Is It Time For An Amnesty For Undocumented Immigrants?

By James Metcalfe | November 3, 2016

James Metcalfe - Director of ImmigrationJim Metcalfe – Pace Law Firm: While “amnesty for illegals” is a hot topic in the US right now, Canada has had its share of amnesty discussions, too. Indeed, every twenty years or so, the government of Canada has had some form of amnesty for unauthorized immigrants who have overstayed their visa but ended up well established in Canadian work and life.

Back in the early 1970’s, there was a general amnesty for all unauthorized immigrants in Canada. As recently as the early 90’s, there was a program to grant status to failed refugee claimants. This amnesty was for those who had not met the UN criteria as “refugees” and had been ordered deported from Canada, but had dropped off the authorities’ radar.

Amnesty Program

The recent story of a Mexican couple who has spent more than 10 years in Canada and has had 3 Canadian children illustrates the need for another amnesty program. Presumably, they are a working, law abiding couple. Why are they being tossed out of Canada after all this time? I think they should be allowed to stay and the government should make an exception in their case.

At present, the couple could apply under Humanitarian and Compassionate (HC) grounds, but the selection criteria for such grounds is subjective and not codified. The only factor which comes close to being objective in HC cases is “best interests of any child directly affected.” In this case, there are three children directly affected. All are Canadian by birth and they are all under the age of 10. They belong in Canada and their parents belong with them.

It is difficult to know how many persons could benefit from an amnesty but I would guess it could be 100,000 or more. I wonder if John McCallum, the current Minister of Immigration, is bold enough to suggest such a plan to cabinet and to Parliament?