Bordering the Pandemic: COVID-19, Immigration, and Emergency

UBC Migration Speakers Series by Asha Kaushal & Bethany Hastie

December 1, 2020

Bordering the Pandemic: COVID-19, Immigration, and Emergency

An online talk by:
Dr. Asha Kaushal
Assistant Professor, UBC Allard School of Law

Dr. Bethany Hastie
Assistant Professor, UBC Allard School of Law

Devin Eeg
Graduate, UBC Allard School of Law Graduate Program

Tuesday, December 1, 2020
12:30 – 2:00 p.m. (PST)

[ Abstract ]
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of Canada’s international borders. This closure was not absolute; it was marked by several exceptions. Those exceptions were contained in a series of Orders-in-Council (OiCs) which became the Canadian government’s mechanism of choice for governing the border. OiCs are swift, efficient, and flexible legal instruments, which makes them well-suited to a public health emergency. In this talk, we explore the nature, function and impact of regulating Canada’s borders through OiCs. Focusing on both the procedural and substantive dimensions of OiCs, we interrogate their potential political, legal, and social consequences. We draw on the theory of the emergency to unpack and illustrate how this unfolds, and to explain why it creates serious challenges for longer-term immigration regulation. We demonstrate how the use and content of the pandemic OiCs with respect to the border has reignited reliance on status-based distinctions in immigration regulation, and we consider the ways in which this may produce discriminatory effects at and within Canada’s borders.

Please RSVP for this event here

June 2018 Newsletter

18 June, 2018

June Newsletter

This month’s newsletter includes various exciting events and resources ranging from migration to statelessness.  For commentary on news, publications and other event updates, we invite you to consult the Oppenheimer Chair blog.


Global Labour and the Migrant Premium – The Cost of Working Abroad.

Soon to be published by Routledge, this book provides the first systematic account of the premium costs that migrants pay to live and work abroad. To pre-order the book, click here.

Governing Diversity – Migrant Integration and Multiculturalism in North America and Europe.

This publications addresses the relationship between cultural diversity resulting from migration and social cohesion and social justice within Western societies. Make sure to read the chapter Professor François Crépeau’s authored, “Canadian Multiculturalism in Question: Diversity or Citizenship.” To access it, please click here.

Securitization of Search and Rescue  at Sea: The Response to Boat Migration in the Mediterranean and Offshore Australia.

Published in the International & Comparative Law Quarterly, this article compares the law and practice of the  European Union and Australia in respect to the search and  rescue of boat migrants, concluding that the response to  individuals in peril at sea in both  jurisdictions is becoming increasingly securitized. To read the full article, please click here.

Immigration Detention, Inc.

This article draws the connection between economic inequality and U.S. system-wide immigration detention policy. The authors argue that the extensive use of detention in for-profit prisons by the US department of Homeland Security raises issues of economic power and powerlessness. The authors link the influence of wealthy private prison corporation to the expansion of detention in facilities that are akin to those offered by the private prison industry. To read the full article, please click here.

Making Refugees Work? The Politics of Integrating Syrian refugees into the Labour Market in Jordan.

This article outlines how Syrian refugees are no longer framed merely as object of humanitarian care but are rather increasingly portrayed as enterprising subjects, whose formal integration into labour markets can simultaneously create self-sufficient actors and cure the economic woes of host countries. To read the full article, please click here.

From Right to Permission: Asylum, Mediterranean Migrations, and Europe’s War on Smuggling.

This article argues that the European Union and its member states have transformed the right to asylum into a state granted permission through their efforts to curb unauthorized maritime migrant arrivals. The author, Maurizio Albahari, provides evidence that state actors’ deployment of an anti-smuggling discourse has not significantly curbed maritime arrivals but has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. The full paper is available here.


La politique migratoire en Europe.

Professor Crépeau is interviewed on “Matin Première,” where he discusses migration policy in Europe. To watch the interview, please click here.

Politiques migratoires: pourquoi l’Europe n’arrive pas à réfléchir sur le long terme?

Last week, Professor Crépeau was interviewed by “Le Soir.” He discusses why Europe should look at the long term benefits of migration when assessing their migration policies. To read the interview, please click here.

Videos & Podcasts

Migrant Dreams.

Director Min Sook Lee’s award-winning documentary tears a rupture in the myth of ‘Canada the Good.’ It foregrounds the voices of migrant voices who work in farms in Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and opens a conversation about the relationship between labour, gender, race, class and settlement. The documentary is now available on TVO.


