"During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, 6,251 migrants in Canada were detained and spent a total of 131,617 days in detention, according to CBSA statistics," reports a detailed article in The Link.
"These numbers are not an anomaly. Nearly 36,000 people have been detained between 2012 and 2017. At least 16 migrants have died in detention in Canada since the year 2000. Child separation and the detention of minors, though not as widespread as in the U.S., are not unheard of."
A 2014 Red Cross investigation revealed that these types of facilities face problems like overcrowding cells, lack of support for children, and in some cases when the facilities were full, migrants were held in provincial jails alongside prisoners. The Canadian Red Cross continues to monitor the existing detention faciities in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba (as of 2014).
According to the article in The Link, in response to deteriorating conditions and overcrowding in detention facilities, the Liberal government launched the National Immigration Detention Framework (NIDF). The majority of the $138 million in federal funding over a period of five years is going to the construction of two new dedicated detention centres, one of which is currently under construction in Laval. Instead of dedicating money to prisons, however nice, perhaps the government should focus its money and efforts on supporting immigrants and improving the application process.
The Quebec National Assembly has also passed Bill 9, which will cancel 16,000 applications for immigration under Quebec's skilled worker program and revamps the process for immigration, notably adding a "values test" to prove that applicants' values align with the province's and demonstrate their proficiency in French. Therefore, many more people may end up falling out of the system and considered illegal if they cannot go back home.
Seventy organizations have signed a statement vowing to work against the construction of the Laval facility. This toolkit lists a few of these organizations which have been working to support immigrants and organize against the Laval detention centre in Quebec.
Has been leading the legal charge against Bill 9. They succeeded in getting an injunction before the bill was passed by the National Assembly and, now that it has passed, its members will continue to work with immigrants and AQAADI will continue to pursue legal avenues to stop Bill 9.
A group of people opposed to borders and prisons, organizing popular education events, demonstrations and actions against the construction of the Laval migrant prison. For more information on the construction of the new migrant prison, visit this site.
A migrant justice network based in Montreal, active since 2003. They are comprised of migrants and allies, and organize together to support individuals and families who are confronting an unjust immigration and refugee system. They engage in popular education, support work, as well as political mobilizations, including demonstrations, pickets, delegations, and direct actions.
A group of lawyers, students and workers who are united in working for the rights of people and determined to advocate so that the law supports social justice and the end of inequality.
Endorses the right to migrate and remain in Canada without discrimination based on origin or nationality. They denounce the detention centres and the private security companies that benefit from the imprisonment and suffering of migrants. Given the state of war against the people of Mexico and widespread violence by organized crime, they demand that the Canadian government impose an immediate moratorium on deportations and regularize all Mexican asylum-seekers.
An independent feminist organization which works for the transformation and end of sexism and patriarchy in all spheres of life. They work for the independence of women and the true recognition of their contribution to society.
Maya Bhullar is the Activist Toolkit Coordinator at rabble.ca. She has over 15 years of professional experience in diverse areas such as migration, labour, urban planning, and community mobilization.
Photo: David Stanley/Flickr
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.