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Immigrants expose Minister Kenney’s sweeping lies, attacks

March 2009 - Jason Kenney, Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, says the overall immigration targets for 2009 have increased for permanent residents (CIC Press Release, 20 Feb 2009). But in Asian, African and Latin American countries people are seeing a different reality, especially in the family class and in overseas refugee cases.

“Our general experience is that visas are being denied at consulates located in South Asia and Latin American basically because many people there are poor and because of the regions they are from. I had a client who was sexually assaulted and needed her mother here to take care of her, but her visa was denied at the consulate in Guatemala City. I generally advise clients who are poor or working people that their chances are very very low and not to waste money hiring counsel” says Simone Stothers, a Certified Immigration Consultant.

In 2008, the Canadian Consulate in Abu Dhabi processed 65 parents and grandparents. In 2009, this number will drop to 25. New Delhi reduced its refugee targets from 150 to 125. The targets for the Consulate in Islamabad have been dropped from 8,540 to 6,210 for 2009. Skilled workers being accepted dropped from 3,370 to 1,980 while acceptance rates for parents/grandparents dropped from 1,340 to 75. In Nairobi, the number of parents/grandparents brought into Canada dropped from 210 to 42.

"Latin Americans, who are among the millions of immigrants who come here to work and build a life have been among the most targeted by Canada's immigration officials" said Pablo Vivanco, Public Relations officer for the Chilean Canadian Cultural Association – Salvador Allende.

Using the new powers given to him under Bill C-50, that let the Minister make changes to the overseas programs without prior notice to anyone, Kenney has signaled that an imminent reduction of immigration targets is likely (Toronto Star February 11th “Rising jobless rate may curb immigration”). In contradiction to statements he is making to
community media, Kenney is targeting Immigrant serving organizations cutting funds for agencies like the Canadian Arab Federation out of spite and scapegoating migrants based on language skills.

"Just as they want other workers to accept concessions around job security, this government wants to force people looking to come to Canada for precarious employment to work under the slave-wage temporary worker programs", Vivanco added.

Enforcement is targeting immigrants, more now in the times of economic crisis. Even to the extent that in January, a man was picked up by an enforcement officer posing as his lawyer (“Illegal immigrant nabbed after agent allegedly posed as his lawyer” Globe and Mail January 17th).

“Enforcement is going into women’s shelters to detain people, and enforcement officers are posing as community workers to enter low income housing,” says Macdonald Scott, Certified Immigration Consultant, Carranza Barristers and Solicitors. “Just this past Wednesday, Border guards tried to force their way in to a shelter to arrest one of our members"

Scott who works with the migrant justice group No One Is Illegal-Toronto adds, "Now more than ever, people need to take a stand”.

Regarding this increase in enforcement in the last four to five months, Amina Sherazee, Barrister and Solicitor, who deals with people facing removal says: “Not only has there been an increase in deportations but also people are given very little time between the
day they receive notice of deportation and the removal date in order to make it harder for them to use the courts to stop their removal.”

Sultana Jahangir, Executive Director of the grassroots South Asian Women’s Right Organization also similarly observes, “Our organization watches the community very carefully. Recently we have observed increasing enforcement which has caused us to lose some very influential and community minded immigrants from our community. As well, we have found that the harassment and enforcement increased very suddenly. We have lost our friends, and our family members as well as our neighbours."

Canada’s targeting of refugees has also greatly increased. According to the Canadian Council for Refugees Website, the United Nations set a goal of 560,000 resettled refugees for 2008/9 – of these Canada will only accept about 11,000. This is nearly half of Canada’s annual acceptance rate of 21,400 in the 1980s. Contrast this with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan who between them accepted 885,000 Iraqi refugees in 2007, according to UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler.

"In our experience it is the caregivers that are punished and deported. In 2007 alone there were reportedly 13,000 Filipino migrants that came to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program. That same year our organization Migrante was faced with over 20 cases of death, agency exploitation and deportation issues. In these cases we were not able to get support from the Canadian and the Philippine governments. Minister Kenney's government treat migrants like rags that they would throw away when they're done with them” says Marco Luciano of Migrante Ontario.

While Kenney is out there talking a good line in public, Minister Van Loan, the man responsible for Immigration Enforcement, and his thugs are busy kicking out families and keeping working people from the Global South out of Canada, in particular keeping out people of colour, working people, women, LGBTTTQ and disabled people. Enforcing this exclusion creates sweatshop like conditions for the nearly 500,000 people living and working without status in Canada.

Immigrants and Community organizations will not stand by as we see the government contradicting itself, often telling lies about its immigration policies. On 2 May 2009, thousands of people will take to the streets to demand that the government and the corporations stop stealing from immigrants and working people and ensure access for all
city residents. Meet at Sherbourne and Carlton – 1pm. For more information, visit:

(All statistics are from an Access to Information Request made by the Canadian Migration Institute)