Canada is releasing immigration detainees at ‘unprecedented’ rates amid COVID-19 fears

The number of immigration detainees held in provincial jails and immigration holding centres across Canada has dropped by more than half since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, according to data provided to Global News.

And recent decisions from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), the administrative tribunal that presides over immigration refugee matters, show how fears over COVID-19 are playing a significant role in some rulings to release immigration detainees.

On March 17, there were 353 immigration detainees held in provincial jails and immigration holding centres across Canada, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

By April 19, that number dropped by more than half to 147 detainees, 117 of whom were being held in provincial jails. The remaining 30 were held in one of Canada’s three immigration holding centres located in Toronto, Laval, Que., and Surrey, B.C.

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