Through Action Réfugiés Montréal’s Detention Program, we provide support to people detained for immigration reasons at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre. Action Réfugiés Montréal is the only organization to visit the Laval IHC on a weekly basis to provide support to detainees.
If someone you know is in detention or at risk of detention and needs support, please call 514-935-7799 or email our Detention Program Coordinator at [email protected].
What is immigration detention?
Canada’s immigration laws allow for the detention of some non-citizens for immigration reasons, including identity and flight risk. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) enforces Canada’s immigration laws and is responsible for arrests and detention.
A CBSA officer may arrest and detain certain individuals upon entry into Canada or inside Canada if they are not satisfied of the person’s identity, or if they think they are unlikely to appear for removal or examination (flight risk). Other reasons for detention can include danger to the public or to complete an examination. Although the law says that the detention of children should be a last resort, children may be detained or may accompany their parents in detention.
In Québec, most people detained for immigration reasons are held in the Immigration Holding Centre in Laval, just outside of Montreal. The Laval IHC is one of three Immigration Holding Centres managed by the CBSA in Canada. The other Immigration Holding Centres are in Toronto and Vancouver. Other detainees may be held in provincial jails, including the Rivière-des-Prairies institution in Montreal.
The Laval Immigration Holding Centre is located at 200 Montée St-François, Laval (STL bus #22 from Metro Cartier). Members of the public who know someone held at the IHC may visit during public visiting hours. Visiting hours are each day from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. Visitors must present two pieces of official identity documents.
Information provided to detainees can be found in the CBSA’s brochure on immigration detention, available in multiple languages on their website.
Release from detention
CBSA may release a person during the first 48 hours following their arrest. After 48 hours, most people detained for immigration reasons have a detention review hearing before the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. A Board member will decide whether to maintain detention or release the person.
If detention is maintained after the 48 hour detention review, another review must be held within 7 days. If detention is maintained after the 7 day detention review, another review will be held within 30 days. After the 30 day hearing, another detention review must be held at least each 30 days until the person is released or removed from Canada.
Detention Review Hearings for people detained in Québec take place at the Immigration and Refugee Board in the Complexe Guy-Favreau at 200 René-Lévesque West (Metro Place d’Armes). Hearings for refugee claimants are held in private.
Persons detained may be represented by counsel. Some detainees may be eligible for legal aid.
Some people are released when the reasons for their detention no longer exist. In some cases, release may be offered with conditions, if there is an alternative to detention, or if a deposit or guarantee is provided.
For more information about Detention Review Hearings, the Immigration and Refugee Board has a brochure available in many languages.
Action Réfugiés Montréal’s Detention Program
Action Réfugiés Montréal provides support to people detained in the Laval Immigration Holding Centre through weekly visits to detention, accompaniment to detention review hearings, and assistance by telephone during office hours. For over 20 years, ARM has been providing support to people detained for immigration reasons in the Montreal area. Action Réfugiés Montréal is the only organization to visit the Laval IHC on a weekly basis to provide support to detainees.
Through an agreement with CBSA, ARM has access inside the common areas of the Laval IHC where we can meet with people who have been detained. ARM visits the IHC twice each week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. ARM representatives offer legal information about detention and other immigration procedures, assistance finding counsel, information about resources in the community, long-distance calling cards to people unable to contact friends or family, and emotional support. Priority is given to refugee claimants, vulnerable people and families.
Action Réfugiés Montréal representatives also regularly accompany detainees to their detention review hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Action Réfugiés Montréal can only appear as an observer, and cannot intervene in the hearing.
Action Réfugiés Montréal can also provide information and support over the phone to people in detention or to their friends and family members. If you know someone who has been detained, call 514-935-7799.
Action Réfugiés Montréal regularly raises concerns about immigration detention to the UNHCR, the Red Cross, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Immigration and Refugee Board, Members of Parliament, members of the public, and within the Canadian Council for Refugees. Action Réfugiés Montréal is also a member of the International Detention Coalition. In 2015, ARM released a report about the experience of some detainees: Detained in the New Refugee Determination System.