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Refugee and immigrant rights activists occupy Conservative MP constituency offices

Listen to an interview with Sardar Saadi, No One is Illegal Toronto, from Conservative MP Ted Opitz's office on Wednesday afternoon.

From the press release:

In a coordinated effort, members of refugee and immigrant rights groups including No One Is Illegal are occupying Conservative MP offices in Ottawa, Toronto, St. Catharines, Edmonton, and Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Banners have also been dropped in Montreal and Halifax. These actions coincide with April 4, Refugee Rights Day, and are being organized to demand that the Refugee Exclusion Act, Bill C-31, be discarded.

Live updates and pictures are being streamed through:

Occupations of FIVE Conservative MP offices are underway at John Baird's office (2249 Carling Avenue, Ottawa), Ted Opitz's office (577 Burnhamthorpe Road, Unit 2, Toronto), Rick Dykstra's office (61 Geneva Street, St. Catharines), Laurie Hawn's office (11156 - 142nd Street Edmonton) and Wai Young’s office (6406 Victoria Drive, Vancouver).  

"The Refugee Exclusion Act creates a discriminatory two-tier refugee protection system based on nationality, mandates jail time for many asylum seekers, and revokes permanent residency from many people already granted refugee status," says Harsha Walia from No One Is Illegal – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories who is occupying MP Wai Young’s office. 

Adds Sardar Saadi from No One Is Illegal - Toronto, himself a refugee, occupying Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration MP Ted Opitz's office: "I was lucky enough to get refugee status, but if this law passes, far fewer people will be able to do so. And any of us could have our permanent status revoked."

"The Tories are mimicking the already discredited and racist "detention-first" policies that right-wing governments in Australia have pursued. Hundreds of organizations have already spoken out against Bill C-31" said Lena McFarlane in Ottawa, who is occupying John Baird's office.

Dubbed the Refugee Exclusion Act, Bill C31 is opposed by hundreds of grassroots organizations, including No One Is Illegal, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.  Grassroots individuals and groups, including Roma, Latin American, and LGBT refugee groups across Canada have also mobilized against the Bill. 

According to activist Gabriel Cardenas in Edmonton occupying Laurie Hawn's office: "This unjust bill is for refugees what the Chinese Exclusion Act was for Chinese migrants. What is the point of apologies and redress then?"

"People have called MPs, delivered letters, and organized press conferences to no avail," added Dylan Powell in St. Catharines, occupying Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration member Rick Dykstra's office. "More escalated opposition is now necessary to ensure justice for refugees and migrants." Bill C-31 is currently in second reading. Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has stated that he wants the Bill passed before June, 2012.

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