Refugee lawyers say Toronto police have no legal duty to inquire into immigration status

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers has said that the reporting of crimes by undocumented individuals and their families and friends saves lives and should be promoted. The association said that the relevant policies in place discourage the reporting of crimes among victims and witnesses who have precarious or no immigration status because of their fear of being reported to the Canada Border Services Agency or being arrested, detained or deported. Based on its review of the relevant legislation and policies, the association said the Toronto Police Service has no positive legal obligation to look into a person’s immigration status or to report personal information to the Canada Border Services Agency if the person involved does not have immigration status or an outstanding warrant pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Such inquiries or reports to border services stoke fear and distrust among non-status communities and deter the reporting of crimes, the association said. Ontario should also amend the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 to expressly mention that everyone has the right to access police services without the fear of their immigration status being reported, the association said. The association also urged the Toronto Police Service to strengthen its relationships with relevant community organizations to promote trust between the police and non-status communities.