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POLICE CONTINUE TO DO IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT'S DIRTY WORK

20 November 2008 - Immigrants, racialised communities and precarious and non-status people suffered a severe setback today as the Toronto Police Services Board unilaterally and without consultation voted to continue reporting Immigration Status to Border Enforcement. A consultation had been promised on 22 March 2007 but the committee looking into the issue was quietly disbanded today without community present.

Toronto Police authorized a Don't Ask policy in 2006 under community pressure and public scrutiny. The Don't Ask policy directs police officers to refrain from enquiring about immigration status of victims and witnesses of crimes unless there is a "bonafide reason to do so". This policy has yet to be fully and effectively implemented.

"This June, we provided the Toronto Police Board with mounds of evidence proving that the Don?t Ask policy is being blatantly circumvented." said Macdonald Scott of the Immigration Legal Committee, speaking after the Board meeting. "Status is being used as one more way to target and profile racialised people in this city", he added.

The Immigration Legal Committee also conducted interviews and consulted with various lawyers to produce an opinion highlighting the need and legal basis for a full Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Such a policy would ensure that the Police would not report immigration status to Border Security.

"The fact is that there is no obligation in the Police Services Act or any legislation or policy that requires the police to do the dirty work of Immigration Canada, and it unfathomable why the Toronto police continues to do this work while blatantly ignoring the communities that you are supposed to serve", said Mohan Mishra, speaking on behalf of No One Is Illegal-Toronto to the Board.

Contrary to Chief Blair?s assertion, the decision today has clearly undermined relationships between immigrant communities and the Police. By refusing to implement the Don't Ask policy or even signing on to a Don't Tell policy, the Police Board sent a clear message that it will continue to racially profile immigrants and use municipal resources to implement federal immigration policy. In fact, Chief Blair insinuated that even if a Don?t Tell policy were signed, he would refuse to ask his officers to implement it.

"A strict Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell policy is necessary to ensure that all victims of domestic violence feel safe to report their abuser and seek protection. Without a "Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell" policy, the City of Toronto is endangering immigrant and refugee women who live with domestic violence by making these victims reluctant to report the abuse they suffer for fear that they will subsequently be reported to immigration." said Amarna Moscote from the Parkdale Community Legal Services that brought forward thousands of signatures asking for a Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell policy.

Community members vow to continue the fight for basic protection for all residents of Toronto.