s a common-sense concern,” said Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch’s Refugee Rights Program.
Public health officials and human rights activists agree that travel of any kind during the COVID-19 pandemic can spread the virus, yet deportation practices of countries around the globe have varied over the past year as the pandemic raged.
Some countries, like the United Kingdom, suspended deportations before resuming them. Others, like Ireland, have kept suspensions in place. U.S. President Joe Biden paused deportations for 100 days within hours of being sworn in on Wednesday.
A number of organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have spoken out against Canada’s decision to resume deportations.
“As everybody is putting in place more restrictions in an effort to flatten the curve ... CBSA made a shocking decision to simply go back to business as usual,” said Maureen Silcoff, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.
“Canada has taken the position that nonessential travel is barred yet people are now being removed and there’s no indication that those removals are essential.”
In response, the CVSA issued a statement saying: “Canada continues to uphold both its human rights and public safety obligations in relation to the removal of inadmissible foreign nationals. The removal process includes many checks and balances to ensure that the removal is conducted in a fair and just manner.”
More about Canada, deportations, covid pandemic, administrative removals, Canada Border Services Agency
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