Managing the Fear of the Tsunami: Canada's Proposed Policy to Detain Boat People and Lessons Learned from the United States' Detention Policies
(2011) Rutgers Race & the Law Review 13(1) 1
Posted: 30 Jan 2013
Date Written: September 1, 2011
The Canadian government has proposed legislation to deter and prevent smuggling of people into Canada. In doing so, it created new powers for immigration officials to indefinitely detain foreign nationals arriving by boat. This legislative response is a reflection of panic and fear of boat people. The Canadian government, through Bill C-4, is aggregating all boat people as terrorists, smugglers and traffickers, deviants, and criminals. The government suggests that boat people should be detained. In examining the merits of this policy, this paper looks to Canada's neighbor, the United States, to draw some lessons from their practice of detaining migrants. Accepting such a practice in Canada would mean criminalizing an administrative process, ignoring less invasive and more humane alternatives, and would not necessarily decrease costs for Canadians. Detaining migrants also does not lead to proportional or functional results, as the government hopes it will, such as deterring and preventing undesirable behavior and undesirable persons. This paper calls for a nuanced examination of who boat people are, and a measured response to dealing with those arriving by boat.
Keywords: immigration, refugee, detention, boat people
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation