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Edmonton considers new "sanctuary city" immigration policy

The issue of undocumented immigrants is controversial across Canada. In Alberta, immigration without proper permits can lead to a challenge accessing city services. City councillors in Edmonton have decided to take a closer look at the issue, discussing how the city should best serve its current residents as well as those seeking sanctuary.

Immigration advocates say that undocumented individuals and families may not ask for help from government services if it is needed, as they are often fearful of deportation. A particular fear of police can keep a person without proper permits from reporting a crime to the police. There are as many as 25,000 people currently living in Edmonton without proper documentation, a number which convinced city officials to consider regulator changes.

The councillors voted to bring forward a draft policy called "Access without Fear." Modeled after similar legislation in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, this would make the Alberta city a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. This means that a person could not be asked for their immigration status when attempting to access government services. Local police say issues like this rarely arise, and that deportations are uncommon for law-abiding people without proper permits.

Immigration can be a long and challenging process, and many people may have concerns about their statuses. Many questions surrounding this issue are legal and can fall into municipal, provincial or federal jurisdiction. An Alberta lawyer may be a good source of information for immigrants who wish to review their cases and understand any risks and rights they may have.

Source: CBC News, "Edmonton could become a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants", Stephanie Dubois, Aug. 22, 2017

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