All equally human: non-discrimination on the basis of immigration status

Submission made by the Canadian Council for Refugees and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers to the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers’ Meeting on Human Rights, December 2017:

All equally human: non-discrimination on the basis of immigration status

International human rights principles are founded on the recognition of the inherent dignity of the human person. They therefore transcend national borders and articulate what we share with each other through our common humanity. This is why the principles of non-discrimination are prominent in all human rights instruments: a human right must by definition be the right of all humans.

Denial of rights based on immigration status

Within Canadian law and policy, however, many rights are tied not to people’s status as humans, but to their status within the country, such as citizen or permanent resident. This is true at the provincial and territorial levels, as well as at the federal level. As a result there are numerous areas where non-citizens in Canada find their fundamental human rights denied ­– and even Canadian citizen children who are denied basic rights based on the immigration status of their parents. The problem of discrimination against non-citizens is caused by and compounded by the fact that most non-citizens whose rights are denied based on their lack of permanent immigration status are racialized persons. In the context of deep-seated societal racism, the denial of the basic rights of racialized non-citizens, as well as of Indigenous persons, is considered normal by many in government and in society.

Does your province/territory guarantee access to basic rights without regard to immigration status?

  • Right of the child to education (CRC, art 28): Do law and practice ensure that immigration status is not a bar to some children going to school?
  • Right of everyone to social security (CESCR, art 9): Is social assistance available to all in need (including people under a removal order, but not yet called for removal?)

Specific needs of refugees and vulnerable migrants

International human rights instruments recognize the specific situation of refugees and other vulnerable migrants. Based on provincial /territorial jurisdiction, respect of many of these rights depends on the actions of provincial and territorial governments.

Does your province/territory respect the rights of refugees and vulnerable migrants?

  • Rights of refugee children (CRC, art. 22): Do your youth protection services provide “appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance” to unaccompanied children seeking refugee status?
  • Right of children to a nationality (CRC, art 7): Do your youth protection services ensure that non-citizen children in their care can acquire Canadian citizenship, especially if they are stateless?
  • Right of migrant workers to just and favourable conditions of work (CESCR, art. 7): Do the authorities ensuring employment standards take account of the particular ways in which migrant workers need protection against exploitation  and trafficking?