It's always been a symbolic reflection of Canadian refugee and immigration policy that the name of the country's largest newcomer processing centre is the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC). There is no official welcoming centre for those fleeing persecution and related horrors. Rather, GTEC is a machine devoted to tracking down, detaining and deporting as many people as possible who have been failed by Canada's broken refugee determination process.
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Have you seen the pictures? All the kids, sleeping on floors in row upon row, detained by the Department of Homeland Security. There are more children coming in every day, and the federal government doesn't know where to keep them.
Muhammed Sillah has been held at the Immigration Holding Centre Rexdale since the Canadian Border Services arrested him on May 22, 2013. He was denied refugee status despite the danger he will face if he is deported to Gambia. Despite being granted a stay by the Federal Court he remains in detention. There he has been subjected to racial abuse, inadequate medical services and has been denied visits from family by CBSA officials. rabble.ca published an excellent interview with Mr. Sillah on July 25, 2013.
Toronto's legendary refugee rights lawyer Barb Jackman has a unique way of framing issues at their most human level, an art often lost by those who spend their lives in courts and immigration tribunals fighting for their clients' right not to be deported to torture and other cruelties. Testifying recently before a Senate committee on a repressive piece of deportation legislation, Jackman aptly summed up the mean political culture that increasingly grips the land.
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The annual mid-January Martin Luther King Day celebrations are generally a frustrating example of how the legacy of a difficult and troubled revolutionary can be co-opted into the image of an acceptable, bland hero who has freeways and monuments named after him.