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What Habeas Corpus Can (and Cannot) Do for Immigration Detainees: Scotland v Canada and the Injustices of Imprisoning Migrants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2019

Stephanie J. Silverman*
Affiliation:
Ethics, Society, and Law University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontariostephanie.silverman@utoronto.ca

Abstract

This paper closely studies Scotland v Canada to reveal the normative and substantive justice challenges facing immigration detainees across Canada. The Scotland decision at the Ontario Superior Court certified a habeas corpus writ as an individual remedy to release Mr. Ricardo Scotland from a pointless, seventeen-month incarceration. The decision frames Mr. Scotland’s detention as anomalous or divergent from an otherwise-functioning system. Against this view, this paper argues that access to habeas corpus cannot remedy the detention system’s scale of injustices. The paper contextualizes Mr. Scotland’s incarceration and the Superior Court decision against two primary claims: first, that the Canadian immigration and refugee determination system is arbitrarily biased against certain minoritized individuals, therefore transforming some people into detainable bodies; and second, that the global criminalization of migration trend has nested an arc of penal practices into Canadian policymaking and law, and this arc has seemingly normalized indefinite detention for some migrants. The paper concludes that restoration of access to habeas corpus cannot be understood as a substantive remedy to address the miscarriages of justice in the Canadian detention system.

Résumé

L’arrêt Scotland c. Canada a pour objet la libération par bref d’habeas corpus d’un homme qui a été incarcéré durant une période de dix-sept mois dans une prison à sécurité maximale pour des motifs d’immigration. Contrairement aux motifs du juge Morgan, qui tendent à caractériser cette situation comme étant anormale ou exceptionnelle, cet article présente une autre vision et considère que la détention futile et préjudiciable de M. Scotland était en fait inévitable lorsqu’on la situe dans un cadre sociojuridique plus large. Premièrement, j’argue que le système canadien d’immigration et de détermination du statut de réfugié est partial et arbitraire à l’endroit de certaines personnes minorisées, transformant ainsi certaines catégories de personnes en corps incarcérables. Deuxièmement, dans le cadre de la criminalisation mondiale de la migration, je constate l’existence d’un arc de pratiques pénales qui guide les décisions en matière d’immigration et de réfugiés et qui facilite la normalisation de la détention illimitée de certains non-ressortissants au Canada. Sur la base de cette interprétation, il est évident que la restauration de l’habeas corpus ne peut remédier aux lacunes significatives de la justice procédurale et substantive pour les personnes détenues à des fins d’immigration au Canada.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association / Association Canadienne Droit et Société 2019 

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Footnotes

*

I am indebted to Subodh Bharati, Hilary Evans Cameron, and Petra Molnar for their time, energy, and intellectual camaraderie on the production of this paper. I also acknowledge the helpful contributions from the journal editor and two anonymous peer reviewers as well as from Sharry Aiken, Prasanna Balasundaram, Brendan Kennedy, Daniel Lowinsky, Kathleen Motluk, Jonathan S. Simon, and my MRC-CRM colleagues, Karine Côté-Boucher, Jenny Francis, Genevieve St-Laurent, Yolande Pottie-Sherman, and Luna Vives.

References

1 Chaudhary v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2015 ONCA 700.

2 Scotland v Canada (Attorney General), 2017 ONSC 4850.

3 Report of the 2017/2018 External Audit (Detention Review), July 2018, https://irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/transparency/reviews-audit-evaluations/Pages/ID-external-audit-1718.aspx [Unpaginated] In 2017, then-Chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), Mario Dion, commissioned an external audit (hereafter, the Audit) to review cases of detention lasting longer than 100 days. The independent auditor randomly selected twenty files pertaining to protracted or long-term detention cases, and combed through 312 related ID hearings and decisions over a seven-month period. Along with highlighting a number of cases that eventually interacted with habeas corpus proceedings, the Audit pointed to system-wide shortcomings that I also unpack and analyze in this paper; such shortcomings include inadequate legal representation for detainees applying for release, overreliance on the testimony of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers, and ID Members accepting factual errors into their decision-making processes. Since the Audit’s release, the ID has committed to a platform of reforms aimed at counterbalancing the institutional bias towards detaining too many people for too long. While the Audit is important for studies of release from detention, it says little about socio-legal conditions of arrest and the racialized and gendered profiling of migrants that transforms some people into potential detainees. Accordingly, the Audit will be referenced here but will not form a key component of the analysis.

