MONTREAL -- Deportations by the Canadian Border Services Agency, which were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have resumed, but critics are saying that doing so is putting lives at risk.

“Given the pandemic, we're putting the health of these people at risk,” said immigration attorney Stephane Handfield.

In a statement, the CBSA said it has a duty to apply the law.

“The timely removal of failed claimants plays a crucial role in supporting the integrity of Canada's asylum system,” they said. “The Canada Border Services Agency has the legal obligation to remove individuals who have no legal right to stay in Canada as soon as possible.”

The federal government will continue to make exceptions for claimants from 14 countries where the safety or rejected applicants could be jeopardized if they're sent home.

But in Quebec, the issue is complicated by a program that was announced to allow some people who worked in the healthcare system to stay. The so-called Guardian Angels policy does not extend to many positions in healthcare facilities, such as custodians.

Mamadou Konate is among the immigrants without status who worked in a healthcare facility. He caught COVID-19 while working as a janitor, but when he tried to claim refugee status, he was arrested by the CBSA and currently awaits deporatation.

Handfield questioned the timing of the resumption of deportations of people like Konate.

“It's a global pandemic,” he said. “It doesn't make sense.”