In the News
Defence of Migrant Workers as Important as Ever
Stop the Detention and Deportation of Migrants Now!
On February 13, Solidarity Across Borders (SAB) held a vigil outside the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on Saint Antoine Street West in Montreal to mark the death, on January 30, of yet another person at the Laval Immigration Detention Centre. The action was organized “to mourn this death and to honour all migrants who fight for their lives and their dignity in the face of a violent, unjust immigration system,” the organization wrote in announcing the event.
“We don’t have any information about the person who lost their life or the circumstances of their death — only that they were criminalized for who they were as a migrant,” SAB writes. It also points to the fact that almost a month earlier, a migrant family had been found frozen to death while attempting to cross into the U.S. at the Manitoba border.
“Over the past 20 years, there have been at least 15 known deaths in CBSA custody — some due to suicide, some due to physical restraint, and others due to atrocious neglect,” they write, adding that these deaths “are emblematic of the violence of the Canadian immigration system. Far from an exceptional measure, detention serves to facilitate deportation and punish migrants for fleeing situations of poverty, violence and exploitation. The fear of detention also forces migrants to live on the margins and confines them to exploitative and unsafe working conditions and is one of the reasons that compels migrants and refugees to take even more dangerous, costly, and precarious routes to get to Canada.”
A prior February 5 statement from the same organization informs that “CBSA lets those in its custody die by refusing to provide attention, medical or otherwise. These deaths are entirely preventable. This most recent loss adds to the growing list of those who have lost their lives over the past twenty years:
Bolante Idowu Alo
Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan
Fransisco Javier Roméro Astorga
Lucia Vega Jimenez
Kevon O’Brien Phillip
Shawn Dwight Cole
Prince Maxamillion Akamai”
The CBSA, we are told, “has been required to publicly announce each death that occurs in its custody. The circumstances of these deaths remain opaque as CBSA invokes the “right to privacy” to avoid disclosing its abusive practices. As usual, a police force will head the investigation because there is no independent entity that monitors CBSA. As usual, police will investigate the work of other police and meanwhile, the detention center remains impenetrable, hidden from the public who already know so little about the neglect, abuse and lack of care taking place inside. The courageousness of the detainees who held hunger strikes in 2020 and 2021 has shed light on the worsening conditions in Laval since the start of the pandemic.
SAB adds,”The construction of a new prison in Laval in 2018 and the rise in funding to allegedly ‘humanize’ the immigration detention system changes nothing. The fact that there are trees in the visitor parking lot, a basketball court and a playground in the fenced yard (concealed from view) change absolutely nothing: these places are prisons for migrants, for families and children. Detention is not an exceptional measure, but rather a fundamental part of the repressive matrix that is the Canadian immigration system. It serves to facilitate deportation, and to punish migrants for leaving situations of poverty, violence and exploitation, which Canada is often involved in creating.
“The consequences of these repressive immigration policies are numerous and lethal. No one should be forced to live on the margins, isolated and in fear of arrest and imprisonment. The practice of detention promotes nothing but exploitation by confining the most vulnerable people to an underground economy characterized by abusive and unsafe working conditions.”
The organization is demanding that the violence end, and that the detentions and deportations be stopped.
“We need a comprehensive, ongoing regularization program!,” they say, along with “status for all!”
(Source: Solidarity Across Borders.)
(Workers’ Forum, posted March 1, 2022)