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New AI Technology May Discriminate Against Immigrants

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Immigration and Immigration Law

New AI Technology May Discriminate Against Immigrants

New research by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab says AI (Artificial Intelligence) recently implemented by the Canadian government in pilot programs "could lead to "life-and-death ramifications" for immigrants and refugees."

Petra Molnar, one of the authors of the report, says A.I. has a "problematic track record" when it comes to gender and race:

"Because immigration law is discretionary, this group is really the last group that should be subject to technological experiments without oversight."

Canada is making a significant investment in AI, according to The Globe and Mail, and "the federal government charged the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) with spearheading the $125-million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy."

Canada's two immigration AI pilot projects use artificial intelligence to sort through temporary resident visa applications from China and India. Experts say Canada’s use of artificial intelligence in immigration could lead to a break of human rights.

According to Canada immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah,

People's lives are at stake when immigrants and refugees apply to move to Canada. Automated decision making -AI - is problematic because it can't take into consideration the nuances of each individual's immigration application. Trained, experienced immigration experts should screen and evaluate each immigration visa application at the border, in immigration offices and in the legal system. While technology is an important and useful tool to enhance our system, it cannot be the final decision maker when Canada's security and people's lives are at stake.

Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, told Global News, "the analytics program helps officers triage online visa applications to process routine cases more efficiently.”


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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It is one thing to earn a living; it is another thing to make a difference in the world.

This is our formal thank you note to Evelyn Ackah and the Ackah Law Team for all the effort they put into helping us navigate and finally resolve the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration back in the spring of 2012.

A friend referred us to Evelyn; he assured us that Evelyn would take good care of us. Our friend was confident we were in good hands and said Evelyn would do her very best to help us and she did! At the time we did not know that his referral would go far beyond finding us help. Slowly we realized that it would become our own personal story of how we received grace and were reminded of the power in paying it forward

We wrote a detailed page of our dilemma, explaining how we came to be in the position we were in (overwhelmed with the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration and the uncertainty that we faced as a young family in Calgary). Evelyn agreed to take on our file with her team. They found the time to personally call us and listened intently and understood the details of what we were dealing with. They gave us their time, an honest opinion and provided clear direction which proved to be invaluable advice. Months went by but in time, we received word from Ackah Law that the Immigration office had finally reviewed our file and a decision had been made allowing our family to finally put the immigration matter to rest. We were finally able to focus again to live our lives without fear or pending doom.

Looking back now, even the sun appeared to shine a little brighter that day. At first we didn’t know whether to bake them a cake, drive out to meet their team, find their offices and personally thank them with a mighty hug or simply cry out to the heavens in thankful relief. Instead we emailed them to express our heartfelt thank-you and we hoped that they would know deep in their hearts just how grateful we were for all of their help.

Even though we relied on emails and phone conversations to communicate with them that year, we will always remember their constant professionalism, their kindness and understanding at a time that brought us so much pain not to mention fear. As if all their hard work wasn’t enough, Evelyn then then casually mentions that all their work was done pro-bono! We were thoroughly humbled!

To this day we are still eager to share how wonderful they all are as human beings but even more than that, we continue to pay it forward in honour of them, their service to us and their continued dedication in helping others.

Eternally thankful

– The Brummunds

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