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Disabled people, medical inadmissibility, and the differential politics of immigration

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Medical inadmissibility provisions in Canada's immigration law exclude some disabled applicants on the basis that they would place “excessive demand” on health and social services. These statutory provisions construct disabled persons as burdensome, with little acknowledgment of the potential contributions such applicants might make to Canada. Recent legal cases have contested this narrow reading of disability, but have yet to challenge the underlying assumptions of the provision. This paper is concerned with the impact of medical inadmissibility provisions in Canada's immigration law on applicants with disabilities. The paper draws on key informant interviews, policy analysis, and Ministry of Immigration data on medical inadmissibility findings. We follow the lead of recent mobilities scholarship to examine how the immigration system is enacted, reproduced, and contested over time. From this perspective, we see that recent court challenges to the statutory provisions have created additional procedural space for applicants to contest findings of inadmissibility. However, the legitimacy of excessive demand as a basis for exclusion remains firmly in place, while recent immigration policy changes signal an intensification of measures to limit the social reproductive costs of immigration. Cet article s'intéresse aux effets des dispositions de la législation canadienne en matière d'immigration relatives à l'inadmissibilité pour motifs sanitaires des candidats ayant une incapacité. L'article se fonde sur des entretiens auprès d'informateurs clés, des analyses politiques et des données du ministère sur les décisions d'inadmissibilité pour motifs sanitaires. Les recherches récentes portant sur la mobilité forment le point de départ d'une exploration du mode de fonctionnement du système d'immigration, sa reproduction et sa remise en question au fil du temps. Vues sous cet angle, les contestations actuelles des dispositions légales devant les tribunaux ont permis de dégager un espace de procédure supplémentaire pour les candidats afin de contester les verdicts d'inadmissibilité. Cependant, la légitimité de la demande excessive en tant que motif d'interdiction perdure, tandis que les changements récents apportés à la politique d'immigration annoncent une intensification des mesures visant à limiter les coÛts sociaux de l'immigration.
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Keywords: Canada; disability; handicap; immigration; mobility; mobilité

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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