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Didn't see this anywhere else but I'm notoriously bad at finding old threads...
RESIST ATTACKS ON UNDOCUMENTED WORKERSNo One Is Illegal-Toronto Statement on the Auditor General's Report & SDRDistribution Raid
On 3rd, 4th and 5th May 2007, thousands of people took to the streets inNew York, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, 2000demonstrators took over Toronto's west end chanting "No One Is Illegal".
Two days later, the Auditor General released a report, claiming that shehad "discovered" that there are 41,000 undocumented people in Canada,people she termed "illegal" that cannot be traced by the Canadian BorderSecurity Agency (CBSA). Increased funding of the agency was the onlysolution, she urged.
In an effort to showcase what that would mean, the CBSA raided SDRDistributors on Matheson Blvd. in Mississauga. SDR's warehouse wasbarricaded by Peel Regional Police while CBSA immigration agents sweptthrough the plant checking ID's and arresting 45 undocumented women andmen. The arrested workers were detained and remain incarcerated.
This is the first raid of this scale in Canada, and is a shift towards USstyle immigration enforcement practices in Canada. This is a seriousescalation of anti-migrant rhetoric and tactics by Harper's governmentwhich in light of the changes to IRPA in Bill C-50 barely a month agoshowcases the conservatives' intention to isolate, exploit and brutalizemigrant communities. Further, municipal police services should not be usedto enforce federal immigration laws, taken away from their regular dutiesto attack people at work.
NON-STATUS PEOPLEIt is necessary to understand what the AG means by 'missing Illegals'.These are undocumented people that have been denied refugee status, andcontinue to live and work in the country, paying taxes, unable to accesshealth services, education benefits, police protection or housing whileconstantly fearing detention and deportation. Living in fear and in theshadows, undocumented peoples are rarely involved in criminal activities,instead living in poverty and subjugation.
The AG argues that "legals" are (a) Refugee claimants, pending the outcomeof their claim; (b) Temporary Resident Permit holders; (c) Permanentresidents and (d) Recipients of a stay of removal. What she forgets tomention is that categories a, b and d are unable to access any of theservices that Canadian citizens can, living precariously like undocumentedpeople, fearing incarceration, surviving as non-status.
CBSA statistics clearly show that people with criminal records are thefirst to be targeted, thus calling workers who happen to be undocumented,illegal or criminal, is a clear lie. It is also impossible to enter Canadawithout ID documents, so the people being termed criminals, have actuallybeen allowed to enter the country because they were considerednon-threatening. Further, crime is a criminal justice issue not animmigration one – people who have been convicted have served their timeand using immigration system to target workers with violations who haveserved time decades ago is a clear case of double punishment.
HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME NON-STATUS?The refugee determination process has been allowed to fall into chaossince Harper came to power. Thirty percent of the positions on theImmigration and Refugee Board remain vacant, resulting in a backlog of45,000 cases, rising to 84,000 by 2010 (up from almost no backlogs in2005). IRB appointments are pork barrel political appointments, makingarbitrary and uninformed decisions.
A Refugee Appeal Division has still not been established, despitelegislation requiring the government to do so. Thus people denied refugeestatus have no means to appeal the decision. The safe third countryrefugee agreement with the US has been condemned by Canadian courts andthe refugee "turn back" policy of border agents has been condemned by theUN High Commission on Refugees as a violation of international law, yetthese practices continue unabated.
HOW ARE NON-STATUS PEOPLE TREATED?Since coming to office, the Harper government has been rapidly expandingimmigration without full status, even offering "same week service" foremployers seeking temporary workers in some cities. These temporary statuspeoples often end up without status.
When arrested, those in detention are brutalized. The Attorney Generalaccepts that "The Agency has established standards for the treatment ofindividuals while in detention, but does not ensure that these standardsare met".
Further she confirms that "the Agency does not collect suitableinformation to determine whether consistent and fair decisions regardingthe detention and release of individuals is made regardless of theirlocation".
Last June, a parliamentary majority passed a motion for a moratorium ondeportations and for a regularization program for undocumented people.Despite this motion, Harper and the CBSA carry on with detentions anddeportations – business as usual. In this session of parliament, Harperintroduced Bill C 50 to put immigration policy beyond the reach ofparliament.
Instead of expanding funding for the overworked, under funded, citizenshipministry, the government is pouring money into its enforcement arm. Thisclearly shows a preference for the stick and the gun, rather than an openconsultative process that involves affected communities.
STATUS IS THE SOLUTIONThe vulnerability of migrants and refugees arriving in Canada, especiallyfrom former colonial countries, is exploited by the rich. Canada'simmigration policy is capital centered, serving the interests of the richminority with political power.
A recent Statscan report says male immigrant workers receive wages 37%below the standard Canadian wages in every category, while recent womenimmigrant workers receive wages 44% below the Canadian standard. As well,a super exploited strata is being created in the working class, made up ofundocumented workers and other workers with temporary or conditionalstatus and based on fear of deportation. Raids such as the raid at SDRDistributors are meant to terrorize people without status, enforcing thefear of deportation which allows the exploitation of 500,000 non-statuspeople in the country.
Categories, numbers and quotas are being used to further exclude people onthe basis of class, gender, sexuality and race. This exploitation and fearwill only stop when a full and inclusive regularization program isimplemented, one which grants permanent status to all undocumented peopleliving and working in this country.
No One Is Illegal – Status for All!
Was anyone in responsibility at SDR arrested too? I would hope so.
Why would you hope so?
So that it would send a message to other employers, and thus nobody without proper documentation would ever be able to find work in Canada again?
Works for me. Otherwise why bother having immigration rules at all?
Otherwise why bother having immigration rules at all?
Good idea let's not!