Tag Archives: Sean Rehaag

Changes to Canada's Refugee Laws likely to Negatively Impact Women and Minorities

My (freshly tenured!) colleague Sean Rehaag sent me all the raw materials for a post on this current issue.
Here is a link to the Parliamentary website for the bill, and here is a link to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s description of the changes that the bill will bring in.

“Too many tax dollars are spent on bogus refugees. We need to send a message to those who would abuse Canada’s generous asylum system that if you are not in need of protection, you will be sent home quickly,” added Minister Kenney.

 Sean’s research and the work of other immigration lawyers and scholars (see the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers website) highlight all sorts of problems with the significant changes that are proposed.  He writes:
…the Minister will be given the power to designate certain countries as safe. Refugee claimants from those countries will not get access to the full refugee determination system (including the appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division).
This will have disproportionate effects on refugees facing persecution on account of gender and/or sexual orientation, because empirical research shows that such refugees disproportionately come from countries with low overall success rates (even though this subset of claimants from those countries do quite well). In other words: countries that are safe for most folks may not be safe for women and sexual minorities.
….the process through which the Minister designates countries as safe does not take these differences into account. You can see some of the empirical research on grant rates for gender/sexual orientation claims in my article, Do Women Refugee Judges Really Make a Difference? (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1963924).
It’s hard to keep up with all the vicious legislation being proposed (and passed) these days.

New in Print: Vol 23(2) of CJWL now online

Volume 23(2) of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law is now online

 Many well known names, a few students, friend soon leaving for a new career in Australia Chantal Morton, and a few articles which were mentioned here already when they were posted to SSRN).  Articles on sexting, Nixon, Pensions, Intersectionality, and more. Here is the complete Table of Contents:

A Human Right to Group Self-Identification? Reflections on Nixon v. Vancouver Rape Relief  Author Christine Boyle

A Tale of Two Cultures: Intimate Femicide, Cultural Defences, and the Law of Provocation Author Caroline Dick (this article is available online without subscription, for those of you without access to a university library system)

Carolyn Dick’s paper on cultural defenses in provocation cases, which concludes:

The liberal contention that refusing to take the culture of the accused into account will result in the equal application of the law is not borne out, nor is the feminist contention that introducing culture into the courtroom will place race before gender. Instead, the Canadian jurisprudence is better represented by a different ordering principle—that of colonialism before patriarchy.

Beyond Country of Origin: Smith v. Canada and Refugees from Unexpected Places Author Jamie Chai Yun Liew (Jamie is a Canadian lawyer who left her feminist legal practice for grad school at Columbia – she litigated Smith v. Canada, a “don’t ask don’t tell” refugee to Canada from the U.S.)

Do Women Refugee Judges Really Make a Difference? An Empirical Analysis of Gender and Outcomes in Canadian Refugee Determinations Author Sean Rehaag

Another response to the “Will women judges make a difference” question from Osgoode colleague Sean Rehaag, using data he has gathered from Immigration tribunals.  Fascinating findings based on 65000 cases:

Previous research shows that adjudicator identity is a key determinant of outcomes in refugee claims. This article examines the impact of adjudicator gender. Using data on over 65,000 Canadian refugee determinations from 2004 to 2008, the article reveals that male adjudicators have slightly higher grant rates than female adjudicators. Moreover, this difference in grant rates is more pronounced in cases involving female principal applicants and in cases involving gender-based persecution. Despite the overall trend, however, female adjudicators with prior experience in women’s rights had higher average grant rates overall, in cases involving female claimants, and in cases involving gender-based persecution. The article concludes by considering implications for refugee policy and for research on gender and judging.