This podcast explores what it means when you are not legally a citizen of the country where you were born or in any other country. Statelessness affects the lives of over 10 million people globally, including 3.5 million people from the Rohingya community. The authors of this podcast aim to better understand statelessness,  raise awareness and find ways to create identity through new technologies.To listen to the podcast, please click here.


Challenging Migrant Detention: Human Rights, Advocacy and Mental Health

On June 19-21, please join researchers, advocates, lawyers, clinicians, decision-makers and migrants from around the world to explore global trends and avenues for change in immigration detention. Speakers include: our very own François Crépeau, McGill University, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; Mary Bosworth, University of Oxford; Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR; Guglielmo Schinina, IOM; representatives of the International Detention Coalition, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, End Immigration Detention Network, and many others. Please register here.

World Refugee Day

On June 20th at 5pm, the Montreal Holocaust Museum is organizing a special evening about the experiences of people who came to Canada as refugees. There will also be a guided tour of our temporary exhibit, “United Against Genocide: Understand, Question, Prevent” at 6:30 pm. To register for this event, please register here.

Submit Resources

If you or your organization wishes to submit resources to be featured in this newsletter, we would like to encourage you to submit them, including a brief description, by sending them to:

Thank you for reading. Wishing you a great month. Until next time.

Your Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law team.


Migration, Mobility, Movement: New Horizons of the Possible

Anne McNevin, Institute for the Study of International Development Speaker Series
7 September, 2017

A common set of assumptions shape contemporary debates about borders and migration. Some of these assumptions are long-standing and indicative of deeply entrenched social, political and cultural norms; others have emerged more recently but have become firmly lodged in governmental logics, policy settings, and popular imaginations. These assumptions provide the starting points for analysis and proposition, determining what needs to be established to make a credible case and what can be taken as given. What is taken as given are particular relations between mobility, immobility and membership that have come to seem so obvious that they hardly seem worth mentioning – and yet these relations are not as stable as they seem. In this talk, I examine how this givenness plays out across a spectrum of debate from restrictive to progressive perspectives. Pointing to some of the gaps, contradictions and oversights at stake, I also reflect on critical resources available to enliven new horizons of the possible.

Date: September 14, 12:30-14:30

Location: Peterson Hall room 310, 3460 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E6, CA
To read more about the event, please click here.
To read more about Dr. McNevin’s work, please see her New School faculty page.

Is the World ready for Global Justice?

Conference of William A. Schabas, Frédéric Mégret, Nidal Jurdi and moderated by François Crépeau
7 September, 2017

The McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism hereby invites you to its big conference of William A. Schabas moderated by François Crépeau and followed by a discussion with Frédéric Mégret and Nidal N. Jurdi.

As you know, 2017 is a very pivotal year for international criminal justice. It marks the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, the 71st anniversary of the establishment of military tribunals in the Far East, a special year for the United Nations ad hoc tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda both of which are in a gradual completion of their respective mandates and without forgetting the anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

15 years after the establishment of this judicial institution as a permanent body with a universal vocation operating under the new premise of complementarity to national jurisdictions, this tribunal is now at a crossroads: high-level state officials accused for having committed grave crimes continue to travel around the world, key witnesses are assassinated, charges have been dropped by the office of the prosecutor itself, preliminary examinations stagnate whenever the most powerful are concerned. In Syria, as well as in every situation where nationals of the permanent members of the Security Council or their allies are concerned, it is a total inactivity. Even where the judicial system seems to be moving forward, the immunities of heads of state on the one hand and, most seriously, immunities for heads of non-state parties on the other hand, have come to poison the procedure. On the African side, some states start slamming the door of the Court while building a relatively parallel system at a regional level.

In light of all these challenges in the institutionalization of the universality of international justice, seven decades after the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals, more than two decades after the creation of ad hoc tribunals and in view of all the challenges faced by the ICC in only 15 years of operation, the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism organizes this timely conference that brings together different perspectives on this unique and topical theme: “Is the world ready for global justice?”

Date: September 14th 2017  from 10am-11:30 am 

Place: McGill Law Faculty, Moot Court Room. 

Postal Address: 3644, Peel Street (New-Chancellor-Day Hall), Montreal, Canada. 

Price: the event is free of charge but registration is mandatory (RSVP: 

You can find the event description also on Facebook.

To access the Live Stream Video Recording, please click here