Efficient Discrimination: On How Governments Use Artificial Intelligence in the Immigration Sphere to Create and Fortify ‘Invisible Border Walls’ Roxana Akhmetova



Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionize how government agencies do their work. Governments like Canada have been implementing and testing AI-powered technologies in their immigration systems since at least 2014. In this working paper I focus on Canada and argue that since Canada does not have a robust governing and legal structure to oversee the use of AI, there is a potential for AI to be used as a scapegoat for wrongful government decision-making or as another form of non-entrée policy aimed at reinforcing a discriminatory Canadian migration system that contributes to the racialization of the citizenry. AI technologies have yet to reduce or eliminate bias and discrimination that plagues human decision-making. As such, the current use of AI and related new technologies has a great potential to increase the efficiency of producing discriminatory decisions in the immigration sphere. To support my argument, I begin to develop and advance the concept of the ‘invisible border wall’. This wall has the potential to mask abuse, exploitation, and exclusion of vulnerable groups of people like asylum seekers and stateless migrants, which stands contrary to the values of many countries like Canada as being a welcoming nation that offers equal opportunities and equality under the law.

Read the associated blog post: How AI Is Being Used in Canada’s Immigration Decision-Making

About the author: Roxana Akhmetova is a DPhil in Migration Studies student at COMPAS.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, human rights, immigrants, asylum seekers, ‘invisible border wall’.


Download WP-2020-149-Akhmetova_Eficient_Discrimination (PDF)

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