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What powers do Canada Border Services Agency officers have?

Chances are that if you are entering Canada, or planning to immigrate, the first person you are going to encounter is a Canada Border Services Agency officer.

CBSA officers carry out duties connected to keeping Canada’s borders safe.

In order to understand what powers officers have, one has to understand what the CBSA does and what the duties of CBSA officers are.

Canada Border Services Agency

The CBSA is the designated customs control organization at the port of entry of Canada. Not only does the CBSA manage, regulate and control the flow of goods into the country but it also regulates the people entering Canada, whether as visitors, immigrants or citizens returning from vacation.

The organization’s mandate is to provide integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities.

The CBSA fulfills many functions, some of which include:

  • The agency is responsible for administering legislation that governs the admissibility of people and goods, plants and animals into and out of Canada;
  • Detaining people who could pose a security threat to Canada;
  • Removing people who are inadmissible to Canada, including those involved in terrorism, organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanity; and
  • Intercepting illegal goods entering or leaving the country.

Those working for the CBSA have to uphold the CBSA’s mandate to keep Canada’s border’s safe and to ensure that the people and goods coming into Canada are there legally and don’t pose a security threat.

Duties of CBSA officers

Officers are tasked with a variety of duties that support the mandate of the CBSA, which include:

  • Making sure that all people and goods entering Canada are admissible under our laws;
  • Help contribute to the fight against human trafficking and international terrorism;
  • Safeguard against the introduction of human, animal and plant diseases into Canada; and
  • Guard against the flow of drugs, guns, child pornography, and other illegal and prohibited goods and substances.

The duties of CBSA officers aren’t limited to the above. However, the duties outlined are some of the most important things for which CBSA officers are responsible.

As a result of being tasked of guarding Canada’s borders, officers have certain powers that mirror some police powers.

Powers of CBSA officers

Officers have the power to arrest, detain and to remove people from Canada.

Officers have the power to issue warrants for a person’s arrest or detention when it comes to a permanent resident or a foreign national if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is inadmissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and poses some type of threat to the public, can’t prove their identity, won’t appear for hearings or comply with a removal order or there was an issue with their entry into Canada.

In addition to the power to arrest, the officer can also order the detention of an individual who needs to complete an examination or is a security threat.

Finally, a CBSA officer can order a foreign national to leave the country through removal orders. If the individual doesn’t comply, the CBSA will enforce the removal order as soon as possible.

CBSA officers also have the right to carry a firearm and use it, if necessary, in the performance of their duties.

If you have been arrested or detained when crossing the border into Canada, or are in the process of being removed from Canada you should consult an immigration lawyer.

Read more:

Arrests, detentions and removals

About the Canada Border Services Agency