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Dawn raids tear 50 immigrant workers from their families

by NOII - Toronto

PHOTO NOII - Toronto Website
PHOTO NOII - Toronto Website

Toronto – More than 50 people have been arrested on their way to work in the GTA this week. The undocumented workers were ambushed by armed officers in a series of surprise early morning sweeps. They are facing separation from their families, indefinite detention, and deportation.

“This is an outrage,” insists Syed Hussan, organizer with No One Is Illegal – Toronto, a migrant justice advocacy group. “Why is immigration enforcement stopping people from going to work and tearing them away from their families? This is about spreading fear and forcing hundreds of thousands of vulnerable undocumented people to work deeper in the shadows just to be able to eat.”

Geraldine Ortiz, a family member of one of the men picked up in a raid on August 14th adds, “My brother-in-law was waiting to get his papers in order. Now he's in detention. We are hopeful that he will get out, but so many families are frightened right now. While visiting him at the detention centre, I saw a small girl speaking on the phone to her father through the glass. They were both crying. This is just so wrong. Why don't we give people immigration status?”
Early in the morning over the last two or three days, immigration enforcement officers, along with Toronto Police, some in Ministry of Transportation vans, pulled over undocumented day-laborers on their way to work under the guise of a traffic stop. Everyone in the car was 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.

“"It's clear that these raids are relying on racial profiling to make these immigration related arrests. As such the legality of the raids is extremely questionable. CBSA officers need to stop breaking the law and find something useful to do rather than terrorizing migrant communities of colour," adds Macdonald Scott, immigration consultant at Carranza LLP in the area where the raids took place.
“The involvement of Toronto police should be condemned, this goes against the spirit of Toronto's Sanctuary City policy. City Council has promised that undocumented people should feel safe in Toronto, instead they are being raided on the way to work,” Scott added.

Many of the workers will now be 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.

No One Is Illegal – Toronto along with organizers from Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) have been putting up posters in the area where the sweeps have happened to warn community members of arrests and inform people about their rights. More actions are planned in the days ahead.

Suzanne Narain from JFAAP adds, “Our communities are being targeted for being poor, and for the colour of our skin. We see too many cops, and not enough services. Without decent jobs, people are forced to work in these dangerous jobs as day labourers, just to put food on the table. Immigration enforcement and Toronto Police should be ashamed of themselves for tearing people away from their families.”


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