This paper presents an analysis of the institutionalized production of precarious immigration status in Canada. We build on recent work on the legal production of illegality and non-dichotomous approaches to immigrant legal status. Canadian immigration policy allows for various categories of permanent and temporary immigrants, refugees and visitors. Once in Canada, people may shift from relatively secure but largely temporary statuses to less secure statuses, including illegality. We argue that binary conceptions of legal status do not reflect the Canadian policy context, and propose the use of “precarious status” to capture the various forms of irregular status and illegality. Implications of precarious status for accessing public services are also discussed. We offer five conclusions about the Canadian context: Canadian immigration policy generates precarious immigration status, including illegality. Precarious immigration status is accompanied by precarious access to public services. Pathways to precarious status are gendered and racialized. This has implications for citizenship, stratification, and exclusion in Canada. Finally, trends in immigration and refugee policy indicate that the population with precarious status is likely to grow. For people with precarious status, identifying various forms of precarious status may be less relevant than the overall precariousness of everyday life. For scholars, activists, agencies and policy-makers, analyzing the production of precariousness in specific national contexts can contribute to theorizing immigration status as an important dimension of social exclusion, and to generating better understanding of the topic.
Goldring, Luin; Berinstein, Carolina; and Bernhard, Judith, "Institutionalizing Precarious Immigration Status in Canada" (2007). Early Childhood Education Publications and Research. Paper 4.