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Coronavirus

Canada’s Immigration Detainees At Higher Risk In Pandemic

What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for the hundreds of immigration detainees across Canada? Fear. “Everyone is just scared,” a man in his 30s, detained in the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, told Human Rights Watch. “People are especially afraid of the guards because they come in and out, and we know there was at least one (Canada Border Services Agency) officer who caught it. People are depressed and anxious.”

All immigration detainees are held on non-criminal grounds, and the vast majority are not considered to be a safety risk. Yet they’re held in prison-like conditions.

These detainees face significant risks to their physical and mental health if there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 in immigration holding centres and maximum-security provincial jails across the country. Detainees are forced into close proximity with others in facilities that tend to have poor ventilation, lack hygiene products, and provide limited access to medical care. While immigration holding centres are designated for immigration detainees, they resemble medium-security prisons, where detainees are subjected to constant surveillance and strict rules and routines.  The man detained in the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre told us that at least one guard has been coughing continuously for the entirety of his nightshift while he was making rounds among detainees.

Read the source article at Human Rights Watch

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