Who are immigration detainees?

People detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are not facing criminal charges. They may be refugee claimants, survivors of armed conflict or torture; victims of smuggling and human trafficking; or even children. In many cases, detainees do not speak French or English.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the authority to detain foreign nationals and permanent residents if they have reasonable grounds to believe the person is:

  • unlikely to appear (flight risk) for immigration processes;
  • unable to satisfy the officer of their identity (foreign nationals only);
  • inadmissible; and/or
  • a danger to the public.

Detention can also occur when:

  • A CBSA officer at a port of entry has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is inadmissible for security reasons, suspected violation of  human rights, or criminality reasons.
  • It is necessary in order to complete the immigration examination.
  • The Minister of Public Safety designates a group or class of foreign national as irregular arrivals.