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Shelter Sanctuary Status

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Immigration cops to be barred from women's shelters

SHARON LEM,TORONTO SUN
November 23, 2010 4:00pm

Canadian authorities looking to deport illegal immigrants will be prohibited from raiding shelters and locations where women are treated for abuse.

The Canadian Border Services Agency will issue a directive to its officers on Thursday banning them from entering or waiting outside such locations.

“This is just one small step as part of a broader city campaign to make the city safer for women with undocumented or precarious immigrant status,” said Fariah Chowdhury, an organizer with Shelter Sanctuary Status.

“The policy is certainly a victory, but we have to continue to struggle to make sure that more services are available to people without status and make sure the city is safe in other ways.”

Women’s shelters, drop-in centres, rape crisis centres, group counselling homes and community organizations which treat abused women will be covered by the policy.

Immigration Enforcement Pushed Out of Anti-Violence Against Women Spaces across the GTA

The Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC) of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), GTA Region, has issued a directive to all its officers, stating:

1. When conducting a road investigation, officers will not enter shelters or other spaces designated as resources for women fleeing/experiencing violence.
2. Officers are not to wait outside or approach the above-noted spaces and will maintain a reasonable distance.
3. Officers are not to approach the above-noted spaces to make any inquiries into the identity of women who may be the subject of an immigration investigation. This includes inquiries made to the staff, volunteers and other residents.

After 2 years of grassroots organizing with migrant women and trans activists, residents and users of anti-violence against women agencies and anti-violence against women service providers the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign has successfully pushed immigration officers out of spaces for women surviving violence and abuse. To see video of the April 2010 SSS delegation to GTEC, click here. To see the chronology of the campaign, click here

How Shelter|Sanctuary|Status pushed out Immigration Enforcement

02 Oct 2008:
After over 6 months of conversations with migrant women of color, undocumented women and activists, No One Is Illegal-Toronto with the Workers Action Centre, Interim Place and others launches the Shelter|Sanctuary|Status campaign. Demands are: immigration enforcement out of Anti-VAW spaces and status for Isabel Garcia. Over a 120 organizations across Canada endorse. http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/228

25 Nov 2008:
Campaign begins workshops with undocumented women, service providers and others at Anti-VAW spaces across GTA. Workshops focus on making all anti-violence against women services accessible to undocumented women survivors of violence and to bar immigration enforcement from entering or waiting outside Anti-VAW spaces.

5 Apr 2009:
A demonstration is organized at Rexdale Immigration Holding Centre after massive workplace raids. Survivors of violence, including undocumented women attend in large numbers: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/284

11 May 2009:
Campaign begins to train feminists, students and undocumented women to carry out educationals and workshops.

12 Sep 2009:
Shelter|Sanctuary|Status Campaign joins TRCC for the 2009 Take Back the Night March under the banner 'Take Back the Night! No More Hiding!'

Join No One Is Illegal & Shelter|Sanctuary|Status at Take Back the Night!

Oct/22/2010 - 4:00 pm

Organized by our friends and allies at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape

The theme of this year's march is '30 years of Struggle, Resistance, and Liberation'

JOIN the Migrant Justice contingent, meet at 8pm at the south-east corner of the Yonge & Dundas intersection.
LOOK out for the red No One Is Illegal flags.

Friday Oct. 22
Yonge-Dundas Square
4pm-8pm: Community Fair/Town Cry/Rally
8pm-9:30pm: March

We march because we remember much more than 30 years of struggle.
Over 30 years of women and trans people of colour fighting for gender equity and rights in this city.
Over 30 years of migrant women fighting for the right to live, work and move with justice and dignity.
Over 30 years of our indigenous sisters fighting for sovereignty and the right to self determination.

Out of Our Shelters! Out of Our Lives!

OUT OF OUR SHELTERS! OUT OF OUR LIVES! was the message delivered to the Canada Border Services Agency on March 8th, International Women's Day, by the 120 plus women and trans-folks who poured into the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre for an Emergency Assembly.

The meeting began with a campaign organizer reading a statement from Jane, a single mother and survivor of violence from Ghana, "Last week, one of the residents from the shelter called me. She told me that immigration officers came into the shelter to look for me. I never thought that they would do something so low. I'm not a criminal. I'm a human being and shouldn't be treated like this. I have the right to be in a shelter without being afraid that they will come to get me," Jane told the crowd of supporters.

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