Intersectionality and Beyond: Law, Power and the Politics of Location Author Susan B. Boyd

L’engagement de ne pas troubler l’ordre public dans les causes de violence conjugale ayant fait l’objet d’un abandon des poursuites judiciaires criminelles (art. 810 C.CR.)  Author Sonia Gauthier

Law and Learning “from the Field”: The Pedagogical Relevance of Collaborative Teacher-Student Empirical Legal Research Authors Sarah Berger Richardson and Angela Campbell

Pensions, Privatization, and Poverty: The Gendered Impact Author Claire Young

The Gendered Dimensions of Sexting: Assessing the Applicability of Canada’s Child Pornography Provision Authors Jane Bailey and Mouna Hanna

The Practices of Lesbian Mothers and Quebec’s Reforms  Author Robert Leckey

When Bare Breasts Are a “Threat”: The Production of Bodies/Spaces in Law Author Chantal Morton

Women’s Human Rights: Seeking Gender Justice in a Globalizing Age  Author Doris Buss

“It was all slightly unreal”: What’s Wrong with Tolerance and Accommodation in the Adjudication of Religious Freedom? Author Lori G. Beaman

Information about the CJWL, from U of T Press:

Founded in 1985, the same year as the equality guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force, the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law has been publishing ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary scholarship on the impact of law on women’s social, economic and legal status for twenty-five years.

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Proposed changes to family class immigration rules: Comment period, on now

Prof. Sean Rehaag (Osgoode)

My colleague Sean Rehaag alerts us to a new government proposal to “introduce a two year conditional permanent resident visa for family class partners whose relationships are less than two years old at the time of the sponsorship applications — the idea being to discourage “fraudulent” family class immigration.”

“Obviously,” he goes on, “there are a number of problems with this proposal. Perhaps most notably, this would lead some people to stay in abusive relationships for two years in order to convert their conditional visas into permanent residence.”

The 30 day comment period for proposed changes has started (contact info at the bottom of this post).

See the Canada Gazette, here, for the details:

The objective of the proposed conditional permanent residence period would be to deter marriages of convenience ….

Introduction of the proposed measure …would serve to further strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and send a message that Canada is taking a strong stance against marriage fraud, and immigration fraud in general.

A conditional period of two years or more would also help to bring Canada’s policies to deter marriage fraud into line with those of other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia…

As Sean said, there are a number of problems with this proposal. 

Avvy Go, Director, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

Avvy Go, Director, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, was quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press:

“It’s going to be disastrous for women who are abused,”

The federal notice says that given concerns about violent relationships, “a process for allowing bona fide spouses and partners in such situations to come forward without facing enforcement action” would be developed should the new measure be put in place.

But Go says many vulnerable women simply won’t report abuse by their partners.
In addition, she doesn’t trust immigration officers “who are not trained to deal with domestic violence situations” to decide whether or not a woman has actually fled an abusive relationship.
So, why this now? Well, as the Backgrounder says:

Respondents to the online consultation expressed considerable concern about marriages of convenience. Most considered the issue to be a threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration system. There was strong support for measures and actions by the Government of Canada to address marriage fraud, including broad support for a sponsorship bar to prevent recently sponsored spouses and partners from sponsoring a new spouse or partner within a specified timeframe, and the introduction of a conditional measure.  Source.

Oh, they asked for comments online and there was “strong support” and concern about “threats” to the immigration system.  Hmmm.  If you would like to express “strong support” for something else:

Questions and requests for additional information, as well as comments regarding this Notice of Intent, may be directed to Justine Akman, Director, Social Policy and Programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 365 Laurier Avenue W, 8th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1, 613-941-9022 (telephone), 613-941-9014 (fax), justine.akman@cic.gc.ca (email). Source.

The US appears to have added conditional status in 1986 – with some protection added through the Violence Against Women Act later.  There are some papers that might offer interesting insights to this intersection of marriage, immigration and law.  I did not do a thorough, scholarly search for any of this, though, but I thought if the government is claiming that the two year conditional status is reasonable because other countries have it already, any outcome measures or comments from those systems would be very interesting.
This one looks pretty fun:

Ikemoto, Lisa Chiyemi, Male Fraud. Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, Vol. 3, Pp. 511-543, 2000.

The next three are more recent:

Abrams, Kerry, Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage. Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 91, p. 1624, 2007.

Shreya Bhandari Analysis of Violence Against Women Act and the South Asian Immigrants in the United States Advances in Social Work, Vol 9, No 1 (2008)

Lopez, Maria Pabon 11 Harv. Latino L. Rev. 229 (2008)  A Tale of Two Systems: Analyzing the Treatment of Noncitizen Families in State Family Law Systems and under the Immigration Law System (sorry, no free link).

Thanks Sean for the heads up.