The Double Punishment of Criminal Inadmissibility for Immigrants
Canada bars non-citizens from entering or staying in the country for a number of reasons, including for what immigration law treats as “criminality”, “serious criminality” or “organized criminality”. Criminal inadmissibility– including for rather minor criminalized acts–raises a number of concerns for those who are targeted, but also for border criminologists, prisoners’ rights activists and migrant justice organizers. In this article, we discuss inadmissibility for “criminality” and “serious criminality” as: 1) a populist rhetorical move put forth by politicians promoting tough-on-crime / tough-on-immigration policies; 2) a form of double punishment that starts before deportation even takes place (and regardless of whether it does); and 3) a discretionary tactic in the policing toolbox to incapacitate people who are deemed undesirable. We illustrate the consequences of criminal inadmissibility by drawing from the experience of one of the co-authors who is facing deportation on this ground.