Canadian Immigration Minister Proposes Biometric Tracking of Refugee Claimants

Canadian Immigration Minister Proposes Biometric Tracking of Refugee ClaimantsCanada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, is proposing the use of biometric identification to his American counterparts as a means of better managing refugee claims between the countries.

It’s part of an effort to modernize their Safe Third Country Agreement. The aim is to stop refugees from claiming their status in Canada even if they first came through America, generally based on the reasoning that Canada is less likely to deport them back to their home countries. Presently, the Safe Third Country Agreement has a ‘line-of-sight’ requirement: If a Canadian border official, for example, sees an individual approaching the country from the US, they can reject the individual’s claim of refugee status in Canada, since the traveler was clearly in America first. But if they don’t see that the individual came from the US, the can’t reject the claim on that basis.

Biometric identification, Hussen says, could help to offer clarity, the idea being that a traveler’s movement through the countries might be tracked more effectively using such technologies. Speaking to the Canadian Press, Hussen explained, “Now it’s easier to establish ‘country of first presence’ without the need of line-of-sight,” adding that biometrics and other solutions could be incorporated into the Safe Third Country Agreement.

US authorities are likely to be warm toward the proposition. The US Customs and Border Protection agency has been escalating its use of biometrics at border checkpoints in recent years, and has been increasingly applying facial recognition technology to American citizens at airports in the country. But with privacy and civil rights advocates already vociferously protesting the government’s growing use of biometric identification technologies in the US, and Canadians far less familiar with such forms of border security, it’s a proposal that could meet some resistance among the public even if Hussen’s American partners prove to be enthusiastic.

Source: CBC News

May 30, 2018 – by Alex Perala