(PHOTOS: Over 50 people protested outside the Ontario Ministry of Corrections and Ministry of Transportation near Queen’s Park Monday, demanding that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne curb the power of provincial authorities to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement and make Ontario a ‘sanctuary’ province. Canada Border Services Agency racially profiled 21 people and checked their IDs forcibly and detained them with the help of Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario Ministry of Transportation.)
A network of immigrant and refugee groups is asserting that the weekend arrests of 21 undocumented workers in Ontario and Monday’s media leak of secret immigration recommendations to remove citizenship rights from babies born to non-residents are symptomatic of a racist system of managed migration.
A number of racist citizenship, refugee and immigration law reforms by the Conservative government are increasing the number of people facing detention and deportation. The Refugee Exclusion Act has led to dramatic changes that include mandatory incarceration for many refugees as well as revocation of permanent residency status. The Stealing Citizenship Act makes citizenship harder to get and easier for the government to take away.
The East India Defence Committee has been campaigning against Bill C-24. “The fact that Bill C-24 allows for the revocation of citizenship is illegal and disgraceful, and even more so considering that indigenous people are the only people who are not themselves descendants of immigrants,” says Lakhbir Khunkhun of the East India Defence Committee.
Reacting to the Conservative government’s changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and statements about the Live-In Caregiver Program, Jane Ordinario of Migrante BC says, “Minister [Jason] Kenney has cried out that Filipino migrant workers are ‘robbing’ Canadians of their jobs, and implied that live-in caregivers are ‘fraudulently’ using the LCP. His comments are racist. The LCP has systematically marginalized our community into low-wage jobs, robbed countless women of their capacity to fully contribute to society, and torn many families apart.”
Omar Chu of the migrant justice group No One Is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories says, “Most avenues to permanent residency and citizenship have been severely gutted as more people are entering Canada as temporary workers rather than as permanent residents. As imperialist capitalism forces migration due to environmental destruction, devastating social and economic conditions, wars, and oppression in countries mainly from the Global South, Canadian programs like the low-skilled Temporary Foreign Worker Program continue to wield the threat of deportation to keep migrant workers in indentured servitude.”
In the face of these exclusionary and racist federal immigration laws and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s statement that the federal government “will not support efforts by any city council in Canada to offer sanctuary to individuals facing deportation,” groups like Sanctuary Health state it is urgent for city councils to refuse to participate in the Tory government’s enforcement agenda.
Byron Cruz of Sanctuary Health says, “The city is the frontline for people with precarious immigration status, and municipal governments have the responsibility to ensure that every resident of the city feels included and safe. This includes playing a meaningful role in influencing other bodies like TransLink and local police forces.”