Refugee and Immigrant rights groups demand Bill C-31 be scrapped

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Members of No One is Illegal Toronto and Occupy Toronto protested outside Conservative MP Joe Oliver’s office on Wednesday morning, demanding that the Conservatives cancel, what has come to be known as, the Refugee Exclusion Act.

Listen to an interview with Katie Berger of Occupy Toronto and Syed Hussan of No One is Illegal Toronto.

From the press release:

Occupy Toronto and No One Is Illegal Toronto have shut down MP Joe Oliver’s office at 511 Lawrence Avenue West to demand that the Refugee Exclusion Act, Bill C-31, be discarded.

Simultaneously occupations at Conservative MP offices are underway in London, ON, while a banner was dropped in Ottawa as part of a coordinated and escalating campaign.

Small adjustments were made to Bill C-31 recently but activists carrying out these actions are concerned that the Bill still mandates jail time for refugees, grants enormous discretionary powers to the Minister, and allows for discrimination based on nationality.

“The Refugee Exclusion Act creates a discriminatory two-tier refugee protection system based on nationality, mandates jail time for many asylum seekers, and keeps them apart from their families. Instead of talking to us the staff at the office locked up and ran.” says Syed Hussan  from No One Is Illegal - Toronto.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has declared that Bill C-31 will no longer result in permanent status being taken away from refugees and that the detention review process on mandatory jail sentences will be reduced to 14 days. Bill C-31 introduces mandatory jail sentence in the immigration system for the first time for refugees deemed irregular. These refugees will not be allowed to gain citizenship or reunite with families for five years.

The Immigration Minister will also have the sole authority to determine which refugees can be discriminated against on the basis of nationality. These refugees will also be denied basic health care, a policy change that sparked a Doctors occupation at MP Joe Oliver’s office late last week.  

Adds Katie Berger of Occupy Toronto: “Refugees are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized of the 99%, and the Tories are trying to exclude them even more, so today, we stand with them and against an immigration system that continues to serve only the interests of the 1%. On May Day we announced a series of strategic occupations throughout the summer - this one is the second in that series”

“The Tories are reheating the failed “detention-first” policies that racist governments in Australia and other countries have tried – organizations around the country have taken notice, and will keep the pressure on until this bill is dead″ said Syed Hussan of No One Is Illegal - Toronto.”

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