Algorithmic Justice for People on the Move

The Refugee Law Lab undertakes research and advocacy about legal analytics, artificial intelligence, and new border control technologies that impact refugees and other non-citizens. We are based in Toronto, Canada, and are co-hosted by York University’s Centre for Refugee StudiesOsgoode Hall Law School.

Well... We were hacked.

It was probably inevitable, but the Refugee Law Lab website was the subject of a cyberattack.

We’re working on rebuilding better than ever. But, for now, our website is incomplete — and some links connect to archived versions of the site.
Check back soon for updates!

Featured Projects

Visit our projects page for links to all of our research projects.

Migration + Tech Monitor

Monitors surveillance technologies, automation, and the use of artificial intelligence to screen, track, and make decisions about people on the move -- with a fellowship program to support work from-the-ground-up.

Refugee Law Lab Portal

Portal for visualizing data about outcomes in Canada's Refugee determination system at both the Federal Court and Immigration and Refugee Board levels, including recognition rates of decision-makers.

Refugee Law Lab Reporter

Reporter for positive Immigration and Refugee Board refugee decisions obtained via Access to Information procedures, aiming to counteract bias towards negative decisions in existing published case law.

Annual Refugee Law Data

Annual statistics about refugee claim recognition rates, obtained via Access to Information procedures from Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, broken down by individual decision-maker.

Bulk Legal Data

Open-source bulk datasets with the full text of Canadian court and tribunal cases, legislation and regulations. Available for programmatic access in JSON, parquet & Hugging Face Dataset formats.

Deportation Data Repository

Data and corporate documents related to the removal of people with a refused refugee claim, obtained via Access to Information procedures from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Featured Publications

Visit our publications page for links to all of our publications.

Petra Molnar, The Walls Have Eyes: Surviving Migration in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (New Press, 2024).

Based on years of researching borderlands across the world, lawyer and anthropologist Petra Molnar’s The Walls Have Eyes is a truly global story—a dystopian vision turned reality, where your body is your passport and matters of life and death are determined by algorithm. Examining how technology is being deployed by governments on the world’s most vulnerable with little regulation, Molnar also shows us how borders are now big business, with defense contractors and tech start-ups alike scrambling to capture this highly profitable market.

Sean Rehaag, “Luck of the Draw III: Using AI to Extract Data About Decision-Making in Federal Court Stays of Removal” (2024) 49:2 Queen’s Law Journal 73.

The article uses machine learning processes to extract data from thousands of online Federal Court (Canada) dockets to explore patterns in stay of removal decisions. The article argues that outcomes in stays of removal appear to hinge in part on the luck of the draw, on which judge is assigned to hear the case. The article demonstrates that technologies that are increasingly used to enhance the power of the state at the expense of marginalized migrants can instead be used to scrutinize legal decision-making in the immigration law field, hopefully in ways that enhance the rights of migrants.

Alex Verman & Sean Rehaag, “Transgender Erasure: Barriers facing transgender refugees in Canada” (2024) 69:1 McGill Law Journal 49.

This article explores the experiences of transgender refugee claimants in Canada’s refugee status determination system by using mixed methods: quantitative analysis of data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), reviews of published and unpublished decisions, country condition documentation packages and IRB guidelines, as well as interviews with refugee lawyers. The articles argues that while transgender refugee claims appear to be largely successful in recent years, longstanding patterns of exclusion and erasure as policy nevertheless lead many transgender claimants to experience the refugee determination process as traumatic and transphobic, resulting in unaccounted-for complications and challenges to practice.