The changes would prevent asylum-seekers from making refugee claims in Canada if they have made similar claims in certain other countries, including the United States, a move Border Security Minister Bill Blair says is aimed at preventing "asylum-shopping."
Lawyers and advocates who work with refugees are sounding the alarm about the legal changes, saying they would strip human-rights protections from vulnerable asylum-seekers.
Asylum changes 'shocking': NDP MP
But refugee advocates and lawyers say disallowing asylum seekers who have made refugee claims in other countries from making claims in Canada does just the opposite, stripping them of their ability to plead their cases to the Immigration and Refugee Board.
NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan is particularly concerned that migrants to Canada wouldn't be permitted to make claims in Canada after having had their claims rejected in the United States.
She is concerned for those who might be rejected as a result of a shift in U.S. immigration policy last year. The new rules say domestic and gang violence can no longer be used as grounds for asylum in the United States.
"The Trump government has demonized immigrants and asylum-seekers, they have removed gender-based violence and gang violence as grounds for making an asylum claim, they have taken (migrant) children from their parents ... for Canada to take a page out of that with this measure is shocking to me," the Vancouver MP said.
Kwan, ask Speaker to break up budget bill
Kwan also raised the case of Seidu Mohammed — a man from Ghana who lost all his fingers to frostbite after crossing irregularly into Manitoba from the U.S. in December 2016. Both Mohammed and the man he was travelling with, Razak Iyal (who also lost digits to frostbite) had previously had their asylum claims rejected in America before coming to Canada.
Both of their claims for refugee protection were eventually accepted in Canada.
"If this law that's being proposed in the budget bill was in place, Mr. Seidu would be sent back. This is the real ramification for people and Canada is knowingly embarking on this path," Kwan said.