The federal system for immigration detention needs some work and $138 million has been allocated to transform it.
The investment was announced this morning by Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale.
According to a release, the new National Immigration Detention Framework will enhance alternatives to detention and include key investments in federal detention infrastructure.
In addition, new infrastructure projects will replace the immigration holding centres in both B.C. and Quebec to reduce the need for the use of provincial correctional facilities for immigration detention.
Other options than detaining
Finding alternatives to detaining immigrants as our country does criminals is something immigration lawyer Peter Edelmann says should be a no-brainer.
“There’s no reason to be detaining people if there are other ways to achieve the same ends, so why keep people in jail that don’t need to be there?”
The funding will also go towards mental and medical health services and support for individuals in immigration holding centers.
Improving immigrant mental health means finding alternatives
Edelmann says enhancing mental health of those detained is tied to the process of detention.
“The psychological impact of people being in a detention facility is quite significant, and so when you see the situation with miss Vega Jimenez or a number of the other deaths that we’ve seen in custody, part of that is related to stress around immigration status, but a lot of that is related to the stress of being in detention in and of itself.”
Stakeholder consultations will begin this summer and continue into fall 2016 to come up with alternatives to detention and plans for the investment.