Immigrants, lawyers declare small victory against Bill 9 as injunction continues

Click to play video: 'Hope for pending immigration applicants in Quebec'
Hope for pending immigration applicants in Quebec
It seems that a temporary injunction that forced the Quebec government to continue processing immigration applications will be renewed. A total of 18,000 people had their applications suspended as part of the province's immigration bill. Global's Dan Spector has more – Mar 5, 2019

An injunction forcing the CAQ government to continue processing 18,000 immigration applications it had initially cancelled will likely continue.

“It gives us hope,” said Rosalei Ortiaga, a Phillippines native who had her application thrown out. She has been been living in Montreal for five years, working as a housekeeper on the South Shore.

Ortiaga was one of the 18,000 who had their immigration applications abruptly cancelled by the CAQ government as part of Bill 9, their immigration reform law.

Like so many, she’s been in limbo for weeks, but now she’s feeling a glimmer of hope.

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Last week, Quebec Superior Court Judge Frédéric Bachand granted a request by a group of immigration lawyers to force the government to start processing files again. The injunction was set to expire this week, but on Monday that changed.

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“We were told by the minister’s team of lawyers that they will not be contesting the renewal of the injunction before the courts,” said Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, president of the Quebec Immigration Lawyers’ Association, the group that sought the injunction.

“More or less until Bill 9 is adopted before parliament, the injunction will keep running.”

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Montreal asks government to take more human approach on immigration

In a statement to Global News, Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette confirmed he has given his consent to allow the injunction to continue.

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The government decided not keep sending its taxpayer-funded lawyers to court to fight the injunction every 10 days. The extension still needs to be approved by a judge, but immigration lawyers are already declaring a small victory.

“We’re quite happy about it,” Cliche-Rivard told Global News. “It was the reasonable outcome considering how strong the injunction judgment was from Justice Bachand. It was so clear in his opinion that the law was on our side, so it was hard for the minister to contest the renewal of the injunction.”

Ortiaga, meanwhile — as well as her group of friends, who are in the same situation — is full of gratitude.

“We are so thankful that there are people who are standing and fighting for us,” she said.

It’s unclear when Bill 9 will be passed, but Cliche-Rivard says this development means months of immigration files being processed.

“Two weeks ago, those files were going to the garbage. Today, no files are going to the garbage,” he said.

Cliche-Rivard says his group will now lobby the government to change Bill 9 with the goal of finding a solution for the 18,000.

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For her part, Ortiaga says she will continue to wait and pray.

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