The Harper government is currently trying to pass a law which would automatically deport permanent residents who are convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a sentence of more than 6 months imprisonment.
Under the current law, when an individual is sentenced to more than 6 months imprisonment, a deportation order is made. However, the individual has a right to appeal that order. This means that the person can go in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board and show the panel why they deserve to stay in Canada despite their behaviour. The board will look at a number of factors such as: whether the offence was a lapse in judgment or “out of character”, whether there are children or other dependents which will be negatively effected by deportation, the efforts the individual has made while in Canada to integrate and contribute to Canadian society, etc. The Board can then choose to “stay” the deportation order and allow the individual to continue as a permanent resident of Canada.
The new law would take away that discretion; as a result, no matter what the circumstances are, the permanent resident is automatically deported after serving their six-month sentence.
Moreover, it appears that the new law, as proposed, would apply to refugees. A lot of refugees have a difficult time adjusting to life in Canada and run into problems with the law early on, only to go on to become influential and contributing members of Canadian society. Without condoning crime, there does needs to be some discretion at the early stages to allow refugees to adjust to Canadian society. The old system did that by issuing detention orders, but allowing individuals to appeal those orders and justify their continued residence in Canada.
Most alarming is that the new law appears to not only deport the individual who is convicted of a crime, but to also ban their family members from entering Canada. It seems that this would mean that if one individual in a family commits a crime, their family will thereafter be considered to be “inadmissible” into Canada. However, the bill is still in the early stages and we need more information before knowing exactly what effect the new bill will have on family members of individuals convicted of a criminal offence.
For more information check out this link: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1214694–new-rules-proposed-to-handle-foreign-criminals-in-canada?bn=1