Monash University
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Comparing approaches to internal immigration enforcement: a study of Australia and Canada

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posted on 2017-02-17, 04:37 authored by Sundberg, Kelly William
Viewed through the lens of a peacemaking criminology, this thesis examines and compares how Australia and Canada each operationally approach internal immigration enforcement—namely, how each identifies, arrests, detains, and removes temporary non-citizens who initially entered their territories lawfully, yet subsequently violated immigration law. Central to this inquiry is an examination of whether or not Canada’s policing approach to internal immigration enforcement, when compared to Australia’s non-policing approach, noticeably impacts operational outcomes. Finally, this thesis examines whether the presence of a national constitutional bill of rights (hereinafter referred to as a bill of rights)—such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—affords non-citizens facing internal immigration enforcement actions greater protection against potential legal, civil, and human rights violations. Being an exploratory study, this thesis takes a mixed methodological approach in its analysis—primarily drawing on a combination of document review, case study examination, and basic quantitative analysis to compare internal immigration enforcement in both Australia and Canada. Notwithstanding significant challenges in obtaining government data concerning internal immigration enforcement outcomes, sufficient information was attained to comprehensively examine how each nation identifies, arrests, detains, and removes non-citizens believed to be in violation of immigration law. Though limitations exist, the findings of this thesis nevertheless provide new insight into the operational approaches Australia and Canada each take toward internal immigration enforcement. The most pronounced finding of this thesis was that irrespective of whether a policing or non-policing approach to internal immigration enforcement is taken, in the absence of legal safeguards aimed toward protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of non-citizens facing internal immigration enforcement, outcomes predictably will resemble what Pepinsky and Quinney (1991) describe as being non-peaceful and warlike in nature. Further to this finding was that Canada has surpassed Australia in implementing administrative review processes focused on promoting the tenets of natural justice and protecting the innate rights and freedoms of non-citizens facing internal immigration enforcement actions. Specifically, the 1982 enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has resulted in all law in Canada (including the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) to be administered and enforcement in a manner that assists in guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms are at all times observed and respected. Irrespective of the fact that Canada Border Services Agency officers are empowered as peace officers (law enforcement officers), trained in the same manner as police, and armed, this thesis did not find Canada’s policing approach resulted in more non-peaceful or warlike operational outcomes when compared to Australia’s non-policing approach. Conversely, it was found Australia’s longstanding policy of mandatory detention and automatic removal resulted in a much higher propensity for erroneous and unlawful internal immigration enforcement outcomes occurring—including evidence suggesting hundreds of unlawful incidents of detention, and even removal, have transpired over the past decade. Temporary non-citizens facing internal immigration enforcement actions generally are highly vulnerable to potential legal, civil, and human rights abuse. Considering that each year hundreds of millions of people temporarily enter a nation other than their nation of citizenship to visit, work, or study, it is imperative for our global economic success, as well as for civil society, that the rights and freedoms of temporary global migrants be vigorously safeguarded – failure to do so can unquestionably have significant social, political, and economic consequences for nations that fail to recognise the importance of protecting the innate rights of their temporary guests.


Principal supervisor

Jude McCulloch

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Political and Social Inquiry. Criminology


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts