Canada Must Speed Up Deportations, Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants, Trudeau Says

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There needs to be a path to citizenship for undocumented Canadian immigrants, while in other cases the deportation proceedings must be “accelerated,” says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“There needs to be ... a pathway towards regularization and citizenship which I know [Immigration Minister Mark Miller] is working on. In some cases we need to accelerate deportation proceedings,” Mr. Trudeau said during a press conference on May 17.

“There’s a balance in making sure that the integrity of our immigration system holds.”

The prime minister said Canada continues to have a “positive” view of immigration because its system is “rigorous.” He said the Liberal government would continue adjusting the system to ensure Canada is “bringing in people in the right way to continue to grow our communities and our economy.”

The Liberal government pledged during the 2021 election campaign to reform its immigration programs to “explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.” However, it has not provided a timeline for when those reforms would come into force.

The office of Immigration Minister Marc Miller said May 17 that he plans to present a proposal on paths to citizenship and deportations to his fellow cabinet ministers before Parliament rises for its summer break next month.

Canada’s Surging Population

Canada’s population has surged in recent years due to immigration, with Statistics Canada estimating in March the country’s population passed 41 million less than a year after it hit 40 million.

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Many immigrants are also undocumented, meaning they have either overstayed their temporary visas or entered Canada illegally. According to an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada briefing note from 2022, the exact number of undocumented immigrants is unknown but is estimated to be anywhere from 20,000 to 500,000 people.

As of Jan. 1, 2024, Statistics Canada estimates that there are more than 2.6 million non-permanent residents in Canada.

Those who receive Removal Orders must leave Canada, and if they fail to do so, a Canada-wide arrest warrant will be sent out, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Migrant Rights Network has said deportations of undocumented people have risen by 104 percent since the Liberal government made its promise to grant permanent resident status to undocumented people. Deportations rose to 7,032 people in the first half of 2023, which was almost double the number in 2021 or 2022.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

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