4 Scotland v Canada, at para 35.

5 Chaudhary v Canada.

6 May v Ferndale Institution, 2005 SCC 82.

7 Khela v Mission Institution, 2014 SCC 24.

8 Peiroo v Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) 1989, 69 OR (2d) 253, 60 DLR (4th) 574.

9 After deciding that immigration matters rightly rested with the Federal Court of Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario decided in Peiroo not to grant the appellant the remedy of habeas corpus.

10 E.g. Ali v Canada (Attorney General), 2017 ONSC 2660; Alvin Brown v Ministry of Public Safety, 2016 ONSC 7760; Ogiamien v Ontario, 2016 ONSC 3080; Ogiamien v Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services), 2017 ONCA 839; Warssama v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 1311; Ebrahim Toure v Minister of Public Safety, 2017 ONSC 5878; Toure v Canada (Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness), 2018 ONCA 681; Wang v Canada, 2018 ONCA 798

11 Philip v Canada (Attorney General), 2018 ABQB 167.

12 Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, et al. v Tusif Ur Rehman Chhina (Alberta) (Civil) (By Leave) (Chhina). On 14 November 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments about whether Mr. Tusif Ur Rehman Chhina, after ten months and twelve ID reviews, could apply for a writ of habeas corpus at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. His legal counsel argued that his detention was lengthy and indeterminate, and therefore illegal, and invoked Charter rights under Section 10(c), Section 7 and Section 9.

13 Chaudhary v Canada at para 91.

14 The CECC is a provincial jail with a migrants-only “pod” located nearly two hours’ drive northeast of Toronto; safety issues at the jail have caused guards to stage work-to-rule actions, and telephone calls are only outgoing. Greg Davis, “Correctional officers walk off the job Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay,” CTV News, 21 February 2018, https://globalnews.ca/news/4037845/correctional-officers-walk-off-the-job-central-east-correctional-centre-in-lindsay/.

15 Petra Molnar and Stephanie J. Silverman, “Migrants Are Dying in Detention Centres: When will Canada act?” The Conversation, 14 November 2017, https://theconversation.com/migrants-are-dying-in-detention-centres-when-will-canada-act-87237.

16 Scotland v Canada, at para 2.

17 Ibid., at para 32.

18 Ibid., at para 42.

19 Ibid., at para 59.

20 Ibid., at para 76.

21 Ibid., at para 21.

22 Ibid., at para 26.

23 Ibid., at paras 25, 26.

24 Ali v Canada.

25 Scotland v Canada, at paras 59–68.

26 Ibid., at paras 11, 24, 29.

27 Ibid., at paras 61, 62.

28 Gill, Nick, Nothing Personal? Geographies of Governing and Activism in the British Asylum System (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

29 Khela v. Mission Institution, at para 29.

30 See, e.g., Siena Anstis, Joshua Blum, and Jared Will, “Separate but Unequal: Immigration detention in Canada and the great writ of liberty,” McGill Law Journal 63 (2017): 1–44; Efrat Arbel, “Immigration Detention and the Problem of Time: Lessons from solitary confinement,” International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 4 (2018): 326–44; Stephanie J. Silverman and Petra Molnar, “Everyday Injustices: Barriers to access to justice for immigration detainees in Canada,” Refugee Survey Quarterly 35, no. 1 (2016): 109–27.

31 Côté-Boucher, Karine, “Bordering Citizenship in ‘an Open and Generous Society’: The criminalization of migration in Canada,” in The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration , ed. Pickering, Sharon and Ham, Julie (London: Routledge, 2014), 79.Google Scholar

32 Canada Border Services Agency, “Arrests, Detentions, and Removals: Quarterly detention statistics,” (Ottawa: Government of Candas, 2017), https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/detent/qstat-2017-2018-eng.html.

33 The lack of upper time limits on detention in Canada compares poorly with thresholds in other countries of destination across Europe, including Ireland (30 days), France (32 days), Spain (40 days), and Italy (60 days). Silverman and Molnar, “Everyday Injustices,” footnote 18.

34 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c27 [IRPA].

35 Following ID protocol, “flight risk” refers to the IRPA paragraph 58(1)(b) determination with respect to whether a permanent resident or foreign national is unlikely to appear for examination, an admissibility hearing, removal from Canada, or at a proceeding that could lead to the making of a removal order by the Minister under IRPA subsection 44(2). Section 245 of the IRPA stipulates that ID Members consider these mandatory factors in assessing whether or not a person is “unlikely to appear”: voluntary compliance with a departure order or previous required appearance at an immigration or criminal proceeding; previous compliance with conditions of release and the existence of strong ties to a community in Canada.

