'Police Authority is Necessary': The Canadian Origins of the Legal Powers to Detain and Deport, 1893-1902

44 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2023

See all articles by Simon Wallace

Simon Wallace

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: July 1, 2023


When and why did Canada develop the legal powers to detain and deport immigrants? At the beginning of the twentieth century, Canada did have legal powers authorizing deportations, but the laws lay as inactive dead letters. After a significant American diplomatic effort to establish a continental immigration exclusion program, initially resisted by Canadian corporate and state actors, Canada activated immigration police powers in the summer of 1900. After extensive archival research, this legal history shows that the government endorsed immigration police powers when it appeared that Canada was the destination for thousands of Jewish Roumanian refugees and that the Americans planned to set up extensive border controls along the Canadian-American frontier. From there, Canada quickly developed and enhanced its immigration policing powers and laws to forestall American economic sanctions. This article considers how government, corporate interests, international law, and American interest combined to eventually lead to the passage of a 1902 law that firmly established Canada’s right to arrest, detain, and deport undesirable immigrants.

Keywords: immigration law, deportation, legal history, Jewish refugees, Canadian legal history

Suggested Citation

Wallace, Simon, 'Police Authority is Necessary': The Canadian Origins of the Legal Powers to Detain and Deport, 1893-1902 (July 1, 2023). Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4497377

Simon Wallace (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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