Harsh policies won't stop refugees from using smugglers

People fleeing persecution often have no choice but to turn to smugglers to help them escape. Many –  maybe most – refugees have used smugglers to get to Canada. How people arrive in Canada - by plane, land or boat - tells us nothing awhythey left. To decide if they need our protection we need to know why they left and what dangers they would face if they returned.  We have a refugee determination system to find this out.

It is unfair and immoral to punish refugees and others seeking protection in an attempt to deter smugglers. It is also not going to work. Refugees are fleeing desperate situations and will do whatever they need to do to save their lives. They rarely know anything about the policies in place in the country they arrive in – sometimes they don’t even know where they are going.

Australia tried the strategy of punitive measures to discourage refugee arrivals: it didn’t work. When the Australian government abolished their “Temporary Protection Visas” in 2008 they explained that they had not achieved their intended purpose: “The evidence clearly shows, however, that TPVs did not have any deterrent effect. Indeed, there was an increase in the number of women and children making dangerous journeys to Australia.”