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Shelter Sanctuary Status

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Cross-Canada Day of Action for Isabel Garcia and Non-Status Women Surviving Violence

October 2, 2008, Toronto - The fight for access to services and justice and dignity for migrant women took a giant leap forward on Thursday as national, provincial and local women's groups and community organizations launched a campaign across Canada for Shelter, Sanctuary, Status. Together we demand protection for women fleeing violence in the refugee and immigration system, and support domestic violence survivor, Isabel Garcia and her family's application for permanent status.

Protest highlights plight of refugee claimants

Ottawa must stop deportation orders against women who fled violence, rally told
October 03, 2008 - The Toronto Star

Twenty-three-year-old Ana, tall and sombre, marched with more than 100 others yesterday down the middle of Yonge St. to support Isabel Garcia, an asylum seeker who has gone underground in Toronto to avoid being deported. But she was marching for herself, too.

Ana's father paid 2 million pesos ransom for her and her brother after they were kidnapped in Mexico by "people involved with the police." After moving around the country three times to evade more violence, she was handed her passport and a plane ticket by her father and fled to Toronto two years ago. In August, the Immigration and Refugee Board turned down her refugee claim. She is appealing to Federal Court.

The single board officer hearing her case "asked me why my father couldn't do something" to protect her.

Coalition urges parties to support female refugees

A women's advocacy coalition group held a rally and discussion panel Thursday urging federal party leaders to make violence against women an issue in the upcoming election.

The group "No one is illegal" is rallying in support of a woman who is in Canada illegally but wants to be accepted into the country as a refugee. The woman is afraid to return to her ex-husband in Mexico, the group says.

Meanwhile, a women's coalition group spoke to reporters earlier in the day about asking federal parties to speak out on how they would use Canada's immigration system to help protect women.

"The state, we feel, has a responsibility for women's human rights," said Shanaaz Gokool with Amnesty International. "They must respect, protect and fulfill. The state has a responsibility, whether abuses are committed by the state or non-state actors."

They say they've heard from the NDP and Green parties but have yet to hear from the Conservatives or the Liberals.

Stop deporting women escaping violence, activists say

October 02, 2008 - The Toronto Star

Refugee and women's activists are calling for an immediate stay on deportation orders against immigrant women trying to stay in Canada as a sanctuary against violence.

Amnesty International and the YWCA joined the immigrant rights group No One Is Illegal today to demand the four federal parties take a stand on an immigration system that they say doesn't live up to Canada's own policies of human rights protection.

"Canada was one of the first countries to recognize" violence against women as grounds for a refugee claim, said the YWCA's Ann Dector. "We honour that on paper but not in practice."

One arm of the Immigration and Refugee Board has guidelines about women asking for refugee status because of domestic violence, but not all parts of the system follow that, said Dector.

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