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Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) and Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA) are writing to express our outrage concerning the actions of the Vernon RCMP detachment in releasing to the public, personal information of four Mexican migrant workers employed under the auspices of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). We believe that the RCMP has infringed on the rights of these migrant workers by publicly releasing photos, names, and passport and drivers license information to the general public.
Migrant workers employed under Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) endure both precarious and exploitative working and living conditions as a result of immigration restrictions on their mobility, the absence of provincial legislation protections, and the lack of enforcement of their rights in the workplace.
The release of this personal information establishes a dangerous precedent that may be practiced by law enforcement agencies across Canada to identify migrant workers and their whereabouts. The actions of the RCMP exacerbate an already precarious situation by further contributing to the climate of fear that migrants endure while working in Canada. When migrants attempt to seek recourse to address labour and human rights violations in the workplace or medical help for injuries and ailments sustained while working in Canada, they now have to contemplate that law enforcement agencies will violate their right to privacy by releasing personal information once they are deemed 'AWOL'.
In the context of encroachments on the civil liberties of Canadians through the enactment of Bill C-51, the criminalization of non-status migrants through their indefinite detention in jails across Canada, mandatory biometric screenings of migrant workers to Canada, and regressive reforms to the temporary foreign worker program, the actions of the RCMP only reinforce the criminalization of racialized migrant workers through the vile and reprehensible portrayal of these men through mug shot like images that create the perception that these men are a threat to the well being of communities across British Colombia and the rest of Canada.
It is our experience that witch hunts conducted against migrant workers have long lasting and negative consequences for migrant workers and their families. J4MW and RAMA demand that the RCMP issue an apology for its actions and put an end to the practice of disclosing personal information about migrant workers to the general public. We demand that steps are taken so that this racist and reactionary practice is never undertaken again.
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