On September 10, 2012 Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced he would be revoking the citizenship of 3,100 people as part of an investigation of 11,000 who are seeking citizenship or trying to maintain permanent status. This is in preparation for Bill C-43, which would give government authorities the power to take away permanent status from people already jailed for six months.
This is not the first time Kenney has done this. On July 2011, Kenney revoked the citizenship of 1,800 people. Between 1947 (when the Citizens Act was passed) and 2011 until Kenney started this campaign, less than 70 people have had their citizenships revoked.
Kenney explains his actions as being “tough on fraud”. The idea of a fraudulent migration is illegitimate. Every time someone seeks to migrate for whatever reason, it is legitimate. In the four years that Kenney has been the Immigration Minister, he has changed the law dozens of times. Each time he does so, those that were considered “genuine” are now deemed “fraudulent”.
Kenney insists that people should “wait in line for their turn.” Despite this assertion, in May 2012, he tried to throw out all the applicants for citizenship to Canada made prior to 2008, people who had patiently waited for their turn.
Kenney tells us that Canadian citizenship can’t be bought. This only applies to marginalized communities because Kenney is more then happy to give convicted fraudster and multi-millionaire Conrad Black a green light to buy immigration status in to the country.
A fundamental principle of justice is that one cannot be punished for the same crime twice. This means little to Kenney. If C-43 passes, Kenney will be able to kick people out of the country who have already served over six months in jail. This is double punishment and obviously won’t apply to people like Conrad Black.
Bill C-43 would also let the government deny visas to temporary migrants (like migrant workers or activists) based on undefined public policy considerations. This would make it even more difficult for people without permanent status to speak out about injustices in the system.
We must speak out against and resist these violent acts against our communities, and reject the idea that the right to migrate and seek a dignified life can be controlled by few who are determined to exclude many.
This is part of an ongoing government attack on migration, and the Conservative push to dismantle gains that have been made for migrant justice. Under Harper & Kenney, citizenship rejection has doubled, over 83,000 people have been deported and over 72,000 arbitrarily detained. The numbers of temporary workers in exploitative jobs who can legally be paid 15% less than citizens have overtaken the number permanent residents coming in to Canada. Refugee acceptances have decreased by 56%, family class immigrants have dropped by 15%, there is a moratorium on sponsoring parents and grandparents, and refugees are being denied basic health care. There is a two-tiered refugee system in place that allows discrimination against applicants on the basis of country of origin.
These are measures that have a brutal violent impact on migrants lives. The conservatives have labelled activists for environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice groups including No One Is Illegal as extremists. However, in times of such violent and extreme attacks on communities, nothing short of an organized defence is acceptable.
Until all are free.