36 IRPA Sections 36–41.

37 Before changes to the National Immigration Detention Framework initiated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government in August 2016 and supported by a $138 million pledge by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (CBC News, “Canada’s immigration detention program to get $138M makeover,” 15 August 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/goodale-immigration-laval-1.3721125).

38 Silverman and Molnar, “Everyday Injustices,” 115.

39 In January 2017, for example, forty-six Canadian medical, legal, and human rights organizations signed a public letter calling for the end of child detention in Canada, arguing that the practice contravenes its domestic and international legal obligations. See Various, “A Statement Against the Immigration Detention of Children,” End Child Immigration Detention, 2017, https://endchildimmigrationdetention.wordpress.com/statement/.

40 Silverman and Molnar, “Everyday Injustices.”

41 Ibid. 111.

42 Russell, Andrew and Bell, Stewart, “Jamaica tops Canada’s list of countries refusing to take back its criminals,” Global News, 22 March 2018, https://globalnews.ca/news/4099058/jamaica-tops-canadas-list-of-countries-refusing-to-take-back-its-criminals/.Google Scholar

43 A recent scandal in Canada concerned the Government’s hiring of mercenaries to effect deportation to Somalia, a move that some legal scholars called forced migration or “civil death.” John Chipman, “To No Man’s Land: The story of Saeed Jama’s deportation to Somalia,” The Current, CBC Radio, 4 November 2014.

44 IRPA, Section 25(1), allows foreign nationals already in Canada who have been designated as inadmissible or who are ineligible to apply in an immigration class to apply for permanent residence, or for an exemption from a requirement of the Act, such as deportation orders. Such people apply to IRCC for permanent residence on “humanitarian and compassionate” considerations.

45 Silverman, Stephanie J., “In the Wake of Irregular Arrivals: Changes to the Canadian Immigration Detention System,” Refuge: Canada’s Periodical on Refugees 30, no. 2 (2014): 32.Google Scholar

46 Patrick Cain, “Feds pay over $22,000 a day to jail non-dangerous immigration detainees in Ontario,” Global News, 31 May 2017, https://globalnews.ca/news/3491853/feds-pay-over-22000-a-day-to-jail-non-dangerous-immigration-detainees-in-ontario/.

47 Brendan Kennedy, “Immigration Detainee Ebrahim Toure Marks Five Years Without Freedom: ‘What’s going on with me is not right,’” The Toronto Star, 28 February 2018, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/02/25/immigration-detainee-ebrahim-toure-marks-five-years-without-freedom-whats-going-on-with-me-is-not-right.html.

48 Silverman, “In The Wake of Irregular Arrivals,” 31.

49 Mainwaring, Cetta and Silverman, Stephanie J. “Detention-as-Spectacle,” International Political Sociology 11, no. 1 (March 2017): 2138.Google Scholar

50 Mary Bosworth and Sarah Turnbull, “Immigration detention, punishment, and the criminalization of migration,” in The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration, ed. Sharon Pickering and Julie Ham (London: Routledge, 2014), 91–106; Catherine Dauvergne, “Security and Migration Law in the Less Brave New World,” Social & Legal Studies 16, no. 4 (2007): 533–49; Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor and Global Capitalism (New York: NYU Press, 2015).

51 Wendy Chan, “Crime, Deportation and the Regulation of Immigrants in Canada,” Crime, Law and Social Change 44, no. 2 (September 2005): 153–80; Alison Mountz, Kate Coddington, Tina Catania, and Jenna Loyd, “Conceptualizing Detention: Mobility, containment, bordering, and exclusion,” Progress in Human Geography 37, no. 4 (2013): 522–41.

52 Pratt, Anna, Securing Borders: Detention And Deportation in Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005).Google Scholar

53 Sedef Arat-Koç, “Invisibilized, Individualized, and Culturalized: Paradoxical invisibility and hyper-visibility of gender in policy making and policy discourse in neoliberal Canada,” Canadian Woman Studies 29, no. 3 (2012): 6–17; Amrita Hari, “Temporariness, Rights, and Citizenship: The latest chapter in Canada’s exclusionary migration and refugee history,” Refuge: Canada’s Periodical on Refugees 30, no. 2 (2014): 35–44; Nandita Rani Sharma, Home Economics: Nationalism and the Making of the “Migrant Workers” In Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006); Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos, “Dismantling White Canada: Race, rights, and the origins of the points system,” in Wanted and Welcome? Policies for Highly Skilled Immigrants in Comparative Perspective, ed. Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos (New York: Springer, 2013), 15–37.

