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Community groups protest OPP, CBSA racial profiling and immigration raids.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2014

Rally at 12pm. 25 Grosvenor Street. March to 77 Wellesley West.

Immigrant advocacy groups have launched a petition against racial profiling and Ontario-Federal immigration enforcement collusion as Jane and Finch neighbourhood reels from mass arrests and detentions. Petition: http://chn.ge/1lbFvON

TORONTO: After coordinated 'vehicle safety stops', racial profiling, and force ID checks by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Ontario Ministry of Transportation early Thursday morning in the Jane and Finch area, which put at least 21 people in immigration detention, immigrant advocacy groups, lawyers and city councillors are demanding the province adopt “sanctuary” policies towards undocumented immigrants. Protests are targeting the Ontario Ministry of Corrections and Ministry of Transportation near Queen’s Park Monday, with demonstrators urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to curb the power of provincial authorities to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement.

Tings Chak, Organizer, No One Is Illegal – Toronto
“Why is CBSA targeting people that are just trying to feed their families? Why was OPP and Ministry of Transportation involved in what is federal enforcement work? Why were cars of people of colour targeted for these stops? Why did these officers force all the passengers to give up their IDs? Why were some people arrested inside coffee shops? We need answers to these questions, and we need a commitment that these egregious acts will never happen again.”

Chris Ramsaroop, National Organizer Justice for Migrant Workers
"The persistent efforts by provincial and federal authorities to intimidate, harass and racially profile migrant workers must be roundly denounced. Both levels of governments are using our immigration laws to criminalize precarious workers. Every effort must be taken to end immigration raids and hold both federal and provincial officials accountable for engaging in these inhumane practises."

Andres, currently in immigration detention, who was arrested on Thursday
"I told her (the arresting officer) I am not driving, why are you asking for my ID? She kept forcing me so eventually I had to give it to her. They were all wearing vests that said Police on them but they never identified themselves. Everyone is there to work. We just work every day. We are not there to do anything wrong. Everyone here is a construction workers, painters. We were asking ourselves, why are they stopping us, we’re working, we’re not doing anything wrong."

Jean Vecina, Barrister and Solicitor
"Kathleen Wynne needs to decide whether she wants OPP to act like jackbooted thugs pulling people over on the side of the door and ripping apart families or if she wants a province that is supporting immigrants and welcoming new people."

Ward 21 Councillor Joe Mihevc, an early advocate for Toronto’s sanctuary policy which was passed in February 2013 is also available for comment. Please email his Executive Assistant Anthony Schein: aschein@toronto.ca

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Media Liaison: Syed Hussan, 416 453 3632
www.nooneisillegal.org

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BACKGROUND

In February of last year, Toronto became the first Canadian jurisdiction to adopt a “sanctuary” policy – meaning city services will be made available to undocumented residents without fear of harassment from immigration authorities. Hamilton followed soon after and other cities across Canada are considering it. Dozens of American cities and over 20 American states now have some form of sanctuary policy protecting undocumented immigrants.

Though some reports suggest more than 50 people, CBSA has confirmed that at least 21 people were arrested on their way to work in the GTA last week. The undocumented workers were ambushed by armed officers in a series of surprise early morning sweeps.

Early in the morning on August 14th, Ontario Provincial Police and Ministry of Transportation officers along with immigration enforcement officers racially profiled and pulled over undocumented day-laborers on their way to work under the guise of a traffic stop. All the passengers in the car were coerced into giving up their IDs and many are now being detained at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre at 385 Rexdale. The raids occurred in the Jane-Wilson, Keele-Wilson and Weston-401 areas.

Most of the detained were asked to sign documents waiving their rights which were not fully translated. As a result, at least two people faces deportation on Tuesday morning. The rest are now caught in Canada’s system of indefinite detention which the United Nations found to be in violation of international laws and conventions in a legal opinion released last month. The UN found that Canada’s immigration detention review system is arbitrary, unfair, and lacks a clear limit on the length of detention, leading some people to be detained for over 10 years without charge. Since the current federal government came to power, over 85,000 migrants have been detained without charge or trial.