“Undocumented” and “non-status” can be used interchangeably to describe people who do not have an immigration status that entitles them to stay in Canada. The largest number of undocumented people are those who arrived on temporary permits, which expired, or who once had status, but had it removed. They include international students, visitors to Canada, and migrant workers. Undocumented people also include refugee claimants who did not succeed in their applications but are still in Canada. They also include permanent residents who lost their status but are still in Canada.
Are undocumented immigrants criminals?
No. The Canadian Criminal Code does not list undocumented migration as a criminal offence --anywhere. Such immigration is actually an administrative offence, more likened to refusal to pay a parking fee than a crime.
Are there legal issues about not reporting immigration status to the CBSA?
No. In policies that are in place in Toronto, someone’s status is not to be reported to federal authorities, unless there is an active investigation against that person. In other words, there should be no fishing expeditions for non-status people. Municipal police are responsible for enforcing the Criminal Code and municipal and provincial laws. They don’t have responsibility for immigration enforcement. Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility. Provinces, or municipalities delegated under them, are not obliged to enforce immigration law. This point was made in the City of Vancouver’s report to approve an “access without fear to city services for undocumented people.”:
The role of CBSA is to administer and enforce the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act and regulations. Accordingly, the voluntary disclosure of immigration status and enforcement of immigration law is outside the scope of the City’s jurisdiction, and City staff are not responsible for the enforcement of immigration law and are not permitted to disclose personal information as a general rule except in accordance with the law.
“Except in accordance with the law” refers to only those situations where a non-status person is directly named in a federal warrant or judicial order that explicitly requires reporting to federal authorities. If municipal staff, including police, are going beyond their obligations, and making a special effort to report someone’s immigration status when there is no such requirement, it shows that people without status are unwelcome. This is the wrong message, especially in a place such as Fredericton, which is trying to retain people, not lose them.
Do non-status immigrants pay taxes?
Yes, they do. In fact, non-status immigrants all pay municipal and provincial taxes such as HST, property taxes, and may also pay income tax by using other people's social security numbers.
Can non-status immigrants access welfare, and do they use social services without paying anything back?
Non-status immigrants are not allowed to access provincial social services, even though it is their human right to do so. Every day, students are denied access to education, domestic violence survivors are denied protection from police and injured workers are denied access to health care. All of these non-status individuals contribute to the economy through various forms of labour, but are still denied the benefits that registered Canadian residents enjoy.
Aren't non-status immigrants 'jumping the line'?
There is no lineup or waiting list for immigrants to enter Canada. The majority of those who are allowed to enter Canada without any hassle are the wealthy. They do not have to worry about facing death or detention when they come to Canada, an action made by some to survive the situations they are leaving in their home countries.