54 Alison Bashford, “Immigration Restriction: rethinking period and place from settler colonies to postcolonial nations,” Journal of Global History 9, no. 1 (March 2014): 26–48; Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “Who Belongs? Rights, Benefits, Obligations and Immigration Status: A discussion paper,” Canadian Civil Liberties Association (2010), http://ccla.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/WhoBelongsdiscussionpaper.pdf; Grace-Edward Galabuzi, Canada’s Economic Apartheid: The social exclusion of racialized groups in a new century (Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2006).

55 The White Australia policy, the pre-War American policy of excluding Asian nationals from citizenship status, and the reluctance of contemporary Germany and other Western European states to admit Muslims have all come under criticism, e.g., Myron Weiner, “Ethics, National Sovereignty and the Control of Immigration,” International Migration Review 30.1, Special Issue: Ethics, Migration, and Global Stewardship (1996): 171–97; Joseph H. Carens, “Aliens and Citizens: The case for open borders,” Review of Politics 49.2 (1987): 251–73. More recently, U.S. President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” and anti-Hispanic rhetoric are causes for extreme concern amongst immigration observers.

56 Singh Bhui, Hindpal, “Introduction: Humanizing migration control and detention,” in The Borders of Punishment: Migration, Citizenship, and Social Exclusion , ed. Aas, Katja Franko and Bosworth, Mary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 7.Google Scholar

57 Luin Goldring, Carolina Bernstein, and Judith K. Bernhard, “Institutionalizing precarious migratory status,” Citizenship Studies 13, no. 3 (2009): 239–65; Nandita Sharma, “On Being Not Canadian: The social organization of ‘migrant workers’ in Canada,” The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 38, no. 4 (November 2001): 415–39; On the “everyday racism” of Canadian society and how it affects these other outcomes for newcomers, see, e.g., Gillian Creese and Brandy Wiebe, “‘Survival Employment’: Gender and Deskilling among African Immigrants in Canada,” International Migration 50, no. 5 (September 2012): 56–76; Gillian Creese and Edith Ngene Kambere, “What colour is your English?,” Canadian Review of Sociology 40, no. 5 (2003) : 565–73.

58 Hari, Amrita, McGrath, Susan, and Preston, Valerie, Temporariness in Canada: Establishing a research agenda, CERIS Working Paper No. 99 (Toronto: York University, 2013), 2.Google Scholar

59 “The sovereign institutionalized the subjugation of Aboriginal peoples, and the nation’s subjects, exalted in law, were the beneficiaries of this process as members of a superior race.” Sunera Thobani, Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 61.

60 Hari McGrath, and Preston, Temporariness in Canada, 1–38. See, also, e.g., Stephanie J. Silverman and Amrita Hari, “Troubling the Fields: Choice, consent, and coercion of Canada’s seasonal agricultural workers,” International Migration 54, no. 5 (2016): 91–104; Ethel Tungohan, “Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: Reconstructing ‘belonging’ and remaking ‘citizenship,’” Social & Legal Studies 27.2 (2018): 236–52.

61 On how law and policy transform expanding categories of non-citizens into “detainable” persons, see, e.g., Cathryn Costello and Minos Mouzourakis, “EU Law and the Detainability of Asylum-Seekers,” Refugee Survey Quarterly 35, no. 1 (2016): 47–73; Nicholas De Genova, “The Production of Culprits: From deportability to detainability in the aftermath of ‘Homeland Security,”’ Citizenship Studies 11 No. 5 (2007): 421–28.

62 Martin, Lauren and Mitchelson, Matthew L. “Geographies of Detention and Imprisonment: Interrogating spatial practices of confinement, discipline, law, and state power,” Geography Compass 3, no. 1 (January 2009): 468–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

63 Razack, Sherene H., “Human Waste and the Border: A vignette.” Law, Culture and the Humanities Advanced Access Online (2017): 2.Google Scholar

64 Jennifer Hyndman, “Geopolitics of Migration and Mobility,” Geopolitics 17, no. 2 (2012): 243–55; Alison Mountz and Nancy Hiemstra, “Chaos and Crisis: Dissecting the Spatiotemporal Logics of Contemporary Migrations and State Practices,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104, no. 2 (2014) : 382–90; Mainwaring and Silverman, “Detention-as-Spectacle.”

65 While the term “moral panic” is admittedly overly broad, the meaning here is strictly in relation to Stanley Cohen’s original formulation of “a condition, episode, person or group of persons [that] emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interest; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media and politicians’ Stanley Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of Mods and Rockers (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1972), 9.

