Dear Minister Dominic LeBlanc,
On behalf of the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA), I extend our heartfelt congratulations on your recent appointment as the Minister of Public Safety. CILA is a fast-growing organization with close to 500 members, representing lawyers across the country who are committed to upholding the principles of justice and inclusivity within Canada’s immigration system. Since our inception, CILA has experienced incredible growth, further reinforcing our dedication to promoting fairness and equity in immigration processes.
CILA has also actively contributed to the field of immigration law through various publications and articles that delve into pertinent issues related to immigration. Our commitment to improving Canada’s immigration system has been recognized, and our board is regularly invited to share insights and expertise at important forums such as the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and Technology, as well as in the press.
As you assume this crucial role, we want to bring to your attention some of the key priorities that CILA would like to see addressed to ensure a fair and transparent immigration and border security process.
1. Full Transparency on CBSA’s Operational Instructions and Guidelines: We strongly urge your department to make all travel guidance provided to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers available to the Canadian public. Transparency in operational instructions and guidelines will not only empower the public with a clearer understanding of Canada’s travel laws, policies, and procedures but will also help reduce challenges at the border. We commend IRCC’s efforts in providing similar information on its website and encourage CBSA to follow suit.
2. Ensuring Bill C-20, the Public Complaints and Review Commissions Act, is passed without further delay and becomes law this year. Oversight of the Canadian Border Protection Agency (CBSA) is essential to ensuring the public’s safety and confidence, with respect to the important law enforcement and border services the CBSA carries out. As you may be aware, CILA recently joined a coalition of civil society organizations in releasing a joint statement advocating for the prompt passage of Bill C-20. This legislation aims to create a much-needed review and oversight mechanism for CBSA, ensuring accountability and transparency in its operations. We stand united with our fellow organizations in emphasizing that the implementation of this legislation is imperative for the protection of human rights and the fair treatment of all individuals within our borders.
3. Flagpoling Restrictions: CILA respectfully requests that the CBSA lift any blackout periods on ‘flagpoling’ as soon as possible. With the introduction of various initiatives by IRCC during the pandemic to minimize the need for flagpoling, it is essential that CBSA follow suit and remove these restrictions. Lifting flagpoling hours will benefit applicants, our economy, and CBSA alike. It will contribute to Canada’s economic recovery by addressing ongoing labor shortages and ensuring smoother immigration processes for applicants. The ongoing restrictions on flagpoling pose significant challenges for applicants and create unnecessary inconvenience. Applicants, especially those who are unrepresented, face incredible frustration and inconvenience when they learn of the restrictions after taking a day off for flagpoling. Moreover, those who arrive early to flagpole and are told to return the next day are subjected to additional disruptions. CILA emphasizes that there is no legal basis for maintaining these restrictions, and we strongly advocate for their immediate removal. Lifting flagpoling hours will enhance applicant experiences, boost our economy, and foster greater confidence in our immigration processes.
As representatives of immigration lawyers across the country, CILA is committed to collaborating with your office and providing valuable insights to help create a more equitable and efficient immigration system for all Canadians. We believe that by working together, we can address these priorities effectively and ensure a strong and just immigration policy that reflects the values and aspirations of our nation.
We are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with your office and discuss these matters further. We would be honored to arrange a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss CILA’s initiatives and recommendations.
Once again, congratulations on your appointment, Minister LeBlanc. We are eager to contribute our expertise and collaborate with you to enhance Canada’s public safety and immigration landscape.
Co-President, Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA)