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Immigration Detention: Private prisons; Endless sentences; Ruthless treatment

December 5th 2012 - Earlier today, in an obvious PR stunt intended to rile further anti-immigrant fear, Immigration Minister Kenney and Public Safety Minister Toews announced that they are going to jail 85 Roma immigrants, 35 of them children as "irregular arrivals" under Canada's newest anti-refugee law, Bill C-31. In the days and weeks ahead, we will likely see many more immigrants swiftly and indefinitely locked up in Canadian prisons.

Days of Action are being organized in 8 cities across the country on December 9th and 10th to demand freedom for security certificate detainees and an end to detentions. Join an action near you and let's educate ourselves of the facts and share them widely. Its time to strengthen the anti-detention movement in this country.

Please download the flyer attached below and distribute it widely.

* Between 2004 and 2011, 82,000 people were locked up in immigration detention. At least another 13,000 have been imprisoned since 2011. Just this year 289 of the detainees were children, many of them under the age of 10.

* Over 35% of detainees are held in maximum security provincial prisons, some unable to leave their cells for 18 hours a day. The numbers held in regular prisons are likely to grow after the implementation of C-31, since there has not been a significant expansion of dedicated Immigration Holding Centres. Read our statement on security designations in provincial prisons.

* From 2004 to 2008, around 12,000 people were deported every year. Since 2008, it has started to climb and has now reached around 15,000 people deported per year. This is over 40 people per day. The figures may be higher, since they do not include those who 'voluntarily' return after they have been refused.

* There are three dedicated immigration detention centres in Canada: in Toronto, in Laval and in Vancouver. The Kingston centre, specially built for the security certificate detainees, known as "Guantanamo North", was quietly closed in 2011.

* The most extreme cases of immigration detention have been justified on vague 'national security' grounds. Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat and Mahmoud Jaballah are currently fighting their detention on immigration
'security certificates' - all have been detained for over a decade. All of them spent long periods of time in solitary confinement.

* Though immigrants are depicted as security threats, only a tiny minority are detained on such allegations. In fact, 94.2% of refugees are detained for reasons completely unrelated to security or ‘danger to the public’.

* 4.8% of the detainees are children. This number however does not include minors “accompanying” their parents.

* $53, 775, 000 in public money is spent on immigration detention annually or $239 per day. Comparatively, a unit of social housing can be provided at less than $31/day. The total cost of immigration detention including surveillance and supervision of immigrants, particularly of security certificate detainees and those not in detention is much higher.

* Immigration detention centres are run in partnership with private companies like G4S, Garda and Corbel Management Corporation. In Toronto alone, G4S and Corbel were paid $19 million between 2004 and 2008. Garda has the contract for the Laval Immigration Holding Centre.

* The refugee exclusion act (Bill C-31, enacted in June) will be implemented in mid-December. This will allow Immigration Canada to indefinitely detain groups of refugees entering Canada, if the Minister of Immigration suspects they have been smuggled, or if the Minister feels that they cannot be processed quickly enough. Refugees detained in this way will be automatically detained for two weeks, and if not released, won't have another opportunity to be released for six months. Children have the option of staying with their mothers in the detention centre or being placed in foster care.

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