66 Since 1986, eight ships have arrived to Canada, collectively ferrying about 1,500 people; the two most recent cases—MV Ocean Lady and MV Sun Sea—brought about 575 Tamils to British Columbia in October 2009 and August 2010, respectively. Cumulatively, the eight vessels have conveyed 0.2 per cent of total refugee arrivals in Canada over the past 25 years. Silverman, “In the Wake of Irregular Arrivals,” 28.

67 Chelsea Bin Han, “Smuggled migrant or migrant smuggler: erosion of sea-borne asylum seekers’ access to refugee protection in Canada” RSC Working Paper No. 106 (2015) (University of Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre); Luke Taylor, “Designated Inhospitality: The treatment of asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Canada and Australia,” McGill Law Journal 60, no. 2 (January 2015): 333–79; Silverman, “In the Wake of Irregular Arrivals.”

68 David Moffette and Shasira Vadasaria, “Uninhibited Violence: Race and the securitization of immigration,” Critical Studies on Security 4, no. 3 (2016): 299; Sailaja Krishnamurti, “Queue-Jumpers, Terrorists, Breeders: Representations of Tamil migrants in Canadian popular media,” South Asian Diaspora 5, no. 1 (2013): 139–57; Silverman, “In the Wake of Irregular Arrivals.”

69 Bradimore, Ashley and Bauder, Harald, “Mystery Ships and Risky Boat People: Tamil refugee migration in the newsprint media,” Canadian Journal of Communication , 36, no. 4 (2011): 637–61.Google Scholar

70 Watson, Scott D., “Manufacturing Threats: Asylum seekers as threats or refugees,” Journal of International Law and International Relations 3, no. 1 (2007): 95118.Google Scholar

71 Katja Franko Aas and Mary Bosworth, The Borders of Punishment: Migration, Citizenship, and Social Exclusion; Mary Bosworth and Sarah Turnbull, “Immigration Detention, Punishment, and the Criminalization of Migration,” in The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration, ed. Sharon Pickering and Julie Ham (London: Routledge, 2014), 91–106; Yolanda Vazquez, “Constructing Crimmigration: Latino subordination in a post-racial world,” Immigration and Nationality Law Review, 36 (2015): 713–72.

72 Pickering, Sharon and Ham, Julie, “Introduction,” in The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration , ed. Pickering, Sharon and Ham, Julie (London: Routledge, 2014), 3.Google Scholar

73 See, e.g., César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, “Immigration Detention as Punishment” UCLA Law Review 61 (2014): 1346–1415; Christina Elefteriades Haines and Anil Kalhan, “Detention of Asylum Seekers En Masse: Immigration detention in the United States,” in Immigration Detention: The Migration of a Policy and its Human Impact, ed. Amy Nethery and Stephanie J. Silverman (London: Routledge, 2015), 69–78; Juliet P. Stumpf, “Civil Detention and Other Oxymorons,” Queen’s Law Journal 40, no. 1 (2014): 55–98.

74 Chacón, Jennifer M., “Essay: Immigration and the Bully Pulpit,” Harvard Law Review , 130, no. 7 (2017): 252.Google Scholar

75 Mountz et al., “Conceptualizing Detention.”

76 Agamben, Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Heller-Roazen, Daniel (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 170.Google Scholar

77 Agamben, Giorgio, State of Exception, trans. Attell, Kevin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 59.Google Scholar

78 This Act allows deportation of a non-citizen following a six-month criminal sentence, without the right to appeal; such people are often transferred directly from correctional centres to IHCs—or held in the same cell but under federal detainer powers—while CBSA makes arrangements for their removal. Research shows that this Act, along with the aforementioned changes, failed to achieve the official goals of deporting more people more efficiently; see Idil Atak, Graham Hudson, and Delphine Nakache, Making Canada’s Refugee System Faster and Fairer”: Reviewing the stated goals and unintended consequences of the 2012 reform (2017), available at http://carfms.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/CARFMS-WPS-No11-Idil-Atak.pdf: 18.

79 Most migrants do not wish to live clandestinely, let alone parents with ongoing refugee claims who are residing with children in destination States like Canada. Robyn Sampson, Vivienne Chew, Grant Mitchell, and Lucy Bowring, “There Are Alternatives: A handbook for preventing unnecessary immigration detention,” (Melbourne, Australia: International Detention Coalition, 2015), 116; Heaven Crawley, “Ending the Detention of Children: Developing an alternative approach to family returns,” Centre for Migration Policy Research Briefing Papers (updated June 2011) http://www.swan.ac.uk/media/Alternatives_to_child_detention.pdf.

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