The CAQ's controversial immigration bill hasn't even been adopted yet and part of it is already being challenged in court.

Immigration lawyers are fighting to block the government's plans to throw out 18,000 outstanding applications.

The Quebec Association of Immigration lawyers (AQAADI) filed an injunction request Wednesday seeking a halt to the policy and have the government resume processing the applications.

“To us, it is illegal under the Act at the present time. So they don't have any legal basis to suspend the processing of these applications,” said Ho Sung Kim of the AQAADI.

The request was made in the name of a Korean woman, Seeun Park, and states that potential immigrants whose applications have been scrapped feel humiliated and betrayed.

In court documents, the lawyers argue the immigration minister is “crushing a common dream” for several thousand people, and the plan to cancel the files is “devastating” and “cruel,” especially for those applying under the skilled workers' program, who already live and work in Quebec.

Some candidates have already been waiting for several years and were informed they would have to start over under a new system.

Lawyers seize opportunity

The lawyers say now is the time to fight it, because they see a window of opportunity.

“If that becomes the law, there's no way we can prevent the cancellation of these files, but while the bill is pending at the National Assembly, the ministry of immigration has to proceed with the processing of these applications,” said Kim.

The first hearing is scheduled for Friday morning at the Montreal courthouse.

The lawyers are asking that the unilateral decision of the Quebec government be declared illegal and that these applications for a selection certificate be dealt with urgently.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has been criticized from all sides since tabling Bill 9 at the beginning of the month.

We're within our rights: immigration minister

On Wednesday, he said the government was within its rights to reject applicants out of hand.

“It's clear that when we make a change, you have some people that are agreeing or disagreeing with the bill presented, but one thing is for sure, we have to make a clear reform about the immigration system here in Quebec,” he added.

He has already agreed to fast-track files that meet three specific conditions: that candidates are already on site in Quebec, they speak French, and they have been working for at least a year.

Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade is accusing the CAQ of being heavy-handed to push a partisan agenda. She’s urging the immigration minister to backtrack.

“He has the ability to act. He can decide today that this was not a good decision. We're going to go back, and we're going to go through all those files in the old system. That's the logical thing to do from both a human perspective and from a logical perspective,” she said.

Legault calls challenge premature

Premier Francois Legault weighed in on the latest developments Wednesday, calling the legal challenge premature.

“It's a bit special to sue for a bill that is not discussed and not adopted so far. It's a bit special. Wait and see the study about it,” he said.

Bill 9 hearings at the National Assembly begin Thursday and continue until next week. The AQAADI will have their say in Quebec City after it argues its case in a Montreal courtroom.


- With files from The Canadian Press