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Lawyers seek injunction over Quebec government’s cancellation of 18,000 immigration files

WATCH: Immigration lawyers are asking for an injunction to force the Quebec government to keep processing a backlog of 18,000 immigration applications. The files were cancelled two weeks ago when the CAQ government tabled Bill 9 – its new immigration law. Global's Amanda Jelowicki explains

Lawyers argued Friday in favour of an injunction reversing the Quebec government’s decision to cancel more than 18,000 immigration applications waiting to be processed.

Representatives of an association of Quebec immigration lawyers say the province is ignoring laws currently in place in anticipation of a new law, Bill 9, that would overhaul the system for selecting newcomers to the province.

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The 18,139 outstanding applications involve skilled workers’ cases, which are managed by the province.

The request being heard Friday in Quebec Superior Court involves Seeun Park, a Korean woman in Montreal, but it is being argued on behalf of all of those who have seen their applications set aside.

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They want the Quebec Immigration Department to be ordered to resume processing their applications.

READ MORE: Quebec immigration minister defends cancellation, says 18,000 immigration applicants can re-apply

Doug Mitchell, a lawyer representing those affected, told the court the province’s move essentially amounts to ignoring the law of the land, causing great prejudice to those affected.

“I was upset and I was disappointed,” Park said of her canceled application. “I came here for my family and to work as a nurse.”

Park explained that in Korea, she worked 16-hour days, leaving her little time to care for her children, which is why decided to look for work elsewhere. She chose Canada.

“We can have a good future and my kids could grow up with a very good environment,” she said, adding the family wasn’t afraid of having to learn the country’s two official languages — French and English.

READ MORE: CAQ and Liberals battle over public hearings on Quebec immigration

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 on Feb. 7, setting out a framework that would permit the province to be more selective with immigrants, ensuring they speak French, respect Quebec values and meet labour market needs.

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Olga Redko, also an immigration lawyer for the applicants, said the tabled legislation has been devastating for thousands.

“The decision of the minister not to process these files has an immediate impact, so we need the court’s intervention right now,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Tinder of immigration’: Quebec outlines plan for how to welcome newcomers

Government lawyers argued that if it were such an urgent matter, an injunction should have been filed immediately, rather than two weeks after Bill 9 was tabled.

People whose applications were already being processed were informed they would have to start afresh under the new system. They are seeking a certificate from the Quebec government that would allow them to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

They want the Quebec Immigration Department to be ordered to resume processing their applications.

The judge hearing the request isn’t expected to render a decision until next week.

— With files from Global’s Amanda Jelowicki and The Canadian Press

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