CBSA getting aggressive with deportations: Seligman

By Staff

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) appears to have hardened its approach to deportations, Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman tells

The CBC recently reported the agency has set itself the target of boosting deportation numbers of failed refugee claimants and other foreign nationals deemed inadmissible to Canada by up to 35 per cent.

And Seligman, principal of immigration law boutique Seligman Law, says her clients and others like them are bearing the brunt of the new approach.

“They’ve really ramped up their removal efforts. They are getting very aggressive, and quite unreasonable when you attempt to engage with them,” she says. “It’s been a big change in recent months.”

The CBC obtained an email from the CBSA’s director of enforcement and intelligence operations division, outlining his plan to deport 10,000 people annually.

"Over the last few weeks I have been involved in several discussions both regionally and nationally concerning the Government of Canada's decision to substantially increase removal efforts including the re-establishment of national and regional targets, a practice many of you may still remember," the director’s email to staff reads.

An agency spokesperson told CBC News that Canada remained an “open and welcoming place for people seeking refuge” and that it would “continue to treat them fairly and with compassion while expediting removals.”

But Seligman says she’s less than impressed by the treatment of some of her clients. For instance, she says CBSA staff ignored her pleas for the accommodation of an elderly Bangladeshi national ordered to report for a scheduled deportation appointment even though she’s in end-stage renal failure. The woman’s regular dialysis makes her too sick to leave her home, let alone travel by plane.

“I’ve been writing for a week to explain the situation, but they didn’t even bother to acknowledge it. Eventually, they said they would come to her house to serve her with a direction to report for removal,” Seligman says. “I can’t believe they would stress her and her family that way.”

Another client with no remaining ties in Nigeria after many years spent in Canada has been repeatedly pursued by officers for removal from the country, despite providing psychiatric evidence that he is suicidal and should be left alone.

“There was no backing down, and they set a removal date anyway,” Seligman says.

Although she has encountered a few kind CBSA officers in her dealings on behalf of clients fighting deportation, Seligman says those encounters have been few and far between. One officer appeared willing to postpone the removal of a family to allow one of the children to complete the school year, but a supervisor objected, she says

“They seem to be under pressure to move forward at any cost,” Seligman says. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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