Barred from the Border

Disability Discrimination within Immigration Systems


  • Hussain Alhussainy Political science (Honours) student



This article critically examines how disability discrimination manifests within the immigration systems of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Despite Canada's reputation as a welcoming nation, the article argues that its points-based immigration system perpetuates ableist notions, treating disabled immigrants as economic burdens. The analysis explores the historical context of Canada's immigration system, its impact on disabled immigrants, and draws comparisons with other nations. The examination of the United States reveals discriminatory practices and ableist language, while the United Kingdom's points-based system emphasizes economic contribution, hindering disabled immigrants' integration. In Australia, despite having an anti-discrimination act, disabled immigrants face barriers, including detention. The article concludes that these countries, despite differing immigration systems, share a commonality in excluding disabled immigrants based on eugenic and ableist ideologies rooted in neoliberal democracies. Overall, the points-based systems, intended to eliminate biases, inadvertently reinforce discrimination against disabled individuals, highlighting the need for a more inclusive approach to immigration policies.

Author Biography

Hussain Alhussainy, Political science (Honours) student

Hussain Alhussainy graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Political Science in June 2024. Hussain completed a thesis that delves into the historical examination of ableist and exclusionary policies and practices that create barriers for students with disabilities to pursue and participate in the post-secondary environment. The thesis examines how disability is socialized within the post-secondary campus, supervised by Dr. Joshua St. Pierre. His secondary research interests include colonial and post-colonial studies in the Middle East.

In addition to his research pursuits, Hussain was President of the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies - OASIS (the Faculty of Arts Students Association) from May 1, 2023, to April 30, 2024. He also worked with the University as a founding member of the Council on Systemic Ableism, co-chaired by Vice-Provost Dr. Carrie Smith and Canada Research Chair Dr. Danielle Peers. Hussain also served on the Council of Student Affairs (COSA), was an executive member of the Arts Faculty Council (AFC), and was an arts representative on the General Faculties Council (GFC).