Internal Immigration Enforcement – Overview

This project examines if the differing organisational approaches taken by Australia and Canada in relation to internal immigration enforcement impact enforcement outcomes (namely the rates of suspected unlawful non-citizens being identified, arrested, detained, and removed).  

The project explores if the presence of a constitutional bill of rights (such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) effects how internal immigration enforcement is operationalised and is a Doctoral Research Project being completed by Kelly Sundberg through Monash University.

Australia and Canada share similar histories, cultures, economies, as well as political and legal traditions. Because of these many similarities, Australia and Canada often are used for comparison within social science research. 

Specific to this project, Australia and Canada are compared because until 2003, both nations historically administered their internal immigration enforcement programs in similar manners.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is responsible for internal immigration enforcement (onshore immigration compliance) in Australia. The DIAC is a non-policing agency whose officers are unarmed and have limited enforcement powers. 

Conversely in Canada, internal immigration enforcement (inland immigration enforcement) is administered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) – a policing agency established in 2003 having armed officers empowered to enforce a wide-range of federal law.

Preliminary results suggest that Australia’s non-policing approach achieves comparable enforcement outcomes when compared to Canada. Additionally, these results suggest Canada’s policing approach may results in a higher likelihood of force being used during enforcement activities. 

In respect to the effect a bill of rights may have on how immigration enforcement is operationalised, evidence suggests that although a bill of rights my initially result in policies that safeguard against administrative errors and enforcement misconducts, those who are the subject of immigration enforcement actions remain vulnerable to erroneous and unjustified actions.